Perfect Beach Dress for Summer Fun

perfect beach dressThe town where I grew up sits in a valley over a mile (1800 meters) above sea level and surrounded by mountains.  But if you found it on a map, you'd see we were not really too far from the sea.  From time to time, we went to the beach in the back of a big pickup truck.  It was the same one they used to move the cattle, horses, and chickens to the abattoir, so it was pretty rustic.

On the way from my small town to the beach, we would pick a few of my cousins on the way.  When I say “a few” cousins, I mean until the pickup truck was full.  It only really took 3 or 4 stops to fill the truck because as it happens, I have 68 cousins, if you can believe it, and filling almost anything with my family isn't really all that hard..

It took two hours to get to the beach, a bit more if we had to get out of the truck to say hello to the aunts and uncles, but eventually, we would arrive to play in the waves and the surf.  We would only come out of the sea to quickly to dress and get the truck back home.

Perfect Beach Dress

Even today, much of the coast of Panama is devoid of human population and you can still find beaches where you will be the only one there.  So needless to say, there are no dressing rooms and you learn to do “your business” before you arrive at the beach.  That is why stopping to pick a few cousins was very handy and convenient indeed.

Because of the lack of facilities, we also learned to dress and to remove certain pieces of clothing without the need of getting completely naked.  Of course, we had to keep on the bottom part of the bikini.  We often wore this under our cut-off shorts made from jeans that were passed down from a bigger sister or cousin.  Unfortunately, those cut-off shorts never dried in time for the trip back home.  Going from a sea-level, tropical beach back to the mountains in the back of the truck is not exactly the most comfortable trip as you can imagine.  It was clear to me that I needed a dress that was not too short and not too long, that I could wear over my bathing suit and still be able to dry quickly.

Perfect Beach Dress

The Perfect Beach Dress is an A-line dress, meant to be worn over your swimsuit and it falls above the knee.  I have made this dress for myself in a few colors.  It's my “go to” dress when I come back from the beach and I need to swing by the store or stop for a quick dinner before going home.  It's the perfect beach dress to walk back from the pool to your cabin on a cruise or for sitting under the thatched roof of a beach bar.  It truly is very easy to make, even my mother had one.


  • 2 to 2.5 yards of fabric of your choice not too thick and with good drapability.  Here are some fabric options:  Batik turtles, Batik stars, and Challis black
  • 3 -5 depending on size yards of 2″ bias tape.  I made my own.
  • thread to match
  • a 2″ wooden or plastic ring
  • clear plastic strap slider adjusters.  I used these.
  • sewing machine
  • zipper foot (optional)

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Pattern Layoutperfect beach dress

Finished Garment Measurements

perfect beach dress

Step One:  Cut the pattern

You will need to sew three pieces of fabric.

Cut two of the back and one of the front on the fold.

Step Two:  Sewing the Perfect Beach Dress

Use a French seam to sew the two back pieces together,perfect beach dress then sew the sides.perfect beach dress Here is a useful tutorial if you don't know How to sew a French Seam.

How to sew a French Seam, the best seam for delicate fabrics

If you are not using a French seam, keep your seam allowance at 5/8″

Step Three:  Making your bias tape

We're going to use bias tape in two parts of the dress –along the front neckline and back which will also then form the straps of the dress.  We'll start with the front neckline.

Perfect Beach Dress

The fabric I am using is hand dyed and beautiful, so I decided to use the same fabric and make my own bias tape.  With this design the bias tape actually becomes the straps for the dress, so an attractive choice of fabric is important.  If you want to do the same, please check out our tutorial on Making continuous bias binding tape.

Making continuous bias binding tape

Step Four:  Apply bias tape to the front neckline

Gather or make tiny darts to reduce the neckline to 10 inches for sizes XXS, XS, and S. To 12 inches for M, L, and to 13 inches for XL and XXL.  To gather the neckline sew a straight stitch at 1/4″ from the edge.  Sew another beside that stitch at another 1/4″ further in.  Then pull both of the bobbin threads to gather the fabric.  For more guidance on quick and easy gathering, please check out our tutorial.

Quick and easy gathering with Dental Floss!

perfect beach dress

perfect beach dress

Start on the right side of the fabric and pin the bias tape on the right side of the fabric.perfect beach dress Trim the seam allowance by half to reduce the bulk of the fabric.perfect beach dress

Fold the bias tape and sew again on the right side of the fabric. perfect beach dress

Step Five: Attach the bias tape straps

Start by folding the top edge of fabric and iron it.perfect beach dress Pin the long strip of bias tape from the back where the ring will be locatedperfect beach dress and continue to pin all the way to the front.perfect beach dress The bias tape will become the straps for the dress.  Start to sew from the back and continue to sew the whole bias tape transforming the bias tape into the strap for the dress.perfect beach dress

perfect beach dress

Step Six:  Attach the ring

Before we can finish, we have to attach the ring to the back of the dress.

Thread the fabric through the ring, perfect beach dressfold the fabric again another 1/2″ and pin the fabric.perfect beach dress Push the fabric to one side and continue pinning the fabric down.perfect beach dress Take it to the sewing machine and sew at 1/8″.  I found that for this step, it helped to change the foot to a zipper foot to be able to sew closer to the ring.  Please give it a try if you have one.

Perfect Beach Dress

Step Seven: Finishing the Perfect Beach Dress

Thread the slider under perfect beach dressover and under and slide it to the front perfect beach dress

Then thread the strap over the ring through the hole perfect beach dressperfect beach dressand under the bar of the slider.  perfect beach dressThis step is easier if you pull the fabric up then threading the strap under the slider is easier to do. perfect beach dress

Fold the end of the strap to hide the raw edge and sew it down by hand or us your sewing machine. perfect beach dress

Next will be to make a seam for the hem 5/8″ to 1 inch from the edge. perfect beach dressWith the help of your seam ripper or tailor's awl, pull the threads out up to the seam to make a frill.  This raw edge style seems to be so popular now.  perfect beach dress

Perfect Beach Dress

Perfect Beach DressWhen the raw edge style passes though, you can just cut the treads and hem the dress normally.

You are done.  Off to the pool or beach!

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perfect beach dress






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75 Responses to Perfect Beach Dress for Summer Fun

  1. Daphne says:

    I don’t understand how to add the bias tape as your instructions say to sew it on the front both times. Don’t you have to sew it to the back first, right sides together, then fold it over and sew it down on the front?
    This looks great and I’m going to help my granddaughter make it tomorrow, so please explain. Thanks!

  2. Samantha says:

    Love the look of this summer beach dress….perfect for the heat and to wear with my swimmers under.

  3. Virginia Davis says:

    I tried several times to purchase the Perfect Beach Dress, but it would not go through.

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