Fun in the Sun{dress}: Oceanside Lace Dress Tutorial

This dress was a guest tutorial over at iCandy for their Fun in the Sun{dress} series.


I’m expecting #2 (as you can tell), so I wanted to do a fun dress that would accommodate my ever growing belly. I decided to stick with a basic concept and add the lace embellishments to make it different.

I ended up adding a sash as well because when you have a big belly, these kind of things help make more of a shape.


It’s created from rectangular pieces of fabric with shirring on the back to bring it in.


Now let’s get started with what you need to make your very own Oceanside Lace Dress:

-Lightweight fabric (see further below for how I figured out how much I needed)
-Elastic thread for shirring
-All the other wonderful things needed to sew
-Find a lace that has flowers in it. I hit up a thrift store and found this curtain panel for $1. Try to find a piece that has as many flowers on it as possible.


1. Begin by cutting out the flowers from the lace. This was the most tedious part, but it goes by quick if you do it while watching tv or something.


2. Cut out fabric for the dress. You will need:
-1 front lining piece
-1 front outside piece
-1 back lining piece
-1 back outside piece
-2 short layer bottom pieces
-2 long layer bottom pieces

The 4 pieces for the top are all the same size, but you might want to make the width of the back pieces a little smaller than I did. I found it to be a little big. Here is how I figured out the size of the pieces.

a. Measure your chest and write down the measurement. Then determine how high you want the piece to be for coverage (make sure to include seam allowance on the top an bottom. My chest was 38″. I decided that I wanted the front lace piece to come around to my back, so I choose to make the panel 24″ wide. I also decided for the coverage I wanted the height to be 7″ tall. This means I cut 4 pieces of fabric that measured 7″ tall by 24″ wide.

b. For all 4 bottom pieces, they will have the same width but different heights. To find the width, double the width of the top piece. Mine was 24″ wide, so doubled it makes it 48″ wide. Then I measured how long I wanted the bottom layer to be, including seam allowance. I made the top shorter layer a few inches shorter. Here is what I came up with:
Top layer: 2 pieces that measured 48″ wide by 25″ tall
Bottom layer: 2 pieces that measured 48″ wide by 27″ tall

*Now, if you are not preggers, you can make the width length of the bottom pieces shorter. I wanted to make sure I had plenty of room, and boy did I even with a big belly.

3. Take the front lining and front outside piece. Pin together right sides facing. Sew together across the top.


4. Turn right side out and iron so that the seam is at the top. Then top stitch across.


5. Repeat #3 and #4 for the back pieces as well.

6. Take the front top and pin on the lace flowers. Then sew them on. I just sewed them on at the very middle of each flower. You could also do this one at a time if you want. Whatever is easiest :)


7. Now place the two layers for the front bottom together, both right sides up, with the shorter piece on top. Pin together and machine baste across the top.


8. Gather the fabric by pulling the thread from the bobbin (this creates the ruffle look). Then spread the gathers out evenly so that it is exactly the same length as the front top. Then pin the gathered bottom to the front top, right sides facing (the raw edge of the front top will be pinned to the top of the front bottom).


9. Then sew the top to the bottom piece.


10. Repeat #7-9 for the back front and bottom pieces as well.

11. Now pin the front to the back, right sides facing, matching it up. Then sew ONLY the top sides together. Finish the raw edges if you like.


12. Now take the short top layer and pin those sides together. Do this for the right and left side of the dress. Then sew together.


13. Now push the sides you just sewed in and pin the bottom layer sides together. Sew them together the same way. Finish any raw edges for the two layers if you like.

14. It’s a good time to shirr now (here is a good shirring tutorial). I just shirred on the back panel. Each row was about 1/4″ apart. I started at the top and kept going until I ran out of room. After you have shirred it, use the steam from your iron to shrink in the elastic even more. It doesn’t effect the elasticity, it just brings it in more. I just puff the steam over it.


15. I left the bottom edges raw, but you can hem them if you like. For each layer, turn the edge under 1/4″ and iron. Then turn under 1/4″ again, iron, and pin. Sew in place all the way around.


Now your dress is all done. Add some fun accessories and off you go!


It was a pleasure to be able to join in Fun in the Sun{dress}! Thank you so much for having me :)
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  1. says

    I love this tutorial and I’m in the process of creating my own dress like this! I’m not prgnant but I love the style and it’s versatile for whenever I am pregnant! :) I’ve added a link on my blog of this for my favorite DIY projects, and I’ll be sure to post pictures when I’m done!! (Hopefully before my upcoming trip to the ocean!)

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. says

    thanks. i’m a little confused about how you used the 38″ bust to determine a panel width of 24″ each. does the shirring really shrink it that much? (obviously, i’ve never tried shirring before. :) )

  3. says

    lol. Well, I didn’t really use an exact science for this one :) The fabric I used was very thin, so yes, it comes in a lot (especially if you steam over the elastic from the iron after you sew it). A lot of patterns suggests doubling the bust width for a shirred top, but I find that is too much, so I made mine not quite the 76″ that it could have been all the way around. Hopefully that makes sense :) The fabric width effects how well it gathers in as well. So if using a thicker fabric, I might even try less fabric width.

  4. says

    awesome. thanks so much!

    i’m working on a version of the dress now. i’ll let you know how it turns out! thanks again for sharing. i love the variety and quality of your posts. =)

    • says

      Ok, thanks! I am in the process of making one now. I am thinking of making lace straps since I didn’t have as much fabric as I had hoped for. I plan on attaching the straps with tiny snaps so I can easily nurse with it too! But I like the tie option too. Thanks!

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