My daughter Jaime gave me a sewing machine last Christmas, it came with strings attached, lol!  In this case it came with a list of sewing projects she wanted me to make for her house and her son Jett.   She reminded me that I sewed all their Halloween costumes when they were kids, so of course I’ve been appointed to make or sew the grandchildren’s costumes and more!

Now I haven’t sewn in years.  At one time I owned the “top of the line” Bernina sewing machine, I really don’t recall whatever happened to it, most likely sold at a garage sale when we moved to Texas back in the early Nineties.  So the new Singer she gave me was pretty intimidating, it had all sorts of features, many my old Bernina didn’t have.  It took me several weeks before I took my new sewing machine out of the box, and 5 months before I even dared to use it.  I had to read the instructions booklet and watch the video it came with before I felt confident enough to attempt my first sewing project.  I really needed to get the hang of sewing again!

dressFor my first project I wanted to keep it simple.  I made this Appliqued Ladybug Toddler Sundress for my granddaughter Harper.  I know appliqueing is hardly simple, I’d never really mastered the art, but the sundress itself is super easy.  You don’t even need a pattern!  I used to make these dresses for my daughters’  hula classes whenever they had a show.  I’ve made countless of them.

And since I was making it for one year old Harper all it took was a fat quarter and some remnants I found at Walmart.  This cute sundress cost me less than $5 and I have fabric scraps left over for other projects.

Really the most challenging part for me was figuring out how to set the size on the “Satin” stitch so that I could applique.  That is after I figured out that what was called the “zig-zag” stitch on my Bernina is now call the satin stitch. How things have changed!

Anyway appliques aren’t as difficult as I thought, specially now that I used Heat N’ Bond iron-on adhesive to “tack on” the applique before I stitched it on.  In fact if you use Heat N’ Bond (or Pellon iron-on adhesive) you don’t have to stitch the applique at all; however if you don’t stitch around the edges the applique will fray as time goes by.  Besides I like the finished look of the stitching.

For this sundress I also inserted a red band at the bottom, I like that pop of red and I feel it ties the dress together.  I cut the leaf and ladybug out of fabric on my Cricut Explore Air, but if you don’t have a die cut machine you can easily cut it out by hand.   I was so pleased with the way this dress turned out I wanted to share it with you.

CaptureYou can download the template for the applique by clicking here![spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

The Best Machine for DIY Projects




[spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

So here’s what you need for this project and how to make it for your little princess!  You can adjust the size easily by cutting more or less material.

The finished measurements of this dress is 20″ around the top and 16″ in length.


1 fat quarter (more yardage for larger dresses) of main color – I used the black polka dot

30″ long x 3″ wide strip of contrasting color – I used red

(4) 10″ long x 3″ wide strips of main color or coordinating fabric for the shoulder ties – I used black

Green, Red, and Black fabric scraps measuring at least 6×6 for the applique

Heat N’ Bond or Pellon iron-on adhesive – if you’re using Pellon brand make sure you get the one with double sided adhesive.

Matching threads

3/4″ wide elastic

How to:

Measure your child around her chest just under her armpits.  Then measure the length from armpit to the length you want.

Download the applique template and save it to your desktop.  If you are cutting it on a die cut machine you can upload the template to your design app you can resize it if needed; if you will be cutting it out by hand download and save the template to your desktop, you can resize it if needed by uploading it to a photo editor like photoshop, print it, you can pin the pieces to your fabric and cut out the fabric shapes.

Cut main fabric width 1 1/2 times the chest measurement.  Cut length to desired length MINUS 3 1/2″.  For this size my width was 30″ and length 13 1/2″.  This is your main dress piece.

Cut a strip of main color equal to 1 1/2 times the chest measurement and 3″ wide.  This is the bottom band and should be the same length as the width of your main piece above.

Cut out your contrasting fabric to the same length as the main color strip above but 4″ wide.

Cut 4 strips for the ties 10″ long x 3″ wide.

Appliqued Ladybug toddler sundressIron on the Heat N’ Bond to the green, red, and black fabric squares by following the instructions on the package.

Cut the stabilized fabrics in your cutting machine, be sure the paper side is facing up OR pin the pieces to the fabrics and cut out by hand.  Set aside until you’re ready to use them. [ spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

Appliqued ladybug toddler sundressPin the contrasting band of fabric to the bottom of your main dress piece, right sides together.  Stitch band to the dress piece, 1/2″ from edge for a 1/2″ seam.

Front side of band stitched to main dress piece

Pin the strip of main color to the contrasting band, right sides together. Stitch as you did above.

Front side after main color band is stitched on

Iron the seams open to flatten

Measure 2 1/2″ from the top of the main dress piece.  Fold over and pin in place.  Stitch across 1/2″ from the fold edge.[spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

Stitch across 1/4″ from edge of the top fold.

Then stitch across 1″ from the top edge to form a pocket.  You will have 2 pockets;a smaller one between the top edge and the line of stitches you just made; and between that and the bottom of the fold.  The elastic will be threaded thru the second pocket from the top.

Peel paper backing off the green leaf shaped fabric and iron on to front of the dress fabric, place it off center, the seam will be in the center back of the dress.[spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]
Iron on the black ladybug shape slightly overlapping the green leaf.[spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

Iron on the red wings on top of the black ladybug.  Then iron on the black spots.  You don’t need to stitch the small spots, the Heat N’ Bond will keep them in place permanently.[spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

Using a satin stitch and the correct sewing machine foot stitch around the edges of the pieces using matching colors.  Green around the leaf and black around the entire ladybug.[spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

Cut elastic 1″ less than chest measurement.  Thread thru the second pocket from the top edge (the first pocket is the ruffle) Adjust ruffles as you thread elastic and distribute them evenly.  Stitch both ends of elastic in place.

Pin dress edges right sides together matching the seams of both bands.  Stitch together.

Hem the bottom with a narrow hem, 1/2 – 3/4″

Fold a tie strip in half lengthwise right sides together.  Stitch along the length and on one end.  Leave other end open for turning.

Turn right side out.  Repeat for remaining tie strips.  Iron all strips flat.

Stitch tie strips to dress; 2 strips on each side of the front and 2 on the back.  Align the strips front and back.

Trim threads and you’re done!  I know it seems like a lot of steps, that’s because of the contrasting strip.  If you don’t want to put that strip in just cut the main dress piece to the length you want and hem.