Fluttery Sweet Sundress Tutorial


Not that Natalie really needed another dress…

Okay she did, because a girl can never have too many dresses. Especially when her mama can sew them for her.

When Melissa from Melly Sews asked me to participate in 30 days of Sundresses, I may or may not have yes, so I could have an excuse to add to Natalie’s dress wardrobe… ;) (Don’t worry, Color Your Summer 3 is still going on. Just think of this as a bonus red post ;))

By the way if you haven’t ‘met’ Melissa yet, then you have to check out her blog! She is the designer for the Blank Slate Patterns shop, her blog is full of amazing tutorials and free patterns, and she is a really great sewing teacher (which is not surprising since she is a former school teacher).

The dress I have come up with for her today has a simple silhouette with flouncy drama at the top.

With no buttons, zippers or closures, this dress is a great project for a beginner seamstress and a fun, easy nap time sew for the more experienced sewist.

Let’s make one, shall we?


1 yard of a lightweight woven material (shirting, chambray, quilter’s cotton is okay but not preferred)
1/2 yard of 1/4 inch elastic
fabric marker or pencil
matching thread

And really that’s it! The materials are fairly inexpensive and easy to find.

*The amounts and measurements included in this tutorial are for a size 12 month dress.


– After you have washed and dried your fabric, fold it in half perpendicular to the selvage. Fold the selvage end over parallel to the selvage about 8 inches. Then fold it in half perpendicular to the selvage again. (Basically, one quarter of the fabric should be 8 x 8 inches.) This should ensure it is cut on grain and lays right.
– Using a fabric marker or pencil, draw two parallel curved lines. Make sure that you draw the lines straight on at each folded edges. If you curve them at all at the folded edges then you will end up with divots and bumps in your collar pieces.
– Cut out your collar pieces at the lines you just marked.
-Ta da! Two identical collar pieces.


– Keeping your fabric folded as you had it with the collar, minus the 8 inches you folded over, cut your dress pieces.
– Measure out 5 inches for the top of the dress, create an arm hole curve and then slant the dress out to the width of the fabric. The dress should be about 17 inches long (I cut 16 inches and had to use a narrow hem).  – If you are worried about the arm hole curve, just wing it. The shape of it is not super crucial. You can do it! :)

- Now that you have your two dress pieces, take one of them and cut a one inch dipped neckline from the top. This is now your front piece.
- Pin your two dress pieces together, right sides together.
- Sew up the sides. You can sew it with a straight stitch and then finish the raw edges with a zig zag stitch or use a serger.
- Using a zig zag stitch or a serger finish the raw edges of the arm holes. Press the arm hole edges under about 1/4 of an inch (to the wrong side).

– While you have your iron out, press the raw edges of the two collar pieces under to the wrong side. Do this twice to create a narrow double rolled hem.
– This process can be a little tricky to keep even. Just keep in mind that any small imperfections will get lost in the ruffles. Taking your time during the ironing step will help reduce imperfections.
– Following the ironed lines, top stitch around both collar pieces to complete the double rolled hems.
– As you can see, I had a couple spots that puckered, but you can’t see it in the final product. The collar will also be a little curly because you can’t clip the double hem to get it to lay flat. Again, not to worry. It will be ruffled and gathered.

– Top-stitch around the armhole curve. Because you pressed the arm hole seam in earlier, there should be no need to pin it first.


– With both collar pieces facing right side up, slide them over the top of the dress.
– Pin one collar piece right side up around the outside of the top of the dress. (Make sure the collar piece is right side up and not right side facing in!) Pin it evenly across the front and back and leave the sides to curve up for the shoulders. Make sure the shoulders curve up equally in height.
– Turn the the dress inside out and pin the second collar piece right side facing in to the match the first collar.
– Sew around the inside of the collar pieces with a 1/2 inch seam allowance.
– Cut slits around the whole curved seam allowance, being careful not to cut through any stitches. Trim down the seam allowance to 1/8 of an inch.

- Turn the dress right side out and fold over the collar piece on the inside of the dress to the outside. Now both collar pieces should be right sides facing up and on the outside of the dress stacked on top of one each other.
- Press them in place with an iron.
- Sew with a 3/8 seam allowance all around the collar to create a casing. Leave a two inch opening at the shoulder.
- Get your elastic and a safety pin and thread the elastic through the casing.
- Gather the neckline and try it on your child to get the width just right. If you can’t try it on your child, use an existing 12 month shirt to help you.
- Once you have the width figured out (14 inches with 1 inch joining overlap should be about right but is just a guesstimate), cut and sew your elastic together.
- Sew the casing opening closed.
- Iron the bottom of the dress under 1/4 of an inch and then again 1 inch. Top-stitch around.
Done, done and done!

A simple, sweet sun dress perfect for playing and running..

But cute enough for church!

The dress almost has a vintage flair to it. I couldn’t help but pair my vintage baby bonnet with it. Tutorial and free pattern found HERE.

And Natalie couldn’t help but carry this car everywhere while we took pictures. She is definitely a little sister to two older brothers. She loves cars as much as she loves dolls! She only gave it up when I took off her bonnet.

And she could feel the wind blow through her hair. She loved that. :) My kind of girl.

Thanks for stopping by! Hope you are enjoying your summer!

UPDATE: If you choose a cotton fabric be prepared to re-iron that collar after every wash… as I just found out this week. It’s not too bad to iron up, but it’s also not a dress you can leave a little wrinkly now and then. Just an FYI. :)

And check out all the other great sundresses apart of Melly Sew’s Sundress series:

GoTo Sew Kitschy Coo Occasionally Crafty Naptime Crafters Sew Country Chick You and Mie Flamingo Toes Googiemama Delia Creates Melly Sews The Mother Huddle sewVery Alida Makes Sugar Bee Crafts Seamingly Smitten Boy, Oh Boy, Oh Boy! Sumo's Sweet Stuff Craftiness is Not Optional Elegance & Elephants Sew A Straight Line Kojo Designs Caila Made Family Ever After Mama Says Sew Simple Simon & Co. Little Kids Grow A Couple of Craft Addicts Image Map


  1. says

    Delia! Seriously! I love this cute, adorable dress. Natalie looks amazing in this summer dress, and the dress looks amazing on Natalie.

  2. says

    I would like to make a size 2 version…other than adding a bit of width (1 inch?) and length (1 inch?) should I make the armholes a bit bigger, and the neckline a bit bigger (by how much?) then add onto the collar by however much the neckline is?

  3. says

    Hi Lily!

    So, I might add 1.5 – 2 inches in width (it will get cinched in anyway). The arm holes should be a bit deeper and bigger. Maybe .5 inch deeper and .5 inch wider total (1/4 inch for each side). Don't worry about making the neckline bigger. Because the dress pieces are wider to begin with, once you scoop the neckline, it should be big enough. You can make the collar a little

  4. says

    The dress is absolutely adorable! I love the plaid and the ruffled neckline. Natalie is going to look back on these pictures and know how much you love her. :)

  5. Sarah says

    Hi! I absolutely love this dress!! I’m fairly new with sewing apparel. What would suggest as far as amount of fabric to purchase and measurements when cutting for an 18 month old?! I’m pretty clueless to how much you should add when sizing up or even sizing down for that matter!! Thank you! I’m absolutely in love with your blog… my sewing list is growing by the minute lol.

    • says

      Thank you Sarah!

      For an 18 month old you can probably get away with 1/2 yard of fabric easy. Think of how long you want it to be. When you cut the dress out, you will cut it from selvage to selvage (for the width). So use the length to gauge how much cut yardage you need. You won’t need the full 55-60″ width for the dress, so you can use what is leftover for the neckline/sleeve portion I hope that answers your question. Let me know if you have more!

      • Sarah says

        Thank you!! I’ll give it a try… my daughter is only 10 months now but I wanted to make it for next spring!! :)

  6. Kay says

    I’m a beginner sewer and have NO idea how large to make the collar…working on a newborn-three month size…is it the size of a dinner plate or what? How far into the fold – 4″ or 8″?? And how wide is the collar? This is a precious dress that I really hope to use often – with better guidance…

    • says

      Hi Kay,

      The great thing about this dress is that the collar doesn’t have to be precisely measured. As long as it is much larger than the neck it is intended for, then it can be gathered to size. The collar for this dress is cut from fabric that has been folded into fourths, with the finished folded area being 8 in. by 8 in. I added that emphasis to my tutorial so it is more clear. If you want to size the dress to a smaller size, You would need to size the collar down maybe to a 5 or 6 inch square (after being folded into fourths). That is just a guess. I haven’t taken time to measure and calculate exactly.

      It sounds like you might do well with a pattern? Tutorials are usually free because they only offer one size, likely don’t have pattern pieces, and they emphasize showing the technique. They are really great for when you feel comfortable improvising on your own, or for when your recipient fits the described size already. There are some free dress patterns out there as well, but the best patterns are usually paid ones. They cost money, because someone has put the hours and hours of work into doing the hard work for you. They will give you the precise measurements and cuts you need for every size, so there is no guessing, and they are often well tested, so you know there are not errors in the pattern. They cost money, but the investment well worth it. If you need some pattern suggestions, just let me know. I’d be happy to help you find one that fits what you are looking for.


      Delia :)

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