Introduction: "It's a Cinch" Sundress

About: I'm Stephanie, a lucky stay at home mom to two adorably crazy kids, wife to a wonderful hubby, a DIY-er, crafter, seamstress, Pinterest addict, and a total worrywart!
Hey there! I'm Stephanie, and you can find me over at my blog Pinafores & Pinwheels. I wanted to share this simple sundress tutorial in time for summer vacation! It is so easy to  make and I hope you try it!

This dress is so, so, so easy that even a beginner can make it and the options are endless. I promise! So here we go!
Gather your supplies, you’ll need:
  • Fabric: around a yard depending on size.
  • Cording or ribbon: I used 2 yards of 3.2mm cording.
  • Eyelets: I used 3/16” silver eyelets. I only use the kind that have a top and bottom, I swear they are the only kind that work.
  • Ribbon for bodice: I used 3/4 yard of 1.5” navy grosgrain.
  • Any decorative trim you want along the hem. I used more of the bodice ribbon, cording, eyelets and some white ruffled trim. Make sure to include the extra yardage when purchasing the trims.
  • Matching thread.

Step 1:

Start by getting a chest measurement of your child and deciding on the length of your dress, I wanted mine to end at about knee length. To get your fabric dimensions take the chest measurement and double it, that will be your width. For the length dimension take your desired dress length measurement and add 4”. My daughter’s chest measurement is 23”, which doubles to almost exactly the width of the fabric, so I skimped by an inch. Shh…don’t tell. I wanted it to be 24” long so I cut it at 28” long. The resulting piece was 45”x28”.

Step 2:

The next step is to finish the upper edge, which will be the top of the dress bodice. Fold and iron the top down 1/2”, sew, and then fold over again 1.5” and sew so you have a nice finished edge.

Step 3:

The next step is to gather the fabric so that it ends up being the chest measurement plus 4”. Crank your machine up to the widest stitch and sew along the width right under the hem. Leave enough thread so that you can gather the fabric. Here’s a great tutorial on the different methods of gathering {and the example fabric is even seersucker! How perfect!}. For my dress I had to take the 45” width back down to 27” {her chest, 23” + 4”}. Once it’s gathered, you may want to pin it and make sure you can slip it onto your child. Bella is stick straight, so I knew it would fit her. I like to tie both ends of the gathering thread so that the fabric doesn’t start to flatten back out. Sneaky.

Step 4:

Here’s the only tricky part, but that could be because I dread measuring. Cut a piece of your grosgrain ribbon to the width of your dress, so 27” for mine.  What you need to do is find where on the ribbon the center of the dress will be so you can space out the eyelets. Take your ribbon, fold it in half and iron to make a crease. Unfold it and find the halfway mark between the crease and an edge. Make a mark slightly to the inside of that measurement since the ends of the ribbon will be the seam allowance {I always sew 3/8” seams} and that is the front center of your dress. 

Step 5:

We need to concentrate of the front bodice side of the ribbon. On either side of your center pin measure out 1” and add another pin. Those will become the eyelets where the cording ties in the front of the dress. I like the look of the 2” gap to tie the bow. Now you are going to need another measurement, I always yell “do you want a marshmallow?” which always makes my model magically appear, but do what works for you. Figure out how far apart you are going to want the straps to be. I made mine 6.5” apart. Divide your measurement in half and place a pin on either side of the center pin. Then find the center between your “strap” pin and your “tie” pin and make another mark. Do this on each side. You should have a total of 7 pins.

Step 6:

REMOVE the “center” pin. Following your eyelets instructions, center and insert eyelets into the 6 remaining spots. Fold your ribbon back in half and using the eyelets as a template mark six spots onto the “back” half of the ribbon and insert those six eyelets. You should have a ribbon the length of your gathered fabric with a total of 12 eyelets. {of course I didn’t take a picture, fail}.
Once you have your ribbon prepared, pin it alongside the top of your gathered fabric making sure to hide the stitching from when you finished off the top. About 1.25” from the top. You need to leave a small opening above the “strap” eyelet for when you thread the cording. Backstitch at each side of the opening gap.

Step 7:

Fold your dress right sides together, matching the top, and sew together the side seam. You will now have a tube…exciting, eh?

Step 8:

I love this part, it turns this boring tube into the cutest dress! Amazing what two yards of cording can do! You can thread this however you want really. Cross the back straps, make it tie in the front or back, make it a halter, it all depends on how you thread the cording. I decided to go with regular straps and have it tie in the front. Take your cording and insert it into one of the center eyelets. Thread it out of the 2nd eyelet and back into the “strap” outlet, then bring the cording up and out of the gap you left in the ribbon to go over the shoulder and form the strap.

Step 9:

Take the cording up and over the top and slide down through the gap above the eyelet for the back strap and out the eyelet. Continue weaving the cording across the back, once you reach the other “strap” eyelet bring the cording up through the gap in the stitching and back down into the gap on the front side of the ribbon forming the other strap.

Step 10:

Weave the cording across the front and out of the other center eyelet. even out the lengths and tie together! Ta-da! Straps!

Step 11:

Try the dress on and hem it to desired length. You can embellish the bottom however you like. I wanted to reincorporate the threaded ribbon, so I made a length of ribbon the width of the dress, added eyelets every 2” and threaded the cording though. I sewed the ribbon to this ADORABLE ruffled trim to bring in more white, and because I couldn’t resist it!

Step 12:

There you have it, a sundress that’s truly a cinch! I hope you try it!

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