Washi Maxi Dress Tutorial

You are going to laugh that I am even calling this a “tutorial,” it’s so campy. But that’s how this one is happening. It’s been campified. New word. You would rather that I spent my time cooking up more new and exciting things for you rather than making my tutorials look more profesh, right? If not, now’s the time to speak up. S’all I’m saying.


So before I give you a detailed how-to, here are the key speaking points for making a Washi Dress into a maxi (floor-length dress):

  • Lengthen the skirt pieces so they are long enough
  • Widen the skirt pieces so they don’t trip you when you walk

The key points to remember if you want it fully lined:

  • the lining does not need pockets
  • the front skirt of the lining does not need to be pleated (that adds bulk at your waist, NO GOOD), so you must trim the sides to make the front skirt the same width as the front bodice
  • if you make the lining the same length as the dress, you can hem the dress over the bottom of the lining
  • if you make the lining shorter than the dress (eg knee-length like I did), you need to finish the bottom edge of the lining and then hand-stitch the bottom corners of the lining to the side seam allowances of the dress so that it stays put.
  • you do not need to do the shirring in the back for the lining, but I like to do just one line of shirring so that it gathers a little
  • it may still help to cut a small piece of interfacing and attach it to the back of the front bodice around that little “U” shape to help keep that looking spiffy, as shown in this pic:


  • for the fully lined version, you need to sew the neckline, armholes and side seams in the exact same way as I sewed the bodice lining in my Bodice Lining Video Series (specifically, you should watch videos III, IV, V)

Finally, if you want to make it sleeveless:

  • I usually trim 1/2″ off of the outside of the shoulder along the armhole (front and back, and linings) to make a narrower width over the shoulder. I think this looks better and is quite easy to do. Here’s a picture:


Are you ready for some diagrams? Here are my notes on how I made the maxi version, including fabulous hand-drawn illustrations to amaze and amuse you (click on the images to view larger).

Step 1: Cut out your dress pieces, the bodice, front skirt, and back dress with the following modifications:

Maxi Dress Notes 1

Just in case you can’t read that hint, it says:Β “I used a tape measure to find the distance from my bra band to the floor, then added 2″ = 48″ total (but I am 5’8″)”

Step 2: Cut out and assemble your lining

Maxi Dress Notes 2

Step 3: Assemble the outside of the dress, and attach to lining

Maxi Dress Notes 3

Any questions? I’d be happy to answer any in the comments section (or update the post as needed), so let me know if I can clarify anything!

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In other Washi-related news: The Washi Dress Photo Pool is filling up with amazing Washi Dresses! If you’ve finished your very own Washi Dress be sure to add your photos so we can all admire them. I’ll be doing a round-up post soon!

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23 thoughts on “Washi Maxi Dress Tutorial

  1. I’ve got Washi on the cutting table as I type and was wondering about a lined version. Now I don’t have to. Thanks for the tute…not campy at all.

  2. YAY! It’s here! This tute is awesome and I don’t care what you say. Profesh-ness is totally relative.

    I’m squealing inside after reading that you are my height. I’m not left wondering if and how this will work for moi! Holla.

  3. Great just when I tell myself no more washis for a while, you come out with the maxi tutorial I’ve been wanting to try…guess one more wouldn’t hurt, right? πŸ™‚ Do you think quilting cotton would work for the maxi version or would it be too heavy?

  4. The more Washi I see, the more Washi I need. Do you think the shirring in the back would make a washi tunic nursing-friendly if I was pulling it upwards with a nursing tank under? It looks really empty-baby-house-tummy friendly…. I long to make myself some cute Washi goodness.

  5. While I’m not making a maxi version, I do have the tunic version cut out and ready to sew. I was going to make a sleeveless version so this came at a great time – I wouldn’t have thought to trim the shoulders but that would make a big difference in the look. Thanks!

  6. Ok, I’ve got a question about understitching…after you do that part, would you serge/zigzag the remaining seam allowance that is underneath the facing? Or do you just leave it because it’s tucked between the main fabric and the facing? What if it’s a regular facing and not a lining, so it doesn’t go all the way down? Would you finish the seam allowance edge then? Dose this question even make any sense, haha?

    • Hi Tracy!
      I don’t finish the seam allowances that you’ve understitched to the facing, because they’re already just 1/4″ and the understitching happens about 1/8″ from the neckline seam, so there’s no danger of them fraying, plus, yes they are hidden. [ And, just to make sure we’re all talking about the same thing: to understitch, you fold both seam allowances so they are under the facing / away from the dress, and stitch through the facing and the seam allowances (so 3 layers) about 1/8″ away from the neckline seam. ]

  7. Thanks for this tutorial! I am almost finished with my fully-lined Washi dress, but never having sewn a dress for myself (let alone a lined one), I have a question. When you say sew the side seams, do you mean sew the lining and dress seams separately? Or all together like one dress? If you meant separately, which is what I did, did you then tack the dress and the lining together in spots so that it wouldn’t pull up out of the dress at the top? And if so, where?

  8. I am working on the Washi dress as a maxi. I’m not lining it, and I’m hung up. The tutorial states that I should extend the width of skirt by 2 inches for both the front and the back. Do I skip putting shirring lines on the bodice in order to make the skirt fit into the bodice? I’m not sure, the front looks fabulous though!

    • Hi Sarah,

      Pretty sure the 2″ refers to the bottom of the skirt, not the top. The top of the skirt should stay the same!

      Please email me for pattern support (rather than using comments) if you’d like a quicker response!


  9. Sewing question…I’m making a geranium dress for my 5 year old. I want to line the “skirt” part of it. Would i do the lining the same way as described above? As in cutting the front lining the same width as the front bodice to prevent bulk?

    • Hi Julie — yes, that’s a good idea. Lining the back will work differently for Geranium than for Washi, though. If you email or fill out the contact form, we’ll be happy to help!

  10. Love, love, love this dress pattern.
    I take an F cup bra and did an FBA and it fits perfectly. I can see more of these in the pipeline.

  11. Hi
    I am hoping to make one of these lovely dresses within the next week for a job interview and was wondering whether I would be able to gather the front instead of pleat it and also whether it would be possible to adjust the back slightly so that it had a seam between the top section and the bottom skirt part. Do you think that this would work? This will be the first dress I have ever made for myself.
    Thanks in advance for your help.

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