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Front Tie Spring Dress – {Great for all ages}

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I love spring and summer clothing after a long chilly winter.
We definitely did not have a long cold winter here in Georgia like we were used to having in Idaho (sorry Idaho friends, I know you’re probably still freezing. Eek!)……..but still, as cold as it wasn’t here, I love jumping into light and bright clothing when spring rolls around.
So once I received a little box from Ribbon Retreat +Fabric in the mail, I had to put some great fabric to use.
(The fabric is called Scarlet Pom Pom by Del Hi, found here.)
And created something light and fresh for our warm Georgia weather.
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With a big floppy bow (with elastic inside the casing) that cinches in the top of the dress.
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Perfect for little girls…….but would look great in adult sizes too.
(I have one for me on the to-do list.)
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And there are 3 rows of elastic casing at the waist (don’t let it scare you…’s pretty simple).
Now come out and play sun……….we know there are many hot days ahead.
*And I promise…..making one is easier than it may look.  Lots of straight lines.  That’s it.

Would you like to make your own Front Tie Spring Dress?
(For you or a little girl you know…)

Like I mentioned above, my fabric is called Scarlet Pom Pom by Del Hi, and can be found at the Ribbon Retreat +Fabric, here.
Woven cotton would work best, and will keep this dress light and airy.
(All of my measurements and directions in this tutorial are for my daughter, who wears a 5T.)
To begin, you’ll need to decide how big you want your dress to be on you or your little girl.  I measured around my little girl (20 inches) and decided that I wanted it to be 2 1/2 times bigger than she was.  For a woman’s size, I would go with 1 1/2 or 2 times as big as you are at your biggest section (generally bust or hips).  We don’t usually want to add as much fullness or bulk to us as women……and adding too much will make the top section too floppy and big. Add 2 inches to this width for seam allowances and then cut this number in half because you want a front piece and a back piece. 
Example: So my little girl is 20 inches around so I multiplied that by 2.5… that’s 50 inches.  I added 2 inches for seam allowances……so that’s 52 inches.  Then divided by 2…….26 inches.  So now that I have my width, I needed to decide how long to make it.  I measured from her chest (where the dress would begin) down to below her knee where I wanted the dress to end.  That was 25 inches.  So I added an inch for the bottom hem and 1.5 inches to the top for the elastic casing and the bit of ruffle at the top.  So the length I needed was 27.5 inches.
So I cut out 2 pieces of this fabric, 26 inches by 27.5 inches.
Then I placed the 2 pieces together, with right sides together, and sewed them together along the sides with a 1/2 inch seam allowance. (27.5 inch long sides).  I used a serger but you can sew a seam with your sewing machine and then zig-zag it after that, to secure your edges.
Next, serge or zig-zag the very top edge of fabric (or iron it down a 1/4 inch) and then fold it down 1 1/2 inches.  Iron flat.
Next, determine where the very center is at the top of your dress front.  Place a pin there to mark it.  Then place a pin an inch to the right and a pin an inch to the left.  You will be making buttonholes where the outside pins are placed.
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But before doing so, take out your pins and iron a strip of fusible interfacing to the back of the fabric where those pins were. (Make sure it’s below the fold.)
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Re-attach your pins on the front, so you can see where your buttonholes will go.
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And then create your button holes about an inch long.
From the back you should see that the button holes are on the interfacing.
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Next, cut open your button holes.
Then sew along the very bottom of the fabric folded over, right where you serged, zig-zagged, or folded under.  Make sure and slide in a clothing tag at the center back, if you have them.  Then make another seam about 1/4 inch from the top of the dress.  (This will create a ruffle at the top above the elastic casing.  If you don’t want this ruffle, only fold down the fabric about 1 1/4 inches and only make the seam along the bottom to close up the casing.)
Next, we’ll make the casing for the waist.  Cut a strip of fabric that is a few inches longer than that dress is all the way around and 2 inches wide.  So my strips was 55 x 2 inches.  Fold under each long edge a 1/4 inch and then iron it flat.
Then determine where the waist line will be on your dress.  I held this up to my daughter, found her waist, placed a pin there, then measured how far down it was: 7 inches.  So from the inside of the dress, I centered the strip over the 7 inch from the top measurement, and pinned the strip all the way around the dress.  (So the top of the strip was actually 6 1/4 inches from the top all the way around.  The center of the strip hit about 7 inches down.
Then I sewed all the way around the top of the strip (really close to the edge), leaving a few inches free at both ends.
Then I layed the 2 ends flat, pinned them together right where they met…….
……then made a mark where they met and flipped them so that the right sides would be facing each other.  I re-pinned them right where they needed to be sewn together…….
……..then sewed them together and trimmed off the excess fabric.
Then I placed the fabric down and finished sewing along the top of the strip.
Next, I sewed all the way around the bottom of the strip (really close to the edge) except for a few inches along the back of the dress.
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Then I made 2 more seams, creating 3 separate casings that were evenly spaced.  Make sure to leave a few inches open at the back for these seams too.
Next, cut 3 pieces of 3/8 inch wide elastic (1/4 inch would work too) to thread through your casing.  I cut mine an inch longer than my girl’s waist size……because I didn’t want the waist to fit too tightly.  Just barely snug.  So I cut 3 pieces of elastic at 21 inches long and threaded the first piece through the very top casing, with a safety pin on one end.
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When it came out the other end, I overlapped the two ends about an inch and sewed them in place.
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Then I worked the elastic back into the casing, and then sewed this top casing closed.  (You may have to pull your elastic as you’re sewing, so that your fabric is laying flat.)
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Then I did the same thing with the next two strips of elastic.  And sewed each casing closed after each piece of elastic was in.
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Here it is, all closed up.
And here is is from the outside.
Then I cut 2 strips of fabric that were 4 x 27 inches.  (Your size and length will vary depending on what size dress you’re making.)  I folded each in half lengthwise with right sides together, sewed them together along the long edges, turned them right side out, and ironed flat.  (Need help turning a tube right side out?  Click here.)
Then cut a piece of 1 inch wide elastic that is about 6-7 inches smaller than the chest size.  (I cut mine about 14 inches long.)  Thread the elastic through the casing at the top of the dress, going in and out of the 2 buttonholes you made.
Attach your two fabric strips to the ends of your elastic.
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Then tuck the raw edges of each strip end inside itself about a 1/2 inch.  Sew in place.
Then make 2 more strips of fabric just like the ones you used for the bow but only about half as wide.  Put the dress on and determine how long you want your straps to be.  Make sure to add about an inch to the length of each strip, as you’ll be placing each end of the straps inside of the dress about a 1/2 inch, to attach them.  (Each of my straps were about 7 inches long and an inch wide after they were completed.)
Serge or zig-zag each end and then attach them to the dress with 2 seams.  (You may need to try the dress on to see where to place each end of the strap.)
And that’s it.
A brand new little summery dress for you, your girl, your friend’s girl, etc.


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This post is sponsored by:

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Ashley Johnston
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Ashley Johnston

Owner at Make It & Love It
Ashley Johnston is a professional DIY costume maker, sewist, crafter, and owner of Make It & Love It. She is a mom of 5 and a wife to a very patient (with the craft clutter) husband. In case you’re wondering, she always chooses crafting/sewing/designing over mopping/dusting/wiping base boards……but bathrooms/laundry/full bellies are always attended to. Whew!
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  1. Laney says:

    What an adorable dress! I just made it for my 8 year old, adding a little self ruffle on the bottom and elasticized cap sleeves (she hates straps). It’s darling, and she loves it! Thank you for the tutorial.

  2. Valerie Lever says:

    I saw this dress on Friday and loved it….I spent the weekend making one for my granddaughter (size 8)…I made it two toned…the bow, shoulder straps and the bottom portion of the dress were pink and the main part of the dress was purple with lavender swirls….It turned out BEAUTIFUL!…..I’m 63 and haven’t been back to sewing for many years….your instructions were easy to follow and, I too, was very please to make the waist with elastic instead of trying to “shire” or whatever they call it….I’ve not tried that….but back to my dress….If I knew how to send you a picture I would…I know my granddaughter is going to love, love, love it…..Thank you so much for sharing……Valerie Lever….a South Carolina friend….

  3. Alice says:

    thank you from France.I just make one for my little girl’s birthday, now we’re just need to wait til spring begin (sorry for my poor english)

  4. Ruth says:

    Thank you for a beautiful dress tutorial.

  5. Ruth says:

    Thank you for a wonderful tutorial. My little girl will wear this dress for her 5th birthday!

  6. Ginger says:

    Gorgeous! And uh, yeah, I think I’d like a big girl version. :) But I’ll try it out on my little girl first.

    I’d love if you shared this project at my Show & Tell party this week!

  7. Eva says:

    Thanks so much. Been searching for a tutorial on how to make that casing on the waist and God just sent you to me! Thanks again for sharing so simply

  8. Astrid says:

    thank you so much for the this tutorial. I just made this beautiful dress for my 6 yo daughter. What a great tutorial, everything is so easy to follow!!

  9. Maja says:

    it’s so great! Do you have an etsy shop where you sell it? i would LOVE to buy this!

  10. Caitlin says:

    I just posted a comment on your little man’s vest tutorial hehe but I also made this dress for my 4 year old daughter for Easter. I love your tutorials and wished I lived near you so I could have come to the super fun crafting night you had recently! I posted about the dress I made and linked to your tutorial here:

  11. Sara says:

    I made one for my daughter and she loves it, it was a lot of fun to make too. I’m working on another one for my youngest. You can see mine here.

  12. Terri Sue says:

    i just found this dress. i am going to make matching ones for my daughter and granddaughter. i’ve been wanting to make them matching outfits for awhile and i finally found my pattern. thank you.

  13. Cindy Harrod says:

    Thank you for another great tutorial! Love this site!!!

  14. Jac and Skeet says:

    Love it! And so will my daughter – was great fun to make and I’m sure I’ll be making more for her and I am also thinking about running myself up one. Thanks so much!!/photo.php?fbid=280040688715701&set=a.140003809386057.36945.137933936259711&type=3&theater

  15. Andrea says:

    Would this work to sew a pa’u fabric hula skirt? I need to make one for my daughter’s performance.

  16. Sarah says:

    Thank you so much for this tutorial! I just finished making this dress and it came out great thanks to your clear, helpful instructions and pictures to go along with each step. This is the second project I have made since stumbling upon your blog. (I first made the Embellished Tee: with Multi-Layered Flowers). Thanks again for sharing your talent with the rest of us!!

  17. maria says:

    I made this for my daughter. LOVE it. Great tutorial. I discovered that when you make the 3 casings at the waist, if you put elastic in the top and bottom ones, you don’t need to put it in the middle one. looks the same, but saves a little time and aggrevation.

  18. Tammy says:

    I finally got a chance to make this and I absolutely love it. I’ll be making more soon. I’m thinking Chambray would be a great fabric for the next one. Oh and I love it so much I’m going to try making one for myself too. :)

  19. Kt says:

    I love love love this dress! I made one for myself but somehow it didn't really translate into cuteness on me. Any suggestions? I made it only 1.5 times my size and followed instructions but it somehow makes me huge. If you ever make one for yourself, please post pics and tips!
    Thanks for your great tutorials! You are inspiring!

  20. Sharon says:

    Can I just say measuring a 2 yr old is like trying to nail jello to a tree! Maybe the dress will turn out anyway.

  21. Anonymous says:

    So cute! I made one for my little girl already. As always your tutorial was really clear and easy to follow. Thanks so much! You can see the one I made here

  22. Kristina says:

    This is SO cute! I love how much I learn by just READING your tutorials, even if I don't make the item (though I've made TONS of them!). I really thought that elastic waist was going to be hard. Your hubby is in PA school, right? Which I'm sure is very time-consuming? And you now have three children, including a little baby? Where on earth do you find the time to do all these wonderful projects? Seriously, how do you do it? Tips?? ;)

    Can you tell that I really do feel like we're old friends by the fact that I write you a whole paragraph for a comment? :D

  23. Jen says:

    So cute! I can't wait to try making one for my little girl.

    I love your site – You always have such beautiful ideas.

  24. kluckingbear says:

    My daughters will love this! I think my teen might like one as a tunic. Thanks so much for the tutorial. :)

  25. Danielle says:

    I love all your ideas. This dress is so cute and you give such easy instructions. I do have a question though. Have you ever had problems with your sewing machine sewing over elastic? Mine always does. The bobbin goes crazy and gets all wonky. I have checked in my sewing manual, but everything I try does not change it. I was just wondering if you have ever had this problem. Thanks!

  26. Deanna says:

    This is really a cute dress – love the tie in the front.

  27. Steph says:

    Oh my goodness… my daughter will just die if she sees this… better get some fabric and make one for her really soon!!! Thank you so much for the tutorial! LOVE it!!!! You are awesome!!!!

  28. Disney says:

    Oh my stars above! What loveliness!!

  29. Daffy's Dream says:

    Love the dress and fabric andspecially the elasticity. I always used to directly sew the elasticity with the fabric, most of the time it is tricky and uneven gathers. I just love your thought, thanks for sharing with us.

    I going it tommorrow.

  30. Katie says:

    Wow!!!! Brilliant, absolutely brilliant! I have yet to figure out how do use elastic thread with my sewing machine (drop in bobbin and I cannot get the tension right for the life of me), I am totally using your casing with skinny elastic instead!!!! I will also be make a dress like this, adorable! Best post ever!

  31. Ana @ Don't Fear the Ripper says:

    This is fantastic, thank you! I love your blog. You are so generous with your time and your tutorials. Thank you so much!

  32. jen says:

    So cute! It's been too long since I've had a little girl to sew for. My only girl is 15 now…yikes time flies! BUT, I have plenty of nieces to sew for! Check out my (newly formed) blog at


  33. Amanda says:

    Thank you Thank you Thank you for doing this tutorial!!! I needed a birthday present for my sons friend and this was perfect! It took me about 3.5 hours but turned out sooooo cute!!! THANK YOU!!!!

  34. Tammy says:

    What a fantastic dress! I am totally adding this to my to-do list.

    I have linked to this tutorial on my blog:

  35. tracyp says:

    What a great easy tutorial! Now I have to do math to adjust for my 5yo who is wearing a 7-8 size. BTW I love seeing your beautiful daughter growing up. I was just looking back on a could older tutorials yesterday ( man's dress shirt to girls dress) and forgot that your kids were once little too. :-)

  36. Sofies Haus says:


  37. The six of us! says:

    Such a great little dress and your tutorial is so easy to follow! Thanks for sharing!

  38. SewSofie says:

    vie read your blog for some time now and had to say thank you for all the gorgeous stuff you make and share. I also don't understand how you fit everything into your day! You're amazing.

  39. Cherie says:

    Love this!
    Such talent. Too bad I don't have a little girl anymore. The tutorial was a great.

  40. Jenny says:

    Really, REALLY cute!! Oh, and just so you know, the weather here in Nampa, ID is PERFECT!!!

  41. Hannah says:

    I don't have a daughter but I'll most definitely be making this for myself! I think it'll be SO cute with a little cardigan over it! Thank you for the wonderful tutorial!

  42. Colette says:

    so cute! i just love sun dresses. wish I could find some time to sew them.
    Why 3 rows of elastic casing instead of shirring?

  43. Pam says:

    Great tutorial. I can't wait to make this for my granddaughter. Thanks!

  44. Kimberly says:

    Beautiful dress! What an awesome and detailed tutorial. Thank you, I think my daughter will be getting one of these soon.
    Also I believe the gorgeous fabric is from Valori Wells' Del Hi line for Free Spirit.

  45. michelleml says:

    Love this but i had a question do i measure around chest or waist area to get my measurements? My daughther is wearing 3t

  46. Momof3 says:

    Love your tutorials and the fact that our daughters are the same size. I found a wonderful piece of fabric already in my stash that would make a beautiful Front Tie Spring Dress. Now I just need some time…

  47. robil says:

    Awesome! Great Tutorial! I cant wait to make it for my daughters (3T & 5T). Thank you for sharing!

  48. Inge's Gift says:

    I do love it! and will make it, my nieces will love them.

  49. Sylwerado says:

    It's great. I guess I have to think about this for myself and my daughter. I dream that we could dress the same way, by the way, she is seven months.
    I watch your blog recently, but a few of your tutorials I used. They are excellent and readable. Thank you, that you put them on the web.
    Hugs for you.
    Sylvia from

  50. J. says:

    I'll totally have to make this–it is so cute.

    And thank you for having a daughter the same size as mine–it's really helpful and saves me some math and time!

  51. Mandy Coffey says:

    Okay seriously I could kiss you I'm so giddy happy right now. It was meant to be- and completely ironic- i was just asking around about how to do that elastic gathering part! I work at a high school and went down and asked 2 FACS teachers and they both said they have no idea. I asked my mom, she said she thinks its just part of the fabric. So discouraged, i jump online to shoot the breeze on some of my favorite blogs and i find this! YOU ARE HEAVEN SENT!
    I'm a beginner at sewing- just got my first sewing machine 2 months ago. You make it look so easy, let's see if i can pull it off!

  52. Brandy says:

    I saw this and thought, that is so cute but it would be SO HARD! But after looking through the steps, I think I figured out what I am going to be doing tomorrow afternoon. :) Thanks!

  53. Kristie says:

    This is soooo cute!
    Where are you from in Idaho? and yes it's still freezing here but trying to get warmer.

  54. Lil Mama Stuart says:

    so cute – saw your flip flops on Prudent Baby today too :)

  55. Chickypoo209 Boutique says:

    Absolutely ADORABLE!

  56. Anonymous says:

    LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT!! looks a lot easier than trying to do smocking on your machine too! I can never seem to get it right on mine. THANKS SO MUCH for ALL of your tutorials!!

  57. caitlindye says:

    ADORABLE!!! I love it, and I think I'll have to make one of me AND my daughter :)

  58. sharon says:

    My girly girl dressy granddaughter will love this!!!!

  59. Laurel says:

    I love it! My daughter is about the same size as yours, she would love this dress. I am in love with that fabric too!

  60. D and G Stories says:

    Love it! What a great alternative to all the dress tutorials I see around that involve shirring with elastic thread…that never seems to work with my machine. Thanks for this!

  61. theolivetree says:

    So talented! Love this!

  62. Cherished Bliss says:

    OMG I love this!! I'm pretty new to sewing and haven't been able to find much information on reducing sizes. Do you have any good websites that show the whole grading process or something similar so I could make it a 12?

  63. Amanda says:

    So cute!! I love that our daughters are the same size, makes my job a little easier, lol.

  64. ChyCohMommy says:

    EEK! I love it! Can't wait to make one (3T or maybe 4T) for my little Georgia girl! :) Thanks for the tutorial. You rock, as always!

  65. jenn says:

    love this!!! thank you! I will make one of these this summer for my size 3T girly. Your site is one of my favorites, btw. :)

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Hi, I’m Ashley—the DIY-enthusiast behind this crazy blog!

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