As the nights get lighter and lockdown slowly lifts here in the UK, we’re celebrating the season of DIY summer dresses with this collection of our favourite sundress patterns. We’ve rounded up the best patterns for lightweight garments to sew your own style this summer.
From spaghetti straps to classic linen shifts, beach cover-ups to refashioning projects, we’ve filled this article with patterns for all skill levels, from beginners to experienced dressmakers, and with styles to suit all shapes and sizes. We’ve scoured the collections of our favourite sewing pattern brands, alongside our pick of the best summer patterns from our own collection of free projects here on Gathered. Pick your favourite summer dress looks, from ruffles to button-fronts, grown-on sleeves to cute collars. Read on to dive into a sunny range of patterns from classic sundresses to the maxi dress summer staples.
How to make a halter dress
This beginner-friendly summer dressmaking pattern can be refashioned from large scarves or or jersey fabric of your choice. Karoline Dahrling shows you how to make a colour block halter dress with a halter neck strap and gathered elastic bodice at the front.
Vogue Very Easy A-Line Dress Pattern
Whip up your very own DIY summer dress with Vogue pattern 9100 – a knee-length dress with a scoop neck, shoulder straps, a cinched waist and a zip fastening on the reverse. You’ll get to practise sewing slanted side pockets and a flared skirt.
Gelato Blouse and Dress Sewing Pattern: Liesl and Co
Make your own relaxed pull-on peplum blouse and A-line dress with a scooped neck and bust darts. Sew it as a blouse with a ruffled peplum and sleeve along with button-placket at the back. Or make it as an A-line dress including short sleeves, double-welt angled front pockets and a centre-back seam. Good news if you like the look of this verstalie pattern – it comes with detailed nstructions including how to doa full bust adjustment. Make it in sizes UK 8-30, US 4-28, EU 36-60.
- Buy it now (The Fold Line, £14–21)
Tilly and the Buttons: Stevie Tunic
Stevie is an easy-fitting modern tunic that’s a breeze to sew and wear this summer. Sew it as a top or above-the-knee dress using light to medium weight fabrics, such as gorgeous linens. With no darts, zips or set-in sleeves, it’s a great summer sewing project for sewing newbies, or a satisfying speedy sew for more experienced stitchers.
• Sizes range from a UK 6-20, available as a PDF or paper pattern. Buy it now (John Lewis)
Style Arc: Ariana Dress
Style Arc’s sun dress with a fitted shaped bodice and full skirt has a laid-back ’90s vibe. The Ariana Dress sewing pattern was released earlier this year, and is the perfect 90s-inspired strappy sun dress. It features a button through front, fitted bodice with a shirred back panel (which makes fitting easier), and a full skirt that will skim over your hips. If you don’t fancy having elastic in the back and you’re a confident sewist, you could re-draft this to have a plain back. Add the optional patch pockets and you have the perfect dress for summer picnics, trips to the beach or evening drinks. We’d recommend trying this pattern in cotton lawn or viscose as you’ll want some drape to the skirt.
We’ve spied some great versions of this dress popping up on Instagram, and we’ve fallen in love with @seammachine’s version using Anna Maria Horner’s ‘Helios’ print fabric, which is covered with flying Pegasus. This dress need to be in your summer sewing projects collection.
- Available as PDF or printed pattern, sizes 4-30 (AUS) / 8-34 (UK) at: www.stylearc.com
The Rosa Dress: Simply Sewing
This summer frock is vintage-inspired, oh-so-swishable and a breeze to make and wear, with a button fastening, lining, strap tabs (to create that pretty sweetheart neckline) and a gathered skirt – plus an optional hemline ruffle for added flounce! Make it in lightweight fabrics such as cotton, cotton lawn, crepe or rayon to keep you cool. There’s plenty of fabrics covered in summer patterns so you can truly wear the season. The Rosa Dress sewing pattern comes in UK sizes 6-20 (US 4-18/EUR 34-38).
- Download the PDF pattern in the Simply Sewing Etsy store.
Closet Case Patterns: Charlie Caftan
This on-trend kaftan sewing pattern is both elegant and relaxed all at the same time. Imagine wearing this by the poolside, cocktail in hand as the sun sets, or slipping into it after work for a drink in the garden!
The dramatic kimono sleeves make a real statement and will flatter most body shapes. We think this would look spectacular made up in a bold-print, bright viscose or even a cotton for a more structured look, which would benefit the pleats in the front.
Sew easy beach cover up
It isn’t a holiday without a lightweight kimono and this free summer sewing pattern is so easy to follow – no pattern required! Make yours from a lightweight material featuring summer patterns and prints then take it on your next getaway.
The Lola Dress, Simply Sewing
We couldn’t resist including one or two of our own here. We just love this easy-to-sew maxi dress sewing pattern, first seen in Simply Sewing magazine. Make yours with simple spaghetti straps or elegant off-the-shoulder sleeves, pick a drapey cotton, viscose or crepe for maximum swish-factor and a colourful summer pattern so you can spread sunshine where ever you swish! This pattern comes in UK sizes 6 to 20 and is available as a digital PDF sewing pattern for £8.99 in Simply Sewing’s Etsy store.
- Head over to the Simply Sewing Etsy store store to download it and start sewing
Make your own wrap dress
Portia Lawrie has designed this great free tutorial up here on Gathered for how to sew your own wrap dress, with a DIY pattern made to fit your measurements!
The Rosie Dress: Sew Over It
Sew Over It’s ultimate summer dress is fun and flirty with a good dose of 1950s inspiration. With it’s fitted bodice and full skirt, you’ll learn how to sew a boned, princess seamed bodice and a full skirt featuring a box pleat at the front, and flattering gathers at the sides and back. Get ready to insert an invisible zip at the back. Choose between three pattern variations – firstly try it with a vintage colour and wider straps for a vintage look, secondly opt for a gentle sweetheart neckline and dainty rouleau straps or go for version 3 – a versatile skirt that will see you all the way through to Autumn.
- Available as a PDF for £13. Shop the pattern at: sewoverit.co.uk
Victory Patterns: Simone Top and Dress
The Simone is a summer sewing pattern that has that extra wow factor – add a contrasting placket and tab detail with pleats to create fullness. We love the fitted neckline, opening at the front and secured with a hook and eye. The back features a contrasting racer-cut yoke. Make it as a dress with asymmetrical hemline or try it as a tank top.
Buy the paper pattern from Victory Patterns for $16.00 at victorypatterns.com
The Simone Top and Dress Pattern © Victory Patterns
The Vivian Dress: Simply Sewing
If you’re looking for a feminine and versatile summer dress pattern, meet Vivian. The sleeveless version is the perfect DIY dress for your summer wardrobe – wear it with sandals for a day out or dressed up with wedges and a belt for an evening garden party. The long-sleeved version will take you through many an outdoor catch-up through to autumn. The Vivian Dress is designed for light- to medium-weight fabrics, ideally with a bit of drape.
- Buy the PDF pattern now in the Simply Sewing Etsy store
Refashion a t-shirt into a DIY summer dress
We love an upcycling project and this simple make from Jenny Jones and Simply Sewing is worthy of The Great British Sewing Bee‘s transformation challenge! Grab a large t-shirt and follow our step by step guide with this tee-to-dress refashion.
The Lara Dress: NH Patterns
Sew a DIY strappy summer dress pattern with hundreds of rave Etsy reviews – this me-made sundress features a full lining, invisible zip at the back, princess seam bodice, waist darts, and adjustable straps. It’s an intermediate make so you may need a few previous dressmaking projects under your belt before you give it a go. You’ll need to know how to sew darts, insert an invisible zip and under stitch. This pattern comes in UK sizes 4-18.
- Buy it now (Etsy, £8.40)
Sew your own maxi dress
Portia Lawrie’s step-by-step jersey maxi project from Simply Sewing is all you’ll want to wear this spring. This is a patternless project, so we’ll show you how to make it to fit your measurements.
Shift Linen Dress Pattern: Ann Normandy Patterns
DIY summer dresses don’t come more classic than this A-line, sleeveless shift dress pattern. This knee-length dress has an eye-catching square and v neck and (happy days) pockets. Make it as a cool and casual summer dress or dress it up for special occasions. It comes in sizes Small to Extra Large and is drafted with C cup (head over to the Etsy listing for details).
Get the pattern (£15.31, Etsy)
New Look Misses Button Front Dress
Button-front dresses are set to be huge this summer and now you can make your own with an elastic waist to add shape with New Look’s Sewing Pattern N6651. Make it in sizes 10 to 22 and choose between two versions with different collar and sleeve options. While the option with sleeves is pictured below, you can easily switch versions to go with a sleeveless alternative for warmer days. Make it in challis, chambray, crepe de chine, linen blends or poplin.
- Buy it now (Amazon, £8)
Island Flouncer: Weekend Designer
Draft your own pattern to sew a fun and summery sundress with spaghetti straps and ruffled hem with the step by step instructions over at Weekend Designer.
Patternless dress in a day project
If you’re new to dressmaking, we’ve got a free tutorial for you with Karoline Dahrling’s video guide for how to make an easy jersey DIY summer dress using a patternless two piece method (use your favourite top as the template rather than a traditional pattern).
Plus try these other favourite summer patterns
Helen’s Closet: Winslow Culottes
Make these swishy culottes as full length palazzo pants, as shorts or anywhere in between for an effortless, summer look. Your fabric choice can create a real impact with these versatile culottes: we think making the full length version in plain black viscose will create a sleek and elegant look, whereas using a light denim or cotton twill on the shorter lengths will make a more relaxed but structured look.
Available as a PDF download for US $14 at helenscloset.ca
Not sure if culottes are your thing? Take a look at 500+ and counting versions of this pattern on Instagram #winslowculottes and you’ll see how adaptable and wearable these are on all sorts of body shapes and in all kinds of style. Pair your Winslow Culottes with a simple, but classic True/Bias Ogden Cami, or the Sew Over It’s Silk Cami Top.
How to make a child’s sunhat
Whip up a quick DIY summer accessory for children aged 6 months to 7 years with this free sunhat sewing pattern by Kirsty Hartley.
Make your own harem pants
Pick your favourite jazzy print fabric for the sunniest of summer wardrobe essentials with Jennie Jones’ quick-sew tutorial to how to make your own harem pants.
Bunting sewing pattern
We’ve focused mainly on garments and dressmaking patterns in this post, but we couldn’t have a summer sewing guide without mentioning the most cheerful sewing project out there… why not whip up some bunting from your leftover fabric scraps?
Jennie Jones: Bento bag
This simple pattern Bento bag can be made up into a myriad of different looks by just switching up the fabric. Choose navy and cream or red for a classic nautical vibe, or colourful, summer patterns for your new go-to beach bag. The tutorial by Jennie Jones is up for free on Gathered.
For the ultimate in sunny day projects, Jennie Jones and Simply Sewing show you how to sew a lined sunglasses case.
DIY crochet sandals
OK, so this bright and cheery sandal project doesn’t include any sewing but we’re including it anyway as it may well be the most summery make on our whole website! Give a plain pair of sandals a crochet revamp with our step by step tutorial from Sara Huntington.
Share your summer makes with us
What’s on your sewing table this summer? Have we missed out your favourite summer pattern in this post? Tell us about it! There’s nothing we love more than a sneaky peek at your me-mades, so make our day and tag us with your photos on social media #simplysewingmag.