Soak Up the Fun With A Simple Summer Dress Sewing Tutorial!

We’ve already shared with you a roundup of summer dress patterns, and what better way to follow up to that than with a tutorial to help you make a simple summer piece of your very own! I selected one of my favorites from the list, >The Kimono-Sleeve Dress Pattern by Salme, and will guide you step-by-step through constructing this lovely garment!

<Kimono-Sleeve Dress Sewing Pattern

 Photo via Craftsy member Salme Patterns

Follow along as I show you how to sew a classic summer shirt dress!

This classic kimono-style shirt dress is an excellent summer project because it’s really quick to make and works well with a wide variety of summery fabrics — definitely one of those great dress patterns that has an entirely different look depending on what fabric you use and how you accessorize it. It’s really versatile: The quintessential summer dress!

Sewing notes

Before we begin, there’s a couple notes to keep in mind:

  • Remember to print your 1″ test square (page 2 of the PDF) to make sure your pattern pieces are to scale.
  • Be sure to add a seam allowance to all your pattern pieces! The pattern suggests you add a 3/8th” seam allowance, but you could add 1/2 or 5/8th inch or whatever you prefer. Just like with my summer top tutorial, I traced my pattern pieces with Pellon 830 tracing cloth and added my seam allowance (and some length to the skirt) before cutting it out. I left the original printed pattern intact as a master copy in case I needed to make any adjustments, but you could also just trace your seam allowance right on your printed pattern if you choose.
  • While the instructions are easy to follow, I chose to use a different method of attaching the elastic at the waist that I find to be much easier.
  • The original Salme instructions include illustrations for making the facing, but since I didn’t add facing, I have not included photos for those steps. Again, I am working slightly out of order from Salme’s instructions to make it easier to sew in the elastic.


Step 1: Prepare your neck facings

Apply fusible interfacing to the wrong sides of both the front and back neck facing according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Finish the bottom edge of the facings by turning under the seam allowance or using a serger. With right sides together, stitch the front facing to the back facing at the shoulder seams. Press seams open.

Step 2: Sew the shoulder seams

With right sides together, pin the front bodice to the back bodice at the shoulder seams and stitch. Finish the raw edges and press.

Step 3: Attach the facings

With right sides together, stitch the completed neck facing to your bodice. Make sure the front facing is aligned with the front bodice (and the back facing with the back bodice) and your shoulder seams match up. Clip the seam allowance and flip the facing to the inside. Press well and topstitch the facing to the bodice close to the neck seam.

After steps 1-3 your dress should look like this:

sewing a kimono-sleeve shirt dress

Step 4: Attach the skirt

With right sides together, stitch the front skirt to the front bodice at the waist. Finish the seam and press. Repeat for the back.

stitch skirt section of a dress

Step 5: Sew one side seam

To make it a little easier to attach the elastic at the waist, we’re only going to sew one side seam at this point. With right sides together and matching the waist seams, stitch the dress front to the dress back along the entire side seam. Finish seam and press.

attaching front and back of dress together

Step 6: Prepare the elastic

With only one side seam sewn, you can open up your dress and stitch the elastic flat across the entire waist seam. To help with this, find the center point of your piece of elastic and pin it to the side seam that is finished. Then pin each end of the elastic to the respective open end of your dress.

adding elastic waist to shirt dress

Step 7: Sew the elastic

From the inside of the dress, stitch the elastic to the waistline seam with a zigzag stitch (or a triple zigzag stitch if your machine has that function). You will have to gently pull and stretch the elastic to fit the length of the seam as you sew.

stitching in the elastic

Step 8: Finish the remaining side

With right sides together, stitch along the entire length of the remaining side seam. Finish the seam and press.

finishing the hems

Step 9: Hem the sleeves

hemming the dress bottom and sleeves

Step 10: Hem the skirt

Give the dress a nice press, and you’re finished!

Adorable finished Kimono-sleeve shirt dress -

I used a quilting cotton for my Kimono dress because I was curious to see how the sleeves would drape with it. The silhouette is definitely more structured than the Salme example, but I think the overall effect makes for a really cute peasant dress, especially when paired with a belt! This is definitely one of those great dress patterns that has an entirely different look depending on what fabric you use and how you accessorize it. It’s really versatile – The quintessential summer dress!

Check out the NEW collection of Craftsy sewing kits (with perfectly matched patterns and fabrics!) & discover more sewing projects to add casual, chic style to your summer wardrobe.

What fabric would you make this simple summer dress in?

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