When it’s warm outside, nothing is more cute on a baby or toddler than a ruffly little dress! This dress design is based on the popular & very simple pillowcase dress idea, but I’ve added a unique ruffle embellishment. If you’re a beginner seamstress, this is a great starting project! The ruffle is completely optional – if you want to skip it, simply at a couple of inches to the dress length and machine-hem it instead. This sweet dress also makes a great gift!
1 yard main fabric 44-45″ wide
1/2 yard coordinating fabric 44-45″ wide
serger (optional, but helpful!)
rotary cutter & mat (optional, but helpful!)
1. From the main fabric, cut a two squares that are 22″ wide each (should be able to cut both from the width of the fabric) and the following length depending on age:
6 months: 15″
12 months: 16″
18 months: 17″
24 months / 2 years: 19″
3 years: 20″
4 years: 21″
5 years: 22″
6 years: 24″
Fold the squares in half lengthwise, and cut a “J” shape from the outer corner that is approximately 2″ wide and 5″ long (see picture).
2. From the coordinating fabric, cut 2 strips that are the full width of the fabric and 4″ high (for tie) and 2 strips that are the full width of the fabric and 3″ high (for the ruffle).
3. Sew the ruffle strips together at the short ends to make one long strip. Ruffle the strip on one long end with your serger or using a long running stitch on your sewing machine and pulling one thread to gather.
4. Place the ruffled edge of the ruffle, right sides together, on one of the bottoms of the main dress piece. Sew/serge together. Cut off excess. Repeat with second dress piece with remaining ruffle strip. Cut off excess.
5. Place the dress pieces with ruffle right-sides together. Sew/serge along side seams.
6. To finish the armholes, turn the raw edges of the “J” cuts in 1/4″ all around the curve. Press. Turn in 1/4″ again. Press.
7. Sew this rolled hem in place on the sewing machine.
8. Turn the tie piece in half lengthwise, right sides together. Sew along short ends and long end, leaving a 2″ opening. Turn right side out. Sew opening closed with machine.
9. To make the casing for the tie, turn each upper edge of the dress sides over 1/2″, then again over 1.5″. Sew in place.
10. To finish the ruffle, use a serger to narrow-roll hem the edge OR fold over 1/4″ then 1/4″ again and stitch with a machine. Optional: stitch a stitchline 1/4″ above the ruffle, catching the seam allowance and helping the ruffle stay down (see photo).
11. Thread the tie piece into one casing using a safety pin attached to one end to make it easy to find and move through the casing. Turn, thread through the second casing on the second side.
12. Tie the strap piece on one side in a bow. You can gather and adjust the dress casing to fit your child.
13. All done!
Christina Dennis is the creator and designer behind Golly Gee Baby, a collection of unique and colourful baby clothing and accessories that are ethically manufactured.