Beach Goddess Maxi + tutorial

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So I made myself a new maxi dress for the beach! It makes me feel super glamorous. It’s made out of flowy cotton rayon which also makes it incredibly comfortable. The other great thing about this dress is that I made it with just one 1.5-yard piece of 54″ wide fabric. AND it was super quick to make, which is just the right speed for me these days; it’s gotta be fast otherwise it just won’t happen.

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The basic idea is that you cut the fabric into two rectangles, sew the sides together, leaving the bottom 18″ unsewn for slits, sew with elastic thread in a big spiral around the top portion (shirring tutorial here), and then finish the hem and slits. The only thing that’s a bit time consuming is the shirring; you go through about four bobbins worth of elastic thread, so that requires some serious concentration because sewing around and around a tube of fabric a bajillion times is not the most mentally stimulating activity. I should have put on some TV. I just finished binge-watched all five seasons of Breaking Bad on Netflix, which is so good and awful at the same time. It was like watching a wreck happen, I just couldn’t look away. If you do not like violence do not ever watch that show. It’s downright horrifying. And addicting. But awesome. Anyhoo.

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I’ve mentioned before that this cotton rayon challis is one of my favorite fabrics of all time. Pink Castle has a few of the Free Spirit rayons in stock, including this one, and I found a few at Pink Chalk too (both of these shops sponsor my blog). In addition to being really comfortable to wear, the cotton rayons also cinch up like a dream when you do the elastic shirring.

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I sketched out some basic instructions just in case you wanted to make one yourself; I’m pretty sure that this would fit just about anyone, but if you’re pretty small (XS or S) you might want to narrow the pieces by a few inches so that it doesn’t just slide right off of you. I’m wearing a women’s size large these days and it fits perfectly.

And my handy-dandy tutorial for elastic shirring can be found here:

shirring with elastic thread

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18 thoughts on “Beach Goddess Maxi + tutorial

  1. The 3rd to last episode of Breaking bad made my husband so angry he had to leave the room – but he came back (after a day or two) to watch the last two episodes. It’s a BEAST – really good, but so hard to watch at times.

    On a different note- the dress is lovely! I need to get over my hesitation to do some shirring – I already have the elastic thread and everything! Maybe something on a toddler scale to get me started.

  2. Beautiful dress! Thanks for the instructions. It’s very hot here in London today and I was noticing a lot of elegant women out and about in simple maxi dresses, so it’s feeling like a hole in my wardrobe.

    The boyfriend and I watched the first two seasons of Breaking Bad and decided we didn’t want any more. We have watched a lot of violent stuff but somehow BB felt much more gratuitous and with less point to it all than, say, The Wire (which I’ve heard a lot of people associate it with). From a European perspective the plot also seemed like a really good argument for decent public healthcare!!

  3. Hi mjb — I think the word rayon refers to the process not the content, so you can have 100% polyester rayon or 100% cotton rayon, or a rayon blend, I was under the impression that all of the free spirit rayons were printed on the same cotton rayon substrate…but I could be wrong?

  4. OMG….Thank you Rae!!!

    I so don’t want to spend money on a pre-made maxi dress and prefer to make my own in a unique fabric I really like.

    I’m not the bustiest woman in the world (36B+/C-) but would prefer straps to feel more secure in my urban environment. Any pointers on adding straps to this?

    I also love the few episodes I’ve seen of Breaking Bad. Maybe I’ll catch a cold in 6 months so I can watch the entire series sequentially! (My personal suggestion : Walking Dead for your next project!)

  5. No, rayon is the content AND the process– it’s a fiber made from chemically treated cellulose, usually wood, sometimes bamboo.

  6. oh, rae! i love this! and you look beautiful (as always!). i’m thinking that 1 yard would make a cute to the knee sundress….off to see what rayons i have in the stash!

  7. Great dress! Heather Ross’s free Mendocino Sundress pattern is similar, if people want a dress with pattern pieces.

  8. Love the dress. I have been saving a gift certificate to pink chalk for the perfect project. Thanks for the inspiration.
    My husband and I recently finished binge watching all 5 seasons as well. When it was all done I felt like I needed counseling. Just kidding…not really ;) Just so intense and honestly I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

  9. Hi Rae, This tutorial couldn’t have come at a better time. :) I have a question for you which I’m sure you must get quite a bit, but I bought some of the new Sew Caroline knit fabric that I want to use for this. Do you have any suggestions on how to do this differently if I use a knit? Thanks!

  10. Thank you so much for the tutorial! I’ve been thinking to make the dress for awhile, just haven’t got over of my hesitation to do some shirring on lined fabric. My main fabric is quite sheer and needs lining. How I could shirr two layers together the best way? Any suggestions? Thanks :)

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