Part 1: The Maxi Skirt

Pattern: Self drafted

Fabric: Unknown jersey from the free bin at school

Notions: None

Time To Complete: After drafting, 20 minutes


As much as I love the look of a maxi dress or skirt, I’ve never considered wearing one. At 5’1, it’s not only been impossible to find one in stores that would fit me but it’s also been in grained in me that they are only flattering on taller beauties. So when I teamed up with Ina, from SkyTurtle, to make an item we wouldn’t normally wear, I knew a maxi dress was mine! In case you missed my inspiration, I was after a sleeveless knit max with a scoop neck, razor back, and flare at the hip. I wanted something form fitting but still casual. Although I chose to self draft my dress, Jamie Christina’s Mission Maxi Dress Pattern would have been the ticket.

While at school one day working on my maxi dress draft, I spied this grey blue jersey in the free bin. It was a much more appropriate weight than the knit fabric I had brought for my muslin so I chose to use it instead. Knowing that I had ordered some fabric online especially for this project, I didn’t give much thought to testing out new methods of binding necklines and armholes on the muslin.

The following week, my fabric arrived and I was so excited. I ordered two different options from Gorgeous Fabrics: a shimmery chevron and a bold swirl. I figured between the two there would be an appropriate option but I was sorely disappointed. The shimmery chevron, to put it lightly, is tacky. From the pictures you have no idea just how shimmery we’re talking but it’s not the sort of thing that day dresses are made of. The bold swirl could work but I didn’t like the way the poly/lycra clung rather than skimmed the body. In all fairness, they are really lovely textiles but I couldn’t bring myself to cut into them when I knew they weren’t what I was after.

At the eleventh hour, I decided to salvage my maxi dress muslin. I sliced it off at the waist and made a double fold waistband. While it’s not a complete failure I wouldn’t call it a success. It’s nothing like the gorgeous skirt Ina made! My main complaint is that it just doesn’t go in my wardrobe. I had an awful time putting an outfit together and it seemed like every idea I had my closet couldn’t provide. I actually think this could look quite nice with a thin white tank top but amazingly I don’t own one! Instead, I settled for this white shirt I made last fall. It works but I do feel like I have a lot of fabric on.

For the pictures I had this lovely idea of a wind swept beach background. The reality versus fantasy when taking photos still cracks me up. I imagined myself as a sea goddess thrown amongst barnacle festooned rocks. A graceful Venus arriving at the shore…

In actuality, a day at the beach looks a bit more like this:


31 Responses to “Part 1: The Maxi Skirt”

  1. ha! love the beach photos and your humor 🙂 I’ve had the same problem with my skirts–no tops in my wardrobe go all that well with them. it’s disappointing, and I vow to make the right top (one day), and until then the skirts aren’t getting much wear…. argh! No more skirts for me (for now). the color of your skirt looks splendid on you!

    • Thank you! It was definitely a funny photo shoot.
      I know, I think this is the first garment in a while that isn’t compatible with anything (save for white shirts) in my closet. It’s so frustrating.

  2. You did a great job. I am like you in that I always go with my gut – if a fabric doesn’t feel right then it probably isn’t. And your pictures are hilarious. Isn’t it funny how we think things will turn out and they just dont, at all!

  3. i think it looks great. i am only 5’3″ so understand your reluctance, but I love the maxi.

  4. It’s funny, when I saw the thumbnail photo in my reader, I thought you looked so tall in this skirt! It’s such a pretty color– I really like it!

  5. It looks great! And the top goes well with it too!

  6. When I saw your first picture, I was very impressed with your pairing of the maxi and the locale. I just about died when I saw your last shot. It always is a bit like that, right? (Great save on the maxi skirt, by the way.)

  7. I really think you short change yourself here… I thought ‘windswept sea goddess’ from the first picture onwards… so I think you totally nailed it! I ADORE this skirt on you – I think the colour and drape are just lovely, and it looks perfect with the white tee – Beautiful!!

    Honestly, you shorter gals are lucky; do you know how hard it is to find pants or long dresses that are long enough when you’re tall? LOL 🙂 Before I got fed up and decided to learn to sew in earnest, I had to go to a wedding last summer and purchased a long jersey dress that SHOULD have been ‘maxi’ but in reality it was about eight inches off the ground – ICK!

    • Oh, thank you! I’m blushing! I kid you not, I was actually swept off the rocks by the wind right after we took the third picture down. It was absolutely hilarious!
      Yes, sewing is the way to go – no more standard sizes that don’t seem to fit anyone.

  8. In Northern California a day at the beach does look like a gal freezing her behind off!!!!! Great Skirt and great pictures!

  9. Haha, I love the last picture so much 🙂 And I would call this a success 🙂 It looks graceful!

  10. I LOVE this! You can definitely do a maxi. I think it’s elegant. I swear, I don’t think I’ve ever taken a photo in the bay area where my I’m not eating my hair. But there’s something about the fabric whipping all over the place that looks cool anyway!

  11. Hey, I love how it drapes. I like the colour too! And I love the short white top + maxi look.
    I had the same feeling, that I was wearing a lot of fabric. At the metro, a lady stepped on it and I almost fell :)) Note to self – princess length is not for city walking.

    Now I can’t stop thinking about the transparent light green pleated maxi I posted in my inspiration post

  12. Haha! I don’t know… you look pretty Venus-y to me! I actually really love the length on you! Who says short girls can’t wear maxi lengths?! Also I think pairing it with the white top totally works. Its a very graceful look. Do you think you will continue your hunt for fabric for a maxi dress? I do hope so – I think it would look fantastic on you!

  13. I agree with everyone else – the skirt looks great on you! I like the length and I think that top looks darling with it. A strappy, flowy cami would be really pretty, too. You’re totally pulling off Venus at the beach – it makes for such a beautiful background!

    I am so sad about that shimmery jersey! I love that fabric and have considered ordering some. What are you going to do with it? I hear ya on the poly jersey. The one maxi that I made out of poly fits differently than the cotton and rayon versions. I never wear it and I’ve been brainstorming how to chop it up and make something new.

    • Thank you, Stephanie!
      I was so excited about that jersey – I thought it would have a subtle shimmer thread throughout but it’s pretty strong. I’d recommend ordering a swatch. I think in the right garment it could look really great but I was hesitant with a skin tight, full maxi! I know there’s a garment out there that will downplay that shimmer though!
      I went snooping at the department stores when designing this to look at the fabric they were using. I hadn’t considered the content but rather just the weight… now that I’ve made this I’m realizing all my favorites at the store were cotton or rayon. The fabric has more of a loft than a drag like the poly. Aghh… fabric education!

  14. I’ve decided that my next winter fun piece will be a casual maxi skirt – thanks for the inspiration

  15. Thanks for the laugh! You still look good (and look like you had a good time!). I’m glad you blogged about this maxi challenge–it gave my 5’2″ self the motivation to cut out the Mission Maxi dress by Jamie Christina, and I’m so glad I did. Never knew it could feel so comfortable/look flattering on my frame!

  16. You look so amazing!! this color palette really suites you! And I love the pictures. The candid shots always make me laugh so much when I take photos.

  17. I love the color of the skirt, it really works with the sea goddess theme that you’ve narrated. I don’t think it’s a bust!! Don’t give up on it after the first go ’round! Here’s what I would try: (a) Wear a top that is similar in tone to the skirt; less contrast might help continue the length and elongate. (b) Try untucking the blouse you’re wearing and belting to create a defined waist. Two-cents. Love your third photo, you look beautiful!

  18. “I imagined myself as a sea goddess thrown amongst barnacle festooned rocks. A graceful Venus arriving at the shore…”

    I just love that mental picture! Ryan and I have a similar experience when photographing my garments. If I’ve envisioned exactly what I want the final shots/setting to look like or exude, it’s guaranteed to fail. If we organically stumble into something together, serendipity happens. It’s so difficult to translate one’s own mental image to another sometimes.

    You look a mile tall in that first shot. So much so, that I might be reconsidering my stance on maxi skirts/dresses and my figure. Maybe I could pull it off? The linen/poly blend I used for the yellow Renfrew is a little clingy, too. You said it: fabric education.


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