Fri-DIY-day: The 1-Hour Summertime Schmatta

The other morning when I got up, it was a bajillion degrees. In weather that feels like a hundred blow dryers aimed at my skin, I don't want waistbands or zippers or anything fussy -- just something simple and thin and not-clingy. So I whipped up this little maxi dress before heading out the door into the Venusian-ish weather.

It is perhaps the most basic dress ever, and absolutely perfect for standing inside a clothes dryer. Here's how I made it.

1. Choose your fabric. I used a thin, drapey jersey with a bit of stretch to it. I like how this floats along the contour of my body without clinging to it. You could use a drapey bamboo or rayon as well. I would probably stick to a lightweight knit for this dress unless you want a dramatic daishiki-ish tent shape around your body. Which might be nice in terms of it never touching your skin? Play around and see what you like. Pro-tip: stripes make it easy to line things up!

2. Next, sew your fabric into a tube that has holes for your head and arms. Use a serger if you have one; if not, just use a ball-point needle and zigzag stitch. The tube should be a few inches bigger than your biggest measurement.

  • My fabric was 54" wide, so I just folded it up the center fold and sewed it into a tube along the selvage, leaving 9" at the top unsewed for an armhole. Then I sewed along the top edge to create shoulder seams. Finally I cut an armhole into the folded side.
  • You could also cut out 2 rectangles of your fabric and sew them up along the sides and top edge, leaving room for your neck and armholes.
  • Or, if you have a super long piece of fabric, you can fold it along the shoulder seam edge, cut out a neckhole, and sew up the sides.

Here is what you want to end up with:

Now go put this giant tube of fabric on over your head inside out. Grab some pins and go to a mirror. Pinch and pin under the arms and along the sides where you want to remove excess and make the dress fit closer. I left quite a bit of ease because of the hot weather, but make it as body con as you want!

Also, mark where you want the dress to end. I am pretty tall, and my dress came out to be about 62" long. For me, being able to make the maxi dress actually maxi length is reason enough to make one!

Now take the dress off. Fold it up the center and check out your pinned seams along both sides. Even them out so they are approximately symmetrical. Mine ended up looking something like this:

Go and sew along your pinned seams.

With a sharp pair of scissors, trim the bottom of the dress where you marked. You can finish this properly if you want, by cutting it a little long, then double-folding the hem and sewing it with a double needle. I didn't finish mine and am OK with that.

Trim and/or finish the ends of the sleeves.

Finally, put on some big earrings and go be all comfy and goddess-y in public.

I am digging this one so much that I may make a mini-version too! Hot pink and black stripes, I'm lookin' at you ...