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!
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!
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