Off the shoulder DIY Dress | NKnit maxi dress | Vintage sewing pattern Butterick 3407 | Closet Case Files // closetcasefiles.com
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SUMMER MAXI DRESS DIY WITH ART GALLERY FABRIC

I have a new strategy for keeping cool this summer and it involves wearing a surprising amount of fabric. I like a voluminous, billowy maxi-dress because it lets the bod breathe and saves money on sunscreening the lower half. It’s a little sexy and a little modest; I’m calling it the halftan.

knit maxi dress DIYknit dress DIYstrappy navy dress

This pattern is Butterick 3407, a vintage favourite from my stash, and one I’ve been meaning to sew again. I first made it way back in 2011 (one of my first blog posts!) when I was much less experienced sewing with knits. I remember cutting it out on my best friend’s floor, using a serger for the first time, and then sewing the neckline by hand. While I LOVE that dress, these days I basically need to wear it with 3 pairs of Spanx on top of each other because the fabric is light coloured and super slinky and shows off every everything, and I have put on a little weight since that summer when I gave up sugar, wine and processed carbs for health reasons (aka the summer of WHY GOD WHY). I have a different body now so I was excited to make another version in a sturdier, less slinky fabric.

Enter Art Gallery Fabrics. They got in touch last month and asked me if I’d like to try something from their new solid knits collection. I’ve been curious about this company for a while since I think they’re doing some truly original work (I love the April Rhodes collections) so I was curious to see what the quality was like. I wasn’t disappointed; the navy cotton lycra they sent me is gorgeous. It’s super soft with great recovery, a nice weight and good 4-way stretch. It’s the perfect choice for leggings or a Nettie bodysuit (or a drapey summer halftan).

I’m super into blue these days so I’m not surprised I gravitated towards something called “Deep Dark Ocean”. I looked at my stack of spring and summer fabric the other day and realized almost 80% of it was some shade of indigo. I’m not sure when this colour shift happened but I’m not complaining; navy is a softer alternative to black, and I love how it reads classic or modern depending on the context.

summer maxi dress DIY Butterick 3407 dress

The best thing about this project? I think it took an hour and  half, tops. The dress itself is only two pattern pieces, with one seam going up the center front and two along the sides. The back seam is folded and sewn over a piece of elastic, and the front is folded over and zigzagged to create a channel for the halter strap.  I left the hem unfinished because the length was perfect as is and I like a raw knit hem every once a while. Most of the volume is happening in the front which creates these deep drapey folds, nicely highlighted by the weight and hand of the fabric.

maxi dress pattern Butterick 3407 dress

I love the easy-breezy bohemian feeling of this dress so it felt natural to throw on a bunch of art teacher jewelry and my handmade Greek sandals.  I expect I’ll be wearing it pretty much non-stop all summer. Who else is riding the halftan train with me? Has anyone else sewn with Art Gallery Fabrics knits before?

Art Gallery Fabrics supplied me with 3 yards of fabric to review; all opinions are my own.

  • Kohlrabi

    Wow, you look smoking’ hot!!! How do you pull that off, draped in all that fabric?!

    • Aw, thanks girl. It’s called not wearing a bra, hahahahaha

  • Blue is definitely the new black – at least in my developing wardrobe. This looks fab on you!

  • I love navy blue. Your dress looks amazing! I usually steer clear of knit maxis because they’re too clingy, but the fabric and design of this one look perfect!!

    • I think in dark fabrics or prints they’re totally fine! Black and navy hides everything 😉

  • JenL

    The epitome of summer dress! I’d love to join you on the halftan journey, but I am so not safe with long hemlines. I’ve even tripped over my knit pajama hems so badly that the injury resulted in painful walking for a week. But the dress is so cute!

    • Pam (Antipodean Stitcher)

      I’m with you on the unsafe long hems – I have a dent in my shinbone from tripping on my pajamas while walking upstairs.
      I do love how a good maxi dress looks and even own a couple, but they’re always a bit dangerous when you’re clumsy!

    • Oh that sucks!! I’m a clumsy fool but haven’t sustained a clothing related injury yet 😉

  • I love it! I’m on board the maxi train, for sure! Hopefully I can get a blog post up soon about my latest.

  • Mandy Varelis

    Aahh! Another gorgeous fabric shop / supplier I have to ignore during my year of no fabric buying! (But did you see that pink bunny knit? EEEE!)
    Your dress is amazingly summery, even in dark blue. I don’t care for styles like the halftan on me (too much fabric on the upper body gets caught on my arms and annoys me, plus halter tops / spaghetti straps are uncomfortable), but I love seeing them on other people. So nice and breezy.

    • I don’t find strappy dresses uncomfortable in general, but this halter does leave a little mark on the back of my neck after a long day…. can’t have it all! And good luck on your year of self control. I would fail so miserably its not even funny 🙁

  • That’s so stunning! I am now desperate to make this pattern for myself, or at least a gorgeous dramatic billowy maxi dress…even though it’s heading fast to winter here and a top of 13 degrees celsius most days…

    • The southern hemisphere is SO confusing! Can you wear a winter maxi? With tights?

      • Haha it’s not something I’ve seen done – but I may just fly in the face of convention for this one!

  • I absolutely f’ing love this. This will go in my list of shameless copies.

    • Shameless copies are my favourite! I’m stillplanning on shameless copying Fruits Flowers and Cloud’s denim Turia dungarees!

  • Cadi

    I ran right out and bought this pattern on Etsy, I had to have it after seeing this. I love me a maxi (and halftan? Brilliant!). Had a dress like this many moons ago and wore it to pieces, I can’t wait to make up a couple to swan around in. Think I’ll build in a shelf bra for maximum comfort/minimal undies on the hottest days!

    • Hahaha amazing! A shelf bra may be tricky but I think it could be done. It would just be one more layer to fold over at the top.

  • Love it – simple, billowy, summer.

    • I would get that tattooed somewhere if I wasn’t terrified of the needle.

  • Angela

    I’m on board the halftan. The next few projects in line are maxi skirts and dresses.

  • This is such a gorgeous dress!! I love how it’s so simple but still very elegant. I’m glad I’m not the only one in love with Art Gallery Fabrics. Excellent stuff! I picked the Amaranth color but this blue is beautiful. Now I want to try all the other colors! …and the prints, too 😉

    • I’m obsessed with their prints. I want to make something with all those gorgeous April Rhodes beauties.

      • CathyWF

        First, gorgeous dress. Second, I made a great dress out of an April Rhodes knit. It feels like buttah. Finally, I just made my first pair of Gingers from the anxiously awaited “kit”. Best. Jeans. Ever.

  • Gorgeous! I could see this style of dress in a slinky challis, too.

    • I thought about that! I made with a far too stiff cotton way back when but I think a challis would definitely work too…. and it would probably be lighter and thus easier on the neck 😉

  • Hélène

    Simply gorgeous. God, you’ve got style, my dear. I’d like to get on the halftan train with you, but I’d definitely need to put some straps on my maxi dress because my boobs would be on my waistline at the end of the day. However, you definitely sold me the idea of a maxi summer dress.

    • Hahahahaha. It’s all about the shelf bra! Although I’m not sure how’d you do in this dress. You’ll have to stay tuned for the new pattern. Wait? Did I say that out loud?!

      • !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Sena

        !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • What an amazing dress! Perfect for summer and I LOVE the color! A good portion of my wardrobe is indigo as well- it’s my favorite color. I’ll have to check out those knits.

    • I’m not sure when it happened! All of a sudden blue is my favourite colour and I didn’t even notice!

  • I love this inky color on you! I’ve been wanting to try Art Gallery Knits for a while…I’m just waiting for the perfect color… I like the idea of a halftan. I’m a shorts and linen top wearer in summer, but it is true that anything that even remotely gets close to your bod leaves you feeling partially baked under hot summer suns.

    • I love shorts but on really hot days… sheesh. Better to just wear a big sheet! I really love this knit – I’d like to play with some more because they have AWESOME prints.

  • English Girl at Home

    Stunning, Heather!

  • coco

    Lovely maxi! the inky color is beautiful on you.

    • Thanks Coco! I think I’m done with black for the summer. I have a new navy boyfriend 😉

  • truebias

    this is so freakin gorgeous on you. so flattering! love it.

  • sallieforrer

    I need this in my life. That’s literally all I can think of at this moment. I. NEED. THIS. Seriously, you look stunning. It’s amazing to me how such a simple design can truly be so SO beautiful and have such a visual impact. And you gotta love a quick make! I’m thinking I might need to get my hands on some jersey and start playing around…

  • Okay, now THIS is a maxi I can get behind! Typically they’re not my thing because I don’t really love the column-ish look that the straight skirt gives, but this is most excellent, and now I kinda want one. A dress like this would be the bees-knees in a flowy linen.

  • This is AMAZING. I love it. So much. I’ve been curious about Art Gallery for awhile–I love that color on you! I need to up my maxi dress game. Lovely, lovely, lovely job!

  • yeah can i go ahead and steal this out of your closet?? this is my favorite blue and it looks stupid comfortable and great on you. would live in a dress like this. also, gonna have to get my hands on some art gallery solid; i’ve sewn with their print knits a couple times and it’s THE BEST.

    • It’s pretty comfy but the strap does dig into my neck a bit if I wear it all day… ah well! I need to get my hands on some prints, like, pronto.

  • Ashley

    You are gorgeous as always! I have been meaning to ask and kept forgetting. Do you have another pattern you’ve been working on? Will you do sneaks if such is the case? Please? And let me test 😉

    • I’m working on it AS WE SPEAK! I’m aiming for a mid-June release. Drop me an email at heather at closetcasefiles dot com and I’ll email you about testing!

      • Ashley

        I JUST saw this! I will be e-mailing you for sure 🙂 I’m so excited!

  • Threadie

    Wahou, I love your dress ! I have this pattern and seeing your dress make me want to sew one for the summer. I’m on the haftan team :))

  • Emily Kate

    I. Love. It. Never been one for maxi dresses as I feel they’re for people with much longer legs than I, but I could totally go for one like this. Looks great on you and so comfy for summer.

    • That’s what wedge heels are for darlin! Jack it right up!

  • mokosha

    that’s pretty much the perfect summer dress! and looks great on you!

  • it is perfect!!! that fabric looks fantastic – I want some of that … now I’ll have to check every single eu online shop to see who carries it! fabric aside – the dress is – wow !!

  • Yep, a great one… so good to make another one of the fave dress… and superb fabric… I’ve seen that company’s name around!

    I’d add a bit more on the top half for my halftan… Just so I can wear a bra but I’m on board with it. I would ALWAYS have to wear my wedge heels though, otherwise, peeps would be like.. ‘Where is that miniature circus tent going?’

  • I love this make SO much. I just got my order of one of the Art Gallery jersey prints and I am over the moon with the hand of it! I petted it for an hour. It’s poppies and indigo stripes. I’m with you on the shift to blue, it’s just so flattering to my skin tone.

    • It really has the loveliest hand ever, right?!?!? I gotta get my hands on more. And poppies and stripes sounds GORGEOUS.

  • That color is beautiful! I love it. I love the shape and the delicate bodice on you. I’d be scared to death wearing a dress like this without a bra (which is the only way to wear it, I think) but kuddo’s to you!

    • I’ve worn it with a strapless bra but I hate them. They always ride down and drive me nuts (it’s on my list of things to make this summer!) I don’t mind going braless but you’re just praying there is no air conditioning wherever you go 😉

  • This is gorgeous!!!! I love it so much- it’s so drapey and glamorous! I’m curious- did you have to reinforce the straps at all or are they strong enough made out of jersey?

    • Nope. Just cut them on the least stretchy side and they held up well (I did serge them closed though!)

      • Cool! I gotta track down a copy of this pattern/steal it from Wanett!

  • lauren

    I haven’t been able to stop THINKING about this dress since you posted this three days ago. I WANT it! I have a feeling demand may have sky rocketed for this vintage pattern now though…. 😉 I have to track it down.

  • Art Gallery knits are the best!! And that blue is also a favourite with me too.

  • Robin Latour

    I have been craving this pattern forEVAH. I can’t find it for a reasonable price/condition. *sob*
    I will not give up! Your navy version is stunning!

  • Cristina Pardo

    Will you be selling this pattern?

    • Hi Christina! Unfortunately not – its a vintage pattern so it’s not mine to sell.