Golden Hills Maxi

Pattern: Self drafted (to achieve a similar look, I’d recommend Jamie Christina’s Mission Maxi)

Fabric: about 2 yards of Ella Moss rayon jersey and tricot swimsuit lining

Notions: Wooly Nylon

Time to Complete: Weeks… but I’ll be able to bust the next one out in a few hours.


Remember this challenge? The one where we tried to sew a style that we wouldn’t normally wear? The one Ina of Sky Turtle inspired? Even though my first dress skirt left much to be desired, I was determined to make this pattern work. After I returned from vacation, I picked it back up with help from my instructor and finished it just in time for the first week of summer!

I’d say the biggest road block to this garment was the fabric. My first version taught me to avoid fabrics with vertical stretch – no one wants to watch the hemline grow throughout the day. I wanted a lightweight fabric with a nice subtle drape that hugged rather than clung. This meant that online shopping was out of the question if I didn’t want to order dozens of swatches. I headed to Stone Mountain Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley and found this knit but I was a little worried about its opacity.  It’s ever so slightly sheer so my instructor suggested lining it with nylon tricot (think swimsuit lining). I was resistant at first (wouldn’t it be hot or itchy?) but I’m so glad I took her advice. I’m not seeing the static cling that I did with my jersey lining and the tricot acts like a lightweight girdle holding me in without restricting me.

Once I had the fabric finalized, the construction of this dress was a breeze – two long seams later, I was ready to think about finishing the neckline and armholes. There are dozens of ways to bind a neckline and the choice can be a bit overwhelming. I’m no expert and I was petrified that I’d stretch the edges out. I tested several samples but finally chose a simple self fabric binding with a narrow coverstitch to secure. I’m so proud of the work as it’s the flattest binding I have ever done. If you’re interested in the method I used, I’d be interested in doing a tutorial.

I’m so happy with this dress and you’ll be seeing many, many more versions to come. For the last few summers, I’ve enviously watched women in their maxi dresses wishing I could pull one off. At 5’1, there’s little chance of finding a dress with the right proportions in the store. For me, this is what sewing is all about. Being able to create any style to match my shape is a dream. When I came out in it for the first time, my husband exclaimed, “it’s as if it were made for you!” He’s always been good with the obvious.


70 Comments to “Golden Hills Maxi”

  1. LOVE IT! This looks amazing on you Lizz! The colors and cut are absolutely perfect. I’d say all the hard work really paid off. I would totally be interested in the tutorial on the neck binding–it looks like perfection.

  2. This is absolutely gorgeous! I love everything about it! And I would definitely be interested in a tutorial on the binding method you used – as you know, I’ve been struggling with the knits!

  3. wow. i say wow a lot here. the print placement, the shape, the proportions, just nailing it all over the place. (yes, binding tute please.) wow.

    • When we meet, I have a feeling the first 15 minutes is going to be all wows! I have the same thoughts every time I see your work.
      Although it was a complete accident, I love that the dark blue stripe is placed perfectly at my waist. I’ve made a note of this location on the pattern in case I end up making up another striped version.
      Thanks, Oona, for all the sweet words!

  4. I looks great!! Awesome print. I’ve been meaning to give the Mission Maxi a try. I might just have to now 🙂

  5. it** Jumped the gun on my typing lol

  6. Another gorgeous dress! You’re on a winning streak, for sure. I have to say, you look a lot longer than 5’1.

  7. That looks great! Burda has a maxi that is a lot like the mission maxi – little swishy tail and everything. They made a maxi skirt of it too. Might have to go try it.

    • You should definitely give it a try! My pattern is a straight skirt (although there is a little flair at the waist) unlike the Mission Maxi’s godet version as I didn’t want a center back seam. I’m assuming this is how the pattern inserts the godet.

  8. Loving this. This was made for you. I have the same problem. The maxi skirt I bought drags a little even when it is up above my waistline. I can’t wait to have space and time to work on making a maxi skirt and dress that is for my height and waist – hips ratio.

    • You could always bring up the hem on the skirt if it didn’t mess with the skirt’s sweep.
      My school’s studio was a lifesaver as the dress took two table lengths to cut out. Even if I had a nice work table at home, it wouldn’t have been able to accommodate this piece.

  9. Stunning dress!

  10. Perfect. It’s gorgeous, and your photography is yet again very stunning. I’m glad you kept at it, and I do hope you make many more.

    • Thank you, Amy! I have to credit my husband and these late summer days for the beautiful photography. Now if I could just squeak out a smile! I swear I’m not this moody in person.
      Did you end up going to the Gualtier exhibit? How was it?

  11. Oh love everything about this!! Such a cute fabric choice and the length is great…I always wonder about the girls wearing floor length dresses around Chicago, that would absolutely drive me crazy.

    • Thank you, Jen! I was definitely intimidated by the hem – take it up too much and it looks ill fitting but leave it too long and you’re dragging your dress on the dirty ground. It’s fine line in between!

  12. It looks great on you. Makes you look taller in my opinion. And that fabric great. Good find.

  13. Simple yet very effective.

  14. That is GORGEOUS on you, and again, just stunning photos! I’m envious of your photogenic-ness!

    Would LOVE to have a tutorial on how to add that lining, cause it is something I’d really like to do when I make mine, as my jersey is questionably semi-opaque as well 🙂

    • The lining is very simple. I cut the same pattern out of the swimsuit lining and constructed it independently from the self fabric. Before attaching the armhole/neckline binding, I placed the lining inside the garment with the right side facing the wrong side of the self fabric. I basted the two pieces together around the neckline and armhole and then treated the fabrics as one for the bindings. When you are ready to hem, treat the lining and the self fabric as separate pieces. Let me know if that all makes sense – I’m happy to clarify.
      I know you have the Mission Maxi in the works and I can’t wait to see it on you! Are you still using a cream jersey? I bet it will be gorgeous!

      • yes, that makes sense, and I can see that working – hmm could one conceivably use a stretch lining of a lighter weight? like stretch charmeuse perhaps?

        Yes, I have the Mission Maxi next on my list!! I’d be working on it right now, but the Colette Hazel kind of bumped it out of the way hehe. I’ll probably be working on the maxi in the next week or two – I’m DYING for one after seeing yours! 😀

        • I think as long as the stretch woven has enough give for you to get in and out of it, it could work. I’m not terribly familiar with stretch wovens but I’d be slightly nervous that the material might not have enough recovery and may bag after a while.

  15. WOW! This is absolutely perfect! I’m in awe of your skills, lady! And you’ve chosen the perfect fabric! I love the idea of the tricot lining– I’ll have to try that next time!

  16. Beautiful!!! The dress and you! Those colors look great against your skin. Also, I love the parting line about your hubby. They are so cute sometimes, aren’t they??

  17. Fantastisch! Wundervoll! This is simply amazing and looks absolutely gorgeous on your petite frame, hugging you in all the right places & really lengthening your legs! Any thoughts to making more to sell to the vertically challenged? I would snap one up in an instant!

  18. Very pretty. And it matches your tattoo!

  19. Wow, your photos are stunning! And so is the garment! Gosh I wish I could draft. This is so flattering and lovely! Eee go you, you must be so proud 🙂

  20. This dress is absolutely stunning. Beautifully made. Wonderful fabric. Great idea to line it.

  21. Am 5ft 1, I think it’s all to do with fitting. You look great. And can I say Whoa you self drafted that dress. I thought it was McCalls 6559. Brilliant.

  22. Wow, this dress is epic! I mean, it is absolutely Perfect on you! The colors are so sweetly Californian, and the horizontal stripes are (surprisingly?) super flattering. I especially love how the neckline frames your tattoo. Stunning work overall!

    I’d also like to echo the desire to see a binding tutorial. I’m trying to get myself over my fear of sewing with knits (without a serger…!).

    • Thank you! It really is quintessentially California! I think this binding will work really well for you as it can be done all on a sewing machine. I secured mine with a coverstitch but a twin needle will produce a similar effect.

  23. LOVE this Lizz, you definitely cracked it, its really flattering, what a happy accident for the the darker stripe to land at your waist – and you look so long in the pics!!
    …in summary, as the kool kids say totesamazeballs 😉

    • You have no idea how many times I’ve seen “amaze balls” on my Facebook feed! How is it that I’m so disconnected on the lingo these days?
      Anyways… Thank you! I was thrilled when I noticed the blue stripes placement! I love happy accidents.

  24. The print is stunning! I really love it.

  25. Fab dress, as always and thanks for the tip on the lining. T’would be a good dress up / dress down garment – stick on some heels etc and you’re out for the evening or go to the beach with the sandals and you’re relaxing in the sand. Lovely.

    Amazeballs? I feel old 🙂

  26. I absolutely love it! The pattern, the fit, even the landscape.
    Super interested in your flat binding tutorial!

  27. I have to congratulate both the designer/seamstress and the photographer. Those pics (especially the first one) could be placed in any fashion magazine!

  28. Oh I love the print of this fabric! The swimsuit lining sounds like a great idea for those on the sheer side knits, I’m have to remember that in the future!

  29. Oh my gosh! Your dress turned out beautifully. You look amazing. The pattern and colors look great with your skin tone and hair color. Well done, Lizz!

  30. Gorgeous photos and what a perfect backdrop for this dress. Everything about it feels so very California girl. You really made this work for you. (Have you ever been to Bernal Heights park? On my last visit to sf, I kept thinking how fun it’d be to do a photo shoot there. For some reason, more than the other parks, it feels like the country in the middle of the city.)

    I never thought about looking for jersey that doesn’t stretch vertically but now that you write about it, it makes sense of why some of my longer knit dresses cling. They weigh down… I’m curious about the tricot lining. Is it sheer? I have stuff that is more like lingerie fabric–did your lining knit stretch?

  31. I’m a recent follower of your blog, but I love your style and photos, that’s why I’ve given to you the liebster blog award. Feel free to go over my blog and read what is all about. congratulations!

  32. this dress is awesome! I never would have thought to line it in tricot but it’s actually a great idea!

  33. Hi just letting you know I have nominated you for the Sunshine and Liebster Awards. Don’t worry if it’s not your thing, am just fulfilling my end of the bargain lol. Details are on my blog.

  34. this looks fantastic!! I absolutely love it. I’ve been thinking of drafting up a pattern for a maxi dress just because I wear my store bought one so much…and this is giving me the encouragement to just do it.

  35. Stunning Liz just stunning the dress and photos.

  36. I love this Lizz!! I think this style suits you perfectly. I know it can be nerve wracking to try a shape you don’t normally wear – but this was definitely a bit success! XOXO

  37. I am late, but this dress is perfect for you. Well done!

  38. I about fell over when I read about the tricot. I made the exact dress with McCall’s pattern and I had nothing to line it in. So- I went through my boxes and found a yard of fabric I had bought a long time ago to make dolls with. Lo and behold it’s nude color tricot!!! I held my breath, lined said dress, and it’s the most perfect lining. Perfect. Good thing ’cause I was broke. Anyway, I struggled with the arms and neck finishing as well. I ended up doing what you did and I’m glad I did. However, I struggled because I’m a somewhat newbie. A tutorial would very much be appreciated, because I love this dress so much (I’m 5’2″) and will be making more. Thank you for your wonderful blog. Think about that tute.

  39. Congratulations. you look stunning in your perfectly fitting dress. Thanks for your may save my neck on Thursday as I teach sewing and need to fix a gaping back neck. Learner did not like my suggestions…??? So I have found your blog with pictures to prove to her that my 50 years of knowledge is not wrong! Think your tutorial is exceptionally well done. Where on earth do you get the time? I am awake at 2-30-currently 4.50 am here in Brisbane looking for a good read. Thanks

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