Handkerchief hem maxi – FREE SEWING PATTERN

I love a maxi dress with an uneven hemline. They look great when you move and see a flash of leg. This Handkerchief Hem Maxi – FREE SEWING PATTERN is an loose fitting throw-on-over-a-swimsuit type of dress.

I imagined it first in a grey marl jersey with an orange trim (and I may yet make it in these fabrics) but I got distracted by this black and white print and ended up going with the hot pink trim instead. This dress is really easy to make but it does take quite a lot of fabric – between 2.5 – 3 metres. I think for this pretty swishy dress I would use a satin finish bias binding to keep the elegant swishy feel.


I haven’t done a full tutorial but here are the basic step-by-step instructions. If you are not familiar with sewing opposing curves – have a quick look at this tutorial first. Or this one. It isn’t difficult but could be very confusing when faced with non matching pieces of fabric if you are not expecting it!

1 Sew in the darts

On the FRONT BODICE, fold the fabric along the pink dashed line and sew in the dart from the red dot along the black dashed lines to the edge

2 Attach sleeves

Line up the blue dots on the FRONT BODICE and one of the SLEEVES with right sides together. Sew down to the green dot – the shapes do not match – you will have to gently ease the fabric round to make the cut edges align with each other. Do the same with the other sleeve and the other side of the FRONT BODICE.

With right sides together, align the yellow dot on the BACK BODICE with the yellow dot on one of the SLEEVES. Sew from yellow dot to green – again the curves don’t match – just ease the fabric round until the cut edges line up. Repeat with the other side

All 4 pieces of fabric (FRONT BODICE, BACK BODICE & 2 SLEEVES) should be joined

3 Join the sides 

Line up the BACK BODICE and the FRONT BODICE with right sides together. (The sleeves will be folded along the original FOLD line). Sew the sides of the BODICE and along the under sides of the SLEEVES all the way from the purple dot to the orange dot

3 Attach the skirt

With right sides together, sew the FRONT SKIRT to the FRONT BODICE. (Again you will have to ease the curve of the skirt along the straight line of the BODICE). Repeat for the BACK SKIRT onto the BACK BODICE.

4 Sew the sides of the skirt

With right sides together sew up the sides of the skirt.

5 Finish the skirt hem with a contrasting bias binding so that it shows on the outside – see how to do it here.

6 Finish the neckline and armholes with hidden bias binding.

There are 17 comments for this article
  1. Judith at 12:38 pm

    Roughly how much fabric would this use? I have. Single duvet cover which I want to reuse and wonder if this will be enough? Love the pattern by the way!

    • Laura Casey at 9:52 am

      It takes 2.5 – 3m depending on width of fabric. I would think if you position carefully you could do it out of a single duvet cover. And if it doesn’t quite work you can always put a seam up the centre front and back of the skirt. The drapes mean it wouldn’t show much and makes the pattern shape much more manageable. Let me know how it goes. Have you read the post? The only tricky bit is easing the reverse curves…..and thats easy enough once you know what your are doing. Happy sewing. x

  2. Pingback: Handkerchief hem maxi pattern - Sewing 4 Free
    • Laura Casey at 9:23 am

      Hi, yes there are sleeves (marked SLEEVE right at the top). They are on folded fabric so possibly don’t look like a normal sleeve shape. x

  3. Donna at 5:51 pm

    I’m all set to make this dress and I don’t see any blue measurements anywhere. I see the box that says if I’m drawing out the pattern myself to follow the blue measurements but where are the “blue measurements”? I’ve been sewing for years and feel comfortable with drawing my own pattern (also, yours wouldn’t fit me) but I need something for comparison. Thank you!

    • Laura Casey at 6:40 pm

      Aaah, I’m afraid only some of the patterns have measurements on them. I gave up doing it becasue so few people seemed to use them. I’m sorry I can’t provide them for this dress.

  4. Edna at 2:55 am

    I loved the dress, but not a fan of bust darts. So my take on this dress is to use a simple t-shirt top and a matching or complimentary color for the bottom of the dress.

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