sit down and sew: simple sun dress

Today I'm going to show how to make a simple sundress. These are AWESOME for little girls. They are super easy to slip on, are light and airy for hot days, and let's not forget that they are so cute.

Tie in front variation. I will be showing this one.

Tie on shoulder with button variety.

Today I'm going to show how to make a simple sundress. These are AWESOME for little girls. They are super easy to slip on, are light and airy for hot days, and let's not forget that they are so cute.

What you'll need:

Two different fabrics
3/4 inch no roll elastic *
ribbon (I prefer grosgrain)
buttons (optional)

First you want to measure how big the chest needs to be. For this one, it was 19 inches. You are then going to measure how long you want it. I wanted this one to be 20 inches long. Fabric 1 will take up 17 inches of that, and Fabric 2 will take up 3 inches. Fabric 1 also has the chest elastic, so I added another 2 inches to that for seam allowances. Then you've got to figure out the width. I went with the classic 1 1/2 times the chest as a starting point, which made it 30 inches. Finally, I figured out the ribbon for the sleeves. You can do the sleeves all kinds of ways on this. I've done it where it ties in the back, behind the neck, on top of the shoulders, and in the front (like this one). Good basic length for arm pieces is around eight inches, give or take depending on what you measure. But because this is adjustable, it's not as important to get it right on.

Note: You can cut this in two different ways. You can have two pieces, a front and back, that you sew together, or, if you have one long piece like I did, you can just sew up into a tube.

Here's what I cut (including seam allowance):

- Fabric one -

30.5 width
19.5 length

(Variation - Cut two 15.5 x 19.5 pieces)

- Fabric two -

30.5 width
3.5 length

(Variation - Cut two 15.5 x 3.5 pieces

- Ribbon -

33 inches (2 pieces)


Now that you have your pieces cut, you are going to make them into your tube. Take both Fabric 1 and 2 and place them right side together. Sew up the edge and you now either have your back seam or your side seams (depending on how you cut your fabric).

Take Fabric 2 and place it in Fabric 1, right sides together. It is VERY important to check that once they are sewn together that the finished edge will be on the inside. I ALWAYS double check. I've had to many times where I've had to rip out the seam and start all over.

Now that those pieces are together, your already almost done! I like to topstitch to hold the finished edge down and make it look more professional.

Sew your hem. You can do it by rolling up 1/4 inch twice and sewing, or if you have a serger you can just iron up once and sew.

Now for the ribbon sleeves. First, at the top of the dress, fold and iron it over 2 inches. Measuring from the middle in the back of your dress, place your ribbon as shown. I put about four inches in between the sleeves and about an inch at the bottom where the ribbon is folded over. I folded it over instead of cutting different pieces to give it more strength against my busy girl.

No, go to a seam and measure down 1/2 inch. Sew all the way around, making sure your ribbon sleeves stay put when you get there. You may even want to back stitch to secure it even more. Then you will go 1 inch down from that and sew all the way round, leaving about a 1 inch opening to thread through your elastic.

*I said to use no roll 3/4 elastic. I tried to use 1 inch soft elastic for this dress and it was a mistake. I ended up throwing it out and going to the sturdy no roll stuff. ALWAYS USE NO ROLL!

Place a safety pin in your elastic and thread it through your chest band.

Stitch your elastic ends together. Close up the opening by stitching it shut.

For the front and back tie variety on this dress, you have to have button holes. I have a button foot on my machine and it makes this a breeze. Otherwise, you'll have to read through your sewing machine manual to figure out how your machine does it.

I placed to small buttonholes about 5 inches apart.

Thread your ribbon sleeves through the button holes, tie it, clean up stray threads, and voila! A cute summer dress for a little girl.

As always, if you have any questions about this tutorial, including terms or measuring, let me know and I am happy to help!


Kristi said...

So cute! I wish I had a little girl to make this for. :) Right now I'm attempting black out curtains so when Dave works overnight he can have a nice dark room to sleep during the day.

Katie and Shawn said...

Hey Sammi!

So I know random to hear from me but I love reading your blog and am so amazingly impressed by your craftiness. I have looked at this dress a few times but it makes me really nervous! I am going to give it a shot, but my question is what stitch did you use on the insides, or did you use a serger, would a basic stitch work....let me know what you think! Thanks so much for posting this, I'm excited to make it for my baby girl! thanks

Sami said...

I'm glad you're going to make it! It really is so so easy. I have a serger, so I serged the inside. But if you don't have a serger, you can use a basic straight stitch for your seams and then finish those egdes with a zig zag stitch for reinforcement. Obviously serging is the easiest way, but you can definitely just use a regular sewing machine for this. Good luck! You should send a picture of it when you're done and I'll put it up here for all to see!