An from StraightGrain is based in Belgium and creates beautiful items for her daughters. An has lots of patterns and tutorials at StraightGrain, and she’s shared here before with her free Bubble Skirt and Honeycomb Smocked Sundress.

An’s new Saudade Sun Dress can also be made into a top, and the tutorial includes a PDF pattern download with sizes 1-10 years! An is also giving away a $60 gift certificate to FabricWorm with your comment at StraightGrain. Hop over and tell An how much you appreciate the free pattern, and while you’re there be sure to check out all of her latest sewing. Beautiful! You can also learn more about An in her updated introduction here.

The Saudade dress is a simple sundress with a sweet pleating details in the front bodice. The pattern comes in sizes 1-10 years, and can be downloaded for free here. The document also includes information on printing, sizing, seam allowances, etc.

If you’d like you can also make the dress without the pleating; simply use the front lining pattern for the main front. You can also make the dress into a top by using shorter skirt panels.

The dress shown here was made in organic cottons from Teagan White’s beautiful Acorn Trail line for Birch (available in poplin, knits, canvas and voile). The coral fabric is called Tonal Floral Shell; the mint fabric is Bugs Tonal Mint.


  • Fabrics, preferably lightweight or medium weight cottons (e.g., voile, poplin, quilting cotton, double gauze, fine linen, lawn…). Exact yardage depends on size, width of fabric (quilting versus broadcloth), whether it contains a print, etc.
  • Saudade Pattern
  • One or two buttons and loops (see Step 10)
  • Iron, scissors, thread, pins

    The order of the steps below may appear somewhat odd at first sight. However, the idea behind it is that you have to change your thread as little as possible (assuming that you will use one fabric for the bodice, and another for the skirt and straps).

    A. The Spaghetti Straps
    1. We’ll start by making the straps. Fold each of the four pieces in half length wise, with right sides together. Stitch the long and one of the short edges with a 1/4″ (0,7 cm) seam allowance, as indicated in the picture below. (Important: do NOT press the fold first.) Turn all four of the right sides out with a chop stick, a thick knitting needle, or another long thin object which is not too sharp.
    Note: If you have trouble turning the straps, try reducing the seam allowance a bit.

    2. Press the straps so they look neat.

    B. The Skirt
    3. We’ll continue with the skirt, as it is in the same fabric as the straps. Serge the left and right edges of both panels. Put the panels with right sides together, and stitch the sides with a 3/8″ (1 cm) seam allowance. Press the seams open.

    4. Next we will finish the hem. Fold the bottom edge to the wrong side by 3/8″ (1 cm) and press. Fold by 3/8″ (1 cm) again and press.
    Note: You can also do this step all the way at the end (after step 17) so that you can first fit the dress on your girl and shorten the skirt if necessary.

    C. The Bodice
    5. Next up is the pleats in the main front bodice piece. The position of each pleat is indicated on the pattern. Create the first pleat by folding the fabric with wrong sides together, right onto the first marks on the top and bottom edge of the bodice piece. Stitch with a 3/8″ (1 cm) seam allowance.
    Note: Be very precise here; if your sewing machine has no 3/8″ (1 cm) mark, you can create one yourself with the help of some masking tape.

    6. Create all other pleats in the same way. The picture below shows what you should end up with. Your piece should now have the exact same dimensions as the front bodice lining.
    Note: As you will notice, there are six pleats in the size 1Y through 3Y bodice, eight pleats in the size 4Y through 7Y bodice, and ten pleats in the size 8Y through 10Y bodice.

    7. Take your iron, and press the top of pleats to one side at the top of the bodice, and to the other side at the bottom. Secure the pleats with a (basting) stitch at 1/4 (0.7 cm) of the top and bottom edges.

    8. Put the main back bodice pieces onto the main front piece, and stitch both side seams with a 3/8″ (1 cm) seam allowance. Press the seams open. Repeat this step for the lining pieces.

    9. Pin the spaghetti straps onto the right side of the main bodice, as indicated on the picture below. Secure with a few stitches at about 1/4″ (0.7 cm) from the top edge. Make sure to stay exactly 3/8″ (1 cm) from the edge of the arm hole, otherwise your straps will get caught up in the seam allowance of the arm hole in Step 11.

    10. Next, secure a loop onto the side edge of one of the back pieces, as indicated in the picture below. Stay least 1/2″ (1.25 cm) from the top edge. The size of the loop depends on the size of your button. If you are afraid the back opening will gape, you can also use two loops and buttons (one at the top, and one halfway).
    Note: Instead of using a loop, I made a little button placket from the fabric of the skirt.

    11. Put the bodice main and bodice lining pieces with right sides together, and stitch all edges except the bottom edge with a 3/8″ (1 cm) seam allowance. Make sure to keep the loop and the ends of the spaghetti straps out of the way, for instance by pinning them onto the bodice.

    12. Trim the corners and clip the curved edges. Turn the entire piece right side out, and press the edges. Depending on your own personal preferences, you can also top stitch the edges.

    13. Close the bottom of the bodice with a (basting) stitch at about 1/4″ (0.7 cm) from the edge. This step is not absolutely necessary, but it will make step 16 a bit easier.

    14. In the finished dress, the idea is for the back pieces to just touch each other, without any overlap. Stitch them together with a temporary basting stitch so that they stay well in place when attaching the skirt to the bodice. I did this with a machine basting stitch, going back and forward to create a kind of zigzag shape, but you can also do this by hand of course.

    D. Attaching the Skirt to the Bodice
    15. Finally, we will gather the skirt onto the bodice. Set your stitch length to maximum. Stitch one line at about 1/4 inch (0.7 cm) on the right side of the top edge of the skirt, all the way around, without stitching forward/backward at the beginning and end of the stitch. Leave long tails of thread. Next, stitch a parallel line at 1/4 inch from the first line, also without stitching forward/backward at beginning and end, and also leaving long tails of thread.

    16. If you would like to learn a neat trick for achieving perfectly spaced gathers, check out this tutorial. If not, gather the fabric by pulling the tails of thread, until the top of the skirt has the same dimensions as the bottom of the bodice. Always pull a pair of tails, never one individual tail. Wind the tails around some pins you insert near the side seams of the skirt.

    17. Next, pin the top of the skirt onto the bottom of the bodice, aligning the side seams. Make sure you divide the gathers equally. Stitch at 3/8″ (1 cm) from the edge.

    18. Finish the seam with a serger or a zigzag stitch, and turn the dress right side out. Finished!

    This post is sponsored by Fabricworm, your source for modern, designer and Japanese import fabrics, perfect for crafts, quilts and home decorators.