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maxi dress

  • Everyday Runway: How to Sew a Ruffle Bodice Maxi Dress


    Don't pack away your summer attire just because fall is around the corner! It's a staggering 90 degrees in NY today, which means maxi dress season is still upon us.

    Maxis should  be a staple in everyone's wardrobe; you can wear them from spring into summer, and if you choose the right color and style, they can even transition into the autumn months.


    I took a bit of inspiration from Ainea for this dress. I loved the layering and ruffles, so I decided to pull just a bit of it for a small ruffle on the bodice. I also fell in love with the vibrant reds and chose to take the deeper red of the left-most dress for a more late-summer/early-fall feel.

    Items used:

    Dress Layout   Making this dress is both quick and easy. Between making the pattern, cutting my fabric, and sewing it together, I had mine done in under 2 hours. If you'll be following along, measure your bust and waist. The best fabric for this specific maxi is knit jersey, so I took a couple inches off the measurements to make it a little more contouring. This is where you can play around with your own pattern. If you have a super stretchy knit, you could potentially take off more. Or, if you'd like your waist to be gathered, you could easily add a few inches there. I made the bottom of each dress panel the full width of the fabric.


    The front and back panels are exactly the same, so I cut two on the fold.


    The ruffles on the bodice are a lot like basic triangles, however a flat top edge would mean flat layers. By curving the top, it ensures that the fabric overlaps slightly when pulled straight to create the perfect ruffle, like you see below.


    After sewing straight down the sides of the dress, the ruffles can be attached to the front neckline. Both the front and back necklines are then trimmed in foldover elastic, which is as easy as it sounds. All it took was a few pins and a walking foot, andthe dress edges looked clean and finished.


    The straps were created exactly the same way, but this time they went along the sleeve curve, meeting at the seam under the arm. 10 second straps!


    Voilà! A versatile maxi dress. It can easily be dress up with some heels and jewelry, or it would be just as appropriate at a poolside party.


    So what colors will you be using for this project? Tell us in the comments!

  • Mood DIY: Sewing a Nautical Maxi Dress


    Whether you're hitting the cookouts this holiday weekend or hitting the beach, a cinched maxi dress can always have you looking chic!

    Items used:



    I traced a basic knit tank for the dress bodice, adding about 3" to the sides for some extra room to gather the waist.


    The whole dress went together incredibly quickly! I cut two layers for the bodice, on the fold at the shoulder, so all I needed to to was attach them at the armholes and neckline.

    Maxi Gromments

    Since I knew I'd be cinching the waistline with some cording, I added two grommets to the center front of the dress. They take about 30 seconds, and look absolutely flawless! Plus, paired with the natural cotton cord, they really tie the nautical look together.


    For the skirt, I used the full width of the fabric to create one long tube. Placing the seam to the center back, I attached the skirt to the bottom of the bodice, adding small pleats every couple inches.


    In addition to stitching below the grommets, I also top-stitched above them, creating a small tube at the waist for the cord to lace through.


    To create the hi-low hem of the skirt, I folded it in half (with the center front of the skirt toward the left) and cut a gradual curve along the bottom, like you can see in the photo above. A more steep angle, of course, would have made a more drastic difference, but I chose to keep the skirt mostly long!


    So what will you be making for the holiday weekend?


  • Cropped Maxi

    A couple of months ago, I found this awesome vintage 1970's bag on Etsy and I fell completely in love.  When it arrived, I instantly envisioned an off the shoulder top and a maxi skirt.  This bag is so gorgeous, I knew I needed a solid color fabric that would let the bag be the star. The fabric I chose was this matte Donna Karan viscose jersey.  It's medium weight with tons of drape and movement. The pattern I used for the top was vintage Butterick 4942 which is the quickest and easiest pattern ever. The skirt is a simple skirt I draped on my form and added a 4" waist band. A great alternative pattern is Vogue V9030.   cropped maxi skirt dress top sewing cropped maxi skirt dress top sewing cropped maxi skirt dress top sewing cropped maxi skirt dress top sewing cropped maxi skirt dress top sewing
  • Perfect Warm Weather Strapless Dress

    Lately I've been obsessed with lighter shades of blue, stripes and everything white.  They all read summer, fresh and crisp which was perfect timing for my vacation to Costa Rica.  I wanted looks that were light, comfy and on trend.  This blue and white striped Rag & Bone shirting fabric is the perfect summer staple.  It's light weight, breathable, cuts and sews well and can be made into just about anything. The pattern used for this dress was McCalls vintage 6902 for the bodice with the following alterations: -Removed the elastic -Added a 22" back zipper -Connected a wrap belt to the bodice -Added horse hair to the top of the bodice to give it more structure -Removed the pattern skirt and drafted a skirt 50' wide x 32"  cut two pieces of fabric 25" Wx 32" L  long, cut one of the pieces of fabric in half which will be your back seam.  Stitched the two pieces together.   Attached the remaining zipper to the back of the dress skirt, sewed the front of the skirt to the back leaving room to insert side seam pockets.  Attached the skirt to the bodice using pleating. mood strapless_mood strapless2 strapless3 strapless6  
    strapless4 Sandals- Sam Edelman Shades- Smoke X Mirrors
  • Summer Linen Maxi Dress

    oonaballoona | mood fabrics | linen summer maxi dress

    Everyone, but EVERYONE, at Mood Fabrics thought I'd already snagged this fabric.  Maybe the NY staff is creeping into my dreams, because before I stumbled upon this linen rayon blend on the magical top floor, that's where it existed.

    oonaballoona | mood fabrics | linen summer maxi dress

    I snatched three yards from the delicious Kway (who did a burn test for me on the spot. I mean…folks, if your eyes ever need an afternoon pick me up, run on up to the top floor and have Kway do a burn test). He posited that he'd already cut this print for me weeks ago, which led to our usual highly enjoyable banter ("What time of the day was it? Is it possible I'd had a cocktail at lunch?"). On the way down the stairs, three Mood peeps said they were "glad I was getting more of it." Diane greeted me at the counter, wonderful Diane, who loves fabric as much as we do, and she too was certain she'd previously bagged this for me.

    oonaballoona | mood fabrics | linen summer maxi dress

    Do I have a twin out there? Surely I would remember this! HOW MAGNIFICENT IS THIS STUFF?!! It has the most incredible silky hand, but not watery silky, more like windswept hay silky, know what I mean? No? When they invent the app for tactile screens, I'll update the post. Surely, in a world where this fabric can exist, that app is not too far off.

    oonaballoona | mood fabrics | linen summer maxi dress

    The birds, however. THE BIRDS. The birds were positively Hitchcockian in their efforts to wound me! The bodice is fully lined with fashion fabric-- thankfully so, since it gave me multiple cracks at which feathered breasts would rest on my own.

    oonaballoona | mood fabrics | linen summer maxi dress

    But the fabric repeat made the pleated draped skirt a lesson in insanity. I actually painted a few of those yellow beaks black down center front, under the pleat, so that the wind wouldn't reveal a glitch in the matrix.

    oonaballoona | mood fabrics | linen summer maxi dress

    Can you spy the piping? My first crack at making it with proper cotton cording! Fun and slightly dangerous. Self-made piping: Let's sew through a finger together! (No, let's don't.) I used the reverse of the fabric, so it's barely noticeable, but I love what it does to the front bodice and waistband.

    oonaballoona | mood fabrics | linen summer maxi dress

    Some pattern info: I used Burdastyle's Danielle dress , bodice portion only, as a starting point, hacking the pattern to ITTY BITTY BITS until I had what I wanted, then draped the skirt on my dress form. I finally gave myself a pass on the repeat--it's nice to give yourself a break once in awhile. And for some reason, it's easier to give yourself a break in summer sewing... more need for relaxation, less need for perfection? And when I'm not focused on perfection I sometimes get my favorite dress ever, in one of my favorite fabrics ever.

    oonaballoona | mood fabrics | linen summer maxi dress

    In the end, I went back and bought more, making the original tale true. It will appear on my blog shortly, in, and on, a very different form…
  • Sew a No-Pattern Maxi Dress: Tutorial

    Jersey fabric from Mood NYC.
    Maxi dresses and skirts are everywhere this summer. If you own a measuring tape you can whip up this strapless maxi dress  in an evening—no pattern necessary. Just follow these simple steps: Supplies:
    • Fabric: Jersey knits (shown in the photos here), lightweight cottons, and lightweight silks work best. Just make sure your fabric isn't too sheer, or else you'll have to line it.
    • Elastic: Width of elastic is your preference, but keep it under one inch for best results. I like 3/4" wide myself. Get enough to go around the top of your bustline and just under your bustline if you're doing an empire waist, or around your waist.
    • Thread and bias tape (or anything that can serve as a casing for the elastic, like ribbon or strip of fabric)
    Steps: • Measure yourself around at your widest part, be it your hips, bust or waist. You want your dress to have some ease and movement at all points. Let's use 36" as an example. • Think about how much volume you want your dress to have. By volume, I mean do you want loose or tight gathers around the bust area? Slender column or peasant dress? Just remember to allow ample movement when you're walking, so don't go too slender of a column. • Multiply your number by anywhere from 1.75 to 2.5 to get the total circumference of your dress with gathers. For example, 36" x 1.75 = 63". Now divide that number in half to determine how wide to cut each panel. In this example we are using here, cut two panels that are 32" each (round up in the case of fractions). • Now determine how long you need to cut each panel. Measure from the top of the bustline to the floor, then add 2 inches for the top and three inches for the hem. That sounds like a lot but better to have more fabric than less. For example, if your top-of-bustline to floor measurement is 50", your panel cut length is 55" (50" + 2" + 3" =  55"). Each panel in our example will be 32" wide by 55" long. • Cut your two panels on the lengthwise grain, paying attention to your fabric's design if it has one. For example, with this maxi dress I made the fabric's ethnic design reads in columns. So I made sure to center the front and back panels along these columns. • Stitch front and back panels together, right sides together. Try on: See how it fits around your widest part. If you like the fit, go ahead and finish your seams.
    Top casing (fold over) and empire waist casing (bias tape)
    • Top casing: How much you turn down and press the top edge will depend on the width of your elastic. For example, if your elastic is 3/4" wide, turn down one inch and press; turn this down again another inch and press. • Stitch close to the turned edge to form a casing, leaving a two-inch opening. Insert the elastic (cut a piece of elastic the length of which fits snugly around the top of your bustline)  into the casing and pin the ends of the elastic together with a safety pin. Try on for fit; then overlap the ends of the elastic and securely stitch them together. Stitch the opening of the casing closed. • Add a casing, empire waist or at the waistline. (Both are treated exactly the same.) Try on the dress again now that the top casing with elastic is in place. Mark with chalk or pins where you want to place the empire or waist casing. Take off dress and use a basting stitch to mark where the casing will be stitched. Place bias tape (wide enough for your elastic) atop or along the basting stitches and stitch close to the edges of the bias tape, leaving an opening to insert the elastic. Insert the elastic (cut a piece of elastic the length of which fits snugly under your lower bustline for an empire waist or around your waist)  into the casing and pin the ends of the elastic together with a safety pin. Try on for fit; then overlap the ends of the elastic and securely stitch them together. Stitch the opening of the casing closed. • Hem: Maxi hems take a lot of abuse, so sew a hem that isn't likely to come undone the moment you accidentally step on your dress or skirt. For the jersey maxi I made here I just sewed a simple narrow hem. If you like a wider hem, press the hem edge under 1/4" , then turn up again anywhere from 1.5" to 3" and press, depending on how much hem you have available. Machine stitch in place for durability. • Try on finished dress and admire!  

    It may seem like a lot of steps but this dress goes together fast—it's basically a modification of that elastic-waist skirt you made when you were first learning to sew.  Have you made a maxi dress for the summer? Did you use a pattern or wing it like I did here? Do tell....