Whether we’ll be spending the summer working, staycationing, travelling or staying at home with the kids, we all need to update our summer wardrobe!
I strongly believe that Maxi dresses are Summer Wardrobe staples. Let’s face it, sometimes we want to be lazy and not think about coordinating several pieces of clothing. Or you may simply be a woman who enjoys wearing beautiful long and flowy dresses. Whichever is your case, I have 5 useful tips on how to build a maxi dress collection. I will be focusing on knit dresses since I believe these can be made very quickly because they require less fitting than woven dresses!
1. Choosing the fabric…
When selecting summer fabrics, you want to make sure you choose a fabric made out of fibers than will allow for your skin to breath. Natural fibers are your best option. They will be more expansive but will be the most comfortable to wear. Cotton knits will make you very comfortable on those hot summer days. If you are looking for comfort at a lesser price you could go for rayon knit which is a plant-based man-made fibers. This fabric will allow for great comfort. My last recommendation would be to choose a cotton/polyester blend knit. The higher the cotton fiber content, the more breathable the fabric will be. Want to know about which fabric trends to follow for your future knit maxi dresses? My top picks would be STRIPES, FLORALS and BORDER prints.
2. Choosing the right sewing presser foot
My favorite feet to sew knits are the Knit Foot and the Walking foot. Both do a great job at even feeding your fabrics. When working with stripes, I love to pin first, than using my walking foot, I sew my seams using slow to medium speed. It never fails me! The main difference I have noticed between both feet is that the knit foot is an easy snap on foot. Also, it is less noisy than the walking foot (awesome for late night sewing). They both have an extended arm that wraps around the needle clamp screw which allows it to move up and down thus allowing for better control over the top fabric.
The walking foot is a bigger piece of equipment. You actually need to unscrew and screw it in place. If you jump in between projects like me, it may be annoying to screw and unscrew this foot every time you work on a different project.
3. Choosing the right needles
When sewing with knits, I always pull out a Jersey needle (also known as ballpoint needle). Depending on the weight of your fabric, you may choose to go for a 70/10, 80/12 or 90/14. Your regular 100% polyester thread will do when using this type of needles.
When hemming, you can get that cover stitch hem look by using a universal double needle. I usually go for a 3mm or 4mm separation. Once again choose your needle size (80/12 or 90/14) according to the fabric weight!
4. Stay what?? Use Stay tape!
When working with knits, putting the finishing touch can be quite an adventure! Does wavy necklines, armholes and hems sounds familiar to you? Fear no more! Stay tape is about to become your new friend! To prevent stretching on those areas, pin tape to one of the fabrics on the stitch line (wrong side). Pin fabric (with stay tape) to other fabric. Stitch seam as usual. Bye Bye wavy seams! Stay tape can also be used as a way to stop thin knit fabrics from rolling.
5. Jazz it up!
Now the key to get the most out of any given wardrobe is to use ACCESSORIES! Using the perfect accessories, you will be able to keep a few maxi dresses in rotation all summer without getting bored! Investing into great accessories will allow you to get the most out of your wardrobe yearlong! So where should one start? First, get yourself a couple of belts. Whether you like skinny belts, larger belts, mirror belts …. Just get them! Next, changing your necklace/ maxi dress combination can be a great way to jazz up you look. Wearing a solid colored maxi dress with different bold necklaces will get you more wear by dividing the attention between your dress and your necklace. Find some unique and bold pieces to add to your jewelry collection!
Another trick is to through on a denim jacket, a denim shirt or a blazer on top of your dress in the evening (or on cooler days). You instantly get a new look! Lastly, let us not forget about shoes! Change it up by wearing the same dress with flats, sneakers, platforms or regular heels. You would be surprise to see how changing your footwear can instantly give you a new look. I truly believe that accessories should be any smart seamstresses’ best friend!
Pattern inspiration (Bonus)
Here you can see me wearing 2 dresses made using Simplicity 1358. I have about 4 different versions of this dress in my wardrobe and plan to make more! When looking for knit dresses patterns, try to opt for those with hem and neckline variations! You get more use out of these types of patterns! Here are some pattern suggestions: McCall’s 7384 | McCall’s 7122 | Butterick 6051 | Butterick 6437 | Butterick 6308 | Simplicity 8291 | New Look 6210.
I truly hope that these few tips will keep your summer sewing inspiration going! Once you find the right pattern, you can get at least 2 maxi dresses made in half a day!