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Saturday, June 20, 2015

All Day Fun in the Sun Dress Tutorial

For the third year in a row, I'm participating in one of my favorite all-time sewing series: 30 Days of Sundresses at Melly Sews with my All Day Fun in the Sun Dress Tutorial! This year, I made a super simple dress that is just perfect for my active 6 year old, and I've put together a step-by-step tutorial so you can make one, too! The All Day Fun in the Sun Dress is a great project for the beginner sewer and takes less than a yard of fabric to make!

Each day during June, Melissa from Melly Sews is sharing fun, new sundress project ideas for girls and women from an amazing list of sewing bloggers. Not only will you discover free sewing patterns and tutorials, but you also might find a new blogger or two (or three) to follow!

Also, be sure to enter the latest Melly Sews Giveaway for a chance to win some fun sewing prizes.

Now more about the All Day Fun in the Sun Dress and the free tutorial! As I mentioned earlier, this dress tutorial is ideal for beginner who is familiar with simple sewing techniques and terms. For a more experienced sewer, this project will take about an hour! The measurements given below will make a size 7/8 dress that will fit a child with a size 25.5"-26" chest who is approximately 48"-50" tall.

The All Day Fun in the Sun Dress is a comfortable, easy to wear dress made with a light to mid-weight fabric such as quilting cotton, chambray, linen, or seersucker for example. I did not make one in knit, but I feel it would work well, too.

The back of the dress features a loose, twisted bow for a lack of a better term. This piece could actually be worn in the front or the back, but I felt it draped better when worn in the back plus it is less likely to interfere with an active girl's movement! The upper back is also elasticized for a comfy fit.

The front is very basic and only includes the elastic casing that runs from the back to the front. After I had sewn on the casing fabric (that is on the inside of the dress), I realized that it would also be cute to use a coordinating fabric for the casing and have it worn on the outside. The dress is long enough to provide ample coverage for a girl that likes to jump, run, climb, and squat. 

The straps include a small section of elastic sewn into the back to help prevent them from slipping off the shoulder. The slight stretch also helps make putting the dress on a cinch!

Let's make an All Day Fun in the Sun Dress!


2/3 yard of main fabric
1/4 yard of coordinating fabric
7" of 1/2" elastic
24 1/2" of 3/4" elastic
Thread, Pins, Scissors, Ruler
Sewing Machine
Turning Tool
Safety Pin


From Main Fabric:
2 pieces 21 1/2" wide x 21" long (Front & Back)

From Coordinating Fabric:
2 pieces 5" wide x 16" long (Bow)
2 pieces 2" wide x 11 1/2" long (Straps)
2 pieces 2" wide x 21 1/2" long (Casing)

From 1/2" Elastic:
2 pieces 3 1/2" long (for Straps)

From 3/4" Elastic:
1 piece 24 1/2" long (for Casing)


With right sides together (RST), sew the straps together along the long edge using a 1/4" seam allowance. Use a turning tool to turn the straps right side out. Both ends should be open.

a. Use a ruler to measure 4 1/2" from one end of each Strap, and carefully place a pin through only the top layer of fabric to mark. Place a safety pin through the end of the 3 1/2" long piece of 1/2" wide elastic and feed it into the end of the Strap closest to the pin mark.

b. Work the elastic into the Strap until the end is flush with the Strap opening. Sew across the end to secure the elastic in place being sure to backstitch at the stop and start.

c. Now work the safety pin past the pin mark (the elastic will be stretched). Secure the elastic in place at the pin mark by sewing making sure to backstitch at the stop and start. The safety pin and a little of the elastic it is attached to should still be inside the Strap casing to the left of the pin mark.

d. Now keep pushing the open end of the Strap over the safety pin until the safety pin is exposed.

e. Remove the safety pin and press the Strap.

Take the Front and Back pieces and fold in half and then fold in half again. Press along the folds. Open up both pieces and mark the two outer fold marks with pins.

Take the Front dress piece right side up and measure 3/4" from the outer pin mark toward the center. Place the end of the Strap with no elastic flush with the raw edge of the Front dress piece. Pin in place. The outer edge of Strap should be placed at the 3/4" mark as shown below. Repeat for the other Strap on the Front dress.

Take one of the Casing pieces and place it right side down on top of the dress Front and Straps. Match the raw edges along the top and sides. Pin in place.

Sew the Casing in place using a 1/4" seam allowance. This will secure the Strap ends to the dress Front as well.

Place the dress Back right side up and repeat the steps for placing the Straps and other Casing piece. Make sure the Straps are not twisted and that the elastic end of the Straps are attached to the dress Back. The right sides of the dress Front and Back should be facing. Sew the Casing in place securing the Straps at the same time.

With the wrong side of each Casing piece facing up, fold over the unsewn long edge by 1/2" so that wrong sides are facing and press. Now fold the Casing toward the wrong side of the dress along the seam and press.

Place the two Bow pieces right sides together and sew along each long edge using a 1/4" seam allowance. Turn the Bow right side out and press. Topstitch along the long edges if desired.

Twist the Bow in the center with a half turn. 

Take the dress Back right side up and Casing folded toward the wrong side and place one short end of the Bow approximately 1/4" down from the casing. With the raw edges of the dress Back and Bow aligned, pin the Bow in place. Repeat for the other end of the Bow.

Open up the Casing and place the dress Front and Back right sides together making sure to match the seam where the Casing is sewn to the dress. Pin the side seams of the dress together on both sides.

Sew the side seams together using a 3/8" seam and then finish the edges using pinking shears, a zig zag stitch, or a serger. Finger press the seam open from the top to the Bow..

Fold the Casing toward the wrong side of the dress and pin in place all around the top of the dress.

Sew the Casing in place approximately 1/8" from the bottom edge of the Casing. Leave a 2" opening near a side seam on the Back of the dress to insert the elastic.

Attach the safety pin to one end of the 3/4" elastic and feed it through the Casing. Overlap the ends of the elastic and sew together using a zig zag stitch. Work the elastic back into the Casing and then sew the Casing closed.

Fold the bottom edge of the dress 1/4" so wrong sides are facing. Press. Fold again 1" with wrong sides facing and press. Stitch close to the edge to hem the dress.

Ta-da! Now your daughter has an All Day Fun in the Sun Dress ready to wear! Wasn't that easy?

Make a top version of the All Day Fun in the Sun Dress by simply cutting the dress Front and Back a few inches shorter. Pair it with a cute pair of shorts, and you have another great outfit for fun in the sun!

Be sure to check out my 30 Days of Sundresses from the last two years for a couple of more great sundress tutorials and patterns!

Plus, I'm offering the full pattern of the sewVery Sunny Dress & Top Pattern for sizes 2T-12 (affiliate link) on sale for just $5 through the end of June! The full pattern includes more sizes as well as top, no ruffle, and back closure variations for this great summer piece that your daughter will love to wear! Click HERE to see all the variations, read more details on the pattern, and to purchase the pattern!

Thanks for stopping by and have FUN sewing!

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