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Quick Little Ruffle Top Dress or Romper (our 4th of July outfits)


Whew, just in time.  Little outfits for the 4th.


I know, totally not necessary.  Or necessarily worth staying up late to finish.  Who says you have to have something new/patriotic to wear for the 4th?  No one.  But I sure love it! :)  There’s something about wearing all of that red, white, and blue that feels satisfying on the 4th.  If you’re with me, please try and explain this to my husband. ;)


And because I was short on time, I made outfits for my girls that were relatively simple.  No arm holes, no bias tape around arm holes, no lining, no interfacing, etc.  Just a few simple seams, some ties at the top, and that’s it.  However, if you want to add an extra ruffle to the bottom of the dress or make a romper, it will take just a tad more time.  But only a tad. ;)




And just think, you could make these in any color.  They’re not just 4th of July outfits.  Just dress/romper designs that I’m using for the 4th.



I was going to make little Chloe a dress at first, but changed my mind and made a romper instead.  Snaps and all. (Snaps aren’t scary. Promise.  Go here.)




Ahhhh, little rompers.  They stay nice and in place, keep diapers covered, and they don’t get tripped over like dresses do sometimes by early walkers/crawlers.




But Elli wanted a dress.  There was no convincing her to wear shorts and a new little shirt.  I tried! ;)




I could have made the dress plain and straight at the bottom…..but I couldn’t help but add a little ruffle to the bottom.  Because this girl likes movement in her dresses/skirts.  Perfect.




I’d say we’re all ready to celebrate.  (Except for Connor.  His shirt will have to be a late night project tonight. ;) Maybe a flag shirt?)





Would you like to make your own Ruffle Dress or Romper?

It doesn’t have to be 4th of July themed. 

Use any ‘ol color.  There is plenty of summer left to need one or two.




Since I made this outfit as a dress and a romper, I’ll explain how I made both.  First of all, the main piece of the dress can be one full piece of fabric, with a seam down the back.  However, to make the romper, I made a front and back piece, so that there would be no seam going through the snaps at the crotch, only seams along the sides.  Make sense?


Okay, here’s a little illustration to show you the pieces and sizes that I used to make my girls’ outfits.  Elli is 5 years old and wears a size 5, sometimes a size 6 in clothing.  Chloe is 16 months old and wears 18 month clothing, sometimes a 24 month size.  So, if your child wears something similar, my measurements may be helpful.  Otherwise, you can adjust this concept however you need, to best fit your subject.





Let’s make the ROMPER first.  Here are my pieces below.


Place the two Main Bodice pieces together, with right sides together.  Sew along both sides (17 inch sides), using a 1/2 inch seam allowance.  Also, fold the Ruffle Strip in half and sew the ends together, using a 1/2 inch seam allowance as well.


Then, turn the Ruffle Piece right side out and press the seam flat.  Then fold the bottom edge up a 1/4 inch, another 1/4 inch, and then sew in place.


Then, turn the Main Bodice section right side out and iron those seams flat too.  Then slide the Ruffle Piece over the Main Bodice section, both pieces right side out, and match up the upper edges.  Serge (or zig-zag) the two edges together.


Then fold that upper serged (or zig-zagged) edge over 5/8 of an inch, towards the inside of the fabric (which is 2 layers of fabric being folded over).  Then sew that flap of fabric down as close to the bottom edge as you can, creating an elastic casing along the upper edge of the Main Bodice/Ruffle.  Be sure to leave about an inch opening.  Thread some 1/4 inch elastic through that opening.


Knot the end of the elastic and then allow the elastic to tuck back into the casing.  Sew the casing closed.


Next, fold each of your 4 strips in half lengthwise and then iron flat.  Then open up and fold both edges into that ironed crease, then iron flat.  This creates a “bias-tape” type fold.  (Bias tape tutorial here for more visual.)  Then sew each strip closed.


Now, determine where each of your four straps will go and then sew each strip to the inside of the dress, making sure to tuck under each end towards the dress.  (Trying the dress on your subject may help with strap placement.)


Then knot the other end of each strip (or hem them).


Now, you could now just hem the bottom and just create a plain dress……..or you can go HERE and turn it into a romper.  (There are 4 rainbow shape cutouts below.  You just can’t see the ones behind very well.)


However, instead of threading elastic through the bottom casing, I serged the bottom edge (you could also zig-zag) and then just zig-zagged over a strip of elastic (zig-zag wider than the elastic).  Just start at one end of the elastic, tack it down in place, then stretch it out the width of the leg hole, and zig zag right over top of it.  Then tack down the other end.  (And to know how much elastic to use, measure around your subject’s little thigh.)


See the zig-zag?  This is just an easy way to add elastic to something.  Making a casing works too……it just takes longer.  Remember, I like short cuts. :)


Then, finish off the romper, just like the link shared above.


Here’s a hint for the top ruffle.  To keep it from laying flat against and just looking like a panel, it needs a little help to give that ruffle some fluff.  So, fold up the ruffle and lay it flat.  Then stem/iron it and create some creases.


Then fold it back down and steam/iron again.  Now your dress has its own creases and the ruffle has its own creases.  So they will now both lay differently and ruffle differently.




To create the DRESS:


Make everything exactly the same as the romper, except there is only one Main Bodice piece, instead of a front and a back.  Sew that one piece into a tube, the same as the Top Ruffle and then continue on like shown above.  Also, if you don’t want the ruffle at the bottom of the dress, make the Main Bodice section longer and just hem it up.  However, if you want the Bottom Ruffle, place both pieces together (which equal about twice the width as the bottom of the dress) and sew together, with right sides together.  Then hem the bottom edge under an inch (zig-zag/serge and then fold under an inch or fold over a 1/4 inch and then 3/4 of an inch) and sew in place.  Then gather the top raw edge and attach it to the bottom of the dress.  (If you need help with gathering or attaching a ruffle, go here.)



And that’s it.


A sweet little romper and a fun little dress.  Pick your favorite.



Happy 4th of July (for those who celebrate)!  Enjoy a slice or two of watermelon for me, would ya? :)






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Ashley Johnston

Administrator 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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Hi, I'm Ashley

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

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