Easy Summer Dress Tutorial

Summer Dress Tutorial

So.. I know Oak Tag Designs is about kids patterns, but sometimes Mum needs something too. And here it is!

The Easy Breezy Summer Dress is a very simple -no pattern needed- dress that shouldnt take very long to make. Variations can be made depending on your style, and embellishments can be added too. Its fit means that you can wear it even if you find your weight fluctuating. And best of all, its flattering!

Can be dressed up and down, and really is perfect for all those end of year events.

What you will need:

  • Lightweight cotton (or blend) weave. Your size and length requirements changes your fabric amount. For the length of fabric, measure from your shoulder down to the length you want, double, and add approx. 30 cm. For knee-length, allow approx 2.3 m. For full length maxi, approx 3.3m. If you are a size 12 (Australian sizing) or smaller, a 110cm width will be fine. If you are above a Size 12, then use a wider fabric. For a maxi dress, a wider fabric (around 150 cm) is recommended, to allow the width at the bottom.
  • Approx 2m of 16mm bias binding (if it is a slightly different width, that will be fine)
  • matching thread
  • any embellishments (or fabric for a contrasting band).
  • A loose top (most preferably in a weave) that fits you well.

To begin, fold you fabric so it becomes half the length.

Next fold in one side (two layers of selvage) so that they are about 16cm from the other selvage side. The 16cm is the fabric for the ties. If you are making a larger size and need all the fabric, you may decide to use a contrasting fabric for the ties.

Fold your top in half and place it down on the fabric so that the fold is on the most recent fold, and the shoulders are on the top original fold. I have opened it back up in the photo to make it easier to see.

Fabric layout

Use your scissors to cut from the bottom of the fabric (on the right, where the 4 layers start) right up to the top as shown. This photo is showing a knee length dress. If you want a maxi, it will probably start out wider. Once you are close to the top, cut next to it, but out a couple of cms to allow for the seam. Continue to the armhole, cut around it, and up to the shoulder.  Be sure not to cut along the shoulder.

Cut out side seamsCutting the armhole

Correct the bottom so that it is 90 degrees to the side fold of the dress. Then cut a curve back towards the fold. The wider your dress, the higher the curve should be. For a knee-length dress, like the one shown, about an inch up should suffice. If you feel less than confident about doing this, leave it straight to be cut once your dress is more complete and can be tried on.


Next cut the neck. Cut through all 4 layers copying just the back of the neck.

Cutting the neck 1

Unfold all the layers and then fold just down the middle of the dress. Now cut one end of the neck to be the front of the neck. You can cut it as a V-neck, round neck, or boat neck as you desire.


Very important at this stage to put it over your head and check that it fits! Nothing quite like trying to jam a too small neckhole over your head!

From the remaining part of fabric, cut two long straps. They should each be approx 16cm wide and around 110 cm long (longer for a bigger dress size). Fold them right sides in (so they stay the same length but become skinnier, to approx 8cm wide) and cut a diagonal on one end of each of them.

Cutting the straps

Next, take to the sewing machine and bias bind the neck and armhole edges. Im not going to go into detail about how to apply bias binding. If you’re not sure, google a tutorial on this. One tip I will say is ALWAYS manipulate the bias and try to keep the fabric perfectly how it was cut (ie. dont stretch it!). If you dont do this, it will end up warped and uneven and possibly wavy!

Adding biasBias added

Next, turn you garment inside out and sew down the 2 side seams. Then overlock. If you don’t have an overlocker, use zigzag close to the edge, or if possible, use a french seam. I may just be pedantic but once you have sewn the seams, it is advisable to sew them down under the arm, just for around 1 cm. Makes it more comfortable and secures the seam, so it won’t start to unravel.

Next sew your straps. Sew from the diagonal across and down to the other end, leaving the straight end open. Turn in the right way. Then topstitch all the way around where you had just sewn. Topstitching is your choice, but it is very helpful in keeping the straps flatter after washing. Also helps with ironing if its needed.

Sewing belt 1

Sewing belt 2

Next try on your dress. It should look a bit potato-sack like. If so, good! Next you need to mark (preferably using pins) where your waist is at the sides. Take the dress off, and mark in towards the centre back around 10 cm from the marks you made. This is where the top of the straps will go. Fold about an inch of the raw end of your straps down and pin onto the garment. They should be pinned so that the tail of each strap goes towards the centre back of the dress. Stitch on in a large rectangle. To secure them more, you may sew inside the rectangle.

Retry your dress on passing the strap around the back and then to the front where they can be tied up. Check the bottom of your dress. Is it the right length? Does it look even around? Try to get someone to help you if it isnt, by pinning it while you are wearing it. A good hem is the same length off the ground all the way around when you are standing.

Back to the sewing machine, and sew up the hem. I like to fold it twice up for a nice clean hem. If you are not used to sewing hems, it is a good idea to pin it (and even iron) before you do. If you dont, you can end up slowly pushing the fabric across each other as you sew, making you end up with extra fabric in the last bit. To pin it, start at the seams, then pin it in quarters, eighths etc, and that will keep it even.

Sewing the hem

And there you go, all done!!

Now you can flounce around the house looking pretty.

I do recommend washing and drying and ironing before you wear it out. Gets rid of any starch (particularly in the binding), or fold marks.

I would love to see some dresses made 🙂 I know I will be making more than one….

Summer Dress Tutorial


Free printable – small gift box!

A free printable – small gift box. Great Christmas activity for the kids.. and the adults! Many uses, many ways to decorate, enjoy!

Free printable – small gift box

Happy December 1st!

In our family, December 1st was always the first day of the Christmas season. When I was a little girl, Id be bouncing around my Dad on that day until he’d cut off a big branch of Cyprus Pine. We’d somehow get that in our lounge room, and then decorate it.  And then for the rest of December, us primary school girls would nag the teachers for ‘Christmas crafts’. My favourite by far was reusing old Christmas cards and making them into little boxes.

Well, now Im an adult. I have my own computer and drawing program… I can make my own boxes to make with my girls!

So Ive decided to share this box with you all, so you can enjoy some fun Christmas box making.

Of course, its not just a box for Christmas, it can be used anytime! Its good for little presents, lolly ‘boxes’, bomboniere, organising things, a school craft, and Im sure, many other things. It can be used for most ages, preschool and up. For kids it is easy to just print out and use. If you want it to be a little fancier, you can use the printout to be a template against nicer paper or cardstock. To make it a bigger box, it can be enlarged on a copier.

Hope you enjoy making the boxes as much as me… oh and the kids!

Reversible Shower Cap Tutorial

When I was in late high school, I used to stay at my Nan’s once a week. Many great things there (no woman can make soup like that woman!), but one was the HUGE shower head. You simply couldn’t have a shower without getting your head wet. But of course, Nana had the shower cap to match. Big, frilly, floral, and 3 layers thick. Ahhh, go Nana.

Try as I might, I’ve never found a shower cap quite like it. I’ve gone from the cheapies to the more expensive, to the ones from the hotel and around again. The most recent hotel edition to our bathroom had become a precarious hat rather than a cap, and so it was time..

Oh goodness.

Enter the reversible fabric shower cap.

Sizes listed are approximate (because all heads are different!) but they are shown as toddler (child, adult). If you have a large head, or a lot of hair, use a larger amount of fabric.

To make it, you need:

  • a square of PUL fabric (or another suitable waterproof fabric) approx.  36 (39, 42)cm
  • a square of lightweight fabric of your choice,  36 (39, 42)cm
  • sewing machine
  • overlocker (only necessary for woven fabric, if you dont have one, use a knit fabric, explained below)
  • taylors chalk (helpful but not necessary)
  • matching thread
  • approx 43 (46, 54)cm length of 6mm swimwear elastic (please refer to description below)
  • any embellishment that takes your fancy!.. lace, buttons, appliques

If you are going to use a knit fabric that you dont plan to finish with an overlocker, take the time to check it. It should be able to be pulled (in the stretch direction) and not run ladders in it, or start to unravel.

There are 3 different elastics that could be used.

Choices for elastic

Personally I find that the see-through plastic swimwear elastic, sometimes known as lastin (left), is a slippery sucker and although it has high elasticity, it can be hard to apply.  It does fatigue more readily, but don’t be put off, its still an option! The rubber swimwear elastic (middle) may last longer, but oh, it can be a pain to apply, and when pulling tightly and sewing through it, it can break. No fun. My personal preference is the woven swimmers elastic (right). It doesn’t break, doesn’t fatigue (be sure it is the swimmers elastic and not just a generic woven), and is easy to apply!

While I have put approximate lengths of elastic in the materials list, if you can measure the persons head, then work the elastic length off that. Use their head circumference, and take approx 4 cm off this. When the elastic is sewn in, it will lose some elasticity, extending the elastics length back to the head circumference.

To begin you need to cut a 36 (39, 42)cm circle from both your waterproof fabric and other fabric. There are a few different methods to get the circle. You may have some appropriate quilting equipment to use.  You could use the right size bowl to draw around (yep, its a BIG bowl!). Another method is to use a piece of string tied to some taylors chalk and anchor the string in the middle with a pin, pulling the string around to draw the circle. The fabric can be folded in 4 and cut from open edge corner to open edge corner in a quarter circle shape, then open up. You can also just hand-draw a circle. The last 2 methods may result in very wonky circle, be warned! Experience led me to this conclusion..

If you are planning to embellish, now is the time. It is advisable not to embellish the waterproof fabric, as extra holes in it will make it less waterproof. Choosing a patterned PUL or waterproof fabric can make that side look decorated enough 🙂 Also make sure that the embellishments or fabric is not too heavy. It won’t sit on the head well, and will become heavier if it absorbs some water.

Here is my embellishment for my stretch knit (cotton elastane). Using strips of the same fabric, I sewed it in from the edge by around 5 cm, tucking one colour in. I repeated this around again, and then gathered some more fabric for the last bit in the middle.

fold, sew, fold, sew, fold, sew, fold, sew....


After it has been embellished, sew the two circles together, right sides facing out, 4 cm in. It is best to use a straight stitch in a moderate to long length stitch.

Next, mark quarters on the flat cap with pins. Fold your elastic in quarters and put pins to mark. Hold the elastic BETWEEN the two layers of fabric up against where the stitches are. Using a moderate size zigzag run a few stitches back and forth to hold the elastic in place. Now stretch the elastic and pull around against the existing stitches while continuing to zigzag around. Aligning the pins at each quarter should help to keep your elastic gather even. Continue all the way around and then finish by running some stitches back and forth again.

Applying elastic using pins to mark quarters

If your shower cap’s fabric is a woven fabric and you have an overlocker, you can now finish the edge with the overlocker, holding it all together. Done!

The finished edge on the overlocked shower cap

If your caps fabric is a knit fabric, use a long stitch and holding the 2 layers together stitch just outside the elastic all the way around. Try not to catch the elastic in this round as it will cause the elastic to lose some of its elasticity.

The finished edge on the raw knit shower cap

Done again!

You can make many shower caps in different sizes and fabric patterns, even making them much wider for a frilly peak. The pattern could be used to make into a costume wig for a small child (add yarn piggytails). It can be made for boys using some boy character fabric. So many options. So simple and easy. Great for your home, or even as a pressie with some soap, or bath mitt. Would love to see some designs that have been come up with 🙂


Well, here it is! The blog for Oak Tag Designs.

While I am getting patterns together, I get sidetracked… or should I say inspired! So here I hope to share ideas, updates on what patterns I hope to release soon, and some tutorials.

So far, Im just trying to get my head around blogging. Ugh. Anyway, when thats sorted, Ill put a tutorial up! Hopefully that should be in the next week or two. Stay tuned!