Summer Time Fun Dress Tutorial

Well here it is, the tutorial as promised.

Measurements for sizing are as follows:
Age.................18m..... 2..... 3..... 4..... 5..... 6..... 7

Chest(cm......... 52.......54....55...57.....59....61...63

Height(cm)...... 86.......92....98..104...110..116..122

You will need:            Main fabric
                                             Contrasting fabric
                                                           3.5cm(1 1/2") wide elastic

Using the entire width of fabric leaving the selvedges on (this could be 115cm,130cm or whatever the width of fabric is that you have bought.), cut from:
Main fabric:
Cut a strip for main dress:......................38.....43....48....53....58.....63....68 (cm)
Contrast fabric:
Cut a strip for bottom panel...................15.....17....19.....21....23....25.....27 (cm)
Cut 4 straps, 4cm wide and....................30.....31....32.....33....34....35.....36 (cm) long

I work in cm's because I find it more accurate but I have put inches in the sewing instructions.


1. Measure fabric, snip and then rip. Do this for lower panel, main fabric and straps. I do this because I am always in a hurry, plus it keeps it on the straight grain but if you cut with scissors or rotary cutter it can make things easier when folding edges over and sewing seam allowances.

2. Press fabric B strip, fold over in half and press.

3. Press main fabric. Fold over top edge by 6mm(1/4 inch). To get this measurement accurate, on the wrong side of fabric rule a line 12mm(1/2 inch) from edge, fold over edge so edge meets the drawn line and press.
4.     Fold over edge again to required measurement depending on width of fabric so

2cm(3/4") for the frill + elastic width 3.5cm(1 3/8") + 1cm (3/8") = 6.5cm (2 5/8")

I place the tape measure at various points, measure and press or you could use the above method of doubling the measurement(13cm), ruling a line,put edge of fabric to line and press.
5. Make sure the selvedge edge is kept flush and neat.

6. With right sides together - keeping folded edge turned over - pin in place and sew a 2cm(3/4") seam allowance.

7. Press seam open. Fold over edge at seam allowance and press.

8. Start at centre back sew around top edge 2cm (3/4") this creates the frill.

9. Starting approx. 2.5cm (1") before the back seam, back tack, sew close to edge leaving a gap(roughly 3" or 6-7 cm) for the elastic, sew to this point and back tack.

10. Fold bottom panel in half lengthwise and press. with right sides together sew a seam allowance of 2 cm (3/4").

11. Press open the seam allowance. Fold over lengthwise again and press.

12. Fold both main fabric and bottom panel fabric in half from centre back seam to get centre front seam. Fold in half again to get side seams, pin or notch these 4 points.

13. With dress right side up, pin bottom panel to dress(starting with the centre back seams) match all four points/notches and pin.

14. Sew a 1.5cm seam around panel and dress.

15. Finish edge of seam with either zig zag stitch or over lock.

16.Press seam upwards.

17. Turn to right side and press again.


Starting from centre back top stitch or edge stitch close to seam. This is so the seam stays flat underneath.

This is where you could use your fancy stitches on your machine that you've never used before.

19. Measure chest or use required measurement plus 2.5cm or 1". Cut elastic to size. Place a safety pin on one end.

20. Turn inside out and thread through elastic making sure you don't twist the elastic. You might have to trim elastic if it frays.

21. Overlap the elastic by 5cm/2". Pin and draw a line with chalk down the centre of overlap. Giving you a 2.5cm/1" overlap each side.

Note: This makes the elastic slightly smaller than chest measurement so it can be stretched on.

22. Stitch down this line back and forth 3-4 times, keeping the elastic free so nothing gets caught in the stitching. You will have to really stretch the elastic to do this.

23. Trim elastic.

24. Pull elastic trough. Pin open edge down and stitch close to edge, making sure you don't get the elastic caught. You will have to stretch the elastic so the fabric lays flat.

25. Stitch down centre back seam back and forth a couple of times to secure elastic.

26. Distribute gathers evenly. Fold dress in half fron centre back to get centre front. Pin. Fold in half again to get side seams. Pin. Sew a line down where side seam would be , back and forth a couple of times to secure elastic just like before.


Cut 4 strips 4cm wide to required measurements. Fold in half and press.

NOTE:  The length is just an estimate you may want to make them longer!

ALSO you could use ribbon if you are stuck for time!

28. Open flat, wrong side up and press one side in half to cente.

29. Repeat for other side and press.

30. Fold in half and press.

31. Fold top edge over 6mm/1/4" and press.

32. Fold over again and press so the edge is neat.

33. Topstitch around edge.

34. Press strap. This method makes the straps very strong and you don't need to press them after you wash the dress. Plus I can't be bothered pulling the strap through but you might find the other method of making straps easier.

35. Now place the straps on the wrong side, with raw edge down the bottom. Placing straps evenly between centre front pin and centre back seam using the measurements with the corresponding size e.g. if the spacing should be 12cm, then the straps should be placed 6cm either side of CF and CB seam.

The spacing is the same for both the front and back.
size 18m-12cm, 2 -12cm, 3 -12.5cm, 4 -13cm, 5 -13.5cm, 6 -14cm, 7 -14.5cm

NOTE:  Once again this is an estimate.  If you have the child infront of you, you can pin the straps on while the child is trying on the dress to get a more accurate fit.   Just make sure the straps are evenly spaced fron the centre front and centre back!

36. Pin straps. With right side up stitch down strap back and forth a few times on top of existing topstiching seam.

37. Trim strap so is about 6mm/1/4" from seam.

And there you have it, a very long tutorial for a simple dress. I would absolutely love it if you could send me some photo's, if you ever make this dress. Also I would love to hear your feedback about what you thought about the pattern. Maybe just one day I might start up a flicker group.
I give you my permission if you want to sew and sell these dresses. I would just like you to let me know, purely out of interest sakes.
So sew away my little beauties!!!


Lou said…
Awesome I want to have a go at that! I'll let you know if I do it too...
Kimara said…
Lovely dress and super useful tute! It is making me yearn for sustained nice whether so the little ladies in my life can wear their summer frocks. The midwest can't quite make up its mind yet. I'll be linking on Facebook.
Cindy said…
If I ever get the chance to sew again (currently having a newborn and a toddler), I really want to try this!
S said…
thank you - she is a cherub.
Jorth said…
Super cute dresses!
Marina said…
What a gorgeous dress and great tutorial. Your little girl is so sweet in the dress....
Unknown said…
Love the dress and tutorial but being a newish sewer i am unsure what width fabric to purchase?
sweet emmelie said…
Hi Angela. I have changed the wording on this post to "Using the entire width of fabric leaving the selvedges on (this could be 115cm,130cm or whatever the width of fabric is that you have bought.)"
I hope this is a lot clearer for you.
Such a sweet, sweet dress! Looking forward to trying your tutorial soon! :)
Paula said…
OK, that dress is so stinking cute I had to go out this afternoon and buy material to make her some. Just finished sewing up the first one and I already can't wait til morning when she wakes up so I can put it on her!
Thanks :)
This is just such a super sweet dress. I love the flower/polka dot combo. Adorable, adorable, adorable! Great tutorial. What originally brought me over was her hair... it looks exactly like my youngest's!

Gwenny Penny
Kait said…
How do you think this would look using 1/2 inch elastic?
Unknown said…
I just finished one this morning. Too Cute!
Anonymous said…
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Anonymous said…
Love the dress, I made it for my 10 month old, and its gorgeous. I used a watermelon print fabric and a sunny yellow to flatter the summer aspect of the dress. With thanks, Aimee
Tasha said…
Looked over this tut quickly to check it out and from what I've seen it's much clearer and easier to read than most. Great job! If I like it enough I may sew a few or more for my boutique. I will let you know how they sell, and of course, reference your blog. Thanks!
Tonya said…
Super cute and super easy!! My granddaughter looks adorable in her new dress from Nana!! Wish I could upload a photo! Thanks for posting!
Tonya said…
Super easy and super cute! My granddaughter looks adorable in her new dress made by Nana! Wish I could upload a photo! Thanks for posting!
Shannon said…
Such a sweet dress and such an easy concept. Thanks for the tutorial! I made a dress for my daughter and I love it.
DD said…
I made this dress while my 3 kids napped one afternoon, it was so simple and easy to follow, and my daughter (18 months) loved it!! Thanks so much for sharing! I've gotten many compliments on the dress!
Anonymous said…
Id like to make this for my 11m old but im unsure of the measerments? So cute!
Lauren said…
Hi , I love this pattern. I have alittle girl who is quite a tomboy but loves pretty dresses. I am definitely going to give this a try.

Anonymous said…
This is so cute. Once naptime comes around, I am racing up to my fabric stash and sewing machine to whip this up!

It's also nice to know I am not the only sewer who is always in a rush and doesn't do things by the book!
Lisa said…
Thanks so much for this awesome tutorial! I've finished one for baby niece, and will soon do another for my toddler niece- both will be wearing the dress in a ceremony this summer. The first one is here:
JEH said…
Wow! I love that I didn't have to buy a pattern! Thanks so much for wonderful instructions! Whipped this little dress up for my Granddaughter this afternoon! Can't wait to see it on her.
She's only 6 months old, so I cut back to 12" for the main part and 4" for the hem. I think it still looks a little big so I might make a second one with a narrower elastic and narrower fabric. Side seems wouldn't add too much extra work.
Rebecca said…
Hi Mary-Jane, Im struggling at steps 6 & 7 because Im not sure which fabric to use to put right sides together ? to create a seam to press open ? would love some instruction as I want to make this dress for a friends daughter : ) Cheers, Beck
Jennifer said…
Such a cute dress. I will definitely make one for my 2-year old daughter. Do you have recommendations for fabric cuts if I were to make this dress smaller, for a 6 month old girl?

Thanks much!
Unknown said…
I loved this dress when I saw it! I knew this was the pattern I wanted to use for my daughter's first birthday dress!! I had to make some changes because I wanted to use 3 fabrics instead of just 2, and I attached the straps with snaps instead of sewing tie straps on, but here it is! Hopefully you can see it! It turned out super cute!
Anonymous said…
Desperate for a simple pattern for a toddlers dress, I found this and was thrilled! Such a lovely dress and so so easy! Thank you for putting up this tutorial :)
lovelykidzshop said…
cute dress
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Anonymous said…
My two daughters in matching dresses, made from your pattern and Michael Miller's Flight Patterns lovely quilting cotton. I was able to whip up both dresses really quickly, on time for our vacation to Mexico. Thank you!
Anonymous said…
I just finished this and live it. Thank you so much!
Chelle said…
I LOVE this dress, I am very new to sewing, and I am struggling to work out how to cut the fabric, when there are no pattern pieces? Or am I missing something?
Brenda Skelton said…
Made two matching dresses for two of my adorable grandnieces, sisters. Plan to make matching camp shirt for their brother. Great tutorial! Would love to send photo but can't see how to upload.

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