You can never have too many dresses when summer rolls around. They’re easy, cute and keep you cool when it’s hot! So in honor of summer, learn how to stitch a cute and simple sundress in just ten steps. Plus, learn how to use a shirring technique to create an instant bodice on the dress.
Take the following measurements to determine how much fabric you need.
- Front of neck (where collarbones meet) over the bust and down to the desired finished length + 1 1/2″ (for seam allowance)
- Hips at the widest circumference + 8″ (for ease) +1″ (seam allowance). If your bust measurement is bigger than your hip measurement, use your bust measurement instead.
Purchase a few extra inches of fabric because the fabric will likely shrink after prewashing. For example, the finished length of the dress shown above is 32″, and the total hip measurement (hip circumference + ease + seam allowance) is 50″. Total fabric purchased for the dress was 1 3/4 yards.
1 1/2 to 2 yards of 45” wide fabric (try an airy cotton or seersucker)
black or white elastic thread
matching all purpose thread
1 3/4 yards coordinating ribbon
1. Cut a fabric rectangle to the desired dimensions (A). Serge- or zigzag-finish the edges.
2. With right sides together, fold tube in half widthwise. Stitch the short edges tougher using a 1/2” seam allowance to form a tube (B). Press the seam open.
3. Turn under the upper edge 1/4″ to the wrong side and press. Turn under an additional 1/4″ and press. Topstitch 1/8” from the fold.
4. Turn up the lower edge 1” to the wrong side and press. Topstitch 1/2″ from the fold.
5. Hand-wind a bobbin with elastic thread, slightly stretching the thread as you wind (be sure not to over-stretch the elastic). Place the bobbin in the machine and thread the needle with all-purpose thread that matches your fabric. Set the machine to a 3.5mm stitch length.
6. Begin stitching at the seamline 1” below the upper edge hem. Stitch around the tube circumference (the fabric should gather slightly as you sew).
7. When you get near the beginning stitching point, angle the stitching slightly below the first stitching line and continue around the tube (C). Evenly space the stitching rows (about 1/2″ to 1”).
8. Stitch enough of the tube to fit it comfortably over your chest. If the bobbin runs out, or when you begin and end stitching, use the elastic thread end in the fabric to gently pull the top thread to the wrong side (D). Knot the elastic and thread together to secure. Trim close to the knot.
9. Try on the dress with the seamline centered on your back. If the stitched area is too loose around your chest, remove the dress and place it on a flat surface. To shrink the fabric, hold a steam iron directly above the stitching and steam for approximately 10 seconds. Allow the steamed area to cool, then turn the dress over and repeat on the opposite side.
10. To make straps, try on the dress and measure from the dress front to back over one shoulder; add 2”. Cut two piece of ribbon that length. Turn under each ribbon cut end 1/2″, then turn under each end 1/2″ again. With the dress still on, pin the straps in place. Take off the dress and hand stitch the straps to secure. (If you want a strapless dress, skip this step. You’re done!).
That’s it! Ten steps and you’ve got an easy summer dress. This would also make a great swimsuit cover up for the pool or beach.