Community · Finished Project · Sewing

Paint Me a Maxi Dress: The Reveal

This summer I’m sewing along with Ali at The Wardrobe, Reimagined; Alessa at Farbenfreude; Sarah at Rhinestones and Telephones; and a bunch of other talented seamsters. We’re all making summer essentials, and this post marks my completion of the Sew-Along.

The wind was perfect.  It caught the hem of the maxi dress, which caused the skirt to dance around my feet – an artist’s pallet at play.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, my maxi dress is finally complete.

If you’ve been following along, you already know the lengthy saga of the “Paint Me a Maxi Dress” maxi dress.  If you happened to miss it, here it is in brief, with links to the appropriate posts:

I found the fabric at, officially declared my plans, and then made a muslin to check the fit of Vogue V8182.  After taking a bit of a break to make my baby niece a Christening gown, I got back to this dress only to be slowed by discovering that most of the pattern was cut on the bias and that the ruching was not as simple as instructed.  After several failed attempts at ruching, I then had several failed attempts at inserting the zipper into the bias-cut skirt.  The Lonsdale Sew-Along, a second honeymoon, and the trouble with the zipper pushed the dress into September.  The purchase of an invisible zipper foot and several online tutorials solved the zipper issue, and then – finally! – all that was left was a bit of hand sewing.

The dress has a V-neckline and wide straps that have a bit of gathering at the top.  The waist is highlighted by a band of what is supposed to be ruched fabric.  As I noted above, I had a lot of trouble getting the ruching to work with the dress.  It was at times too floppy, too puffy, too obviously sewn down.  I finally just stretched it taut, while the top and bottom seams were already sewn to their respective matching partners, and cut off the excess fabric in the side seams.

The pattern didn’t come with a maxi-length skirt pattern, but it was easy enough to improvise.

The bias cut puts the stripes of fabric at an angle, which I was unsure about at first as I’d originally imagined them going up and down, but which I adore now. I made sure to match everything up so that the diagonal paint line that begins at the overlap of the V-neckline continues all the way down the dress.

The back diagonal line matches even more closely.

My husband and I decided this dress was worthy of a real photo shoot adventure, so we threw our camera into a bag and left the house with only a loose idea as to where we were going.  We ended up stopping at a spectacular serpentine wall.  We even threw in a silly magazine shot:

Oh là là!

This dress is my final garment for the Second-Annual Summer-Essentials Sew-Along.  I finished it with one week left in the summer.  Maybe it can transition into the fall with a colorful cardigan?  Even if it doesn’t make it out much the rest of this year, I know it’ll get a lot of wear next summer.

I’ll leave you with one final shot.  Though there’s nothing particularly special about this photo, I love how the movement implied by the curved wall is continued into the diagonal of the pattern.

It really feels wonderful to be able to make something unique from a plan and a piece of fabric, wouldn’t you agree? Of everything you’ve made this summer, what’s stood out to you as particularly special or unique? I’d love it if you’d add a link in the comments!

50 thoughts on “Paint Me a Maxi Dress: The Reveal

  1. SPECTACULAR. seriously amy. oh my god. absolutely stunning and so worthy of your magazine shoot! the way you matched that up is brilliant. i’m terrified of vogue patterns!

    i guess my favorite make this summer was my two hour dress, just barely in front of my bombshell dress 🙂 i wish i knew how to add a fancy link but here’s the long version:

    i can’t wait to see what you begin next!

    1. Thanks, Oona, and your two-hour dress is fabulous. I can’t believe you pieced it together yourself. As I just said in the comments on your blog, I’ll have to keep that dress in mind for when I find the right fabric pairings. Thanks for sharing!

  2. It looks gorgeous, definitely worth all the work. And the drive for a better photo shoot scenario.

    I didn’t make much this Summer, as I moved house so no favourites to choose from.

  3. Wow, it turned out amazing! =) To be honest, I’m usually not a fan of maxi dresses, but this one is beautiful. I love that fabric, and you did a great job. I know it feels so nice to finish a project that’s had some complications. =)


    1. Thanks, Kristin! It was actually this fabric that turned me on to maxi dresses. With a name like “Paint Me a Maxi Dress,” it’s hard to argue with what it wants to be! It is wonderful to finally overcome the complications in a project and call it finished. I bet you’ll have the same feeling when you finish your quilt! Maybe less because of complications and more because of just how much time a quilt can take!

    1. Your Lonsdale truly is something special. I’m glad you chose such a fun fabric. And, wasn’t it a delightful pattern? I actually wore mine today to a brunch.

  4. Seriously, the wait and headaches along the way were absolutely worth it. This dress is a stunner and you did such a fabulous job with it. Think of all you learned and the joy of wearing it = priceless!

    1. I definitely learned a lot. It’s nice knowing the advantages cutting on the bias can give to a garment and to have a bit of experience with it now. Zippers are still something that I haven’t quite gotten a knack for, but here’s to hoping that practice makes perfect!

    1. That maxi dress is a stunner! And, your photography is just amazing.

      Why is everyone scared of Vogue patterns? Is there something I don’t know?

  5. WOW!! Amy you look stunning in that dress – perfect fabric. Isn’t it great when you do achieve the final result. I believe that it’s fine to be faced with challenges in sewing, it’s a learning process, even though at the time, might feel like it’s never going to work – you’ve proved it does work out. Love the photo-shoot pics and the location is fantastic. Oh – my fav project, because I learned too -

    1. Thank you! And, yes, challenges are good – they keep me on my toes! Love that coat, by the way. You knocked it out of the park with your Valentino!

  6. Oh, it’s looking just beautiful! I think you made exactly the right call about the ruching (I bet it being on the bias is why it was able to pooch out so much).

    Gosh. The bias cut of the skirt is so amazing, though. It makes it just flow, doesn’t it? Wow. I’m going to go and just stare at the pictures again for a bit, k? 🙂

  7. WOW! WOW! WOW! This dress was definitely worth all the bother. Great choice of pattern for you and beautiful sewing makes for a stunning dress. It looks like you’ve dropped into a fashion boutique and picked up a designer number for a couple of grand.

  8. This dress is absolutely stunning. I love everything about it – the fabric, the pattern, the fact that it’s a maxi dress and especially the ruching! You did such a fantastic job. And what a fab photo location too.

    I didn’t get as much sewing done this Summer as I would have liked, but I’m particularly pleased with my Crescent skirt, I wear it all the time (not quite as spectacular as your lovely dress)!

  9. Wow- your maxi has no hint of caftan at all! It’s really stunning, and I feel like it would look great on a red carpet too! The ruched waistline is killer. Love your blog!

  10. This is stunningly beautiful. I bet after it was done you were glad you had persevered through it. It is really lovely. I like the diagonal too … perhaps vertical would have been too mathematically precise?

    I think my favorite this summer is my lonsdale, though I didn’t sew a ton during the summer. Hopefully a year from now I’ll have loads of favorites to pick from.

  11. this dress is amazing! It fits you absolutely perfectly!
    The colors are incredible! I got married in a paint-splat-pattern dress 🙂
    I saw your dress on the Burda site, but for some reason the colors of the fabric don’t pop as much as they do on this blog!

  12. What a beautiful dress! That’s great you were able to finish it up. It really is perfect. The diagonal stripes look great and I love how the bias cut skirt fits. I have that pattern and wouldn’t have thought to lengthen it. I love maxi dresses.

    Great photo shoot too!

    1. I likely wouldn’t have thought to lengthen it either if I weren’t on the hunt for a maxi dress pattern to use with this fabric. I didn’t have a pattern on hand and didn’t feel like buying a pattern, so modify it was!

  13. This turned out so beautifully–the persistence paid off! I loove that first photo with your sandals. Nice lovely light. I’ve had almost a month off sewing and we also moved, so don’t have much to show this summer, but I’m still working on summer clothes! (Still summer here big time.)

  14. I just came upon this from the Sew Weekly…I am in love with this dress! The colors, the way you’ve laid out the fabric, the ruched middle, the length, everything! Great job, and it looks like all the dithering was worth it!

  15. oh wow. I have only just come across your blog today from BurdaStyle and this dress caught my eye immediately! Adding it to my to-do list! But I must say – it really suits you – the fabric and the stylle – very lovely!

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