Sunday, July 20, 2014

An Oonapalooza Maxi Dress!

Not sure if it's just this time of the year, or if it's just me, but is anyone else having the feeling that time is flying like the wind...? I must be getting old. ;) Or maybe it's the weather. We've been having the most glorious summer weather since my birthday two weeks ago, which makes me silently long for times when summer still consisted of six to ten weeks of glorious holidays.

Anyway. Last weekend (um, wait - is it really just a week ago?!) I finally finished my birthday dress. And it's OONALICIOUS!
I found this fabric a few months ago at idee. It's an Italian cotton print. I've never worn a maxi dress in my life, but I fell in love with this fabric the instant I saw it, and it screamed maxi!

And I love it.

I always though that, since I'm not very tall and not very skinny, I'd look silly and stumpy in a maxi dress. Well, guess what. I don't think I do. Actually, if anything, I kind of feel taller wearing it. Which may be because of the wedge heels. Then again, it might just be that maxi dresses are all kinds of awesome. ;)

The bodice is the Tiki Dress bodice from Gertie's Book for Better Sewing, minus the bias band and shortened by about 5cm (because I have a short waist). I omitted the back zipper and just cut the entire back out of one piece, adding width to the back bodice for shirring and lengthening it into a maxi skirt. Then I used that template to make the front part of the skirt, using four box pleats to distribute the extra width.
The bodice front is lined with netting to enclose the seams and get a nicer finish. The straps cross over in the back. The front gathering is done by hand, which makes the gathers very even and it only takes a few minutes! This may be one of my new favorite techniques!
Shirring the back took pretty much forever. It's not one of my favorite techniques to sew. And even though I took care to backstitch at the front and back of every row, a few backstiches were too short and the elastic got loose. Hmpf. Note to myself: do longer backstitches, esp. at the end.

On the other hand, it makes fitting and wearing the dress so easy! So maybe I like shirring after all...

So, on to:

The Facts: 
Pattern: Tiki Dress bodice from Gertie's Book for Better Sewing, size 8 at the bust grading to size 10 at the waist. Self-drafted maxi skirt with slits up to the knee.
Fabric: 2m of Italian cotton print from idee, 14€/m on sale (yes!) and about 0.5m of elastic net lining from
Notions: Elastic thread
Time to complete: A couple of hours for tracing and cutting, maybe three or four hours sewing, most of which consisted of shirring the back.
Techniques used: Shirring in the back, hand-gathering the front bodice, the seams are first stitched on my regular machine and then overlocked. The straps are made like bias tape (but on the straight grain) by folding the edges to the middle and then folding along the middle and edge-stitching.
Alterations: Graded the bodice between size 8 and 10, shortened by about 5cm, added 5cm to each side of the back bodice for shirring (as instructed in the Tiki Dress variation).
First worn: Going shopping with my mom.

It's second outing was worthy of Oona herself, though: a glorious birthday bash at a 1920s cocktail bar, slurping Old Cubans and Dark'n'Stormys (my fav summer drinks!) while lounging in leather chairs.

So, what do you think about maxi dresses? And what's your favorite cocktail? :)


  1. Alessa, love the maxi dress! Looks fab on you. And I love the background (sigh.) Oh, and your haircut is adorable! Hope your work is going well also. Just had to stop by out of lurking to comment today!

  2. This is really gorgeous on you! I love the bodice, and the shirring was worth the effort. Now you just need lots of excuses to wear it! : )

  3. Gorgeous! The shirring looks great and the whole dress shouts summer. I too hesitate over max is for similar reasons but coincidentally just sewed a maxi skirt using some fabric from you! Must photo it

  4. That's a great reference to Oona but still you. Love it

  5. Love it so much that I want to make one! It is so flattering on you!

  6. It's gorgeous! And the shirring is a great idea. Pretty fabric!

  7. I love it! You look very Oonalicious!!

  8. This looks beautiful - and you look beautiful in it! What a great print. I love the idea of maxi dresses and would love a DIY version (i.e. non-jersey-tube that seems to be all that anybody around here wears). Have yet to make one up, although copying you feels awfully tempting right now :-).

  9. Looks fantastic on you! You should make more. Love mojito and spritz

  10. i seriously can't believe this is the first (amazing) maxi for you-- so many ladies are pulling out the maxis for this and it's making me DANCE WITH GLEE!!!

    i kind of have to copy you now. okay? complete with cocktail bar.

  11. Oh yes, totally do! Definitely complete with cocktail bar! :D