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DIY Easy Ruffled Sundress

ruffled sundress tube top

I'm one of those weird people who dreamed of wearing matching outfits with her baby while she was pregnant. I occasionally perused the Lilly Pulitzer online store, pointing out potential Easter/ Carolina Cup ensembles for our soon-to-be born daughter and I. 

While I haven't yet seen those LP dresses, as Britton's still growing so fast she'd probably only wear it once, I still have high hopes of matching outfits this summer. 

Lucky for me, I've found a SUPER easy DIY sundress that I can whip up in a million colors for Britton, and the same basic procedure will net me a matching strapless top! If you had enough fabric (and a little more time), you could make an adult-sized ruffled sundress, too.

cute baby girl clothes

Even if you're not awesome at sewing, this project can be done in an evening and can be customized a million ways. 

My original inspiration was this pin--I wanted to make a ruffled tube top for myself to go with some shorts and a skirt that I just bought. Instead of using a t-shirt like in the original pin, I used some adorable polka dot jersey fabric that I found on sale at Hobby Lobby. After I finished my tube top, I wasn't happy with the length of the ruffle (I should have made it much longer) or the lack of ruffly-ness (I hadn't used enough fabric to then squish together for that super ruffly effect). 

So, rather than scrapping the entire project, I took the elastic out of the top, measured Britton's chest, cut a new, smaller elastic, and added on straps to make sure she kept the dress up. 

make your own baby clothes

It was perfect! She loves the new dress and stares at the polka dots when I put it on her. I can definitely see some adorable pictures on the beach in this dress once it warms up a bit!

Okay, ready to start? Let's get a-sewing!
(This tutorial is for the baby dress. For tips on how to turn it into an adult top, see my notes at the bottom of the page)
ruffled sundress tube top shirt easy

1) Get your fabric prepared (wash it, dry it, and iron it). I used 1/2 yard of jersey fabric, which I loved. It has a ton of stretch in it and is very forgiving to work with. 

2) Turn your fabric inside out and fold in half so that the two short ends are touching. Sew up the short ends. You should have a big tube when you're done with this step. It's okay that the fabric looks giant for your little baby. This extra fabric will bunch up later on and make LOTS of ruffles!

3) Cut off five or six inches from the top or bottom of the tube (so that you have a smaller fabric tube). This is your ruffle, so you can chose how long or short it should be. 

4) Pin the ruffle tube to the big tube so that the underside (or "bad," as I think of it) of the ruffle tube is touching the front (or "good) side of the big tube. You'll want to sew the seam so that it will be on the inside of the to pieces of fabric. (After reading this last step, it sounds like Greek. Basically, sew the two pieces together so that the ruffle, when finished, will flop over and cover the seam. You're going to cover this seam with elastic in the next step, so it doesn't have to be super pretty.)

5) From the top of the ruffle (once it's sewn onto the big tube), measure down approximately an inch. Note: I used 1/2" elastic, and then gave myself so room to maneuver said elastic, so I needed a 1" gap for the elastic. Obviously, if you're using bigger or smaller elastic, you'll want to adjust for the difference in size. 

6) Sew a space for your elastic--but don't sew all the way around your fabric! You'll want to leave an inch or two space at the end so you can put your elastic in.

7) Measure your baby's chest and then subtract an inch--this is how long your elastic should be. You want the elastic to be tight, but not binding, as this tension will help the dress stay in place. Make sure you adjust for a seam (which usually adds a 1/4" or 1/2" back, whichever you feel like using). 

8) Attach a safety pin to one end of the elastic and scrunch your elastic all the way through the pocket you've created between the ruffle and the main part of the dress. Sew the two ends of the elastic together when they meet, and then finish sewing the elastic into its little pocket.

9) Time for the straps! Cut off about an inch and a half from the bottom of the dress, and fold this piece long ways. Sew the edge together so that you have a very long, inside out tube. Break out the safety pin again, and snake the fabric back through itself to make a very long, right-side-out tube. 

baby girl sewing ideas

10) Measure your child's shoulder length from the front of her chest to the back opposite side (if you want the straps to cross). For Britton, I needed 11" straps since I wanted them to cross. The 11" length also included a seam allowance. 

11) Sew on your straps. If you cross them in the back, add in a few whip stitches at the cross for added support. 

12) Cut off the dress at the required length. If you're using jersey, you don't have to hem it--unless you want to!

DIY sewing project dress

-If you want to make this into a tube top for an adult, you'd want to use a TON of fabric. When I make mine, I'm probably going to use one of Landon's t-shirts as a guide rather that one of my own, just so that I can have more ruffles when I'm done. 

-On the adult tube top, make sure to cut the elastic shorter than you think you need. We don't need a wardrobe malfunction because of an elastic that's too loose!

-For the adult top, you could easily add a halter (using one long strap) or crossing straps like the baby version. Either would look super cute. 

-For the baby/ girl version or the adult version, you could try color blocking the ruffle and main shirt parts for a fun look. 
ruffled sundress for baby tube top for women

What is your favorite (easy!) sewing project? Share them with me in the comments!