Sewing Saturday! Lately, I've been scouring shops like Topshop for two piece coordinates until I realized that I had a great resource to create my own - a maxi dress. It has enough fabric to create two matching separates, plus its bodice functions as a top already made for you - with room to add your own spin. So for this week, I've decided to share how to rework a thrifted maxi dress to create a two piece matching play set.
To make a skirt and top from a maxi, you need two simple ingredients.. a maxi dress that has an abundance of fabric with a loose, preferably a-line skirt, and enough 1 inch thick elastic to fit around your waist (plus an inch or two for ease). Stay away from maxis with a long zipper in the back, unless you want to replace it with a shorter one - I suggest a pullover maxi or button-up (front or back should work). I thrifted this dress from a Goodwill outlet earlier in the week for less than a dollar (I think 80 cents was the grand total?), and it was exactly what I was looking for.
To begin, cut your two pieces. Start by cutting the bodice, allowing enough length to hit the very top of your hips when worn (this allows you to adjust as necessary later on). Then, cut at the very bottom of the dress for your skirt, seeing the hem of the dress as the hem of your new skirt. I wanted a high waisted skirt that was about 16 inches in final length, so I cut 18 total inches to allow for extra when sewing in the waistband.
Start and finish the skirt. I pressed an inch and a quarter inward at the top of the skirt, then sewed it in place (leaving a gap to feed the elastic in). I slipped the elastic through using a safety pin to pull it through, then secured/sewed it all shut.
Now that the simple skirt is finished, time to tackle the top. There are many ways to do this - one being if you want to keep things really simple, just hem the top and keep it short and loose. I wanted a fitted top, so I went with another way.
First thing - alter the armholes. My dress was too large, especially in the armholes, so I took them in by turning the blouse inside-out, folding at the side seam and sewing a diagonal line from the armhole (by how much you want to take in) to the bottom edge. I actually took in less than is shown in the photo - about an inch and a half on each side, gradually decreasing it to nothing by the bottom edge.
Then, I unbuttoned and flattened the blouse to trim three inches from the center front, tapering it to nothing at the side seams. I flattened the blouse back and measured the center point about three inches from the bottom, then cut out a triangle to form the future ties. I tied the back to see if the ties were long enough and adjusted accordingly til they tied right (really technical.. sorry for my vague trial and error DIY techniques).
I then hemmed the bottom edge of the top, and the set was done!
A great summer DIY for someone trying out sewing for the first time! Maxi dresses are in abundance at your local thrift store and this project allows a lot of room for different styles.. for instance, you can easily make a pair of shorts rather than a skirt, or shorten the top more and add elastic to the bottom hem for a beach ensemble. Or add cutouts, if you like, or make the top tie in the front if it's a button-up like this one. Total cost of project (less than a yard of 1 inch thick elastic, one thrifted maxi dress) was less than 2 dollars, so that's nice. Happy weekend!