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Sweet Spring Sundress Tutorial with size 4/6 Pattern Piece

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

I’ve had this new sundress mostly finished and just sitting on my desk for almost a week now.  I’ve been a bit distracted with Spring Break activities and playing with my new Photoshop elements program.

I finally finished the sundress up on Sunday and we went outside to take a few pictures…  I love the spring, everything is so green and pretty after a long winter of dormant trees, grass and flowers.  We don’t have any bluebonnets, but our wild purple verbena is starting to bloom.  So in honor of the beautiful spring days we have been having, I am naming this sundress the Sweet and Simple Spring Sundress.

To help you make a Sweet Spring Sundress for your little one, I have put together this easy sundress tutorial.

Items needed:

  •    1 yard +/- of fabric (I used a knit fabric for this project.  I love sewing with knits for a couple of reasons: 1.) You don’t have to hem or finish seams if you don’t want to.  2.) They are more comfy than quilting cotton (IMO). 3.)  Knits wrinkle less after washing. You can use quilting cotton for this project.  There will be only a few tiny adjustments in the pattern if you do and I will point them out to you.
  • 112 inches +/- of bias tape (Store bought or homemade.  If you want to add trim the bottom ruffle like I did, you will need about 90 inches more)
  • Shirt that fits well (not too loose, not too tight) to trace for the bodice pattern.  (Click here: bodice pattern for the link to my printable pattern )
  • measuring tape/ruler
  • fabric marker
  • scissors
  • paper and pen to make bodice pattern (I use freezer paper)
  • iron

Step 1.  Making your own pattern and cutting the pattern pieces: (I recommend you make your own for a custom fit, but you can print my size 4/6 version here.)

 *** Important pattern printing tip***  When printing the patterns, do not print directly from Google docs.  Download the pattern to your computer and open it in your adobe acrobat reader.  Choose actual size and the landscape option.  (I just printed a pattern directly off Google docs and notice it printed slightly smaller.)

Lay out the t-shirt onto the paper.  Trace out the neckline, sleeve edges and sides of the shirt.  For the length of the bodice, mine is a 5t and I measured down 3 inches from the bottom of the arm hole.  (For a 2t/3t, you might only go down 2 inches and for a 7+ add an inch or two.  This project is so forgiving, no matter what you do it will look cute.)  Add 1/4 inch to the sides and bottom of the pattern for the seam allowance.  We are binding the top and arm holes, so we don’t need to add any extra fabric here.

Next, draw a line through the neckline for the top edge.  My original neckline was more curved, but I decided it looked better more straight.  (So draw your bodice top line like the red line.)  If you are using a cotton fabric, add an additional 1/4 inch on both sides of your pattern.  This will give you an extra inch of room to compensate for the lack of stretch.  (Of course use your judgement based on how loose your original tee is.)

Fold your pattern in half down the middle to cut it out.  This will help keep both sides symmetrical.

Next, hold up your pattern piece to the child.  With a marker, draw lines where you want the shoulder ties to be.  (This is very important and will make sure the ties are in the right place and will stay on her shoulders.)

Fold the pattern piece in half again and cut along these new armhole lines.

Lay out your bodice pattern piece onto your fabric.  Make sure the stretch is going side to side and cut 2. (front and back)

If you are making a 4t, 5t or size 6, just use my skirt and ruffle measurements.  To make a larger or smaller size follow these instructions to get a custom fit.  To determine the fabric measurements for the skirt, hold up the bodice piece to your child and measure down how far you want the skirt to go.

For the skirt length, take that measurement, add 1/2 inch for the top and bottom seam allowances and subtract 3 inches for the ruffle.

Example- My measurement was 19 inches:  19 + .5 – 3 = 16.5 inches for the length of my skirt
 For the width of the skirt, measure the width of your bodice * 2 * 1.75. (* = multiply)
Example- My bodice width was 12 inches: 12 * 2 *1.75 = 42 inches  for the width of my skirt
 For the width of the ruffle, multiply the width of your skirt  * 1.75.  (For a fuller ruffle, you can multiply by 2 instead of 1.75.  If you have enough fabric, go for it.)
Example- My skirt width was 42:  42 * 1.75 = 73.5 for the width of my ruffle.
 Cut out your skirt piece.  (Mine was 42 inches wide by 18.5 inches long.)
 Cut your ruffle piece 3 1/4 inches tall by your ruffle width measurement.  (Mine was 73.5)  You will probably have to sew 2 pieces together to get the width you need.  (If you are using quilting cotton and need to hem the bottom, add 1/2 inch to the height of the ruffle for the bottom seam.)
 For the top ruffle strip (which is optional) cut a strip of fabric 16.5 inches wide by 2 inches.  (If you are using quilting cotton and need to hem the bottom, add 1/2 inch for the bottom seam.)

Step 2.  Assembling the bodice:Grab your 2 bodice pieces, put them right sides together and sew both side seams.


Step 3.  Gathering and attaching the skirt:Fold your skirt panel in half, right sides together and sew up the side seam..  If you are sewing with quilting cotton, be sure to finish all of your seams with pinking shears, a zig zag stitch with your sewing machine or a serger.

To gather the top of the skirt, change your sewing machine setting to the longest stitch length and sew a straight stitch around the top of the skirt, 1/4 inch from the top edge.  Pull on the top thread and slide the fabric down the thread to gather the skirt.  Keep pulling and gathering until the top of the skirt opening is the same width of the bottom of the bodice.  Spread your gathers as evenly as possible.
Right sides together, line up the raw edges of the top of the skirt and the bottom of the bodice and pin securely.  (The more pins the better IMO.)


Place the pinned edge in your sewing machine and sew right over the gathering stitch.  If you choose to sew over your pins, go slowly and be careful, I have broken a few needles this way.


Step 4: Gathering and attaching the top ruffle strip.Grab the ruffle strip and gather the strip the same way as you gathered the skirt.   If you are sewing with cottons, hem the bottom first by folding 1/4 inch, press, then fold another 1/4 inch press and stitch the hem.


Line up the raw edges as shown below and pin.

Cut 2 pieces of bias tape about 1 inch longer than the top of the bodice.  Open up the 1st piece and “sandwich” the top of the bodice and ruffle.  Move your pins to the outside of the bias tape as you go.

Trim off any excess bias tape and ruffle.

Sew right along the bottom edge of the bias tape.

Attach the bias strip to the back bodice piece the same way, but without the ruffle.  The front bodice will look like this when you’re done:

Step 5:  Adding the shoulder ties: For the shoulder ties, cut two pieces of bias tape to about 44 inches. (A few inches more for a larger size and a few inches less for smaller.  It is always better to start with too long, you can always trim off any extra.)  Fold the bias tape in half and mark the middle point.  Open the bias tape and sandwich the edge of the arm hole.  Line up the mark you made with the center seam.  Pin securely.

Start sewing at the end of one tie.  Sew all the way down the tie, around the arm hole and to the other end of the tie.  Finish the end of the tie with a little knot.  Repeat on the other side.


Step 6:  Attaching the bottom ruffle.Almost done…  Grab the bottom ruffle strip.  Sew the short edges together with a 1/4 inch seam allowance to make one big circle.  (If you are sewing with cottons hem the bottom now.)  Sew a gathering stitch along the top edge of the ruffle 1/4 inch from the top.

Gather the ruffle strip the same way you gathered the skirt.  Right sides together, line up the raw edges of the bottom of the skirt and the top of the ruffle.  Pin securely and sew right over the gathering strip.  I can’t find my picture of this step, but it is done the exact same way we attached the skirt to the bodice.

With your iron, press the ruffle seam flat.  You have 2 options here.  You can top-stitch right along the top of the ruffle or you can attach  a piece of bias tape along the ruffle seam as a decorative accent.
If you decide to top stitch the ruffle, here is a photo example of top-stitching:
If you choose to add a bias tape bias tape accent instead, just pin the bias tape right along the edge of the ruffle.  Sew along the top and bottom of the bias tape.

That’s it!  You’re done!  Have your little princess try it on, then sit back and admire your work!

Isn’t this picture gorgeous?  It is definitely going in a frame!



Click here for the 4/6 pattern piece.  When you open the file to print, you will have to change the layout orientation to landscape if your program does not do it automatically.  Make sure you select print actual size.  It may look like it prints off the page, but it will be OK.  All printers print differently, so to be safe the edge of the pattern that goes on the fold should measure 5 and 5/8 inches and the bottom should measure 6 3/8 inches.

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  1. What a precious dress. Thank you for sharing as our church has a sewing ministry to sew clothes for charity children. This is so sweet.

  2. thank you so much for the tutorial for this absolutely adorable dress.

  3. Jenny Melrose says:

    This came out so sweet! I love the colors you chose. Thanks so much for sharing at Whimsy Wednesdays! I'm following.

  4. freckled laundry says:

    I love it! The children are adorable too! Thanks for sharing with air your laundry friday, Jamie!

  5. awesome tutorial. thank you!

  6. What a great tutorial. I will give this a try..thank you. I too agree that the dress is darling but the children are just precious. wonderful pictures..my favorite are the last two.

  7. Really cute!!


  8. So adorable! It makes me wish (yet again) that I had a serger!

  9. Jami Creager says:

    ahh! this is so cute and a perfect way to use up a lot of fabric I have sitting around! great tutorial… thanks for sharing 🙂

  10. Gorgeous sundress – even more beautiful photos and such a wonderful clear tutorial!!

    Thanks for linking to a Round Tuit!
    Hope you have a fabulous week!
    Jill @ Creating my way to Success

  11. Hi, I'm Marci says:

    Thanks for the tutorial! I can't wait to try it out.

  12. Justine of SewCountryChick says:

    Your ingenuity amazes me! When are you going to start selling your patterns?

  13. wow! thanks for such a great tutorial! the dress is perfect for summer!

  14. etsyinreallife says:

    This is adorable! I might just have to make one grown-up sized! 🙂

    Thanks so much for sharing!