Stella Summer Dress

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This really is a Stella summer dress…I know but I love a good pun!  After seeing a multitude of ‘pillowcase’ dresses I thought I better do my own take on these simple yet stunning dresses.  My main gripe would be the lack of sizing information being available in one place, and that it actually makes any sense!

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I thought I would save you all the trouble and scour the internet finding all the details, checking and editing them to my taste of course, then compiling them here for you.  So this time there is a PDF pattern for the armholes, which also has the sizing chart for the dresses!  I have even converted it all in metric (cm) and imperial (inches), so everyone can work in their preferred units!

I will write this tutorial for a Size 2 as an example!

What you will need

  • Fabric – Use chart to work out dimensions for a Size 2 you will need two rectangles of 46cm x 56cm (18” x 22”)
  • Elastic – 1.25cm (1/2”) wide by 18cm (7”)
  • Bias Binding
    • Single Fold 2.5cm (1”) wide (while folded) same width as the fabric so 46cm (18”) for Size 2.  This is optional you can just fold and turn the neckline
    • Double Fold 1cm (3/8”) – 140cm (55”) cut in half
  • Thread, sewing machine, pins, iron.  An overlocker is optional you can use French seams or zigzag instead of overlocking.
  • PDF Pattern you can print and cut out the armhole guides sizes 6 months through to 9 years.  Click this link to download the Stella Summer Dress + Size Charts PDF.


Step 1 – Cut Fabric

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As you can see I have added a contrast hem, you can add one any width you like.  You just need to allow an extra inch for the extra seam.  For example my Size 2 is 56cm (22”) total length.  I added a 5” contrast hem, so I had to take 4” off the main fabric measurement, which worked out at 18” main fabric + 5” contrast hem = 23” total.


Step 2 – Attaching Contrast Hem (Optional skip to Step 3)

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With the right sides of the fabric facing sew the two layers together using a 1cm (3/8”) seam allowance.  Overlock or zigzag the raw edge, then press the seam over with your iron.

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I then topstitched the seam to keep it sitting flat and I like how it looks!  I haven’t shown all the steps, so if you need more help check out my Contrast Hem Skirt which has all the steps!


Step 3 – Sew Sides

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You need to pin with the right sides of the fabric facing each other (inside out).  If you have added a contrast hem then match that carefully!!!  You can adjust the top or bottom edge if they don’t quite line up but the contrast hem seem will be obvious.  Sew with a 1cm 3/8” seam allowance, and overlock or zigzag the edge.

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Repeat for the other side, and press the seams flat.


Step 4 – Hem

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Press the hem over 1cm (3/8”) half an inch is fine too a couple of mm here is not going to make too much difference.

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Then fold over again and press with a 2.5cm (1”) fold.

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Sew in place.  This would be a great time for a decorative stitch or a blind hem too!


Step 5 – Cutting Armholes

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Now you should have a tube with a nice hem at the bottom and a raw edge at the top.

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Print out the PDF (link above) and cut out the size you need.  Place the long straight side on the seam edge and cut around it.  This will make the armhole.


Step 6 – Bias Neckline

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Time to pin the single fold bias to the neckline.  Pin on the right side of the fabric with the edge of the bias just slightly short from the raw edge of the fabric.

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Sew in the crease closest to the edge.

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Press flat with your iron.

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Fold over so that the aqua fabric is just visible and press again.  Not the best photo sorry, I should’ve moved the back layer away from underneath!  But you can see how the aqua polka dot fabric is visible next to the bias edge.

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Topstitch the top edge.  I sewed approximately 1/8” in from the side using the guides on the machine.  You can get a special quilting foot for this I have recently found out, but I don’t have one and I have other things I want more!  But if you have one by all means use it!

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Repeat with the other edge of the bias binding.  I prefer to sew on the right side of the fabric as the machine stitches are tidier on the top.  It may not be noticeable on your machine so d whatever works for you!


Step 7 – Add Elastic

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Feed the elastic part way through the tube created by the bias using a safety pin.  Just so far that the end of the elastic sticks out by half an inch.

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Sew in place between the two seams and trim off the excess.

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Feed the elastic through the rest of the way.  Make sure it is not twisted!  Leave the same half inch of elastic sticking out and pin in place about an inch away from the edge (leave this pin in!).  So that you can sew without removing pin!  Sew the same as the other side.

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Now you will have a nicely gathered front, repeat for the back!


Step 8 – Bias Ties

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Cut your double folded bias to length.  I am using knots not bows so I use the smaller measurement 27cm (10.5”).

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Pin the gathers back from the edges a little, this will make it easier to get a nice seam on the bias.

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Fold the bias in half to find the middle and line this up with the side seam.  Pin the bias on in the same way as for the neckline.   That is on the right side a little in from the edge.  Sew in the crease closest to the raw edge starting from the top of the neckline.  Don’t sew past edge of the top of the neckline as this will be visible once folded back up.

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Fold the bias over and pin in place.  Make sure that the underneath layer is at least as far over as the top, that way you will catch both layers when sewing from the top side.

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Fold over the ends of the bias like above.

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Sew from one folded end all the way to the other, stay nice and close to the edge.  Being careful to catch both layers.  If you are having trouble catching both layers you can zigzag this instead!

And repeat for on the other side!

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And there you have a gorgeous light and breezy summer dress for your little girl!  Looks so cute and comfortable I want to wear one!  Somehow I don’t think the cute factor would carry over to adult sizes!

4 thoughts on “Stella Summer Dress

  1. Thanks for you kind comment Catia! I love making little girls clothes ♥ I make them for friends kids and family too. My daughter is getting a little big (7) for most of the little things now. Yay for Nieces!

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