How to Easily Sew Your Own DIY Maxi Dress Without Using a Pattern

Creations by Shey
by Creations by Shey
9 Materials
2 Hours

This DIY maxi dress with a gathered ruffle and sleeve is so pretty and comfortable! If you’ve been wondering how to make a maxi dress even if you’re new to sewing, this DIY maxi dress pattern uses just your own t-shirt as a template and is super simple to make!

You’ll use just 2 stitches: a gathering and a straight stitch to make this beautiful DIY maxi dress. Let’s get started!

Tools and materials:

  • 2.2 yards (2.5 meters) of fabric
  • ¼-inch elastic
  • Your own t-shirt with sleeves
  • Sewing machine
  • Scissors
  • Measuring tape
  • Pins
  • Washable marker or tailor’s chalk
  • Safety pin
How to make a DIY maxi dress pattern

1. Make the pattern

Fold the fabric in half and then again in half lengthwise.

Using a top that fits well to trace the DIY maxi dress pattern

Use your own top that fits you well but loosely. Tuck in the sleeves completely so the armhole is visible to use as a template. Lay your top on top of the fabric, carefully pinning it in place so it doesn’t move when cutting. 

Drafting the DIY maxi dress pattern

Measure from the very top of the shoulder to about 4 inches above your knee measurement on the fabric. Cut the fabric right there. 

Cutting around the top with seam allowance

Cut around your top, leaving a 1-inch seam allowance.

Cutting out the DIY maxi dress pattern

Cut along the length. Remove the pins from your top and set it aside. 

Extending the neckline

Extend the neckline front and back by 3 inches.

Trimming the front neckline

Trim the front neckline to be about 2 inches lower than the back. Pin the shoulders together.

Making the DIY maxi dress sleeve pattern

2. Make the sleeve pattern

Double fold the fabric. Open the sleeve on your top and lay it across the fabric, about 4 to 5 inches away from the folded edge.

Cutting around the curve of the armhole

Carefully cut around the curve of the armhole. 

Measuring the length of the sleeve

Measure your desired length of the sleeve. In this tutorial, I measured from the shoulder to the wrist. Cut this length across the fabric. 

Cutting out the DIY sleeve pattern

Create a curve along the length of the sleeve by drawing it freehand with your chalk or marker. Make the bottom of the sleeve a bit wider for a bell or balloon finish.

Cut out the curve on the sleeve, following your drawn guide.

Marking the center top of the sleeve

With the fabric folded, trim the corner on the fold to mark the center top of the sleeve.

Making a pattern for the ruffle

3. Make the ruffle pattern

Measure the length from just above your knee to above your ankle. You will need to cut 2 pieces of fabric to this measurement.

Cutting out the ruffle and using it to trace a second ruffle

Cut the first piece and use it as a guide to cut the second piece.

Making a pattern for the DIY maxi dress belt

4. Make the belt pattern

Cut the fabric 6 inches wide across the double-folded fabric. 

Sewing the shoulder seams of the maxi dress

5. Sew the DIY maxi dress

Pin the shoulders together and sew with a straight stitch.

Pulling the gathering stitch at the top of the sleeve

Add a gathering stitch at the top of the sleeve. Pull the threads to gather.

Pinning the sleeve to the amrhole

Position and pin the sleeve to the dress armhole, right sides together. Stitch all along the sleeve to the armhole.

Sewing the ruffle to the DIY maxi dress

Sew one side seam of the ruffle so it’s one long piece. Add a gathering stitch to the ruffle piece along the top.

How to sew a maxi dress with a ruffle

Position it in place along the bottom of the main dress, right sides together, distributing the gathers evenly. Pin in place and stitch across.

Sewing the sides seams of the maxi dress

Pin and sew the side seams of the dress and the inner sleeve seam. 

Sewing the casing for the elastic

At the edge of the sleeves, fold in and pin about ½ inch to make a casing for the elastic. Measure your wrist with the elastic and cut to your measurement.

How do you make a maxi dress?

Sew the casing across, leaving about 2 inches unsewn to insert the elastic. Attach a safety pin to the elastic, insert into the space, and tunnel it through.

Once the elastic edges meet, stitch the elastic ends together. Push back into the casing, distribute the gathers evenly, and stitch the 2-inch opening closed.

Hemming the bottom of the maxi dress

Hem the bottom of the dress with a ½-inch fold.

Fold the belt in half right sides together. Sew along the length and one short side. Use the unsewn end to turn the belt right side out and then sew the open edge closed.

Making neck facing for the maxi dress

6. Attach a neck facing

Cut a 1-inch wide strip of fabric that measures the circumference of the neck. Pin in place, right sides together. Stitch close to the edge.

Sewing the facing to the neckline

Once that’s sewn, fold the strip twice into the neckline and topstitch.

How to make a DIY maxi dress

DIY maxi dress

DIY maxi dress tutorial

You’ve made a beautiful DIY maxi dress! Let me know in the comments what you think of this tutorial and the final results. Thanks for joining!

Suggested materials:
  • 2.2 yards (2.5 meters) of fabric
  • ¼-inch elastic
  • Your own t-shirt with sleeves
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