tutorial: how to sew a boho maxi dress

Here is my first DIY tutorial for the year. Hope you guys find it useful!

Difficulty level: easy as breathing. Seriously. This DIY Boho maxi dress is like a simple garter skirt. On steroids.

You will need: 2 fabrics with different prints, elastic

Panel A – measure from armpit to an inch below the knee + 3 inches*

Panel B – measure from an inch below the knee to your ankle (or longer if you so desire)

Elastic – chest measurement (right around the armpit) minus .10 of said chest measurement

Panel A = top longer piece / Panel B = bottom piece


  • Take your two B panels and sew along the top. Adjust your machine’s stitch length. You will want the stitches to be lose for this part. Do not backstitch when you finish.
  • Take the bottom thread of the line you sewed and pull. Why? Because you will want a shirring effect on your bottom panels. Make sure that the shirring is evenly distributed along the top of the fabric.

  • Lay down your top and bottom panel. The bottom’s width should be equal to the width of the top by now because of the shirring magic you did.
  •  Pin the top and bottom panels, right sides together.

  • Sew along the shirring stitch line. Carefully. You will want to flatten (or “comb” to the direction opposite the stitch line) the shirred panel while you sew.

  • This is what you’ll have after you sew the panels together. Repeat the steps above to the back panels of your maxi dress.

  • Attach the elastic to the top part of your DIY maxi dress dress after you sew the back to the front piece. Follow the instructions for attaching the elastic here.
  • Note: Instead of having the elastic close to the top (the part of my dress nearest the tape measure), though, you will want to have an allowance. You will sew two lines along your elastic casing. Make sure that your elastic will fit the distance between your two stitchlines.
And yes, that’s basically it. You’re done!
At this point, you have a choice to make your own “scarf belt” using some fabrics that will beautifully clash (or match) the fabrics you used. Of course, you can also use your own store-bought scarves or belts.
*this allowance is for the “folded over the belt” look, as demonstrated on the runway. The allowance can be 2 inches or none; it’s entirely up to you. 

23 thoughts on “tutorial: how to sew a boho maxi dress

  1. I love this dress! I just wish I were still young enough to wear this. But at 60, it is a bit young for me. Getting old is not fun! So, enjoy your youth!

    1. Hi Deborah
      My name is Carla and your not old, I’m 71 years young and I am making about 3 of Meream’s wonderful dresses. Never say old hon.


  2. Love this! How do I determine the “desired width”? I’m pretty sure it’s larger than my hip size, but how much larger is a good rule of thumb? Thanks!

  3. I would also like to know what the general rule of thumb for desired width is… I have made a few things before and some were too wide and some were too narrow, I couldn’t even take a wide step! I am excited to try this for summer!

  4. Hullo ladies! For those who asked for the width, mine was 20 inches wider than my hips. This was for the top panels. I found that this was the right width that will make the dress less constricting; I love taking wide steps, too. :)

    Of course, this also means that your garter for the tube part will be “flouncier.” If your fabric is thin enough, though, this will not be an issue.

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  6. what does it mean by “minus .10″ in the measurement for the chest?

    Elastic – chest measurement (right around the armpit) minus .10 of said chest measurement

    1. what does it mean by “minus .10″ in the measurement for the chest?

      Deduct 10% of your total chest measurement to get how long your elastic should be :)

    1. Thanks! I forgot the name of the fabric but I think any type that flows/drops beautifully will do. Even jersey fabric :)

  7. So, maybe I missed it, but how are the two pieces attached? Do you sew up the sides? What’s the seam allowance? Do you sew up the sides before doing the elastic?

    1. Gosh, so sorry if it wasn’t clear. You sew the side seams, right sides together, and then do the elastic section. :)

    1. Hullo! My dress tutorials are not downloadbable, unfortunately. You can follow the sketch above and draw directly on your fabric.

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