the relaxed maxi dress sewing pattern and tutorial
In today’s post: Download the free pattern for this relaxed maxi dress in size large.
I hope you guys are all having a great summer! I just can’t believe how quickly it is flying by – my kids are back to school in less than four weeks.
Since it’s so hot this time of year, I’ve been living in maxi dresses. Today I have a new pattern for you: the Relaxed Maxi dress. It’s so comfortable!
Let’s be honest here: this maxi dress is kind of a big nightgown. It’s certainly not the fanciest thing I’ve ever made, but it’s pretty perfect for wearing to the pool or park because it’s comfortable and cool. And as long as you use a fabric with good drape it’s not even embarrassing to leave the house in 😉
And hey, it’s got pockets! You can leave them out if you want – the dress is SUPER fast to sew up if you skip the pockets – but I just love pockets in a dress. I know some people don’t like them because they do accentuate the hip area, but in my book there ain’t nothing wrong with that.
Relaxed maxi dress pattern
Click here to download the relaxed maxi dress pattern in size Large (38 inch bust). Print it out at full size or 100%. There is a grey square on page 8 that should be exactly 1 inch. The pattern prints on 12 sheets of 8.5×11 paper. Butt the sheets of paper together without overlapping or trimming. Tape together and cut out the pattern.
You will need 2 yards of 55-60 inch wide knit (stretchy) fabric. A lighter weight knit that drapes nicely will be the most flattering for this dress – the one I used was almost too thick. Wash and dry the fabric before you begin.
Fold the selvedge sides of the fabric in so they meet in the middle, as shown below. Cut 2 of the dress pattern piece out on the fold, one with the front neckline, and one with the back neckline. Cut 2 of the cuff pattern piece on the fold. Cut 4 of the pocket piece. Finally, cut a neckbinding piece: 1.75 inches tall by about 28 inches wide, with the stretch along the width.
How to sew a relaxed maxi dress
The first step is to hem the bottom curved edge of the front and back dress pieces. The arrows below show where the hem should begin and end. Fold the entire curved area under 1/2 an inch, then press and sew. I like to use a double needle when hemming knits because it looks more professional, but you could also use a narrow zigzag.
When hemming curved areas like this, it can be helpful to sew a gathering stitch about 1/4 inch away the the edge first. Then you can pull on the lower thread to gather the fabric just slightly around the curved portions as you turn the material under 1/2 an inch. Press it with steam before and after hemming to get a nice, tidy looking curved hem.
The next step is to add the pocket pieces. NOTE: once the pockets are in, you can’t really adjust the fit using the side seams. The first time you make a pattern like this it can be a good idea to sew the side seams together with a basting stitch and try on the dress just to see if you’re going to like the fit or if you will want to make it slimmer along the sides. Do this before adding the pockets. Sew with a basting stitch so that once you’ve tried it on, you can easily pull the side seam back out to put in the pockets.
Pocket placement is marked on the pattern with two dots. Place a pocket piece down on the dress piece at those two dots, RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER. Sew the pocket to the dress using a 1/2 inch seam allowance. Open the pocket away from the dress piece and press it. Topstitch as shown in the 2nd photo below.
Repeat until you have two pocket pieces sewn to the front dress piece and two pocket pieces sewn to the back dress piece.
Lay the front dress piece on top of the back piece, right sides together. It will look like the photo below. Pin and sew across the shoulders, using a 1/2 inch seam allowance.
Pin and sew from the under arm, down the side seam, around the pocket, and down to where the curved hem begins.
When sewing around the pockets, be sure to sew a right corner at the top and bottom of the pocket, as shown in the photo below. I used a serger to finish off the edges of my side seams, but I had to use my sewing machine to turn the corners above and below the pockets.
Turn the dress right side out and press all the seams. Now you can add the sleeve cuffs.
Fold each sleeve cuff in half, right sides together, and sew across the raw edges as shown by the dots below.
Fold the cuff in half lengthwise and press, with the right side out. Slip the cuff over the dress sleeve, as shown in the photo below. Sew the raw edge of the cuff to the raw edge of the sleeve using a stitch that will stretch (serger, stretch stitch, or zig zag).
Flip the cuff out away from the dress and press. If desired, roll the cuff up and hack tack it down so it will stay rolled up.
The last step is to add the neckbinding. Fold it in half lengthwise and press. Remember that the neckbinding piece must stretch lengthwise. Find the middle of the binding piece and pin it to the front middle of the dress, raw edges matching (top photo below).
Stretching the neckbinding slightly, pin it around the neckline of the dress. This will cause the neckline to bunch up. Where the binding meets at the center back, open it up and sew it right sides together, then trim off any excess.
Now you will sew the neckbinding to the dress using a stitch that will stretch and a 1/2 inch seam allowance.
The dress will be bunched up slightly under the neckbinding piece. As you sew, gently stretch out the binding piece until it lays flat on the dress (second photo below).
Sew all the way around. The neckline may look wonky when you finish, but press it with plenty of steam and it should end up nice and flat like you see below:
One more maxi dress for your summer wardrobe!
One last note: I am 5′ 3″ and as you can see the dress touches the ground while I’m wearing sandals or flip flops. If you are taller or shorter, you may want to add or subtract some length when you are cutting out your pattern pieces.
Want more maxi dress patterns? Visit these posts:
27 free maxi dress patterns and tutorials
The cap sleeve maxi dress
The raglan tee maxi dress (my favorite!)
How to make a maxi in under 30 minutes
The grecian wrap maxi
Free sewing pattern and tutorial for this easy breezy relaxed maxi dress. Learn how to make a DIY maxi dress that’s comfy and cool for summer!