Tuesday, May 03, 2011

maxi-mizing summer.

So I'm a little bit enamored of maxi dresses right now. Some lovely vintage versions from etsy:

Modcloth just sent out a "How Low Can You GO" email touting maxi-skirts & dresses too.  Maxi's are hot.

Shannon & I have been talking about a maxi-dress sewalong (anyone?  anyone?)  

I remember distinctly the first time I saw a maxi in public (this time around; we'll talk about the 70s in a minute).  It was 2004 and I was at an airport, flying from Washington DC to Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Bet you didn't realize maxi's had had quite that long a shelf life, huh?  They had just been featured heavily in the fashion magazines, on a few celebrities, and were very much one of those trends I thought would never catch on, least of all with me.

Well.  Bit by bit, year by year my resistance has chipped away until now I seriously want one.  I'm especially enamored of the 70s prairie versions.  That may have something to do with this one:

That's my sister Desiree on the right, me on the left, and we're all spiffed up for some formal school function for my sister.  I remember thinking her dress was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen.  I couldn't WAIT to be big enough to wear it.  I want to say my mother made it, but I can't remember for sure.  My mom made a lot of our clothes back then.  (Maybe she'll read this and chime in in the comments.  Hi mom!)

What's funny is I can't remember my dress at all. But I remember my sister's!  The tiny floral print, the pretty lace trim, the big ruffle at the hem.  Sigh.  It was like Renaissance princess meets 70s boho.

I remember girls wearing maxi's like my sister's in the mid-70s.  We lived in St. Louis until I was 6 and then we moved to Oklahoma; most of my 70s-era memories of people are from St. Louis.  You could see a LOT of culture on a public school bus, both on the bus and outside the window.  (My mother probably would have been mortified.) The dresses though...sweeping hems, florals big and small, long flowing hair, and flower chains everywhere.  Cat Stevens.  (heh.)

So after 25 years (oh ok, 30. Er, 33.) I'm ready to finally get my maxi!  I've been looking for a vintage pattern, although Burda Style has had several versions the past couple of years.  Anyone have a favorite?  My main requirements are...

**Some sort of shaping at the waist (lest I look like a walking tent).

**A biggish ruffle at the hem (this is just me.  I still want that swishy ruffle at my feet.  yes, I'm still 7.)
    That's it. I don't ask for much.  Some vintage patterns I like...

    These 2 are my faves:

    Any of these are do-able.  Unfortunately not a single one is close to my size, so I'm still on the hunt.

    What say you?  Maxi sewalong anyone?


    1. My prom dress was 5728.Doubleknit fabric.
      No way I could wear any of those patterns now.

    2. I'm not usually into 70s fashion, but some of these are actually pretty cute (or could be in the right fabric). I think a maxi sew along would be fun. My husband loves maxi dresses and is always trying to get me to buy more. ;)

    3. What a great picture of you and your sister! It is a dress to remember.

    4. Yay! I was already planning a couple, one vintage Simplicity pattern and one modern, interestingly also Simplicity. A SAL would totally get me sewing!

    5. Cute idea - I have this one listed
      http://www.etsy.com/listing/71615535/butterick-4914-bust-34-36-38-classic?ref=em and it goes to a 38B, you could substitute the straps for another treatment, like that net-look top part on one of those vintage ones. At least this one gets you closer in size and look.

    6. I have another one not listed, I would sell if you want it. I need to dig it out - vintage 70's and in a 38 or 40 I think. I will probably never make it.

    7. Anonymous8:09 AM

      like, like ♥

    8. Anonymous8:11 AM

      I love this idea. I have made 2 maxis and 2 long skirts in the past 2 years. I have learned what I like and not like about them. I would love to try again!

    9. I'd totally do a sew-along, I have some crazy fabric that is perfect for a maxi dress.

      I'm really, really short, so my version definitely must show some shoulder/cleavage, else I'll look like I'm all wrapped up in a Snuggie or something. I was leaning towards something like Simplicity 3823 - halter top, defined waist & maxi length...

    10. Looks very much like my wedding dress. I bought it at some hippie shop in Seattle in '75. I think it cost $25. It was crinkly cotton. cheeezzz!!!

    11. yes to a maxi sew-along! i actually have a maxi dress planned for my summer wardrobe - i bought the trim, the ivory eyelet, & the pattern (simplicity 9164, but i am going to add a ruffle to the neckline & convert the skirt to a gathered/tiered deal. oh and eliminate the corset!). i've never been one for maxi dresses but i am really loving them this year.

      also, i want to know what shop(s) is selling the first two dresses you posted. they are both lovely!

    12. Yes, yes! I have been looking at patterns all week and then your post came up! I am thinking of McCalls 5893. Simple, no ruffles. Hehe.

    13. I love a casual maxi dress or skirt for evening around-the-house wear. Not a big fan of 70s fashion, perhaps because I'm so appalled that styles I wore in high school are now "retro"! Maybe to a sew-along, but I'll skip the eyelet and ruffles this time 'round.

    14. I've been planning on sewing a maxi dress for at least three summers now, lol! I've tried to buy them many times, but the length on me never ends up being very maxi... Perhaps a sew along is just the thing to finally get me going on it.

    15. -sigh- I am prohibited by my ethical code to not wear maxi-dresses. Uh. That would be the code whereby I don't wear things that make me look perfectly square. I am too short for a maxi dress.

      However, I'd be curious to see what you come up with (and will you wear it in public??).

    16. The simplicity 5728 is a junior petite .. boo hoo !!

    17. @lladybird Here's the black one:

      And here's the green one (it's GORGEOUS and a fab price!): http://www.etsy.com/listing/68875052/vintage-green-floral-maxi-dress?ref=v1_other_1

    18. I was one of those who jumped on the bandwagon late...and bought my 1st few. After wearing them they are the kewlest things and I wish I could wear them to work at least on Fridays. I have a couple of those 70s patterns too and really should think about making one of my own.

    19. I would be up for a maxi sew along. I love wearing long dresses around the summer and outside.

    20. ~ * ♥ * ~

      I would totally love a maxi sew along! I just bought a 40s maxi dress off Etsy {yes, they had them back then too!} and I love it even though I am not going to be able to wear it for 6 months+ as it is autumn down under...

      Buying ahead in a major way, but I can't wait to wear it! :D

      bonita of Depict This!
      ~ * ♥ * ~

    21. Viva la maxi! I too am thinking of doing a maxi for my latest dress project . Being quite tall buying a nice maxi is hard, which is why sewing one would be awesome. And ruffles at your feet? Too. Much. Fun.

    22. Wow! I remember being in elementary school back in the early 70's and having a couple of long dresses. I didn't know the term "maxi." I just knew they were considered super "fancy" in my area and I was only allowed to wear them to church or maybe a super special school occasion. They mostly stayed in the closet. I also remember wondering a few years later why little girls never wore long dresses anymore. I was too young to recognize a passing trend. However, now that they're back, I'm game! I'm off to dig through the stash for a pattern! (I even have a pattern in the Princess's size!)

      P.S. LOVE that green floral dress (#2) and that aqua dress (#3)! Gorgeous!

    23. Chrys in Kansas1:52 PM

      I have been thinking about a maxi dress myself and have a few that would work. That "prairie/boho chic" thing is so hot now and I can't remember whose blog it was (sorry) but there is a pic of Gunne Sax Simplicity 5093 that is way cute. I have noticed a lot of these have empire waist but this one does not which I love. : )

    24. Oh! This sounds like so much fun! I have Simplicity 5728.. not sure if it has all the pieces... will have to look when I get home. I also have Simplicity 5093. I have been thinking of making a maxi dress for awhile.



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