Simple Little Lady Dress

I’ve intended to post this tutorial for quite some time. I had a bout half a yard of fabric that I just couldn’t decide what to do with it.  My little lady loves purple, and I loved the fabric.  So the easiest dress ever was created for her.  Have some extra fabric laying around?  This is a great way to use it.  I’ve made several variations of this dress.  I love the dress with a contrasting panel on the bottom.  You can use ribbon for the straps to simplify the dress even more.

Here’s what you will need:

  • a measurement of the recipient (for the proper length)
  • enough fabric to achieve this length with the addition of seam allowances (extra 3-4 inches)
  • any type of desired embellishments (for a contrasting panel. fabric straps or ribbon straps)
  • 1″ elastic
  • thread, scissors, ruler, rotary cutter and mat (not required, but they sure are nice to have!)

To begin determine the length that you want your dress to be add 3-4 inches and this will be your length.  For the width, fold your fabric in half, bringing your selvage edges together.  Press that folded edge that you’ve created and then use it to make a straight cut.  You should now have two pieces of fabric.  For most pieces of standard 44″ wide cotton you should have two 22″ by your desired length pieces.  This will be your two main panels.

For the straps, determine how long you want them to be.  I made my straps 9″ long.  So either cut two pieces of ribbon to 9″ or make your own out of fabric.  If you want to make your own, start with a 3″  by your length, but for convenience I’m going to say 9″ .  Take your 3″ by 9″ strip and fold in half, right sides together, matching the long edges. Press.  Sew a 1/4″ seam, back stitching at the beginning and end. Press seam open, turn right side out.   Center the seam and press.  You can also top stitch the edges if you want.  Now your straps are done.For the main part:

Place right sides together.  Pin and sew the length of the side seams, using a 1/2″ seam allowance.  Press seam.

Now, you want to make the elastic casing.

Fold edge over 1/2″ ; press edge.  Fold pressed edge over 2″;press again.  This will create the casing, pin to hold in place.  Sew 1/2″ from the top all the way around.  Next sew as close to the bottom folded edge that you created, making sure that you will have a casing large enough to hold your 1″ elastic.  Leave a 2″ opening; feed your elastic through.  Sew the ends of your elastic together, I usually overlap the edges and make several zig zag stitches to ensure that it’s going to hold!  Sew your opening closed.

Sew your straps about 5.5 ” from the edges.  You’ll have to stretch your fabric out to measure this, pin and sew right above your elastic casing.  Make sure to back stitch to reinforce the straps.

To finish fold the bottom edge over 1/4″; press.  Fold over 3/4-1″ , press.  Pin and sew all the way around.  You are finished!!

Now, if you wanted to do a contrasting panel at the bottom, simple determine how long you want it and sew it on to each panel at the beginning.

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21 thoughts on “Simple Little Lady Dress

  1. Beautiful! I was just going through your blog site last night thinking I wanted to try to make one of these for Grace. Now I know how! Thanks! Is that Miss Clara as one of your models?

  2. This is the cutest little dress I’ve gotten out my stash and I’m making up several for my great neice. It’s a fun dress to do.

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  5. how much elastic would you say to go around? i’m expecting and am making this dress so i don’t have a little one to measure…

  6. I am new to sewing and I’m dying to make this dress. When you measure the length, did you measure from the armpit down?

  7. What age is the directions for? I want to make one for my 9 month old, but won’t the width of the fabric, 44″ be too wide?
    Thanks!

    • The example in this post was made for a 3 year old. You will want to decrease the width of fabric if you are making it for someone that small. I would say that you probably want to make it about 1 1/2 to 2 times as wide as the waist measurement. Size down the elastic accordingly. It’s really one of those things you just want to eyeball.

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  9. Wonderful! Just made this for my daughter and it’s turned out perfectly! Now to make one for my baby! Many thanks 🙂

  10. Kara, I’m making this for my little grand daughter, and I love your tutorial. Thank you so much. It’s so much simpler/faster than the typical pillowcase dress (i.e, no armholes or seam binding!). Do you remember your source for the pink floral fabric you used? I’m in love with it! (I realize your post is 5 years old). I’d love to have a couple of recommendations for fabric sources. THANK YOU!!!

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