The Sunshine Dress Tutorial

The Sunshine Dress Tutorial {lemon squeezy home}


Remember the table runner I made with the ruffled vase?

Every time I looked at it, I thought of a dress. And since that means it was pretty girly and the hubs wouldn’t mind NOT having it on the table, and despite him teasing me for making a table runner and then using it for a dress, I gave it a go. :)

The Sunshine dress {tutorial too!}

On Wednesday, I will show you the honest truth about the process, but for now? Let’s just enjoy Lil’ Miss B in her new Sunshine Dress, all the quirks worked out…

The Sunshine dress {tutorial too!}
The Sunshine dress {tutorial too!}
The Sunshine dress {tutorial too!}

(I just love this girl. She has such a fiery and fun personality. Oh, and her hair is DONE this time, unlike in the Day Trip Purse post!!! Yikes! I was bummed that she lost her flower clip seriously right before we took the pics and we could NOT find it for her hair!)

The Sunshine dress {tutorial too!}

I’m going to show you how to make one, too!

This dress tutorial is for a size 18 month – 2T. I will include a few tips on adjusting the size at the very end. There are no buttons or zippers on the back. The button you see at the neckline holds that side together. I can get this dress on and off my little B without any problems.
The dress takes about 2-3 hours to make. So although it is easy, it does take some time.

What You Need:
-Four pieces of fabric cut using Pattern A (downloadable pattern piece HERE). Cut two lining, two outer fabric. (So one outer, one lining for piece 1, and one outer, one lining for piece 2)

-Four pieces of fabric cut using pattern B (downloadable pattern piece HERE). Cut two outer and 2 lining, for around neck

-Two 18.25” x 12” pieces of patterned fabric for the bottom portion. OR, one rectangle piece measuring (I used the two 18.25” pieces because I wanted the patterns to be symmetrical)

-One 36” x 12” piece fabric for lining

-Two 12” x 3” pieces fabric for middle triangle (can be plain like I did, or coordinating fabric)

-Two 60” x 2.5” strips knit for ruffles

-Four 2” x 18” pieces of fabric for ties (two pattern, two lining)

*Please note that all seam allowances are 1/4” (in case I forgot to put it somewhere)*


Step 1: Start by sewing the two 18.25” pieces together just along one side. Then sew 1/4” seam around 3 sides (leaving the top long side open) with the outer and lining fabric right sides together.


Clip the bottom two corners, turn right side out, and topstitch around the three sides you sewed together.


Step 2: Onto the best part, right? Ruffles! Take the two 60” strips of knit and sew a basting stitch. Pull from either side to ruffle.


Mark with a non-permanent pen/pencil/chalk on your bottom portion where you want to sew the ruffles on. Sew them on following your basting stitch.


Step 3: Take the two 12” x 3” pieces, and sew around 3 sides, leaving one of the short sides open.


Slip corners and turn. Place in the middle of the lining fabric on the bottom portion you’ve been working with.


Fold the piece in towards the middle, making the top hit near the middle of the small rectangle and the bottom lining up with the corner, to create a triangle shape. See next two pictures to better understand:).


Pin and sew using a topstitch. I didn’t want to sew my ruffle down so I just skipped it and then started underneath it.


Zig-zag stitch or serge along the unfinished edge of the bottom portion. Set aside.


Step 4: Take one of the outer and one inner of Pattern B. Sew together along arm holes, strap part, and neck. Leave the sides and bottom open. Clip corners and clip all around curved areas.


Turn and zig-zag or serge the sides and bottom. Topstitch around the armholes. Repeat with the other two pieces.


Now take the two upper portions of the dress and zig-zag stitch together the left arm hole (if you were wearing it).


You can’t see it very well, but the left arm hole is sewed, and the right is left open.


Step 5: Let’s take the four 2” x 18” strips of fabric and make the ties. Take a pattern and a lining piece, right sides together, and sew, leaving one short side open. Clip corners, turn, and topstitch around it. No need to tuck in the unfinished side. Just sew a seam there too. Repeat with other strips of fabric to make the other tie.


Place one of the ties in between the right sides of the two upper portions of dress. (I did fix Pattern B to allow for more space for the strap to fit).


Sew 1/4” seam, then turn and topstitch the tie towards the back like pictured. Repeat with other strap.


Step 6: Take your bottom portion and sew two basting stitches around the entire top of it and pull to gather.


Keep gathering and adjusting so that it fits the top portion. Pin and sew along the bottom basting stitch. See second picture below? You are putting the right sides together of the bottom and upper parts of the dress.


If you did not sew along the bottom basting stitch like me then unpick it if you want:).


Step 7: Take the two fabric pieces cut from Pattern A, Piece 1, and sew together, leaving one of the short sides open. Clip corners and curves. Turn. Repeat the same steps with Piece 2.


So you’ll have two pieces like this, both with one unfinished edge.


Place around the neckline to determine this next part. You aren’t sewing it on the dress yet, you are just making sure that the pieces are matching up to know where to sew. Tuck one of the unfinished ends in, and place the other raw edge inside that. Sew together.


So you’ll have this:


Step 8: Now pin it around the neckline.


Topstitch, starting at the top of the shorter curved piece (on the front of the dress). Go all around to the back and up the flap, and just keep topstitching around the whole thing, back around the bottom of this neck piece.


So you’ll have this now.


Mark where you want the button and buttonhole and sew those. You could maybe do a fake button with velcro, snaps, or a hook & eye. I wanted a button just for strength.


Attach a flower in the middle and you are done!

The Sunshine dress {tutorial too!}

As always, let me know if you have trouble with anything, or if something seems unclear. I’d be happy to answer any questions you might have.

The Sunshine dress {tutorial too!}

Here is what I figured out for the measurements to get you started on other sizes: Measure around the chest portion of your child. B was 22”. I halved that and added an inch, to make the bottom measurement of the top portion 12” (so there is an extra inch on the front and back portion). The measurement of the large rectangle on the bottom is that 12” number, times 3, so 36”. I wanted to add about 11” in length from the top portion, so I measured those pieces 12” wide. The rectangles for the middle triangle is 12” as well, x 1/3 the measurement of the top portion (3” in this case). The knit ruffle strips should be at least 1.5 times the length of the bottom portions. Hopefully that will help rather than confuse you! As far as the armholes and neck line, I’d just grab a shirt and trace around it. Just make sure the curves from the collar-ish thing and the top portion are the same!


  1. says

    That is one cute dress on one cute girly. Too bad all I have is little men.

    Thanks for stopping by the blog!


  2. says

    visiting from TCB..this is so darn cute…wish I had a little girl to sew for ;-( can I borrow yours???
    your friend,

  3. says

    This is too cute… although I think Little Miss B could make anything look cute! ;)

    Thanks for the tutorial and for linking up with Sugar & Spice.

    Let me know if you would be interested in paticipating in Friendly Tuesday! I would love to have you as a guest blogger.


  4. says

    My girls are 8 and 5yrs. I’ll bet this would look cute as a longer top with stretch capris. Hmmm… I’ll put it on my things to sew list :)

  5. says

    oh how I love this! the faux-pleat is especially fabulous. funny thing- I think I have some girly table runners on hand that might be perfect for this project. :)
    thanks for linking up!
    kirstin @ kojodesigns

  6. says

    I absolutely LOVE this dress. After leaving this comment, I am becoming a “follower” of your blog. OFFICIALLY.
    Thanks for the great tutorial, and pattern too!!

  7. says

    This is so darling! I am going to make a version of this for my daughters birthday dress. Thanks so much for the tutorial and the patterns