Summer Sundress Tutorial

The original inspiration for this tutorial came from a dress I purchased at a local op-shop (below). The fabric and fit were amazing and the design pretty simple but effective. After becoming an almost daily wear over the summer the lining wore quickly and the straps have always been twisty so I decided to make a new awesome summer dress. This idea stayed in the back of my mind until I found some beautiful yellow fabric on sale at Spotlight for $3/m. This is the first and only nice fabric I have ever seen on their cut-price table so I took the lot (only 2 1/2 metres). In making this dress I used a similar style to the dress below but altered the top by taking out the binding used and changing the style of straps!

Now let's begin:

Main Fabric: Approx. 1.5 metre length of fabric
Lining Fabric: Approx. 10 inches or 26cm length of fabric
Interfacing: 16 inches by 4 inches or 41cm by 11cm
Zipper: Minimum Length 12 inches or 30cm
Matching Thread
Please note that all seams are 1/2 inch unless otherwise stated!
Getting the Measurements and Cutting the Fabric
Front of Top: To size the front and back of the top you need your bust and waist measurements. The front pattern piece will look like this:

Bust is half your bust measurement (in inches) minus 2 inches + 1 inch (for 1/2 inch seams either side) For example my bust is 36 inches divided by 2 = 18 - 2 inches = 16 + 1 inch = 17 inches

Please note - this dress is tight on the bust - if you prefer it to be a less snug fit please keep the bust measurement as is (do not minus the two inches).

Waist is half your waist measurement + 1 inch (seam allowance).
For example my waist is 28 inches divided by 2 is 14 + 1 inch = 15 inches
Side is 9 inches including seam allowance.
You can make this longer if you have a long torso or want a lower waist.
Back of Top: This is pretty much the front piece cut in half down the middle. The easiest way to cut this piece out is to fold the front piece in half and add 1/2 inch after the centre fold (for the centre back seam allowance).
CUT 2 of BACK MAIN FABRIC and 2 of BACK LINING (do not cut on fold)
Skirt Front: is a rectangle made up of your waist measurement times by 1.4 for width and 23 inches for length (you can make this longer or shorter if you prefer - this includes a 2 inch hem).
Skirt Back: is made in the same way as the top back - fold the skirt front in half and cut the centre back, adding 1/2 inch for seam allowance.
Straps: Cut 2 strips of the main fabric 16 inches by 5 inches
Interfacing for Straps (if desired): Cut 2 strips 16 inches by 2 inches
Step 1: Make Straps
Attach Interfacing to Straps - iron to the centre of each strap on the wrong side as shown below:

With right sides together sew along the length of each strap, trim seam, turn right side out and press so that the seam runs along the center back of each strap:

Step 2: Attach Straps

Baste straps to top front (main fabric) approx. 8 inches apart (4 inches from center each side). Sandwich straps between the front top main and lining fabric (right sides together). Sew, trim seams, turn right side out and press:

Attach straps to the back in the same manner - 3 inches from the centre back each side:

Once pressed your top should look like this:

Step 3: Side Seams and Overlock Centre Back

Pin front and back at side seams as shown below - lining to lining and main to main - right sides together - making sure that the seams line up:

Sew side seams, trim, fold and press:

Overlock the edges of the centre back - lining and main together in preparation for the zipper:

Closer Look:

Your top should now look like this:

(please note I have pined the sides of the centre back in preparation for the zipper)

Step 4: Sewing and Gathering the Skirt
Sew the side seams of the the skirt - front and back pieces right side together. Overlock seams. Sew the centre back seam to the zipper point - for me I used a 12 inches or 30cm zip and needed to sew and 18 inch seam (46cm). Overlock centre back seam open. Press centre back seam open.
Gather the skirt at the top edge. Use the longest stitch to stitch a row 3/8 inch in from the top and then another row 1/4 inch from the top. Pull the gathering stitches with one thread from the top of each row.
Your skirt should now look like this:

Step 5: Attach the Skirt to the Top
Pin the gathered skirt to the main fabric of the top, right sides together - easing the gathering around so it is even and matching the side seams up!

Sew carefully around the waist seam - I stitch gathered side up and ensure as I go along that the top side stays flat. If any fabric gets caught up you can unpick and re-do the section. The skirt is now attached - you can remove any basting stitches if they show:

Overlock the waist seam if desired:

Now you can tuck the seam allowance of the lining and pin at the waist:

Hand stitch the lining at the waist. If you choose you could stitch it evenly with the machine if you plan to put a trim around the waist or if you don't mind a top stitch on the front!

Step 6: Sew in Zipper

Fold centre back seam allowance and stitch zipper in using chosen method - I used a standard zip but you could use an invisible zipper if you prefer!

Step 7: Hem
Fold the hem over 1 inch and then another inch. Edge stitch hem and press:

Step 8: Optional - Accessorise

I chose to add a navy bow to the dress - I made a bow and pinned it to the center front of the dress with a safety pin! I love the combination of yellow and navy - but also love the flexibility of being able to take it off to co-ordinate with different stockings - shoes etc!

You can also add a hook and eye above the zipper to keep the top of the back together!

(it might have been a wee bit cold mid-year in Australia, but the sun was there in spirit)


You and Your Summer Sundress are Ready
to Let a Little Sunshine into Your Life!

Be prepared for more tutorials, giveaways and fun over HERE...go on like me! I dare ya!

Next up how to accessorise your sundress!
I will be posting more ideas on how to accessorise your dress tomorrow!


  1. Very very cute!!! (and clever too :) )

    ... now if only I had some spare time .....

  2. That is a great tutorial...and a beautiful dress!! Thankyou

  3. beautiful dress! thanks for the tutorial :)

  4. Love the fabric. Why can't I ever find anything like that at Spotlight?

  5. What an easy dress to make! Thanks for sharing.

  6. Very cute sundress. I LOVE that it is in yellow... so summery! Sigh :)
    Good tutorial too. :) Thanks for sharing it.

  7. Wow, this is so cool and comes at the right time. I'm looking for a dress to make from some cute fabric... ^^ thanks!

  8. Gorgeous tutorial! If i weren't so afraid of sewing in zippers i'd give this a shot asap. I should really get over myself :)

  9. Holy moly woman! It looks fabulous (and I can begin to imagine how long it took to pull that tute together). Well done, you.

  10. I tried your tutorial using muslin first (thank goodness!). The calculations don't work for a bust fit. I measure 40" across my widest bust and by deducting 2 and adding 1 (for the seam allowance, I can't even begin to get the bodice closed. Maybe you can explain the math to me (why deducting 2 inches).

    1. Hello, thanks so much for letting me know, my apologies at the late response but I have only just found your comment. The dress is tight on the bust which is why I had it minus 2 inches in the maths. If you found this was too tight you can leave the bust measurement as is. I will amend the pattern, Thanks again, Thouraya

  11. The dress is so cute! I like the bow and the back :)

  12. This is an old post but I love making this dress!!! I do have to add a little to the bust, but seriously I get sooo many compliments! I use a heavy fabric and it really makes the skirt look so full, almost like I'm wearing a petticoat under it. Thank you so much!


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