Wednesday, May 8, 2019

FREE Pattern: Sleeveless Sunday Girl's Dress

Make a versatile sleeveless dress that is nice enough for special events & church on Sunday, yet still casual for everyday with my 
FREE PDF pattern Sleeveless Sunday Girl's Dress!

The bodice is fully lined to give a nice finish.

The snaps along the back center add a little detail and make it easy to wear too.

With a nice full skirt to be perfect on its own for those warm spring & summer days....

or paired with a little sweater for a nice outfit look.

I used this sweet print called Church Windows (available in my shop) to make it the ultimate dress for Sundays:

This pattern sews up so quick, I've made a bunch already.  Now we have lots of cute dresses to choose from!

And it's easy to modify like this version that included a little stripe fabric placket and decorative buttons down the front:

My FREE pattern is for US girl size 8-10. I know this style is pretty simple and there are similar patterns for it for toddlers & little girls, but there really aren't many for the girls between 8-12yrs that can be sewn up in an hour or two.  This one meets both goals!

The pattern inspiration: I find it very challenging to find basic girl dresses now that my daughter is in size 8 & up. Everything in stores for that size range seems to have sassy sayings, weird cold-shoulder or cut out designs or are basically shirts with an attached skirt.  That's not what we're looking to wear to church or a nice restaurant.

The few store styles that are more classic tend to be super dressy materials and usually have a heftier price tag, so I decided to make our own.  Using this design and cotton quilting fabric, it's easy to make a beautiful, durable dress, in whatever print you want, for under $20.

My pattern is US girl size 8-10, but by using 1/2 inch seam allowances, shortening the bodice by 1 inch and hem by 1 1/2inches, it scales down to size 6 too.  

- 1 1/2 yds cotton fabric (1 7/8 yds if self lining)
- 3/8 yd cotton fabric (only needed if using lining fabric)
- Lightweight fusible stabilizer 
- 6 snap sets (or buttons)
- Thin cord or string
- My FREE PDF Sleeveless Sunday Dress Pattern
Notions: Iron, yard stick, rotary cutter/shears, pins, tailor's marking pen or chalk

Printing the Pattern:  Click HERE to download my PDF bodice pattern.  Print at 100% (actual size) no scaling.  Measure with the test square to make sure the scale is correct.  Cut out pattern pieces.

Start by cutting out the bodice front and back pieces from the outer and lining fabric. Transfer all markings.  For the skirt portion, cut two rectangles that are 20 inches long by the width of the fabric (usually 42-44 inches).  Trim off the selvages.  Mark the top center points of both pieces.

Start with the bodice.  With right sides facing, pin together the front bodice outer and lining around the neckline and the arm scythe.

Stitch together using a 3/8 inch seam allowance.  Do the same on the back bodice pieces, also stitching down the straight center sides.

Trim down the seam allowances of all the seams.

Cut two pieces of fusible stabilizer that are 1 inch wide by 11 inches long and fuse to the wrong side of the back pieces, just next to the newly sewn straight side seams.  This will be to stabilize where the snaps/buttons will be.  

Turn the front bodice piece right side out and press around the seam to get them nice and flat.  Insert the shoulder sections into each of the shoulder sections of the back bodice pieces, matching up the fabrics and seams.  

Pin so that each shoulder will be a little tube.

Stitch all the way around.  

Turn right side out and press entire bodice flat.

Now, take the open sides and match up the raw edges and sew across from the outer to the lining on each side of the bodice. Trim seam allowance.  

Turn right side out and press layers flat.  If doing button closure, do button holes now.

Overlap the back center of the bodice by 1 inch and baste layers together along the bottom.  Mark the bodice front and back centers.  Set aside.

With right sides facing, pin the short sides of the skirt rectangles together and stitch.  To easily gather the skirt, with fabric still turned wrong side out, use a wide and long zig-zag stitch and stitch along the top raw edge with the thin cording/string between the stitching.  

Do this all the way around, careful to keep the string in between the stitching since that needs to be able to slide.

Pull up the string ends and spread gathers evenly.  

Insert bodice, right side out, into the skirt, matching up the raw edges at center markings and side seams.  Adjust gathering as needed and pin.  

Stitch together with a 1/2 inch seam allowance.  Serge or zig-zag over the raw edges.

Try on to determine desired length of hem and finish as desired.  We preferred double folding the hem up 5/8 in (for 1 1/4in total) and then topstitching.  Set the snaps along markings and enjoy your pretty new dress!


  1. Thank you so much I know my granddaughter will love this.

  2. Replies
    1. No, as noted, My pattern is US girl size that fits 8-10, but by using 1/2 inch seam allowances, shortening the bodice by 1 inch and hem by 1 1/2inches, it scales down to size 6 too.

  3. Love how you've done this thanks for sharing can't wait to make one

  4. Concerning this beautiful pattern, what about size 10-12 years old size pls?? Thank you very much!

  5. The cutest dress!I love the fact that it's for older girls. I have great nieces that getting older. And, yes, it's hard to find dresses that are overtly sexy and have cuts and designs that are too mature.

  6. Sure is a sweet little dress and has so many options for making it different every time. Thank you so much for the free pattern.

  7. I really like this dress, and finding a free pattern for older girl, SCORE!! I've never seen gathering with the cord. Looks like it will save time. If I have a sleeve pattern, would it be easy to add a sleeve to the size of the armhole?

    1. Thank you. It might fit - you'd have to do a muslin to see if the sleeve curve would fit the shoulder of this pattern. It would also mean changing the lining to be a facing that would be along the neck area & back sides. Personally, it's a lot simpler to pair a sleeveless dress with a cardigan if you want to have the arms covered. No modifications needed, but makes it a more year-round option.

  8. This dress is so lovely!
    I’m struggling to make the skirt portion though. Are the two panels of the skirt one pattern and one lining, or are they 2 of the pattern?

    1. The skirt panels are the front & back of the skirt (there's no lining). You need it to be big enough to gather nicely. Once gathered, you'll match up the two seams of the skirt to the side seams of the bodice to sew them together. Hope this helps! Would love to see it when you have it done!!

  9. Hi - I’m a beginner sewer. I don’t understand what the pattern pieces labeled as “Attach to upper portion of Front Bodice here” and “Attach to upper portion of Back Bodice here” are (what is their purpose?). Can you please explain?

    1. Hi Tina. The bodice pieces are larger than what will fit on 8.5x11 paper so the front and back pieces had to be split into two pages each. You'll need to attach the bodice upper and lower halves as specified for the front and back and tape them together so they'll be the proper size to cut from.

  10. Thank you for sharing this pattern!! I agree, there's hardly any nice "little girl" dress patterns for older girls.

    1. It's good to hear I'm not the only one feeling that & that it's helpful to be making what the big pattern places & stores don't:)

  11. love this pattern.. have used it a few times with varied skirts for my goddaughter who loves them ... will use it for dresses for my granddaughter too when she is a little older.. thank you so much x


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