What? Another tutorial this week?
Lucky for you, I am participating in the Summer Sundress Series over at Melly Sews, which means that I’m sharing a fun sundress with you today!
I’ve been into sewing with knit for the past few months, and I knew that a knit sundress would be perfect for summer. Comfortable, light, flowy – I think I might need to make one in my size, too!
Here’s what you need to make a sundress of your own:
- knit fabric
- sewing machine/accessories
- elastic thread (not pictured)
As usual, you’re going to need to take some measurements of the gal you’re making the dress for. This dress is for my four and a half year old, so all of my measurements will be for a size 5T.
I measured around her chest to start out with; her measurement is about 22 inches around. This will be the length for the elastic. You can figure that if she is 22 inches around, then she’s approximately 11 inches across the front, and 11 inches across the back. This doesn’t need to be exact.
I knew I needed to make a skirt piece, a top piece, and a ruffle for the top piece. The top piece can be measured by measuring from chest to where you want the skirt to start. This measurement was about 5 inches for my 5T size, but I added on two and a half inches to account for seams and folding over to make a casing where the elastic will go across the chest. So my final length measurement is 7.5 inches.
For width, I want it to gather in with the elastic, so I made the width 17 inches. I cut on the fold so that I’ll only have to worry about one seam, but that still gives me 17 inches across the front and 17 inches across the back.
Are you with me?
For the ruffle, it doesn’t need to be as long as the top piece. I cut it to 5” long by the width of the fabric so that it will give me a nice ruffle. Again, I cut on the fold.
The skirt’s length is just however long you want it to be! I wanted it longer than her knees for modesty, but not maxi length so that it is still easy to play in. Her mid calf length was 20 inches, so I cut the length to 20.5 inches to account for seams. Since it would be gathered, I just went with the width of the fabric for the width. Easy cutting!
So final measurements for 5T – all cut on the fold:
top bodice: 7.5” x 17”
skirt: 20.5” x w.o.f.
ruffle: 5” x w.o.f.
The first thing I did was making a casing along the top of the bodice piece. My elastic is 3/4” so I made it about 1 1/4 “.
Since knit fabric is loose and drapes nicely, I didn’t finish any of the bottom edges of either the ruffle or the skirt. That is a personal preference; you are free to hem those babies up if you like!
Next, take the ruffle piece and run a gathering stitch along one long side about 1/4” in. It will likely gather a bit as you sew. Find the middle of the bodice and the middle of the ruffle and pin, having the stitch of the casing and the stitch of the ruffle line up.
Gather the ruffle evenly on each side of the middle pin, and pin in place.
Sew the ruffle to the bodice, trying to sew along your gathering stitch. Having the same color of thread as your fabric would be beneficial here!
Now run a gathering stitch along the top edge of the skirt piece. With right sides together, pin the middle of the skirt to the middle of the raw edge of the bodice. Make sure that ruffle is out of the way!
Gather evenly on each side, and pin in place. I decided to sew these two pieces together with elastic thread in my bobbin so that the dress would have a little extra stretch.
Once sewn together, turn the dress right side out.
Cut a piece of elastic the measurement of the chest around. Mine was 22 inches, so I cut the elastic to 22 inches. Using a safety pin, begin guiding the elastic through the casing.
Don’t push it through too quickly; when the end of the elastic is lined up with the end of the casing, pin in place before guiding the elastic the rest of the way through.
Continue guiding the elastic the rest of the way through the casing. This will gather the bodice piece in. When you get to the other end, put the dress seams right side together, and pin the elastic in place – lining up the casing. You’ll have pinned through the elastic on each side now.
Sew up the seam of the dress.
Turn it right side out and admire how nicely the dress is coming along.
Now it’s time to add some straps. I tried the dress on my daughter to see how long of a strip of fabric I would need to cut so that I could attach the straps to the seams where the ruffle and elastic casing stitches are. Then I added a few inches on because I am going to shir the straps, which means I need a little elastic fabric for it to shir and gather correctly. The straps I cut were 2.5” x 13”.
Put the elastic thread back in your bobbin, and do a row of shirring along each long edge of both straps. Again, I didn’t hem the sides of the straps either; they are knit and won’t fray, and I like the look of it.
Pin the straps where you would like them placed on the dress on the front, pinning where the stitch of the ruffle and casing is.
Sew them in place (switch your bobbin back to regular thread!)
Do the same for the back of the dress. I put the seam of the dress in the middle of the back, and my straps were both basically right on each side of the seam.
You’re done! What do you think?
To say my four year old loves this dress is an understatement.
Comfortable and flowy, perfect for playing!
There’s nothing more satisfying than when the people I sew for love it as much as I do!
Are you going to make a knit sundress for your little lady? Or maybe even for yourself?
Be sure to check out all of the other fabulous sundress tutorials being shared as a part of this series at Melly Sews. There are some super talented ladies in the group!