We all have tons of plain long sleeved tees to layer under those tops and dresses that don’t quite cover us as much as we would like. But then you get to a point where you accumulate too many and instead of throwing out the ones you don’t need, I’ve got a quick and eco-friendly chic solution for you. Take your long sleeve tee and upcycle it into a chic maxi dress. For this summer,  you can never have enough flowy maxi dresses! And, the longer the better to elongate your frame and to add a bit of grace to your step. So if you’ve got about 2 hours to spare, a plain tee (or embellished), some basic sewing skills, and 2 meters of fabric, you’re good to go. Being modest and chic has never been any easier. If you do try this out, post your pics on our facebook page. And as always, post your comments below!   -Tabassum Siddiqui, Head Designer  

What You’ll Need:

 

 

 

-1 long sleeved tee -2 mtrs of fabric* (I chose a 100% lightweight ombré dyed cotton) -fabric scissors -straight pins -sewing machine w/ matching thread -iron and ironing board -serger, optional   *This depends upon your height and how much fullness you want your skirt to have. To find out how much I needed, I measured myself just below my hip bone and doubled it more or less to get the width, and then measured myself from just below my hip bone to the floor (+ hem allowance!) to get the length.  

Step 1:

 

 

 

-Take your fabric, fold it in half and cut it to get the front and back pieces of skirt. -Sew 2 loose running stitches close to the top edge. I’m using a ½” (1 cm) seam allowance so my running stitches will be on the seam allowance and not on the sewing line or they will show on the right side of the dress when completely sewn.  

Step 2:

 

 

-On each side of the fabric, you’ll have 4 strands. Tug on the top 2, and gently pull on them so that the fabric begins to gather. Work on both sides of the fabric to get the desired result.  

Step 3:

 

 

 

-I’ve gathered the fabric and pinned it to the dressform. You can arrange the distribution of gathers here before knotting the ends off. Make sure the gathers are evenly distributed.    

Step 4:

 

 

 

-When you like your results, knot the ends so that the gathering doesn't loosen up while you sew up the side seams.    

Step 5:

 

 

 

-Since I don’t have a serger at home, I did a French seam to finish off the seams nicely on the inside. -To do a French seam, you’ll need to sew your side seams at approx. ½” (1 cm) and on the right side of the fabric. This may sound weird if you don’t know about French seams, but later you’ll be turning the fabric right side in and sewing the side seams again to neatly incapsulate the seam allowance.    

Step 6:

 

 

 

-Now cut your seam allowance in half. Be careful not to cut the rest of the skirt! The pic is magnified, but after cutting your seam allowance it should be just a thin strip (1/4” or 5 mm.).  

Step 7:

 

 

 

-Press the seams, pushing the seam allowance to one side.    

Step 8:

 

 

 

-Press the seams closed. Pressing the seams this way is a trick to make it easier to do a good French seam.    

Step 9:

 

 

 

-Turn your skirt right side in, pinch the side seams and sew right next to the seam allowance making sure the seam allowance is inside the stitch. -When you turn the skirt right side out, it should look like the pic above with no seam allowance on the outside showing and on the inside a clean finish with the seam allowance encapsulated. -Press seams. (The picture above is before pressing it again.)    

Step 10:

 

 

 

-Pin the bottom of tee to the top edge of the skirt. Be careful not to loosen up the gathers. -Distribute the fabric evenly around.    

Step 11:

 

 

 

-Stitch close to the last running stitch removing pins as you go around. -When that’s done, press the seam allowance to the side of the skirt. -Add your hem. I did a baby hem (no more than 5 mm.). You can also do a larger hem. But on this type of dress a blinstitched hem or baby hem looks best. -Press the entire dress and style your look.    

Look #1:

 

 

 

*Polished: Adding a blazer (this one has gathered sleeves), some statement jewelry, and wedges or flats gives you a polished look. If you haven’t stocked up on short blazers yet, I would because they are great to layer over maxi looks.    

Look #2:

 

 

 

*A Pop of Color: a chic casual look teaming a mustard yellow cardigan, subtle jewelery, and a wide belt. This would go great with some strappy flats or wedge espadrilles.    

Look #3:

 

 

 

*Go Long and Lean: To even further elongate this maxi look, team this dress with one of my favorite pieces--our Jersey Shawl Cardigan.