Introduction: Refashioned Maxi Dress

About: Corporate mom sharing her simple spin on sophisticated style and tossing in a little creative touch through DIY projects.

From an old tank top to a new-to-you maxi dress!

Step 1: Gather Your Materials


  • Tank top in knit jersey fabric (with similar stretch to the skirt so the two fabrics work together well)
  • 1.5 yards of knit jersey fabric (2 yards if you're much taller than 5'6")
  • Scissors or a rotary cutter
  • Thread, needle, pins and sewing machine
  • Wrapping paper (optional)

Dig through your dresser drawers to find the perfect, worn in tank top for the top of the dress. Add 1.5 yards of the softest, knit jersey fabric that you'll love to death and will make the dress as comfortable as you're imagining it will be. (Disclaimer: Any jersey knit will do. I bought mine at JoAnn's and, of course, purchased it during one of the weeks when all their knits were 50% off. If not, I most certainly would have used a coupon!)

Step 2: Create a Pattern

Collect the following measurements:

  • Around your waist (or wherever you want the skirt to sit) - for this refashion, the circumference of the waist of the skirt should be approximately the same as the circumference of the tank top so, when sewed together, the two fabric pieces match together well
  • Around your hips
  • Length from waist to hips
  • Length from waist to ankles (or desired length of skirt

Using these measurements, cut out a pattern from the wrapping paper. The fabric will be folded in half when you cut and you will have two matching fabric panels (front and back) to create the skirt.

Thus, the measurements for the pattern should be as follows:

Waist - 1/4 of your waist measurement from above + 1/2 inch for a seam allowance (although because this is a dress and not a skirt, it can be a bit larger, if needed, to match up with the bottom of the tank top as described above)

Hips - 1/4 of your hip measurement from above + 1/2 inch for a seam allowance (use measurement #3 from above to figure out how far this should be from your waist measurement on your pattern)

Length - Length from above plus + about 3.5 inches for the waistband. (This will be the measurement down the straight side of the pattern that is perpendicular to the waistband and bottom of the skirt.)

The pattern will be the shape of a trapezoid. In the image below , you can see a straight line along the top (the waist) and the bottom (near the ankle). There is also a straight line (perpendicular to the top and bottom) along the left. The right side is slightly angled. This will be the outside of the skirt. You can angle this as much or as little as you'd like. The more angled out it is, the fuller the skirt will be when you wear it. It definitely helps to use a pattern because the soft knit fabric moves around quite a bit, and I never would have had straight lines had I cut the fabric directly using just the measurements.

Step 3: Cut Your Skirt Fabric

Line up the pattern on the fabric so the long straight side on the left lines up with the folded fabric edge. Use the pattern to cut the front and back pieces of your skirt. You will have identical front and back pieces that meet along the outside of each of your legs.

Step 4: Sew Together Skirt Panels

With right sides of the skirt fabric together, pin the front and back fabric pieces of the skirt together and sew up the side seams. I used a straight stitch but a zigzag stitch or a serger would work as well. (not pictured)

Step 5: Prepare Shirt

Determine where on your body you'd like the waist of the dress to fall (i.e. the line where the top meets the skirt). Mark that spot with a pin, add an inch or so for seam allowance, and cut off excess fabric below this line.

Step 6: Sew Together Skirt and Shirt to Complete Dress

Keeping right sides of the skirt together (i.e. it's inside out), insert the tank top with wrong sides together (i.e. right side out) into the skirt lining up the bottom of the tank top with the top of the skirt. Below, you can see the teal bottom of the tank top just peeking out from inside the top of the skirt. Pin edges together and sew.