Plantain Maxi Dress with Braided Collars

deer and doe plantain maxi dress

I’ve never been one to gracefully back down from a challenge. I’m stubborn. Really stubborn. I come by it honestly from both sides of my family. My Great Grandma Roseada and my Grandma Jimee were probably two of the most stubborn women to ever grace this planet. (And oh my goodness my someday children are going to be stubborn nightmares as well because Adam’s Grandma Sheila gives them a stubborn run for their money!). When Deer & Doe released their free plantain tee, I thought “oh that’s nice” and made a tee-shirt with slightly unusual distressed binding¬†and moved on with my sewing life. But somewhere in the back of my head the “Plantain Challenge” kept repeating. Challenge.

navy and grey long sleeve strip maxi dress

The challenge issued was to create a unique version of the Plantain. And since I can’t back down from a challenge, this dress is what I came up with. It really is just a Plantain tee in long sleeves with a few minor changes. Easy to do, but dramatic effect, no? To cut the dress, I cut the pattern as is through the hip and then just lengthened it, a lot. I continued the subtle flare shaping of the top until it was half the width of my fabric (30″ across) and then cut straight down.

fabric braid collar detail

I knew that I would need some waist shaping, so I sewed it together, leaving gaps in the seam along the side. I sewed two giant tubes out of width of fabric strips and then played with where to insert them on the side seam, thinking I would have them wrap around me a few times to give shape and interest to the dress. Except it wasn’t really working. The stripes were getting muddy and it was just kinda blah. So I braided the strips together and tried that. Which looked beautiful, except it was too bulk at my waist, so I bumped it up to the neckline. Ah ha! Now we’re getting somewhere! Still needing waist shaping, I cut a strip of fabric parallel to the grain so the stripes ran vertical and settled upon an empire shape as the most flattering.

hidden elastic waist

I stretched a piece of elastic along the inside and sewed it down with a zig-zag, figuring it would help keep the shaping at the right point in the dress but be hidden on the outside by the vertical stripe band. I tried it on so I could get the width of the vertical stripe band correct and discovered, much to my pleasant surprise, that you couldn’t see the zig-zag from the outside and that it looked quite lovely without any waistband at all.

fold over elastic to finish neckline

The fabric that I used has quite a bit of weight to it and there is a lot of fabric in the maxi dress, so I wanted to stabilize the neckline with something sturdy. I used a piece of fold-over elastic and zig-zagged it to the neckline, stretching gently as I sewed. I went over it twice to make sure it was really on there. I know it’s not beautiful, but it was the only appropriate elastic I had and I knew it wouldn’t be seen at all while wearing because of the braid. I willingly showed you my inside, so don’t judge me!

add braided fabric to cuff

For each of the braids, I finished one end of the strip, sewed the raw edge to the shirt, and then hand tacked the braid in place from the inside, stitching down the finished end of the braid on top of the raw edge.

striped maxi dress

I have to say that I’m pretty in love with this dress. Maxi dresses/skirts look good on my frame, empire waists look good on my frame, and this thing is so comfortable I feel like I’m wearing pajamas which makes it a total winner in my book!

long sleeve knit maxi dress plantain tee

Comments 10

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  1. Now this is freaking cool! What an awesome idea with the plaited binding (plaited plantain?). I was going to enter this challenge but hey, too many plans got in the way and I never even traced out the pattern (my sewing space and sewing brain has been somewhat messy recently so I have half-made stuff laying EVERYWHERE)

  2. Oh, the braided neckline is positively genius! I love all of your alterations of the pattern – it makes a fabulous maxi dress on you! Challenge conquered, my friend!

  3. I LOVE this dress. I also have the pattern and have made one shirt. This dress was a huge “light bulb” moment for you. Fabulous work!

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