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Projects & Patterns

Pattern Roundup: Sundresses

Jun 23, 2019
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The Seren dress by Tilly and the Buttons features a center-front button closure, waistband, wide straps, and neckline and length options. Choose from either a flounce or tie-front bodice, and midi or knee length. Select fabrics such as lawn, seersucker, and crepe de Chine.

Sundresses are the epitome of warm-weather wear, perfect for a sunny summer day. Traditionally, a sundress is sleeveless, with either thin straps, a halter-style strap, or strapless. Often, they would have wide necklines.

The sundress came into popularity in the 1960s, thanks to Lilly Pulitzer. She designed almost exclusively summer clothing with bright, vivid prints. Her dresses, with their simple silhouettes and bright colors, were a hit with the styles of the 1960s. Called “Lilly” dresses after their creator, they were soon worn by Jackie Kennedy, who was a former classmate of Lilly Pulitzer, as well as other members of the Kennedy family. With that boost, they came into even more prominence and Lilly’s business boomed.

As fashion veered away from bright colors toward neutrals and muted tones, the Lilly dress fell out of prominence, but sundresses have remained a staple and are still worn by women and children today.

Now, sundresses are defined by their style rather than the print or color, though they are commonly available in bright colors and patterns in ready-to-wear stores. For sewers, sundresses can be made in nearly any style, as there are many patterns to choose from and numerous fabrics that are appropriate for summer sewing.

For advice about creating sturdy straps, check out “Seriously Strong Spaghetti Straps” by Ann Steeves. This technique enables you to sew thin straps that will not stretch with wear.

If you want to explore strap options, read “Four Strap Variations to Transform Your Wardrobe” by Dana Finkle. In this article, Dana takes you through how to create and style four types of straps that can be applied to many garments.

A complementary belt can elevate a simple sundress into a lovely summer date-night look. Sew your own with “4 Belt Styles That Are a Cinch to Make” by Joyce Murphy, originally published in Threads #118 (April/May 2005).

For guidance in altering a bodice pattern for a better fit, turn to Adjusting the Bodice Front, a video tutorial by Judith Neukam. This video explores adjusting for a full bust as well as for a small bust.

Click “Launch Gallery” below to see 10 summer-ready sundress patterns.

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