ice cream social dress

Since I imagine I’ll be quite busy with a new-ish baby (not to mention the Sadester), around Sadie’s 2nd birthday in August, among other things…I’m trying to get any pre-party planning/tasks out of the way now, while I still have tons of free time. (hah hah)

Included in that list was a birthday dress for the birthday girl. I decided on a ice cream shoppe theme, since she LOVES ice cream (mi meem), and it’s in August…what better thing to serve when it’s hot than ice cream? So I found this remnant piece of fabric at Joann’s the other day for $3 (sah weet), and whipped up another ruffle dress, and took pictures for ya’ll! 

I just love planning a good party. It’s been awhile, but I love it. The colors are strawberry, pistachio, and chocolate, and I’m having a blast working out the little details.

Oh, man…yum! I want some pistachio ice cream. pronto.

Click below for more!

Featured on Craft Gossip!

You’ll need:

fabric: yardage depending on the size of your child, I made this one with just over 3/4 of a yard for my almost two year old. (she still fits in size 12-18 months though)

3/4 inch elastic
1/4 inch elastic
basic sewing things

You’ll need three rectangles of fabric. soo easy! Cut your main piece selvage to selvage (finished edge of fabric), the length you’d like the dress to be from chest down…and add about 3 1/2 inches to that measurement. Mine was 20 1/2 inches.

I cut my sleeve pieces 7″ x 16″, you can always make them less wide or long, however you like it!

Sew your skirt panel together along the selvages, right sides together. No finishing the edges! yay!
Iron it open, or to one side, whatever your preference.

Hem one edge of your skit panel by ironing 1/4 in, then another 1/4, and stitching that down.

Then on the top of your skirt panel, iron over 1/4 inch, and then another 3 inches. (of course, you can make your ruffles shorter if you like!)

Sew along the bottom edge of your casing, leaving about an inch open for your elastic. Then, sew another line around, leaving room for the elastic…I’m just measuring in the picture. I eyeball it, but you could use disappearing ink to mark every so often to make it straight. I guess I’m just a rebel. Or lazy.

Cut your elastic (child’s chest measurement), and using a safety pin, thread it through the casing. I usually pin the other end to the fabric so I don’t accidentally pull it through. Not that I’ve ever done that! (multiple times)

After you pull your elastic through the casing, make sure it hasn’t twisted anywhere, and overlap the ends about 3/4 inch on either end and sew together with a zig zag stich.

this is what you should have now. It makes a cute skirt, no?

Now, fold your sleeve pieces right sides together and stitch along the edge with about 1/4 inch seam.

turn right sides out, and press with the seam like so…this is to hide it as much as possible.

Now for your casing on the sleeve. Sew along the edge of one side, a little more than 1/4 inch. I used my presser foot to guide me.

Then sew another line right next to it, leaving enough space for your 1/4 inch elastic. (again, I used my presser foot.)

Decide how much ruffle you would like and cut the strip down if you desire. Also I trimmed the edges with my pinking shears, but you could finish the edges later with a zig zag stitch or serger.

Also, measure or figure out how long your elastic for the sleeves needs to be, trying it on your child helps…or just wing it like I did. (results may vary) 😉

Using a safety pin, thread your elastic through one end of your casing, and sew the end of your elastic into the casing like so, then repeat on the other end. Ditto for the other sleeve!

So here are your sleeves and skirt. (and some random bias tape…disregard, please)

Now you’ll attach your sleeves, pinning and sewing then down along your stitch for the skirt, as closely as possible to hide the stitch. You may have to mess around with placement, but it’s not (too) hard or annoying to get your seam ripper out and fix it.

Then you’re done! Add a cute bow if you’d like, flower, etc!


  1. That is so cute with the polka dots! And I love that the ruffle makes it a little more modest in the chest.
    I finally got around to trying your easy breasy tank tutorial, and I love the results! I’ll be trying this for sure!

  2. Love the dress! And what a cute theme for a birthday party…I may have to copy you since Ella’s birthday is in August as well! Hmmmm. 😉

  3. I love it(!)- the darling polka dots, the fabulous tutorial, your ice cream theme party, planning ahead, everything! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  4. Adorable! And thanks for the tutorial!

  5. I love this dress! Thanks for the tutorial!

  6. That is super adorable. I think I might have to take a gander at your tutorial and make one up as a top for one of my girls. Or both.

  7. Sounds like a fun party to go with a darling party dress!

  8. thank you, thank you, thank you for making a tutorial!!!! I heart your blog!

  9. So cute, I love that theme. Can’t wait to see what you come up with. I definitely want to make one of those dresses for Tabitha now.

  10. Way to plan ahead, my friend. Your life is going to become much more complicated in a few weeks…and a lot more fun, too. 🙂

  11. so so cute jess. I love it. I really can’t wait to try this one. 🙂 And way to plan ahead, I think I need you as my life coach.

  12. Holy scrud, this dress is TOO cute! You really make me wish I could sew… This is darling!Thank you for sharing and taking the time to create a tutorial for those of us that think that maybe, just MAYBE, one day we’ll learn to sew! :0)

  13. That’s such a pretty little dress!! You are so smart for doing as much party planning in advance as possible – I always wait until the last minute and make myself crazy.

    I linked to your tutorial on Craft Gossipo Sewing:


  14. LOVE!! Adoreable! I’ll be making one of these!
    Kadie’s birthday is in August too, and I’m trying to plan it now. I’m definately not as much on the ball as you with already having her outfit planned! Go you!

  15. So cute! I just did an ice cream birthday for my DD.

    Blogged here –

  16. Super cute!

    I have a weekly Thursday blog party especially for people to share things they’ve made to be worn. Stop by if you’d like! It is called Make It Wear It and I host it at

  17. Absolutely adorable! I’ve bookmarked the tutorial on Flickr for my own little one. Thank you!

  18. Hi! Looooooooooove this dress so much I am currently making one for tiny 6 month old! One question – how much of the sleeve did you sew into the chest band? Just the part where the elastic shoulder strap is or the whole ruffle as well? Can’t figure that out without preventing the chest strap from stretching if you know what I mean?? Thanks!

  19. Hi Jillian!

    For the sleeve, I did sew along the whole ruffle, including the elastic part-but I sewed it right above the elastic in the chest ruffle so it wouldn’t prevent stretching. (right over the casing stitch) Hope that helped! and made sense 😀


  20. Thanks Jess! That was fast! Had a go whilst I waited for the response and simply stretched the casing on the dress as I sewed the whole strap on. Worked just fine. Thank you! Too cute 🙂

  21. Awesome! Glad it worked out! 😀

  22. Hi Jess! I am in love with your blog, your sewing projects, and you sweet little girls! I just wanted to say that I tried this dress and it’s great!

    I blogged about it and gave you credit. I hope that was ok!

    You can check it out here:

    Thank you for the great tutorials!

  23. Ok, I’m just starting and already confused. 🙂 (VERY new to sewing) I know what the selvage is, but when you say cut selvage to selvage, what does that mean? I want my length to be about the same as yours, but what about the width of that rectangle?? Help! I should just take sewing classes I guess and learn to read a pattern but I was hoping this was easier! Thanks!

  24. @ Sara-the selvage to selvage means the finished edges of the fabric (usually measuring 44″ for quilting cottons.) Hope this helps!

  25. hi Jess.. i like your tutorial!!

  26. As-salaamu’alaykum sis,
    You have a lovely blog, masha’Allah.

    Such a cuteeee dress. Thanks for the wonderful tutorial, insha’Allah I’ll give it try one of these days.

  27. Chris Simeone says

    Just finished! It was my first real pattern…made pj pants but used an existing pair to copy the pattern. Anyway, it was fun, had a few hang ups…seam picker works! I made mine a long shirt/tunic to wear capri leggings under, want to post a pic, how do I do that?

  28. @ Chris Simeone-I have a flickr group here:

    You’re welcome to upload pics there!

  29. Oh so very cute have to try this for great granddaughter who is 2 s/b fun I’ll post photo if and when Thank you for the great tutorials Jude

  30. This is a great one! I used it as a starting place for a bubble romper and it turned out so cute! Thanks!

  31. I love this dress, and i can see my great niece with it on, but I have one prob I live in Mississippi, and she lives in NC, I got her measurements so that part is going to be easy, but i do have one question. How far in do I put the starps on the dress? I do not mean how far down I mean how far over from the edge; I am some what new at making dresses, and not sure how to fig where they go

  32. Lovely simple dress! I used this tutorial as a guide when refashioning an old skirt. The skirt had panels and flared out so the finished dress is bit of a different shape, but it worked out really nicely. I blogged about it at and linked back to this tutorial. Thanks for sharing!

  33. I am going to sew one of these up for my niece this next summer!!! I love it! I also want to do the Junebug dress.

  34. Thanks so much for the pattern. Had to do a little estimating, because I didn’t have the measurements, but it turned out great all the same. I appreciate it!
    P.S. That little girl is adorable! 🙂

  35. I adore this dress! So much so that I have been out to buy fabric since seeing your tutorial this morning and will be attempting to make it for my friends little girl as soon as my little boy is tucked up in bed! X

  36. I did it! I made one and I love it!! Thank you so much for a brilliant tutorial 🙂

  37. When you are threading the elastic through the casing, how do you get the ends to meet? Mine looks like yours in the picture, the middle of the dress is sewn down the selveges so how do I get that other end to meet the first end of the elastic afte I have threaded it? I really don’t want to pick out the stitching on the selvege.

  38. Okay, I figured it out. Didn’t leave enough space to pull the other end through. Thanks so much for this tutorial. It is truly beautiful!

  39. Thanks a lot for this tutorial! It’s beautiful 🙂

  40. Love this little dress. Since I’m a granny only to little boys, I want to make this for a friend’s little Granddaughter! I am new to sewing, so not sure about amount of fabric. Do you use ONE width of fabric or Two widths for this dress (size you made). Is there a formula for size of child? My Great niece is 7, so much larger. Twice the chest measurement or three times?

  41. Darillyn Starr says

    Thanks for the tutorial! I’m collecting ideas for sewing for my youngest granddaughter for Summer and it’s perfect.
    Your daughter is adorable! She looks a lot like my son’s little cousin; very charming!

  42. hi
    just liked you to know that I loved your pattern/idea very much
    this is what I made of it..
    thank you!

  43. I have made 3 of these and they turned out beautifully! I did find a couple of the steps out of order and ended up doing all of my elastic casing and inserting before sewing up the back seam but that meant that you would see the back seams Peaking out and as I don’t have a serger, they aren’t super pretty. I may have simply misread the tutorial, but I did have to undo and resew that part of the dress. Once that was taken care of it was perfect! Thank you for the simple pattern for my girls Easter dresses!

  44. Thank you so much for this tutorial! It was so easy to follow, and I managed to pump out a dress while watching my 4-year-old, 2-year-old and newborn! I haven’t been able to do anything like that in a looooong time! My dress turned out amazing, I think it may be the nicest thing I’ve made for my daughter, yet! Thank you!!

  45. Hi, How do I get the pattern for the icecream social dress please

  46. I’ve used this twice now and I think it’s lovely. Both times, I added a frill.
    I recommend it! Thank you to Jess.

  47. Picked up some really cute fabrics over the week and can’t wait to make this for my daughter!! Super cute!! Thanks for sharing your talent!!


  1. […] the dress, I just made an Ice Cream Social Dress out of red gingham. I went this route instead of using a detailed pattern specifically for Little […]

  2. […] via […]

  3. […] Jess from Craftiness is Not Optional made this pretty sundress for her daughter’s upcoming 2nd birthday, and shares a tutorial showing how she did it.  It’s name the Ice  Cream Social dress, after the theme of her daughter’s party.  Get the how-to. […]

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