Maxi Trouble

Once in a while, I leave my writing cave (also known as my office) and get myself into trouble.

The latest – I ran by the local fabric store to pick up some 4th of July themed goodies for a giveaway box I was putting together. All I needed to do was run in and grab some festive straws and napkins.

The moment I stepped into the store, I was lured to a display of soft, summery fabric perfect for making a maxi dress.

I’d been searching for a dress I liked and I fell in love with a piece of fabric.

dress 2

The best part – all it needed was a quick seam up the side to wear. The fabric is shirred and the bottom edge is finished. In theory, it would take five minutes to make this one-seam dress.

I asked the woman at the cutting counter if she had an idea how much I needed. Her response was a non-committal shrug.

Uncertain what I needed, I bought twice as much fabric as I thought I might use and excitedly headed home.

By the time I unloaded the car, I’d decided how to convert the sundress into something more modest. I’d just cut out a T-shirt in the same fabric and sew it to the top. No problem.

The first thing I did was search for instructions on how to make the dress. I found an easy tutorial on It’s Always Autumn.

dress 3

Basically, you measure the fabric one inch SMALLER than what is needed to rest comfortable around your chest, cut it (cut through the shirring then  rip the rest of fabric along the length down to the bottom to get an easy straight line), then sew up the seam. It’s super easy to pin those raw edges together and sew.

My challenge came when I wanted to add the T-shirt. I found an incredibly simple pattern on It’s Always Autumn.

With a free printable, it took no time to cut out the T-shirt and sew it. I made it short, so the hem was about an inch below where it met the top of the dress. The real challenge came when I wanted to put the T-shirt and the dress together. The shirring (which is elasticized) made it impossible for me to pin the pieces together. The shirred area needed to be stretched as I pinned and I couldn’t do it alone.

Desperate to finish the “stupid dress that is sucking up all my time!”, I begged Captain Cavedweller to help me pin the two pieces together. Had anyone watched what proceeded from that point, they most likely would have needed to be hospitalized from side-splitting laughter.

I put on the two pieces and asked him to pin it. As he took the pin cushion and his big fingers fumbled to pull out a pin, there was much grumbling about what good were my girlfriends if they couldn’t help with stuff like that. Since it was late evening by that point and all of them live miles away, it didn’t seem likely any one of them would rush right over to help pin the “stupid, stupid dress that is sucking up all my time!”

By the third attempt at pinning things properly, Captain Cavedweller had poked himself at least a half dozen times and me at least twice as many. But we got the job done.

I sewed the pieces together, ready to be all finished with the project.

Then I realized the length was way too long. I’m tall but I had to take a good four inches off the bottom just to have it sweep the floor. Add in the time of putting in a hem in the “stupid, stupid, stupid dress that is sucking up all my time!”

Frustrated beyond belief, I was about ready to toss the whole thing and put a hex on anyone who dared utter the word maxi dress to me. Instead, I plowed ahead, finished the hem, ironed the dress, and hung it in my closet, scowling at it every time I looked at it.

dress 1

Then I took it on vacation with us and wore it.

Oh, my gracious! The fabric is so soft and flowy and feminine. Despite all the work (which probably would not have been half so difficult if I used my sewing machine more than once every few years!), I love the dress.

If you want a super simple summer dress, just look for the “one seam” fabric. If you wear it as a sundress – you really could have a new dress to wear in less than an hour.

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