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What i Made: Carter Rae

green maxi dress

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again – I’m an icing type of sewer. On a regular Saturday and with no occasion before or after, I’ll swipe my lips with the hot pink, pull on my velvet overalls, and hit up Whole Foods Market. You can never be too dressed up to buy some meat in my opinion. For those who live in the northeast, spring is nearing, and the first holiday that signifies the season is St. Patrick’s Day. You thought velvet in Whole Foods was extravagant, how about sequins and a maxi dress in a pub? Don’t dare me!

Initially, I planned to use Ralph Pink’s Maxi Dress pattern for this dress. The vision I had in mind when I started was a cross between a Free People dress I adore and a dress Inna made using a printed jersey (she used Ralph’s pattern). But as I looked at the design details, I realized I had a pattern in my stash that would be better for this simple make – my sloper. Developed 3 years ago, it still fits like a glove, and to turn it into what I envisioned would take less time than making a muslin from Ralph’s pattern and then fitting it. I’ll save the technical details of how I transformed my block for next week, and in it, I’ll discuss some standard alterations I always make to my sloper (even though it fits me exactly, it’s not very wearable/flattering unless a few small changes are made).

carter_rae (1 of 1) copycarter_raebw (1 of 8)carter_rae (5 of 8)

I discovered something about my sewing self while making this dress, and that is I like fabrics with a texture, especially from the home décor section. One of my favorite me-mades from last year was a swing dress using a vintage yellow fabric I bought at Jomars. Its surface is slightly raised and mottled, which makes it very interesting in person. I also bought the fabric for this dress from Jomars and it took some investigating to figure out what the heck it was. With the help of some friends and Patternreview.com, we concluded that it’s a double cloth home dec fabric with a slubby face side and a shiny wrong side (that was obvious). The diagonal lines on the right side indicate that it’s a twill weave, and the diagonal/floating threads on the back side indicates that it’s a satin weave, which is why it held up well in the washer and dryer during pre washing (side note: I highly suggest prewashing home dec fabrics. In many cases, sizing and starch is applied during production, and when it is washed and dried, the hand changes dramatically, most often becoming softer). Because the fabric was a twill, it presented a host of problems when I cut out the pattern. By nature, twills technically will never be on grain, and I mean that in the sense that the cross grain will never be perpendicular to the lengthwise grain. I’ll spare you the details on how I cut it out for later this week – I wrote a very long post on the subject; the subject definitely got my wheels turning.

The fabric acted like a tweed in that it sagged, especially between the bust points, but I wasn’t going to quilt it like a tweed – that would show on the outside – and I wasn’t going to interface – that would make it 3 plys (if take into consideration it’s a double cloth). I left it as is. No biggie.

carter_rae (7 of 8)

The bodice is lined with a printed cotton and the skirt is unlined with French seams throughout except for the CB (is there a way to insert an invisible zipper into a Frenched seam?). The lining was clean finished using a machine at the neckline, armhole, and CB, and attached by hand at the waist seam using a fell stich. The fabric is heavy, and I was worried that it the weight of the skirt would cause the waist seam to sag. Indeed it did, so I added a ½” wide petersham tape to stabilize it. Boy, did that make a world’s a difference (side note: Tasia has two great tutorials for inserting a waist stay – here and here)! Of course, I hung the skirt for 48 hours before hemming, and parts of the skirt grew over an inch. The hem is a ¼” double turnback (also called a narrow hem).

Thinking about the seamstress that I am and the wardrobe that I want to construct, this project fits into that equation. It’s everything that I’m slowly discovering that I like in clothing – simple silhouette, stand out fabric, and great accessories.

Stay tuned for the follow up posts about this project – one later this week on grain perfection and one next week on the pattern work. Cheers to getting involved in projects because I totally got drunk with this one!

carter_rae_back (1 of 1)carter_rae (3 of 8)



  1. Reply

    erin goh

    It’s a gorgeous dress and you look so fabulously elegant in it. LOVE it!

  2. Reply

    Lauren Taylor

    Girl, you look AMAZING. What a fantastic color and style on you, gahhh!! re your invisible zipper question: I always sew up the french seam below the invisible zip, and then snip a notch directly above so the zipper seam is free of the french seam. From there, you can insert your zipper – you can even turn under the raw edges so it mimics a french seam. Works for me, anyway!

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      That makes total sense! Thank you!

  3. Reply

    Craft Sanctuary

    This looks absolutely fabulous! You HAVE to wear it to a pub, at least so it gets worn for more than just a special occasion. Also, I absolutely adore the lining. So cute!

  4. Reply


    Oh wow! That is AMAZING! You look like you stepped right off of a red carpet! LOVE!

  5. Reply


    I love it, especially the lining.

  6. Reply

    Lady ID

    I like it a lot!! Great colour on you.

  7. Reply

    Laura Mae

    Absolutely gorgeous – it fits like a dream! And I totally agree about the home dec fabrics; I have had a lot of luck with them as well.

  8. Reply

    Kirsty Bunfield (kbfield)

    I absolutely adore this. It is stunning. i love the belt, the fabric and of course the lining.

  9. Reply


    This is just stunning.

  10. Reply


    Girl! all I can say is: WOW!!!

  11. Reply


    Love it! The color looks great on you! The lining is a happy surprise!

  12. Reply

    stephanie grubb

    The silhouette and fabric combo is so elegant! love the color on you too!

  13. Reply

    Sky Turtle

    What a wonderful garment!

  14. Reply


    Gorgeous, Maddie! I love the slubby texture of the fabric, and the avocado color is also simply dreamy. Using your sloper was a great idea because the fit is spot on. A great dress for wishing on spring!

  15. Reply

    Heather Lou

    This is realllllly beautiful. With flats and a jean jacket its could totes be casual. AND COULD THAT GREEN LOOK ANY BETTER WITH YOUR HAIR & SKIN??!!! Also love that little fun pop of graphic with your lining.

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      I know, the green against my red hair and skin makes it pop. I can’t help but notice I look so Irish!!

  16. Reply


    Ooh, this is so dramatic and fun! Love the color!

  17. Reply

    Katy & Laney

    That lining, oh my goodness! Beautiful dress.

  18. Reply

    stephanie u.

    Absolutely beautiful! I love the photos.

  19. Reply


    Spectacular colors, fit, and belt! I just hope you weren’t too cold with all that snow around you.

  20. Reply

    Jill Prettyman

    oh wow, that is beautiful, and one of my favorite colors, and what a beautiful photograph in the snow

  21. Reply

    Emily Baker

    reminds me of a lovely anthro dress 🙂

  22. Reply


    beautiful dress! the real star of the show is the lining though – amazing idea 🙂

  23. Reply

    Natasha Estrada

    The fabric is a lot greener than the little swatch photo. Much nicer.

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      thank you

  24. Reply


    Love the dress and the photos!

  25. Reply


    You managed to create a real fairy-tale story! Wonderful dress! Icing is cool!

  26. Reply

    Laura N

    So pretty, that fabric is something else. A triumph!

  27. Reply


    beautiful! lovely color and the bodice lining is a really fun surprise. I’ve thought about that french seam w/ invisible zipper dilema, the only idea I could come up with was to do a french seam up to the bottom of where the zipper goes then snip to the seam line and insert the zip up from there. never actually tried it, though.

    • Reply

      Natasha Estrada

      “is there a way to insert an invisible zipper into a Frenched seam?”

      I didn’t notice this at first read and my opinionated is no and why would you? A invisible zipper wants the seam to be open and the french seam wants it to be a closed. A better solution might be to do a hong kong finish so the seams all have that same vintagey feel.

      Have to admit I’m not a big fan of the french seam but I have a funny feeling having a good serger sways your mind on that issue. Also I feel that a french seam can make things bulkier so I use it only on fabrics that the serger might tear up.

      • Reply


        I recently sewed a skirt with a dramatic hi-low hem so my inner seams could be seen from the front. I did french seams to make them look pretty should you catch a glimpse of them but the back seam required an invisible zip. I ended up cutting that center back seam on the selvage so I didn’t need to finish the raw edge but that would have been a time when french seams all around would have been nice. I rarely do french seams, tho. You’re right, having a serger makes it fast and easy to have a nice finish.

        • Reply

          Natasha Estrada

          Cutting a wider sa and then folding the edge over twice is also a nice clean solution.

          Though if you really wanted to blow peoples minds try putting piping in a french seam. It’ll drive all those seamsters crazy.

          • Maddie Flanigan


      • Reply

        Maddie Flanigan

        And that’s exactly what the serger did when I tested a scrap – ate it up. The seams took such a long time, but it was worth it.

        • Reply

          Natasha Estrada

          I think you need a new serger if you still have that old babylock. Though I relearnt something the other day when my serger was acting like I had really really broken something. Check the tension discs

  28. Reply


    Such a gorgeous dress Maddie – it fits my style aesthetic perfectly. Simple, clean lines and stunning fabric. You’ve nailed all three! And it looks so elegant against the snow backdrop.
    I do exactly what dixie described for the french seam/invisible zip dilemma – it’s always done me well.

  29. Reply

    Laura Doty

    I absolutely love this dress, Maddie! And your pictures of it are beautiful, as always. I definitely agree with you that a simple silhouette with great accessories always looks great. xoxo

  30. Reply

    Amanda Russell

    I always love reading about your process, Maddie – your knowledge and passion always shine through so clearly 🙂 But even if one were not to read a word (more fool them!) your beautiful photos would be enough to tell the story – you look gorgeous and ethereal, and I adore that colour on you!! 🙂

  31. Reply

    Cirque Du Bebe

    Wow this dress is exsquisite! I love all the care you’ve taken with details, especially that lining. Beautiful pics as always.

  32. Reply

    Carolyn Norman


  33. Reply

    Preethi N J

    Maddie, you look stunning. I always like interesting lining. Fabric with texture is really nice. Is that some kind of suiting material or is it really from the home section?

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      It’s really from the home decor section!

      • Reply

        Preethi N J

        Never thought of this. Brilliant idea Maddie. Already thinking of few places to shop. Thanks

  34. Reply


    One woman’s icing is another woman’s bread and butter! I love that you wear your fancies to the market. It’s so exciting to see that you made this beautiful dress starting from your sloper – it keeps me motivated to continue working on the fit of mine.

  35. Reply


    Love it, and what a brave model out in the snow! I have a fantasy of a series of pencil skirts out of upholstery fabric, you inspire me with your home decor fabric.

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