Home » Casual princess dress for girls (tutorial + free pattern)

Casual princess dress for girls (tutorial + free pattern)

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Learn to make an easy princess dress for little girls. No zippers and no buttonholes involved! A simple sewing project, suitable even for those with only basic sewing skills.

casual princess dress for little girls (+free pattern)

I wanted to make a simple yet spectacular dress for my 2.5-year-old daughter to wear this spring/summer, and this is what I came up with. 

This combination of cotton peasant top with elastic neckline and tulle skirt may seem a bit too much for some of you. That is to say, I’m fully aware that peasant tops are more on the casual side, while the tulle skirts are rather elegant.

But there are also a few indisputable benefits.

A quirky combination that works – a comfy peasant top and a fancy tulle skirt

First, you can make this princess dress even if you are a sewing novice – there are no zippers or buttonholes to make, and not even real curves to sew.

On the other hand, you don’t have to be a beginner to enjoy easy sewing projects.

Some days I see challenges as opportunities for growth. Other days I want to stay in my comfort zone and just indulge in some quick wins. I’m at peace with that.

And second, this casual princess dress has no back or front – most likely, your little girl will be able to put it on without any help. Mine certainly does!

Casual princess dress for girls (tutorial + free pattern)

Actually, this was an important factor when I decided to make this dress. I have a very independent and spirited toddler – she practices self-dressing skills for over a year now, and she loves being able to get dressed alone. And I’m happy to let her take charge of as many of her own activities as possible.

Anyway, I don’t think little girls care about fashion faux-pas, they just want to have fun in comfy clothes and twirl and whirl in their pretty skirts.

Iris is such a sweet, girly-girl and a bit obsessed with princess dresses, and I just take it as it comes. I have so much fun sewing pretty little things for her!

Also, I sewed two mini-scrunchies in the same cotton fabric as the top to make her tiny pigtails. I just love this sweet and simple hairstyle for little girls!

casual princess dress for little girls (+free pattern)

So, here’s how to make this easy peasant princess dress.

Sewing supplies

How to make a casual princess dress with elastic waistband

For the peasant top, cut your fabric pieces on the fold – you need 1 front piece, 1 back piece, and 2 sleeve pieces.

Skirt lining – 1 satin piece – 12 inches long x 40 inches wide.

Tulle skirt – 2 tulle pieces – 12 inches long x 118 inches wide.

You’ll also need about a yard of bias tape and about 55 inches of 1/8 inch wide elastic.

Step 1

First, pin the front of the top and one sleeve to the armhole, with the right sides together. Sew and finish the seams with a serger/zigzag stitch. Repeat with the other sleeve.

Press the seam allowance to one side – I skipped this step and it shows.

Step 2

Next, align the back sleeves and the bodice back to the armhole, right sides together. Sew and finish the seams.

Casual princess dress for girls (tutorial + free pattern)

Step 3

Sew the top together at each side, matching the underarm seams. Finish and press the seams.

Step 4

Serge around the neckline and the bottom of each sleeve.

Step 5

Let’s form the elastic casings. Turn under the edge of each sleeve about ½ inch and sew, leaving a small opening. 

Repeat for the neckline.

Step 6

Sew the side seam of the satin lining with a french seam. More detailed instructions here.

Baste around the top edge of the satin skirt and gather it until it fits around the bottom of the peasant top.

Step 7

Take one of the tulle layers and sew the side seam. Then baste around the top edge and, again, gather it until it fits around the bottom of the peasant top.

 Repeat for the other tulle layer.

Casual princess dress for girls (tutorial + free pattern)

Subsequently, place one tulle layer inside the other, the wrong side of the first layer to the right side of the second. Sew the two layers together.

More detailed instructions in this tutorial.

 Step 8

Next, sew together the tulle layers and the satin lining – wrong side of the second tulle layer to the right side of the satin skirt. 

Step 9

Right sides together, place the tulle skirt inside the peasant top, aligning the edges like in the picture below. Sew and finish the seam.

Step 10

Pin the bias tape along the serged edge of the waistline as shown. Stitch along the folded crease of the tape.

When I got back to where I started, I joined bias binding ends using this simple method.

Next, sew the other edge of your bias tape to the peasant top. Make sure to leave a 1-inch to 2-inch opening to insert the elastic.

Casual princess dress for girls (tutorial + free pattern)

Step 11

Hem the satin lining – serge along the raw edge of the hem, then fold the hem at 1/4” towards the inside of the skirt and stitch.

After that, iron down the hem for a nice, clean finish. I’m so busted!…

Step 12

Now cut 4 pieces of elastic, as follows:

  • For the neckline, I used approx. 16 inches of 1/8 inch wide elastic.
  • For the sleeves – 8 or 8 ½ inches in length.
  • And for the waistline – Wrap a piece of elastic around your child’s waistline and add 2-3 inches to this measurement before you cut it. (1/4 inch wide elastic is fine, too. Just make sure the casing can accomodate it).

Insert the elastic through the opening using a safety pin and stitch the overlapped elastic ends by hand.

Casual princess dress for girls (tutorial + free pattern)

And that’s all, this DIY casual princess dress is now ready to wear!

casual princess dress for little girls (+free pattern)

Post scriptum

On a side note – at first, I was so excited to finally find a use for one of my ugly fabrics – I decided to transform it into bias tape. Pure genius, I thought.

And then I read this post and I totally agree with everything in it. However, as you might imagine, it left me feeling a bit deflated. That bias tape is still ugly and details really matter.

In fact, I was on the verge of giving up on writing this tutorial, but I managed to bounce back.

I can’t just sit around and worry about the new coronavirus all the time, can I?

And I always sew what I like at the moment, so there is little chance that I make another casual princess dress for my little girl anytime soon.

However, when I’m ready to redo it, I’ll try and make sure I take better pictures, use some nice bias tape and press all the seams. But I still love this simple princess dress, and so does my daughter.

Did you find this tutorial helpful? I’d like to hear what you think of it! And I would LOVE to see pictures if you give this DIY casual princess dress a try.

6 thoughts on “Casual princess dress for girls (tutorial + free pattern)”

  1. Hi I am searching for a pattern template for an Elsa dress to make for my granddaughter 6 yrs old. It is a surprise for her birthday so I dont want to measure her. If you have every made one for your daughters I would love to be able to copy it with chest and height measurements. I dont want to cut the fabric and it go to waste if it all goes wrong as I’m not sure what fabric to use for the bodice, if its lining and ney over. Please can you help I would appreciate it. Thank You.Ann

    • Hi Ann,
      I think an Elsa dress is a wonderful idea! Unfortunately, I don’t have a template for 6 yo, but I would recommend this site – https://www.scatteredthoughtsofacraftymom.com/howtomakeapeasantdress/ – there’s a free pdf dress pattern and tutorial, available in size 12 months to size 14. Just shorten the dress and attach a tulle skirt, as I did here. It would be better if you already had a dress of your granddaughter’s, just so you know where the waistline is and how long to make the finished dress. Besides that, there’s no need for other measurements. I’d use a plain blue cotton fabric for the bodice, but that’s up to you. Good luck!

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your ideas on these darling clothes you have made. Can you tell me the measurements of the little girl you used this pattern for so that I’ll have an idea if it will fit my granddaughter?

    • Hi Debbie,
      I’m so glad you consider making this dress! Thank you!
      To answer your question, when I made this dress my daughter was 35 inches tall, now is 36 inches tall, and the dress still fits her very well – in fact, I expect her to wear it the next year, too. Her weight is average, I guess, for her age.
      As for the (hand-drafted) pattern, the dress’ circumference at the waist (where the cotton top ends and the tulle skirt begins) is around 31 inches – while the average waist size for 2/3 years-old kids is 21 inches, hence the need for the elastic. I hope this helps!

  3. Thank you for this great idea! I’ll be recommending it in my blog and when I add to some of the facebook groups I use. Just one minor little detail: on page 3 of your pattern, the pattern piece has been flipped horizontally, which might confuse less experienced sewists. If it’s not too difficult to correct the pattern, it would be a good idea to do it. Otherwise, what I’ve done, is to cut the bit on page 3 out before sticking the pages together, and flipped it over, then stuck it on to page 2. Now to see what I’ve got in my stash!

    • Wow! Thank you so much, Sheila!
      And yes, I will correct the pattern right away. My bad, I scanned the PDF late at night and I forgot to check it out.
      I love discovering new blogs and you’ve made so many pretty dresses. Heading off to your blog right now! <3


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