Upton Maxi dress

Back on my honeymoon, I was 3 weeks away from my sewing machine and I started dreaming of what I would make when I returned. The fabric haul I brought back helped, of course, but I also dreamed about the fabric I already had, including this lovely bright print:


It’s definitely reminiscent of African wax prints, but I am not 100% sure if it is one. I forgot to ask and, quite frankly, at $5/metre, I doubt it is a wax print. Every wax print I saw while I was in the Netherlands was around 15 euros a metre or more and looking briefly online I see similar prices. I saw so many gorgeous wax prints in the Netherlands:


I wanted to buy them all. As a result, my mind wandered back to this fabric I already had. I bought 5 metres of it without a clear idea in my head of what I would make, but it was only $25 so I just did it. I was 100% after my trip that it was screaming to become a maxi dress. Then Cashmerette released the Upton dress and Ashley announced the Maxi dress sewalong and I knew: an Upton maxi dress.

I’ve never worn or even tried a maxi dress on before in my life. I had a strange notion that because I was short and fat, it would make me look even shorter and fatter. Now I don’t give a flying beep about that. I just want to try new styles and stretch my fashion wings. So a maxi dress is perfect for getting over that fashion fear.

Usual disclaimer: I didn’t test the Upton pattern, because the timing was off for me, but I did receive it for free.

I’ll go into a more extensive review when I actually sew the entire dress, but for my maxi dress, I only used the bodice, didn’t even line it, completely ignored the instructions, and can only speak to how that worked out. I made two muslins for the bodice. One I tried the 24C/D graded to the 26 at the waist.

Another I made the 22G/H graded to the 24 at the waist (that one wasn’t even IG worthy!). Then I measured myself again and chose to make the 24G/H graded to the 26 at the waist and it was perfect:

Next version, I will narrow the shoulders and maybe do a forward shoulder adjustment, too.

I made extra darts at the armholes to get a good fit. I had this opinion that armhole darts are not ideal for some reason and should be avoided, but unless I am working with princess seams I really need them to get a good fit everywhere. My high bust to full bust to underbust ratio is extreme and my shoulders are narrow. With princess seams, I’m always shaving off a bit where the armhole meets the princess seam. It works well without a dart there for princess seams, but in a darted bodice, that extra dart at the armhole works so much better for me. Any flat pattern adjustments won’t quite get the right shape, because we are 3D beings. In patterns with sleeves, it’s a bit different as the sleeve generally pulls that extra fabric in, but in a sleeveless bodice with darts, I’m all for that armhole dart. It just looks better on me.

Again I had a horrible time with my zipper. I need more practice, but also my machine just does not want to work with zippers. It won’t feed them through for whatever reason. It’s not bulky and there is no thread in the way. It just hates zippers. I’ll figure out what the issue is eventually or get a new machine, but in the meantime I am trying to figure out how to perfect my lapped zippers. I’ve looked up many a tutorial and am ready to get better at it. I changed the zipper from a back zipper to a side lapped zipper. My mobility in my shoulder is pretty limited and I definitely have an easier time with the side zipper.

I’m slightly ashamed of my sewing on this dress. Neither of the waistband seams meet in the right place and the zipper is a bit of a mess. But there is no way I am ripping it out to make it perfect. The print hides everything so I will just wear it as is. I didn’t take any pictures of the mistakes either because they don’t really matter. If you zoom in on some of the pictures, you’ll probably see them anyway. If you really want to be like that.

For the skirt, I just gathered two panels of the fabric from selvage to selvage and attached them. I also added pockets because why wouldn’t you add pockets. I should have checked the skirt pieces on the pattern for pocket placement because they sit just slightly too low. I can still get my hands in, but for getting anything out of the bottom of the pocket, it’s a bit tricky. Trickier when you have mobility issues with your shoulder.

I also made a Muse Patterns Jenna cardi. My many versions of these are worn all the time. I got this pink knit content unknown from the thrift store. It’s a perfect addition to my wardrobe since I have many dresses that would work with it. Pink is totally a neutral for me. I don’t have buttons on it yet and am definitely wearing it around until I find the right ones. The cardigan fits with the stashbusting sewalong theme for the month of seasonal change and will help transition my dresses into the fall nicely. I can’t believe I am actually thinking about fall. I’ve pulled out a bunch more patterns for seasonal change so I am hoping to do some more fabric stashbusting. I’ve got one shelf in my stash almost half gone! It feels great! Almost all the fabric from my honeymoon is sewn up. Knits get sewn really fast for me. I’m trying to focus on wovens more lately, though, so I can stashbust those.

Prepare for a bunch of pictures of my maxi dress!!!

Jenna Cardi and Upton Maxi Dress

Jenna cardi and Upton maxi dress

Upton maxi dress

Upton maxi dress

Upton maxi dress

Upton maxi dress

Upton maxi dress

Upton maxi dress

Upton maxi dress

Upton maxi dress

Excuse the picture dump, but I am stoked about the dress. I made it with v-neck back and front and finished the armholes and neckline with bias tape.

I’ll review the Upton dress properly when I actually make it in full.





54 thoughts on “Upton Maxi dress

  1. 1.) Your maxi rocks.
    2.) I am right there with you on the narrow shoulders and armhole darts, I needs ’em.
    3.) Zippers are evil, some of mine are straight up garbage.
    4.) I do the same skirt thing when I make my own! Easy peasy.
    5.) No one is noticing any errors, and you look great!!!
    6.) You’re awesome 🙂

  2. I love your writing style! And I love that fabric. I really like the lower pockets. Maybe they are not so practical, but it has a certain pizazz with the hands in them. Great dress.

  3. Love this!!! Somehow I didn’t realize it was a maxi, I guess I wasn’t paying attention, but that fact makes it even more awesome! Love it with the hat, so chic.

    1. Yes, the dart does that, but taking it out entirely throws the bust fit off. It just doesn’t translate very well in 3D for my body. The dart works really well for me. 🙂

  4. Looks terrific very flattering. I had the same thoughts as you re maxi dresses being short fat too. Though in my case getting shorter as I get thinner. Lose a stone in weight = 2″ in height + 2″ in arm/leg length, 1.05″ around my head and
    a rapidly decreasing jaw. I’m def a Zebra 🙂
    To get back to the maxi though Andie, I’ve found that this style + harem pants is fab. Comfortable, cool in hot weather and flattering.

    1. Ooh maybe harem pants are my next fashion challenge to myself! Sound really comfortable. Sorry you are shrinking. I hope doctors can stop that. 🙁 Being a zebra is quite a challenge!

  5. Delia is right on about the shoulder to bust point length. Putting an arms-eye dart is the perfect and easiest fix. I would re-align the side bust dart. First, it is too long. The point of the dart should never be closer than 1 inch away from the center of the nipple. Also, angling the dart from the wide part of the dart to the point, it’s direction is more ‘up-lifting’ and gives a great look for your breasts. Hey, we’ve got ’em, let’s flaunt ’em! You look great in a midi style.

    1. Hi Karyn. I have done the armhole adjustment in flat pattern but it doesn’t work for me. It throws off the shoulders and neckline and bust. The dart actually isn’t that close to my nipple. Lol. But I agree the dart is too long. I forgot to say I was going to make adjustments there. Thanks for the tips and the compliment. I will try angling the dart. 😄

    2. Oh I should also mention that the best fix for me would be to convert all darted bodices to princess seams. They fit me soooo much better. But it’s a pretty major design change. In a darted bodice with sleeves, it’s not an issue so I’d rather just add the armhole dart.

      For the bust dart, would you are recommend curving it slightly? I am wondering if that would help the shape as well?

      1. No, I don’t think curving the dart is necessary. Just angling in a more vertical fashion will help visually lift the breasts.

  6. Hi Andie

    Wow! I know I say it every time but You have a killer eye for fabric, you know exactly what works for you and the type of garments it’ll work with. I don’t like the term “maxi” dress… It should be “totally awesome and flattering on just about every body type possible” dress but maybe that’s just my take! You have to get pretty darn close to someone to see the types of “fault” you describe so you’re right not to be concerned (you should see my first pair of curtains for proof… But 7 years on they’re still just about together!) Your zipper issues are a doozie though, as you’ve obviously sewn a fair few already, my 2 pennies worth is if you have the right zipper foot for the type of zipper and it still doesn’t work to try a different type of zipper foot as the prescribed type may not be the best one for you, invisible zippers are a lot easier than they seem and my choice for most things, make sure your needle is at least newish as some zipper fabric is seriously dense (I have often stuck a heavier needle in just to do the zipper) and lastly the straight stitch plate is my top friend for anything that wants to move sideways by itself. Also pinning a piece of tracing paper or similar to the fabric on the surface in contact with the machine if using a light or slippy fabric can help and the paper just tears off after. I save all the paper from shoeboxes especially for this purpose.

    Love the little knit cardigan you put with it, pink looks great on you! The hat is a great accessory as well.

    Hope things on the Zebra front are going well, sending big stripey hugs to you and all the zebra friends who visit you too. Take care and looking forward to your next creation

    T x

    1. Hi T! I just need to practice more with zippers. I am definitely trying out your tips though. 😃 Tracing paper might actually be the trick to make my machine behave. Thanks so much! Stripey hugs!

  7. I love all your styling with this. This fabric is so perfect for the style and scale of a maxi dress, and it just looks smashing on you. It’s definitely got a wax print vibe if it’s not actual wax print. I picked up some wax print at the thrift store, no lie for $3–enough to make a dress, but it’s black, so no good for me. I made it up in a dress a couple sizes up from me to sell at a local boutique. It has a cap sleeve scoop neck bodice and gathered skirt with a rust colored contrast to go with the yellow gourds and brown leaves in the print. It’s cool stuff to work with. I’ll put it on my bucket list of nice fabric to sew with if I ever find it in my color palette–right up there with Liberty of London. Pink is a neutral for you! Lilac is mine. Or aqua. There can never be enough aqua.

    1. What an amazing find! I hope someone loves the dress you made and treasures it. I saw some wax print in the Netherlands in your colours! I wish I had taken a picture of it. Such beautiful prints but so expensive. 😣 There can definitely NEVER be enough aqua. I need so much more in my life 😃

  8. You are rock’ that dress!! I’ve made my first maxi dress this summer but have yet to wear it. Seeing how fabulous you look in yours, I’m thinking there’s no reason why I can’t wear mine:)

  9. I know I’ve loved this over on Instagram but I just have to tell you again how gorgeous this is on you!! It turned out so well and that print is perfect for it!!!

  10. Hi Andie! Gorgeous dress, and it definitely is a wax print. It’s fom the Voila for you by Vlisco line, I think 🙂

  11. I love this dress on you! The colour/pattern, the shape, it’s really great! Looks very cute with the cardi, too. Happy stashbusting!

  12. That dress suits you well. The fabric print looks great. I don’t think it’s a Vlisco, but there are some other dutch Wax prints brands. The story behind the Wax print is really interesting and also how that type of fabric became populair in Africa. The pink cardigan is a great addition.

    1. Thanks so much! Definitely not a Vlisco. I’m not sure it’s even a dutch wax brand. It’s probably just fabric that looks like it. But I will ask the fabric shop attendant the next time. 🙂

  13. Such a cute dress and beautiful fabric, I kind of feel like I can’t wear maxi dresses either – that is unless I’m on holiday somewhere hot which is kind of ridiculous! After seeing yours I think I’m going to sew a few up for summer 🙂

  14. Man, this is really inspiring me to try a maxidress. I have already moved on to transitional weather/fall sewing, so this idea will be put on the back burner until spring, but this dress is really great on you! I’ve never been drawn to maxis because the style seemed a little too bohemian for me. I’m not really a boho/hippie/Coachella kind of girl. But this seems like a great silhouette to have on hand for hot weather, which we have plenty of in Kansas, ugh.

    Pink is also a neutral for me. Practically my entire wardrobe is pink, black, & gray.

    1. It’s bumming me out, but I am also switching to transitional weather/fall sewing with a couple of exceptions with two more pairs of shorts and a couple more dresses. Also, the ever-promised swimsuit since I will be swimming throughout the winter, too.

      I completely agree about the style, but in a more fitted bodice I think it takes it out of the boho look. I also have plans of making it in a green poly crepe with a crossover bodice, pleated skirt and a pleated waistband for a really dressed up night on the town. 🙂 Not that I have nights on the town…but I could go and eat sushi in that dress….hahah

      1. In the right fabric and style Maxi’s are great for Fall/winter too. I have one in bottle green velvet that is actually a pinafore dress (a rarity in my wardrobe) but worn with a white blouse that has lace trimmed sleeves/collar it’s perfect for a dressy lunch. I don’t do evening/nights out get too tired 😦 I tell new friends “I’m a reversed vampire and only come out in the day” 🙂 Last year I wore it for Christmas Day with a scarlet jumper and silver tinsel belt.

        On Mon, Aug 22, 2016 at 2:41 PM, Sew Pretty in Pink wrote:

        > Andie W. commented: “It’s bumming me out, but I am also switching to > transitional weather/fall sewing with a couple of exceptions with two more > pairs of shorts and a couple more dresses. Also, the ever-promised swimsuit > since I will be swimming throughout the winter, too. I ” >

      2. That green velvet pinafore dress sounds luscious! ❤ ❤ By night, I mean….ending before 11pm but preferably at 9pm, because I need to sleep. LOL

      3. Anything after 6pm is out for me these days 😦
        I’m starting to wear my evening clothes late afternoon, maybe a little eccentric but
        it gives me a chance to dress up a bit lol

  15. While I never seem to get enough time to visit all the sewing bogs I would like to, of the dresses made for us larger women, I think this is the best and most comfy looking one I have seen. Especially considering I’m tall enough to wear maxi dresses and as my waistline disappears, I like more and more to wear dresses since skirts want to slide up an visit my bra. I can’t do back zippers or back attachments at all anymore due to bad arthritis, but never thought of doing a zipper on the side. I’m so lazy I like pullover items since I have hated putting in zippers since home ec. around 50 years ago although I do a perfectly good job of installing them. Just the memories of how many times I had to rip mine out for the teacher causes me to stumble every time and bypass anything with a zipper.

  16. Wow! I love your version of the Upton as a maxi dress. I’m browsing the web looking for inspiration on making a maxi dress and found you. I’ve got the upton pattern, and fabric in my stash. Nothing stopping me! (Except that zipper, lol). I’ve also got the Colette Monetta pattern and might try that as a maxi, too.

    1. Thanks so much, Nita! You could probably leave the zipper off if you had enough ease for getting it over your head. I think Cashmerette made a Moneta maxi once. I’m planning on making a maxi version of the Appleton dress.

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