Swimsuit Cover-up Maxi Dress (Tutorial)

With summer completely upon us, Peanut and I plan to spend lots of our days at the pool (Peanut is such a water baby). In the past, I’ve thrown on a pair of shorts and a t-shirt or tank to cover up my swimsuit, but never bothered to buy a swimsuit cover-up. I could never find one that I loved, or that was flattering on my body, or that wasn’t a mini-mini dress, or that wasn’t a million dollars, etc, etc.

So with some fabric that I bought online ages ago, I made myself a swimsuit cover-up maxi dress. It’s lightweight, it’s super stretchy to accommodate my growing belly, and it was SO easy to make. It will be joining me on all our summer vacations this year.

Here’s what I did:


  • 2 yards (60″ width fabric) of lightweight jersey knit (more or less depending on your size and height)
  • matching thread

Step 1. Using a tank top that fits you well as a pattern, cut out the top part of the shirt. This tank top of mine is super stretchy, and gets very small when it’s not on, so I used a less stretchy t-shirt as well to make sure the sides of my dress fit correctly and were not suctioned to my body. This method worked great. 

Add a 3/4″ seam allowance as you cut around the tank/shirt.

Continue cutting down the sides, angling out as you go (as seen below). This will create a nice flowy skirt — not a body suit.

Step 2. Sew up the sides and the shoulders (as seen below in the next two photos). If you’re using stripes like me, make sure you line up the stripes on the sides, and sew the shoulders on the same stripe so they match up on either side.

Trim and zigzag or serge the raw edges, if desired (knits will not fray). Press each of your seams.

 Step 3. For the neckline and arm holes, fold your fabric twice over and pin into place. Sew over the twice-folded fabric with a semi-wide stitch, stretching the fabric slightly as you go to avoid loose and wavy seams. 

(See two photos below for a view of the inside and outside of these finished seams).

Step 4. For the hemline, fold up twice to your desired length, pin, and sew. 

See? Easy peasy. Now excuse me, I’m off to the pool. 

As always, comment or email me with any questions! Happy Sewing!



  1. Britty says:

    Cute! I always have trouble hemming the arm/neck holes of my clothes-making ventures; yours looks so good!

  2. TheTinyHeart says:

    That cover up is adorable as always, Merrick!

    Enter to win a clutch!

  3. Michelle says:

    I'm loving the maternity tuts – I'm due mid-November so the timing is perfect? Any recommendations for sources for knit material? The selection at local stores is so slim.

  4. Cute! Wish we could take our boys to the pool together!

  5. Sara Flynn says:

    Wow that looks great! I need to get myself a suing machine.


  6. Another pin for me!!!!! Love it!

  7. newpetite says:

    That looks comfy!

  8. Lauren says:

    Where do you get your fabric!? I am wanting to make a maxi dress!

  9. Ash says:

    Adorable! *Sigh*… I envy your craftiness. =)

  10. JMc says:

    Another great tutorial and I love this coverup.

  11. Kelly says:

    So perfect! I love the cover-up 🙂

  12. Lisa says:

    That's so cute!

  13. {amy k.} says:

    i'm not sure how i came across your blog, but i am happy i did! after scrolling through post after post i figured i'd better say hi- i don't wanna be a stalker! 🙂 i love your style! i love how you piece things together and i absolutely love the fact that it is affordable pieces your working with!! makes me feel like i can do it! and now, i'm wishing i knew how to sew better! i'm 16 weeks with my first pregnancy and feeling like there are not many affordable and stylish options for my body… if only i could make my own clothes! anyways, thanks for the inspiration and i am now following!

  14. tricia says:

    I'm also curious about you shop for fabric online. You find cute stuff and I'm assuming often find good deals. Any leads would be appreciated.

  15. Tricia:

    I've only shopped for fabric online at fabric.com. It's a pretty good resource, but their website is anything but user friendly. If you can navigate through it though, you can find some good stuff. And all for pretty good deals.

  16. And Michelle:

    My comment above will hopefully help you too. Good luck!

  17. So cute! You have great skills… I wish I were your neighbor, I'd be bugging you for sewing lessons 😉

    xo Teresa

  18. Mikelina says:

    Love this. You make it look so easy! I think I'll alter it slightly to make my own maxi maternity dresses! Can't wait 🙂 Thanks!

  19. mieze says:

    Oh my god this is just what i was looking for. Thank you so much for doing this DIY!!! X mieze

  20. Jumpo London says:

    yes,it is easy to wear. And you can fill comfortable in this max…..Maxi color is really beautiful…..
    Animal Print Dress

  21. Mar says:

    i'm so excited to know your blog…i'm your fan absolutely¡¡¡
    Thanks for bringing us the world of sewing…
    i also write a blog not long ago, and i love it¡¡¡ (http://maripepaysuscositas.blogspot.mx/)

    Glad to meet you….XX

  22. Mar says:

    oh¡¡ i forgot…excuse me but i don't speak so good english…. 🙁

  23. Great tutorial! Wish I had seen it at the beginning of the summer. I bought some great knits when I decided to wear maxi dresses all summer. Using a top that fits makes perfect sense. Please add my email I would love to get your blog updates.

  24. Rikki Sophia says:

    I made several of these dresses while I was pregnant. It was the best thing I could have done! Thank you for sharing!

    Rikki @ lbyrikki.com

  25. Joss says:

    I’m planning on making the straps a bit longer and fastening them with buttons, so I can undo them and wear the dress while I am breast feeding, and then it will just look cute to wear after!

  26. Mama Rachael says:

    I know I’m late to the discussion! I’m 7 months along, with a huge belly…. I carry my babies all up front. How do you cut the fabric so it accommodates the big belly? Is there a technique to this? I need a cover up as we go swimming lots right now, and cannot find a pattern to accommodate the belly!

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