Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom


Sweet Summer Sundress Tutorial - You can make it in any size!

(Looking for more free patterns? Be sure to check out my free patterns and tutorials page here.)

I've had this cute black and white chevron fabric sitting in my stash for awhile now.  I only had one yard, so I didn't think I could make anything for myself.  (Actually, I could have squeezed a top out of this since the fabric was around 60 inches wide, but I probably wouldn't wear a top with chevron stripes running side to side, it is much better suited for my daughter who would look cute no matter what...)

Tutorial to make this adorable sundress in any size. It's so easy, no pattern to cut out, just a few measurements and a couple of hours is all you need!

My little Missy has been requesting a strapless dress.  I've tried explaining to her that a strapless dress wouldn't stay up!  I thought this fabric would make a perfect little sundress or tunic top so I made her the next best thing to strapless and added skinny spaghetti straps.

When I first had her try it on, she resisted a bit because of the straps, but I showed her that I made the top extra tight and she could tuck the straps in when we were at home, but when out and about, she had to keep the straps on to avoid wardrobe malfunctions...

Tutorial to make this adorable sundress in any size. It's so easy, no pattern to cut out, just a few measurements and a couple of hours is all you need!

Tutorial to make this adorable sundress in any size. It's so easy, no pattern to cut out, just a few measurements and a couple of hours is all you need!

How cute is this outfit?  We already had these pink leggings, so I decided to to make a tunic top instead of a dress and use pink fabric for the straps and belt.

The best part of this dress (or top) is that you can make it in any size!  It's so easy and doesn't require a pattern!  I totally want one for myself.  My only recommendation is if you are busty, you may want to leave off the ruffle, especially if you are using a stiff cotton fabric.  I'm top-heavy.  So for me, I plan to use a slinky jersey or stretch knit.  By using fabric that lays close to the body, I could keep the ruffle, but add a few inches to its length so the bottom of the ruffle hits below my bust line, but above the belt/waistline.  (To get the perfect length on the ruffle, I would probably cut it a little long and hem it last, so I could ensure the perfect length. 

Tutorial to make this adorable sundress in any size. It's so easy, no pattern to cut out, just a few measurements and a couple of hours is all you need!
(I just love shooting into the sun!)

Are you ready to make this sundress?  You are going to love how simple it is!

Sweet Summer Sundress Tutorial:

Materials needed:
  • Fabric (1 to 2.5 yards depending on size, length, and width of fabric.  I will go into more detail below in the measure and cut section below.  The chevron knit fabric I used came from Girl Charlee.)
  • Elastic (1/4 to 1/2 inch wide. - Tweens and younger can get away with 1/4 inch, larger sizes should use 1/2 inch)
  • scissors, ruler, measuring tape and other basic sewing supplies (ball point needle if sewing w/ knits)

Instructions:  (seam allowance is 1/4 inch unless otherwise noted.)

Step 1:  Measure and cut.

Main dress piece:

Tweens and younger:  Measure around the widest part of the chest.  Multiply this number by 1.75.  This will be the width of the fabric.  

For adults, we don't necessarily want a ton of fabric (too much fabric will look bulky around the waist...)  We just need to make sure we have enough fabric so it doesn't fit too snugly over the bust line or hips.  Measure around the widest part (bust or hip) and multiply this number by 1.55)

If you are using a 60 inch wide piece of fabric, you might be able to get away with one piece.  If you need to cut two pieces to get your desired width, add an extra 1/2 inch to account for seam allowances

To calculate length, measure from armpit to desired length and add 3/4 inch for hem and seam allowances.  (An adult 5' 4" and under with a bust/hip measurement less than 40 could get a maxi dress with 2 yards of 60 inch wide fabric.)  

Cut out the main dress pieces.  


Tweens and younger:  Cut a piece of fabric the same width as the main dress piece by 4.75 inches.

Adults:  You could choose to leave off the ruffle or make it longer by a few inches.  (I am 5' 4" and would probably cut my ruffle to at least 10 inches and could shorten it later if needed.)


Tweens and younger:  Cut 2 pieces of fabric 1.75 inches by 36 inches. 

Adults: Double the length, you can trim to desired length later.


Tweens and younger:  Cut a strip of fabric 4 inches by 66 inches  ( I pieced together 2 33 inch pieces.)

Optional: Adults:  Decide how wide you want your belt and double that measurement.  (If you want a 3 inch wide belt, you will cut your fabric 6 inches wide.)  Depending how long you want your tie, you may want to start at around 96 inches - you can always trim it later.


Measure under your armpit (above the bust line.) Subtract 1 inch from this number and cut your elastic to this length.

Step 2:  Assemble the Dress:

Right sides together, sew up the sides of the main dress piece.  Finish this seam with a zigzag stitch on your sewing machine, serger or pinking shears.

Create a narrow hem at the bottom of the ruffle by folding over 1/4 inch, press, fold over another 1/4  inch and press again.  If you have a serger, you could do a rolled hem, like I did or leave raw if sewing with knits.

Sew the ruffle together the same way as the main dress piece.

With the right sides of the fabric facing down, line up the top edges of the main dress piece and ruffle.  Sew along the edge using  a 1/4 inch seam allowance.

Flip the ruffle over to the right side and press.  To create the casing for a 1/4 inch wide elastic, measure down a scant 1/2 inch and sew a line all the way around the top of the dress, through the ruffle and main dress piece.  Leave a 1 to 2 inch gap to insert the elastic.  (If you are using 1/2 inch elastic, create a 3/4 inch wide casing.)

Using a safety pin or other tool, thread the elastic through the casing.

Use a safety pin to hold the elastic together and try on the dress!  Make sure it is not going to fall down, then you can sew the elastic together and sew the casing closed.

Step 3: Adding straps and belt

Fold the strap fabric together as shown below.

Fold over one more time and sew along the edge.

 Fold the straps in half, find the middle and cut in half so you have four strap pieces.

Try on the dress and mark where you want the straps to be.

Pin the straps in place and sew above and below the the elastic.

Do this for all four straps and tie a knot it the end of the straps.

Sew the belt together using the same method (except fold the ends in instead of tying knots.)

To hold the belt in place, you can make a little belt loop using an embroidery needle and thread.  Or try the dress on and pin the belt in place and attach with a few stitches on each side of the dress.

Optional waistline: On my daughter's dress, I did not add an elasticized waistline, I let the belt cinch the fabric in.  When I make this dress for myself I will add shirring to help define the waistline.  To do this, I will try on the dress and mark where I want the shirring to be.  If you need a tutorial on how to shir with elastic thread , check out my shirred sundress tutorial.  If you want to add a casing with elastic, see how I did that in my tunic top tutorial

Hem the bottom of the dress with a 1/4 inch hem and you are done!

Tutorial to make this adorable sundress in any size. It's so easy, no pattern to cut out, just a few measurements and a couple of hours is all you need!

Tutorial to make this adorable sundress in any size. It's so easy, no pattern to cut out, just a few measurements and a couple of hours is all you need!

Tutorial to make this adorable sundress in any size. It's so easy, no pattern to cut out, just a few measurements and a couple of hours is all you need!
These were some of the last pictures.  I had asked her to sit still while I fiddled with my camera settings.  She asked if she could move her toes,  I said yes and she thought it was the funniest thing!

Be sure and leave me a comment if you like this tutorial and if you make a sundress, please come back and share the pictures on facebook, flickr group, instagram or via comment!

If you like this type of project and want to see more, you can follow along using the Google Friend Connect widget, through a reader, or signing up via email.  Just click on one of the icons below:

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I will be linking up to some of the linky parties listed here.


  1. I completely love this! I am addicted to chevron too! Thanks for the great tutorial! Pinning now!

  2. thank you for the great tutorial on the wonderful yet simple summer dress... I will be making some when I get home... our granddaughter will love them and I think i will make one for myself...

  3. She looks darling in that tunic. So cute! What a nice compromise for her strapless dress!

  4. So adorable! The whole outfit put together is just perfect! I pinned this for my little girl and who knows, maybe myself :)


  5. This is so cute! I would love for you to share this on my weekly link party Blog Stalking Thursday. Thanks for the inspiration!

  6. Love what you did with our Black Chevron on White Cotton Jersey Knit!! :)

  7. So cute! I love this dress...actually might attempt it for my own strapless-envy crowd! :)

  8. SO cute! I love the black white and pink, and the chevrons! My favorite part is the ruffle at the top. So cute! I'm pinning this!

  9. Thanks for linking to Take-A-Look Tuesday over at Sugar Bee Crafts - you were featured today! MOST VIEWED LINK

  10. This is beautiful and what a beautiful model. Love the black and white. Love Chevron. Ok, I could go on and on. LOL
    You know you have to link up to The CSI Project starting tonight.You just have to!!!!
    The challenge is Crafting with patterns. You just might win or make the Top 10.
    This is perfect!

  11. Too funny... our girls must like the same things... I posted a tutorial on the train to crazy for a similar style dress except mine was long. :) I love love love the fabric and your girl is totally adorable!!

  12. Beautiful dress and photos. I'd love to be able to sew like that some day. You've inspired to try sewing again:).

  13. Now this is a dress I can make! I am no good with patterns and have been avoiding sewing because of it. I think that this will definitely get me back into it. My 5 year old daughter would LOVE this dress! I am hosting today at - swing by and share if you can!

  14. This is gorgeous... Had been thinking of making something for my daughter for Summer!! And viola...I stumbled upon your post...I guess its the easiest for me considering my first attempt at stitching a dress!!! was jittery ...but your post has given confidence to go ahead! :)

    You daughter is so pretty! And I loved that 'can I move my toes' question! :)

    1. Thank you, good luck on the dress. Come back and leave a comment if you have any questions on the dress!

  15. Precious! I'm pinning for later. Perfect summer dress.

  16. This is so beautiful! I will be trying these as soon as I can. My girls love to wear dresses, and I've made them so many skirts (because they're easier), but they don't wear them that much, because they'd rather wear a dress any day! So I need to get moving on that! I've been admiring Girl Charlee fabrics, too, so I think this is the perfect project for it.

  17. The dress and your daughter are so adorable!

  18. I LOOOOOVE it!... Gosh it is so cute! I really miss my sewing machine =(... I would do it without thinking! Lovely share! Would you link this up at my Link Party that goes live every Sunday? Your creations are always nice to have it there!!!

    Hope you are having a lovely Sunday!

    Cami @ TitiCrafty by Camila

  19. Love this! I am going to have to make one for me! I would love for you to visit my blog!
    Kiana stoker

  20. In addition to Monday Kid Corner Weekly Linky Party, this week's theme is MUD. Brush off those archives and link them up at See you there! Jennifer

  21. Love it. Found you through Busy Monday. The top is just perfect. I always love black, white and light pink together. Your daughter is adorable too! Your newest follower, Penny Lane @

  22. Your daughter is so stunning! She really is so photogenic and that sundress looks gorgeous on her! Thanks for sharing at Project Inspired! Hope to see you at tonight's party 8 pm EST!

  23. I don't have a little girl but if I did I'd be making this right now. Very cute!

  24. This looks great - such a pretty dress.

    I would love for you to link up at the Empty Your Archive party which has children's clothes as one of it's themes this week - Alice @ Mums Make Lists x

  25. Awesome dress! Thanks for sharing! I'm going to make a few of these for my niece! Visiting from the Mad Skills Linky Party!

  26. Thanks so much for linking up to Your Whims Wednesday - i featured this on my blog tonight! Come stop by and grab a featured button :)

  27. This is so adorable, and the chevron print! Amazing job. Thanks so much for sharing at A Bouquet of Talent.

  28. So cute!! Thank you for sharing at Sharing Saturday!!

  29. I love this sundress! It is even something I could whip up for my 1 year old I think. Thanks so much for sharing this tutorial!

  30. I just love this, Jamie. So pretty!

  31. She is so pretty. My eyes go to her :-)

  32. Love this! If I make an adult size, would I do the shirring just on the sides of the dress or all the way around the waist area? Seems like it would look funny all the way around...

    1. Definitely shirr all the way around. I have done this many times, it doesn't look funny. (this is an example of shirring under the bust, all the way around.)

    2. oops, here is the example:


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