With a new baby and a small home business I do not have a lot of time to sew these days. That doesn’t mean I want my machines collecting dust or my baby to walk around in clothes that cost an arm and a leg. That means this summer will be all pillowcase and maxi dresses. So get ready for the easiest dress you will ever make for you daughter or yourself! Don’t sew? No problem! You can make a cute tunic instead!
First, find an adorable print at your local fabric shop. (Knits work best with this design.) The formula to figure out how much fabric you need takes up the bulk of this post but don’t be intimidated. Just grab a paper and pencil and follow along. After you’ve done this once, it will be a cinch to do over and over again.
An easy way to figure out the length you need is to multiply 1.5 time the persons height. My baby is about 27″ tall so I’d need 40.5″ of fabric for her. I’m 5’4″ so I’d need 8′ of fabric for me. (If you have a Joann’s nearby, you’ll probably want to use one of their 40% off coupons for an adult dress, I know I would!)
To figure out the width, you’ll want to get the widest measurement. My child measures about 9″ from shoulder to shoulder as well as across the chest, waist, and hips so her widest measurement is 9″. I measure about 20″ shoulder to shoulder, but my chest measurement is 35″ across, my waist is 30″, and my hips are 33″ across. (Note, I am measuring across not around so this is approximately half of the measurement going all the way around. Yes, I am a big girl.) So my widest measurement is 35″ across.
Most knits are 60″ wide so if your child is 40″ or shorter, you have the easiest job! Just purchase their widest measurement from a bolt of 60″ knit fabric. For my daughter, I would purchase 9″ of 60″ fabric and then trim that 60″ down to the 40.5″ I need for the length.
For a plus sized adult like myself whose widest point is more than 30″, you’ll want to purchase the full length you need. So for someone like me that is 5’4″ (that’s 64″) tall, the length you need is 96″ (64 x 1.5) or 8′ so you’ll want to purchase 8′ of 60″ fabric.
If you’re making a dress for someone taller than 40″ whose is a standard size (their widest measurement is 30″ or less), the formula is a little more complicated. First, you’ll want to purchase half the length you need. So for someone 45″ tall, the length you need is 67.5″ (45 x 1.5) so you’ll want to purchase 33.75″ of 60″ fabric. Then you’ll want to cut down the fold (60″ fabric comes folded in half so it looks 30″ wide and you’re going to cut directly down the crease from the fold so you now have two 30″ wide pieces). Now you’ll sew those two pieces, right sides together, along the 30″ side so you end up with one piece of fabric 30″ wide and, in this example, 33.75″ wide.
Now that you’ve made your purchase and trimmed or sewn it accordingly, you have a rectangle and the hard part is over!
(If you don’t sew and you’re making a tunic, skip to here.)
Fold the length of the fabric in half with the right sides (pretty, printed sides) together. (For my daughter I now have a piece that measures 9″ wide and 20.25″ and for me I have a piece that measures 60″ wide 4′.)
Next sew down each of the long sides.
You’re almost finished now. If you’re making a tunic, you’ve skipped all the sewing and you still have a very long rectangle. You’re just going to make three more cuts and then it will be done!
Halfway across your tube, cut down a few inches for the neckline (two or three inches for kids, five or six for adults, start short, you can adjust this later).
On each side of the tube, cut down a few inches to make the arm holes (again, you’ll play this by ear). I folded the tube in half and used my rotary cutter to cut both arm holes at once.
Since you’re using a knit, the fabric will naturally roll just a tiny bit. It’s a playdress, after all, and doesn’t need a fancy hem.
Grab a nice contrasting ribbon or belt to cinch the waist and you’re finished!
For an extra special treat, grab one of my machine appliqué designs below and embroider the dress.