DIY Patternless Maxi Dress

I saw this cute DIY patternless maxi dress tutorial, and she made it look so easy, I decided I HAD to try it.

Here’s a picture of my first go around from 10 months ago (and yes, I’m totally ashamed of the bathroom selfie I took, but here ya go!):

It was so easy, I decided to make a second new and improved one.

Materials needed:

  •     *  A tank top
  •     *  Enough fabric to wrap around your waist 2 times (I highly suggest working with a knit fabric, because if you use something that lacks stretch, you will walk like a penguin if you don’t build in a slit. If you absolutely are dying to have a hip, fun print that only comes in wovens, you’ll probably want more of it to help your stride).
  •     * Thread
  •     * Elastic thread
  •     * Scissors
  •     * Sewing machine
  •     * Serger (optional)
  •     * Rotary cutter (optional)

I used a 4-way stretch knit (I don’t suggest working with this unless you have a serger or a lot of patience because it’s slippery) I picked mine out from JoAnn’s when it was on sale for 40% off.

The tank top I picked up on sale at Target, but you can use any old form fitted top hanging in your closet or you can pick one up from Walmart for as cheap as $3.50.

Step 1:

Figure out where you want your skirt and tank to meet. You can either use scissors, or if you have a rotary cutter, you can sweep a swift, straight line at your desired cutting point. Don’t forget to cut approximately ¾” to 1” lower than your meeting point for your seam allowance. 


Step 2:

I bought 2 yards of knit fabric for the skirt. I knew I’d have enough fabric I had to cut off the hem that I didn’t need to leave any fabric on the side for the sash. If it doesn’t look like you’ll be getting rid of a lot of excess fabric off the bottom, you’ll want to go ahead and cut fabric off the side to create the sash later (if you even want the sash, because you can also use a high-waisted belt in place of a sash).

Fold the right sides of the fabric together and pin the raw edges (this will create the seam that runs down the back of your dress).

Step 3: Sew your raw edges together.

In this picture, I used a serger to give the seam a nice polished finish. If you don’t have a serger or you’ve never worked with knits before, here’s an informative little video.

When you get done, you should have one big fabric tube.

Step 4: You want to create the gathers around the top of your skirt. Using your desired colored thread, thread your machine. Using the elastic thread, thread your bobbin. I suggest hand-winding the elastic thread because you don’t want there to be any tension in it. In other words, wind it without stretching it out as you wind.

Make sure you are sewing with the pretty side on top so that your colored thread is shown and the elastic thread is on the ugly side.

Using a long stitch (I used a 3.5), sew around the raw edge of your skirt. As your fabric passes through the backside of your foot, you should see it start to ruffle.

Step 5:

Your skirt should be turned inside out and your tank should be right-side out. Place your tank, straps first, inside your skirt and pin raw edges together. Be mindful of where you want the seam of your skirt to run. I wanted mine dead center down the back, so I started pinning there first. It’s kind of awkward pinning because your skirt and shirt are not the same size at this point, but just spread it out and make it as even as possible (the gathers are very forgiving)

Step 6:

Repeat step 4, making sure that your stitching from step 4 is inside the seam allowance for your new seam. When you get done, you should end up with something that is really starting to look like a dress.

Step 7:

Measure where you want your hem to hit (you can make it as short as a mini-skirt, if desired), cut off excess fabric and sew up your hem. Since I was working with 4-way stretch, I used a twin needle on my machine to create a double stitch like you see on retail clothing.

There are multiple options for sewing knit hems. Here’s a resource I found helpful.


Step 8:


If you have a high-waisted belt, you can always use that to cover up the meeting place of your tank and skirt. I made a sash with the excess fabric I cut off the bottom. Cut the length and width you think you want, fold right sides together, pin, and sew up the raw edges leaving an opening of somewhere between 3-5”. If you sew up ALL the raw edges, you can’t turn your sash right side out.

I didn’t want my sash to have a “boxy” feel on both ends, so I cut each end on an angle so they came to a “point.”

Once you’ve sewn up your raw edges (excluding the 3-5” opening), you can stick your hand through the opening and turn your sash right side out.

I highly, highly, HIGHLY, suggest using a slip-stitch to close up your opening. Closing up your seam with a top-stitch will scream “homemade.” A slip-stitch is invisible.

If you’ve never done a slipstitch, here’s a resource for you.

Step 9:

Congratulations! You’re done and can enjoy your newly-made, personalized maxi-dress.


Oh yeah, and the thing I love about these dresses, is that I can wear them at 6 months pregnant!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.