I shared this tutorial originally over at Melly Sews as part of her Summer Sundress Series.
I was so excited to be invited to share a sundress for this series. I LOVE sundresses, and I had been playing around with an idea in my head, so this just gave me the push to get going!
Want to make one of these? I actually made two! Baby got left out this time around, but my older two are loving sporting them around.
Here’s what you need:
- elastic (I used 3/4” for around the chest)
- elastic thread
- sewing machine/accessories
You can see I used three different fabrics for each dress: one for the body, one for the ruffle, and one for the straps. You could easily do this with just one fabric and have it be just as cute! I got 3/4-1 yard for the body for each of my girls (3T and 4T), 1/2 yard for the ruffle, and 1/4 yard for the straps.
** I always cut using my fold, so keep that in mind when reading my measurements! **
Start off by taking some measurements of your little gal. I measured around my girls’ chests, all the way around. This is the elastic measurement. My 2 year old, who wears a size 3T, was between 19-20 inches all the way around.
Next, measure from your little gal’s chest to where you want the bottom hem to be. I wanted about 21 inches for my two year old. So this helped me split up my body and ruffle measurements. Let’s break it down.
Width of Body
Since my daughter’s chest was about 20 inches around, I can assume that across the front of her chest is about 10 inches. Since I want to gather this in, I am going to make my width about double – so 20 inches. This will be the width I want for my body.
Length of Body
I want my ruffle to be about 5 inches long, so I need to subtract this from my length I measured from my daughter’s chest to where I want the bottom hem. So 21 inches minus 5 inches equals 16 inches. But I’m going to add one to two more inches to it because I’m going to be folding over the top of the dress to make a casing for the elastic.
Final Body Measurement
18” x 20”
Length of Ruffle
As I said above, I want my ruffle to be about 5 inches, so I’m going to cut 5.5 inches to account what I’ll lose in seams. (I’ll lose a little bit in the body as well; you can add in a half inch there as well if you feel so inclined! Nothing has to be exact!)
Width of Ruffle
I love me a good ruffle, so I just cut the ruffle by the width of the fabric.
Final Ruffle Measurement
5.5” x 44” (cut two)
Are you still with me???
I hope so. That was almost too much math for me. It’s not my strong suit!
So I’ve been seeing a lot of uneven hems around lately, where the back is long and the front is shorter. I decided I wanted to do that with this dress.
I’m decided to leave the entire back of the dress all one length. So one of the ruffle pieces I cut, I could just leave alone for now.
But I wanted it to gradually go up in front, so I took the ruffle and made a diagonal cut. You can do this as extreme as you’d like. My piece on the right is my ruffle; you need to keep the entire length on the two ends of the ruffle piece so that you can attach it to the back ruffle piece. The top of this piece is where my fold is, and I cut it down to three inches.
To enhance the diagonal effect, I decided to also make a cut on the front of the body of the dress, again leaving the back completely alone. Make sure you only cut the front of the dress! The right, wrong side of the fabric you see here is the back of my dress. Since I cut on the fold, I opened up my piece, and folded in the front side to the fold and cut my diagonal on the front side only. I cut it up to five inches.
When you lay that front piece back down, here is what it will look like.
I somehow forgot to take a picture of this, but turn your dress piece with right sides facing and hem up the one side. Finish your edge and set it aside.
Take your ruffle pieces and hem them up, finishing the edge, and attach them together. This will give you one big loop. Do a gathering stitch along the top, unfinished edge.
Gather your ruffle and pin it in place, right sides facing, to the main body of your dress. Make sure your middle points at the top of the diaganols line up.
Sew the ruffle to the body of the dress, finish the edge, turn it right side out and top stitch it down. Doesn’t it look pretty?
Now it's time to make the casing for the elastic. I folded over the top of the dress about an inch and a quarter, pinned it,
and sewed all the way around, leaving about a two inch opening to insert my elastic. I also sewed entirely around the top where the fold is; I think it helps hold the elastic in place better, but it's definitely not a necessary step!
Cut a piece of elastic the measurement around your girl's chest, and use a safety pin to guide it through the casing. Overlap the edges about an inch, sew them together, and sew up your opening.
Now we need some straps. I honestly don't remember what my measurements were, but you can just measure on your little lady. I knew I was going to be shirring mine, so I made them a bit longer to accommodate the shirring. Hem up the long sides of each of your strips.
Do two rows of shirring on each side of each strap, so four rows of shirring per strap. Don't be scared of shirring if you've never done it before - it's easy! Wind your elastic thread by hand on your bobbin - not too tight. Set your stitch length to the longest length, and sew along the edge with your regular thread on top and elastic thread in your bobbin. Back stitch at the beginning and end. If the shirring doesn't shir up as much as you like, hold a steaming iron over it and watch it magically shrink. It's highly satisfying!
For my three year olds, I did it a bit different. I didn't cut her dress body; only made her ruffle have the uneven hem.
All that's left to do is put the dresses on your cute little models and make them go outside in the freezing air to get some pictures.
Are you going to make one?
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