15 Minute Sundress Tutorial

Have you seen these fabrics? Pre-made sundresses basically—- where the fabric is shirred on the top and flowy-like on the bottom.


I used to HATE them, and I mean despise them. I refused to buy them, I felt like I was “cheating” to buy the pre-shirred fabric. Plus some of them the quality was pretty crappy.

Then one day (last week) I was in the fabric store, and my 2 year old screams “Hello Kitty dress!!!!!” Yes, she is slightly obsessed and it’s all my sister’s fault. Completely. She bought her some Hello Kitty clothes for Christmas and now she says “My Hello Kitty” with everything she sees. And ME? Well she’s so stinkin’ cute that I feed into it!

So aaaaaanyhoo, my little girl picked out some shirred Hello Kitty dress fabric. I thought, oh how I didn’t want to cheat and buy this, but seriously I could whip out a dress in 5 minutes. As an experienced seamstress this will honestly take 10-15 minutes start to finish if there are no hiccups with the machine. I’m sure a beginner can make this dress in 30 minutes or less (Maybe an hour -TOPS). It’s seriously only one seam right up the side, and then straps!

Alright, I know! Enough with the chat and on with the tutorial—-I just can’t help it I talk a lot!

So I purchased 20 inches of the fabric, yes they sell it by the inch….NOT the yard, so know your measurements. My girl measures just about 20 inches around her chest (she’s a peanut). I knew that with the seam and all it would be slightly smaller so the elastic would do it’s job and stick to her just right.

I didn’t even pre-wash the fabric, I got home and ran to my sewing machine. I stitched a single seam up the side, then serged, pressed, and topstitched the seam. I just can’t help it, I’m obsessed with topstitching and making every seam lay flat.


VIOLA! A dress in 5 minutes. But yes it needs straps—And the straps are the hardest part, yet not that difficult at all!

I cut 4 strips of a coordinating pink fabric, 1-1/4″ X 16″ but next time I will measure them about 1-1/2″ because they were just a little bit slimmer than I wanted.

I folded one end in about 1/8″ (this will be the “closed” end left out, not inside the dress), then pressed.

Then I folded the strips in half and pressed.

Here you can see the end pressed in, and also the strip folded in half

I opened the strips back up and folded the outer edges into the middle to meet the center press mark, and pressed again. This is very much like making a paper airplane.

Pressing to the middle

Then I folded the strips in half again (with outer edges folded into the middle) and pressed again.

Pressing in half

I know there is a lot of pressing, but the same goes with quilting and any dressmaking with cotton fabrics, you must press every seam. It makes life so much easier.

So now you have four skinny-ish strips that you can use for straps. One end should be closed as you folded in the end, and one should be open with a raw fabric edge. Bring the straps over to your machine and stitch one row of stitches right up the middle of the strap.

Center stitching
Center stitching

Take the four straps and pin them to the inside of the dress. I honestly just eyeballed where I wanted the straps, but I measured just for you and it ended up being about 1-1/2″ away from the outer edge of the dress. ****NOTE**** Upon finishing the dress, I noticed the straps should be in a little further, so next time I will go about 2″

1-1/2" to 2" from side, for a size 2, use your judgment for whatever size you are making!
1-1/2″ to 2″ from side, for a size 2, use your judgment for whatever size you are making!

When I pinned the straps for stitching I pinned them across the first AND second rows of shirring. If I stitched across just one row, sometimes the straps get kinda floppy. I wanted them double stitched for extra security and stability. If you ever wear sundresses you will know what I’m talking about. I CAN’T STAND IT when the end of the straps poke out of the top of the dress.

Stitched and backstitched across 2 rows of shirring

On to the machine! I stitched across one strap directly over the shirring, then backstitched—–lifted my presser foot without cutting the thread—–pulled right over to the lower part of the strap and stitched it down and backstitched there as well. Repeat this with each strap.

and TA-DA!!!!!!


Now is this not the easiest dress you’ve ever made?? So much for not cheating—-I feel pretty well accomplished and not so much a cheater! Why did I put up such a fight over fabric that will make my life easier?? I guess I would compare it to store bought cookie dough VS homemade cookies. That just won’t happen unless there’s a killer coupon deal.

It’s so cute, and lightweight! Great for everyday summer sun dress or even a beach cover up. My daughter was so excited that I had a new dress for her by the time she woke up from her nap.


As you can see where the side tucks down a little—-that’s why I needed to move the straps in a bit. If this were for a customer I would go back and re-stitch the straps over a bit, but it’s for my girl so she can live with it. 😉

I am hoping to go back and get more of this shirred fabric— more than likely without the licensed characters so that I can sell them in my Etsy shop, or off my FaceBook page.

Happy sewing!!!

Let me know how your dresses come out! As always– If I missed a step, don’t be afraid to ask me questions! I’m here to help!


As Always — Don’t forget to visit me on ETSY, and LIKE my page on Facebook to keep up with all the goodies!!!!


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