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One Shoulder Maxi Dress Tutorial (w/ pattern)

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Make a One Shoulder Maxi Dress for your little miss!  This project is a pattern hack using my free peasant dress pattern and girl’s boho maxi dress pattern.

One Shoulder Maxi Dress Pattern and tutorial for girls

We’re back from a fantastic mini beach vacation on the Texas Coast!  It was so nice to just relax and have a good time with the family.  As it turned out, I had a forced (unplanned) beak from electronics too.  There were so many people at our RV resort, it was impossible to access the wi-fi!  The island was way overcrowded too, so half the time, there was no cell phone service either.  

I did still manage to squeeze out few Instagram posts though- the best reception was on the beach!  (Are you on Instagram?  I would love it if you took a moment to follow me over there: Scattered Mom on Instagram.)

girls one shoulder maxi dress

We’ve been trying to get the kids to the beach all summer and I’m so glad we were finally able to fit this trip in.  We were there with several other family members and cousins galore!  It so was great and the kids had an absolute blast.

For this beach trip, I made my daughter this one shoulder dress in a gorgeous blue tropical batik print cotton gauze I picked up a few months ago.  

I saved the dress for her to wear on our beach trip, plus I thought it would be a genius idea to get the one shoulder maxi dress tutorial photos of her on the beach, at sunset, in the dress.  (It actually turned out to not be a genius idea, as it was too hot, sticky, and windy, plus the beach was an absolute mad house- even at 7pm.  

In all my time living in this small town and visiting over the last few years, I have NEVER seen it so busy!) We made do with a few pictures by the boardwalk leading to the beach…

how to make a one shoulder maxi dress

Can I just say, how much she loved this one shoulder maxi dress!  (I love it too.)  Little girls love maxi dresses.  I’m guessing they feel like big girls when wearing them.

one shoulder maxi dress patten

To make this one shoulder dress, I used my peasant dress pattern with a few modifications for the bodice and the tutorial for the boho maxi to make the skirt.

This dress uses a lot of fabric, so if you’re using a 40 inch fabric, you’ll need up to 3 yards for a maxi with a bottom ruffle.  The gauze I used was 58 inches wide.  I needed 2 yards and had enough left over for a 12.5 inch skirt lining.

The dress is super roomy, she’ll be able to wear it for a couple of years, I bet.

Materials needed for the One Shoulder Maxi Dress:

  • up to 3 yards fabric
  • 1/4 inch elastic (to determine amount, you will need to adjust the dress onthe child)
  • coordinating single fold bias tape
  • peasant dress pattern
  • basic sewing supplies

Use a 1/4 inch seam allowance.

One Shoulder Maxi Dress Sewing Instructions

Step 1: Print and adjust bodice pattern.

Print the bodice piece out 2 times and print the sleeve once.  

Cut out.  

To adjust the pattern into a one shoulder dress look, flip one of the bodice pieces over and line up on fold to make one bodice piece.  

Slide one side over, so the centers overlap by on inch. (this reduces the width)

Raise the armscye on one side by one inch.  Use a pencil and draw a gently sloping line from the corner of the bodice top to the newly raised armscye.  Cut out your new pattern.

Cut a front and back bodice piece with your new one shoulder dress pattern.


To get the ruffle strip length, line up the sleeve pattern with the bodice pattern.  Use a ruler to measure from the edge of the sleeve to the opposite edge of the bodice.  Multiply this measurement by 2 and cut a fabric strip 3.5 inches by your number.

Step 2: Putting together the bodice of the One Shoulder Maxi Dress.

Line up the front and back bodice, right sides together and sew together using a 1/4 inch seam allowance.  Finish these seams with your preferred finishing method.

Lay the bodice out, with the right side facing out.  Open the single fold bias tape and line up the edges around the arm hole.  Pin in place and sew right along the first fold of the bias tape.  (I show this method in more detail in my pillowcase tutorial here.)

Fold the bias tape over to the inside of the bodice.  Press and sew in place.

Grab the ruffle strip, fold it over, right sides together and sew along the short edge, finish this seam.  (I serged along the top edge of the ruffle, but it is not necessary to do this.)

Fold the bottom edge of the ruffle over 1/4 inch, press. Fold over another 1/4 inch, press again and sew along the edge to create a narrow hem.

Lay your one shoulder bodice flat, wrong side out.  Line up the raw (serged) edge of the ruffle strip with the raw edge of the bodice, right side down.  Pin in place and sew the bodice and ruffle together using a 1/4 inch seam allowance.

Flip the ruffle over to the right side of the bodice and press.  You will continue pressing the 1/4 edge of the ruffle strip over as well.

We will use the tape to make a casing on the ruffle.  Grab the single fold bias tape and line it up along the raw edge of the ruffle.  

Pin in place.  Trim the edges of the bias tape and tuck up under the edge of the ruffle.

Sew a straight stitch along the top and bottom of the bias tape. Stay very close to the edge, you will need to have room for the 1/4 inch elastic.

To finish the casing, fold the ruffle back over to the front and sew along the edge of the ruffle, about 3/8 inch from top edge.  Don’t forget to leave and opening to thread the elastic through.

Use a small saftey pin and thread elastic through the casing.  Secure with saftey pin and have your little one try on the dress.  Adjust the elastic for best fit.

Sew elastic together and close casing.

Step 3. Adding the skirt.

To create the skirt, I used the skirt portion of my boho maxi tutorial.  Rather than making you flip back and forth between the 2 tutorials, I am just pasting the instructions below.  (So the fabric will be different, sorry for any confusion.)

Getting the skirt measurements.

Have your child, try on the finished bodice and measure from the bottom of the fabric to where you want the skirt to end.

(Our measurement was 30.)

The top tier should be approximately two times as tall at the bottom tier.  Take your measurement and divide by 3.  That number is your bottom tier and double it to get the top tier.  (Mine were 10 and 20.)

To accommodate seam allowances and hem, add 1/2 inch to the height of the top tier and 3/4 inch to the bottom tier.

Cut theses pieces:

  • Top skirt panel/tier: your height measurement X 49 inches.  (size 2/3: 44 inches)
  • Bottom skirt panel/tier: your height measurement X 67 inches.  (size 2/3: 66 inches)

If the pattern repeat on your fabric can be cut in any direction, you can turn your fabric sideways and cut the skirt panels/tiers in 1 piece. If not, you will need to cut the skirt panels/tiers in 2 pieces.  

Add 1/2 inch to each piece to account for seam allowances.

Place the top skirt/tiers right sides together and sew along the sides.  Finish these seams with pinking shears, zigzag on the sewing machine or serger.  Repeat with the bottom tier.

Sew a basting stitch along the the top edge of the top tier and gather it up so it is the same width as the bottom of the bodice.  (If you would like to see a more in-depth description of gathering and attaching a skirt, visit my sweet spring sundress tutorial.)

Right sides together, pin the skirt/top tier to the bodice.

Sew along the pinned edge using a 1/4 inch seam allowance.  Finish this seam with your preferred finishing method.

Gather the bottom tier until it is the same with as the top tier and right sides together, pin the top tier to the bottom tier and sew together.  Finish this seam with your preferred finishing method.

Press the seams of the tiers flat, with the finished edges facing up.

Before hemming the bottom, it would be a good idea to have your little one try the dress on again and confirm the length. (Make any adjustments as needed.)  

Hem the bottom edge by folding over 1/4 inch, press and fold over another 1/4 inch. Press again and sew along the edge.

That’s it, you are done with the one shoulder maxi dress!

If you end up making a one shouldered maxi dress for your little miss, be sure to come back and share your results to my Facebook Pattern Group or tag me on Instagram using #scatteredmompatterns!

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  1. Penny Cobb says:

    I made this for my only granddaughter and she loves it. I found the instructions to be very clear and the pictures so helpful. Thank you for sharing your work so generously!
    The only change I made was to double the width of the ruffle.

  2. Hi Jaime
    When you say make it bodice size do you mean to the tunic line?

  3. thanks for your creativity

  4. Thank you so much for the pattern! I’m making this for my grand daughter who doesn’t live near me. I can’t have her try it on for adjusting the elastic around the chest/shoulder. Can you give me an approximate measurement for the elastic for size 7/8? Thank you!

    1. I’m sorry I don’t have a size 7/8 child to measure.

  5. Joy Wheeler says:

    Thank you for sharing your patterns. What wonderful ideas you have I have downloaded the A-line pullover dress pattern and will be making that in the very near future, then this beautiful maxi dress will be next on the cards. Your model is outstanding and she obviously is destined for greater things

  6. megan oman says:

    How easy do you thing it would be to add a strap or another "sleeve" to the dress? I am wanting to make it for an out door wedding we are going to but I am worried about it slipping down while she is running around playing.

    1. It would be super easy to add a strap. Just decide where you want it and sew it on!

  7. Kimberly Lewis says:

    Super cute dress! Beautiful model! Pinned. Lou Lou Girls

  8. Emily Thompson says:

    super cute!!! I love that fabric, thanks for sharing the free pattern! and thanks for sharing at the Create Link Inspire party. You've been featured today and I've spread the word around ;o)Pinned!

  9. Debi Bolocofsky says:

    Thanks so much for sharing with Wednesday's Adorned From Above Link Party.
    Debi @ Adorned From Above

  10. What a pretty dress. Love the fabric choice. Would love if you shared this on Merry Monday. Pinned.

  11. Crochet Hooks says:

    Stunning dress! love the materials you picked. What a pretty model too!

  12. Anne Weaver says:

    Beautiful dress! I especially like how it fits loose through the bodice – so beachy!!

  13. Ana Lopes says:

    Hi Jamie! This is a beautiful dress! Lovely girl too 🙂 Thanks for sharing!
    Hope you have an awesome week!
    Hugs from Portugal,