How to

The Summer Dress

The weather here has been unseasonably warm the last couple weeks which has had me thinking ahead to summer. I love wearing dresses all summer long. Most of the everyday dresses I have made so far have been maxi dresses so when I saw someone posted a picture of a short sleeveless raglan dress the other day I figured I would mix it up and try it out.

I’ve been hoarding some gorgeous Iva brushed poly from Knitpop and decided it was the perfect fabric for this dress. I am obsessed with all things floral right now and just love how summery this print feels.

In case you haven’t figured it out yet I am a huge fan of Patterns for Pirates patterns. Their patterns are so versatile and come loaded with options, plus they are extremely easy to mash into new creations. For this dress I decided to combine the Slim Fit Raglan with the Free Spirit Tank. Here is a link to the Patterns for Pirates website if you don’t already own these patterns.

Combining the Patterns

Start by tracing the Free Spirit front and back onto tracing paper (I use a large roll of wax paper). Then take your tracing paper with the front on it and overlay it on the Slim Fit Raglan (SFR) pattern. Line up the fold line and the top both pattern pieces as shown in the photo. Trace the raglan neck and bodice until it blends into the Free Spirit (Red shows the SFR on the photo). Do the same with the back pieces. Now your pattern is ready and you can cut out your fabric! Use the length measurement from the SFR for the neck band, I made mine 2.5″ wide.

Back (Red is new cut line)
Front (Red is new cut line)

First we will create the neck binding by pressing the neckband in half, then open it up and press the two outer edges into the middle. This will create your binding piece. Sew or serge the short ends together.

Next sew or serge the front and back dress pieces together. Turn and topstitch the arm opening since there is no sleeve piece. Make sure you turn the 1/2″ like the pattern seam allowance calls for.

Mark middle points then clip together

Mark the middle of the front and back of your neck opening and the middle and back of the neck binding then clip the neck binding to the front and back pieces where you marked them. Clip with the right sides together and the binding completely unfolded. Then without pulling the neck band clip the rest of the front and back pieces to the neckband. Now sew or serge at the front and back leaving the sides where they are not connected to the dress pieces alone.

Press the serge seam up towards the neck opening and fold the binding over and clip in place. At the shoulders where you did not sew before make sure to fold both edges of the binding in so that no raw edge is showing. Now topstitch around the entire neck opening. Finally hem the bottom and your dress is ready to wear!

I would love to see your creations! Please tag me on Instagram @sew_youthinkyoucansew.


  • Susan Wilson

    Thanks for posting this. You have very clear and simple way of explaining things, and I know that´s hard to do. I have been wanting to add this type of sleeveless raglan top to several existing dress patterns I have but was thinking the neckline binding was going to be a bear! Now that I saw you do it, it won´t be so scary trying it 🙂 Thanks again, beautiful dress!

  • Lauren Casey

    Thank you for sharing this! I LOVE it! I still consider myself a novice so I’m confused about the arm hole and hope this all makes sense. So first you get the neck band set, then you connect the front and back pieces, sewing up the two sides. For turning and top stitching the arm holes, you just turn under the arm hole a 1/2″ and essentially are hemming it correct? Could I use a rolled hem foot? Then, when connecting the neck band, the areas where it does not connect to the front and back piece, you’re just top stitching over that?

    • sewyouthinkyoucansew

      Glad you like it! You are correct, I think a rolled hem foot should work 🙂 after I have connected the neckband to the front and back I just topstitch all the way around the neck.

  • Cara

    This was a great tutorial! but your pictures are very tiny, and as a visual learner I struggled with not being able to see enough as I wanted to. Either way I love my dress and am very pleased with my first mash up of two patterns!

    • sewyouthinkyoucansew

      Thank you for the feedback! I will make the photos bigger in my next posts 🙂 I’m so happy you love your dress!!!