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)

Fabric Suggestions from

Download the Pattern

Opt In Image
Download the Free Pattern

You can download the pattern for this Perfect Beach Dress from our account at Payhip.

For help downloading and printing PDF patterns, please CLICK HERE.

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!

If You'd Like To Support Our Site

If you want to help us continue to bring you a wide selection of free sewing patterns and projects, please consider buying us a coffee.  We'd really, really appreciate it.


perfect beach dress






Bookmark the permalink.

75 Responses to Perfect Beach Dress for Summer Fun

  1. Debbie says:

    Thanks for sharing your story. It brought back many happy memories of summers spent with my cousins.

  2. Karen says:

    This looks great. I can’t wait to make it. Thank you!

  3. Renee Monahan says:

    I can’t find page 16 on the download. Please help. I LOVE this pattern and have already purchased the material, so of course I must make it. 🙂
    Thank you.

  4. joan marencik says:

    having trouble getting pattern to perfect beach dress. I go to check out then stalls ( wont connect to purchase). Love this dress. Vacation coming up.

  5. DJ LanthierRismondo says:

    Will certainly try it, looks easy and cool

  6. Michelle says:

    Wow 68 cousins! My family is so much smaller, in part because my grandparents on one side were immigrants from different countries and only had one child.

    I did however grow up going to the beach every day during the summer. I am so lucky to live on the BC Coast.

    Thank you for making this pattern in larger sizes. As bigger woman most beach over ups stop at about a size 12. Apparently retailers do not feel that larger women should be wearing swim suits or going to the beach.

    I will be making this for myself and perhaps a much smaller one for my beautiful daughter.

  7. Gail says:

    I will definitely be sending for this pattern, so much fun! Beach time is great.

    • RD says:

      Love this! I’ve got a question. Since Both halves of the back are symmetrical, (I’m sure it’s my inexperience here) aren’t we essentially cutting the back piece apart only to sew it back together with the French seam? Is it a cosmetic thing? Can I just keep it as one piece or is that seam necessary?


      • Mayra Cecilia says:

        Great comment, I am using hand woven and printed silk batik fabric which comes only at 36″ wide hence the seam in the back. You can have just add the seam-allowance and make it on a fold.

  8. Duane says:

    Love this pattern. One question though, I notice than the pattern is scaled down in the PDF. Should this be at 100% when we print it out?

    • Mayra Cecilia says:

      it should be printed on Actual Size, but if the actual size is scaled I think the file is corrupted when transfer from Bluprint. Le t me know if you are able to get to print on actual size. On page two there is a square test.

  9. Stephanie Burton says:

    This is super cute! Would make great graduation gifts for teem girls!

  10. Karen says:

    Your places in Panama sound like El Valle and Rio Mar, or black sand beaches. I grew up near Balboa.

  11. Peggy says:

    Great story and pattern. Sounds like you had a wonderful childhood.

  12. lesa m Kempert says:

    I cannot find the PDF pattern. Where is it?

  13. Leanne says:

    I cannot figure out how to make the 2 straps. I have added the bias tape to the front of the dress, does it now go down the armhole and up the back, then down the back to the other armhole, then one side has a strap and the other doesn’t? Im not understanding how to get 2 straps. Please help!

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      2-5 yards of bias tape depending on the size you are making will be enough to attach bias tape to all the raw edges that become straps.

  14. Rebecka Lindberg says:

    Hi! Are you sure everything is OK with this document? I’ve tried printing it on “Actual Size”, but then it gets heavily cropped and the circles you are supposed to match up falls outside of the paper. The test square is the right size, but parts of the pattern lines goes missing…

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Yes, Rebecca, there is no problem with the document. I have tested the link and it works perfectly.
      Do remember to use Adobe Reader and Actual size.

  15. Katy says:

    its wonderful, but doesnt cover the shoulders for sunburn 🙁

  16. Deb says:

    Thanks so much for another wonderful freebie! Can’t wait to try making this. Your directions are always so detailed and I loved your childhood story. I grew up far away from all of my family, so I love to hear stories like that!

  17. Sarah says:

    Is there a layout somewhere showing how the pattern pieces go together? I’m a little confused about what goes where

  18. Lisa Hook says:

    OMG SO CUTE!!! My daughter will love this and ask for more! How many inches of ease do you recommend? 4″-5″??

  19. Cynthia says:

    Really cute!

  20. Margie says:

    Loved your beach story Mayra, it must have been great fun with all your many cousins!!!! Thank you for sharing all the lovely stories, patterns and advice that you do!!!

  21. Regis tania says:

    Thanks for the tutorial. I usually save the project for later. But as I am on holiday I wanted to give it a try . Quick and Easy sewing. 2 yards of bias wasn’t enough and I had to add some more. I love my dress. Tanx Gloria.

  22. Sarah says:

    Having trouble with straps. I don’t see where it tells what to do With the two 4×22″ pieces it said to cut with the pattern? The 2 yds of bias I made is plenty for the armholes and front but not straps. Please help as I’m trying to make this for my daughter going on cruise next week.

  23. goingtolosebig says:

    Adorable dress! Thank you for the pattern! I’ll be making a few of these for my beach season next year!

  24. Gloria Young says:

    Mayra, I forgot to add that my niece & I used quick drying nail polish to paint our wooden rings to match to our fabrics. Then we put a clear quick drying top coat on to seal it. I hope the color lasts through the many washings these comfortable & attractive dresses will go through. I’ve had so many compliments everytime I wear one of these!

  25. Gloria Young says:

    Mayra, Thank you so much for this pattern! I made one for myself &my 13-year-old niece liked it so much, she made one, too, with just a bit of help from me (I’ve been sewing with her since she was 6-years old). And I made another for myself while she sewed hers.

  26. gail says:

    awesome bath suit cover up, made it in a day… I used swim suit / dance fabric turned out beautiful. thank you very much, I’m 5′ 4″ 150 lbs made the large, might add 1-2 inches on hem next time but fits perfect and sewed up nicely. great tutorial very EZ to follow instructions!!! A+ you go girl… will make more… love it

  27. cha says:

    i cannot print the pattern 🙁

  28. Debi says:

    Help! I’ve printed this pattern twice, the test square measures exactly but my pattern pieces just don’t line up properly. I really want to make a couple of these for out at camp to hang out in

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Not sure what is going on. The only thing I can think off is that perhaps you are printing on landscape and it is supposed to be on Portrait. Let me know if this is so. Make sure you are using adobe reader to download and print the pattern.

    • Rebecka Lindberg says:

      Same problem here Debi, test square is OK but parts of the lines have disappeared outside of the sheets of paper 🙁

  29. Mary says:

    Hi. Everything went as predicted until I got to the bias trim/shoulder straps. 22″ doesn’t come near the length I need, yet the pattern pieces match for a size M. What am I missing? I’ve read the instructions … I think I’m on my 50th time … and still can’t figure out where I went wrong and I don’t see how you can help.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Mary, 22″ inches is not enough to go around the armhole, back and shoulders, you need 44 inches of bias tape per side. I will make this point clearer, so others can avoid the having the same problem. Thank you for your comments, it helps improve the site and teaches me how to write the tutorials better.
      Kind Regards,

      • Jessica Harrell says:

        I had the same issue and I just downloaded the pattern recently. Is there an updated pattern or instructions that would make it more clear? The pattern I downloaded said you only need 2 yds. of bias tape and that was not near enough so I now need to make more. So how long does the strap lengths need to be for the 2xl size?

        • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

          Hi Jessica, I normally send an email if there is an update on the pattern, The front, armhole and straps are all made with bias tape so please measure thouse areas.

  30. Dennis says:

    great site. plenty of wonderful info. only problem is the pinterest, facebook, google+ twitter links on the left side of the page blocks the text of the instructions. How can I remove them they are in the way and quite annoying.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Dennis, if you download the pattern from Craftsy, it has the full written instructions in PDF format. This may be easier for you. Alternatively, just zoom your screen. Not sure if you’re using a PC or Mac. On Mac it is Command + “-” key that will resize the screen. Hope that helps.

    • Gail says:

      Dennis….if you are using a laptop, PC or whatever – at the bottom of the links you described you will see a grey button with 3 dots in it….hover over it with your cursor and a left pointing arrow appears below the grey circle. Click on the arrow and the links will go away.

  31. Helene E says:

    Just finished the beach dress in a pretty pink peach-skin fabric. This pattern is as perfect and as easy to follow as all the other so-sew-easy-patterns I have used. Thank you so, so much!

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Helene, thank you for making the dress and I really would love to see your finished product, please load a photo on your project section on Craftsy or on our chat group! Cheers!
      Kind Regards, Mayra

  32. Kim Antonsen says:

    Great pattern, thanks! I live in El Valle de Anton, Cocle, Panama. This will be perfect for beach days.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Kim, you live in a beautiful part of Panama, I am from the other “Valle”, El Valle de la Luna, Volcan en Chiriqui; espero que algun dia podamos conocernos. Un saludo muy afectuoso desde Singapore.

  33. Tammy Mattson says:

    I can’t wait to make this! I have some black and some buttercream yellow challis that would work for this. I’m thinking the black this time for my my first one. Now to find some time…..
    Thanks Mayra

  34. Carol says:

    Fabulous pattern, thankyou for sharing. I am going to make a couple to go into Xmas parcels

  35. Lily says:

    Thank you for sharing your story and this great pattern! I can’t wait to make one for myself and one for my daughter.

  36. Bev Gunn says:

    Darling dress. Think my one daughter would relieve me of it once she sees it!

  37. Brenda zinkhon says:

    Ok am I missing something? The pattern is 22 in long where are instructions on how to make it longer?

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Not sure what setting you have but definitely the dress is 30″ long to accommodate for am average 5’7″ tall woman. make sure you are printing on Actual Size, are using adobe reader and a computer.

  38. Trish says:

    Great beach dress, but in the UK you would have to include a cardy to top it off. Thanks for your story of a family visit to the beach. Sounds lovely. 🙂

  39. Lilla says:

    Where did you get that beautiful fabric??

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Lilla, I’ve had this fabric in my stash for a while, so I don’t know where to get it anymore. However, I’ve put some links to a couple of good fabric options in the article if you want to check those out. Thanks for mentioning and happy sewing!

  40. Wendy says:

    Perfect! I can see it as a shirt too!
    Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *