In pursuit of a simple, fabulous, imperfect life at home.

Baby Halter Dress {free pattern and tutorial}

For Easter I made pretty spring dresses for my daughters.  I used this free pattern by The Cottage Home for my two oldest girls, but I couldn't find any free pattern online that I wanted to use for my twin baby girls. And since I am a weird sort of thrifty that will allow me to spend 100 bucks on fabric in one shopping spree but not 7 bucks on a pattern, I decided to make my own.  

Size:  6 months, give or take.

My 9 month old twins are 13 and 15 pounds and this dress fits them perfectly. Make it for a baby smaller than that and it may fit her all summer!

  • about 3/4 of a yard of cotton fabric. 
  • A spool of tulle
  • thread
  • 1 inch wide elastic

For one dress, cut:
  • Bodice front pieces.  Cut 2 on fold. Print the pattern here.  Make sure to set your printer to remove any margins and scaling from your page so that the document can print at 100%.
  • Bodice back pieces.  Cut 2 strips of fabric that are 2.25" x 10.5".
  • Straps.  Cut 2 strips of fabric that are 2.25" x 10"
  • Skirt.  Cut one piece that is 10" long and 44" wide.
  • Elastic.  Cut a 6" strip of elastic. 
Seam allowance: 5/8" unless otherwise stated.

Place a bodice back piece and a bodice front piece together, with the right-sides together. Stitch the short ends of the back piece to the sides of the front piece.  Repeat with the other front piece and back piece.  You now have two dress tops because one will be the lining.  

 Next, you will sew your elastic to one of the backs.  Stretch it over the length of the back piece, just inside your side stitches, and pin it in place.

Stretch it out as you sew it in place so that the back of the dress stretches nicely.

 Press your side seams in.

Press the bottoms of both dress tops up a half inch.

(Please ignore my totally nasty stained ironing board that I've had since college and should probably replace at some point. As I previously mentioned, I'm thrifty in all the wrong ways!)

Top stitch an 1/8 of an inch in from the edge of the fold you just made on the back of the dress top that has the elastic in it.

So far, your creation should look something like this:

Next you will turn these two parts into one lined dress top by sewing them together with the right-sides together and then turning it.  Start by pining the two parts together with right sides together.

Stitch around the arm holes and back, and around the neck.  Leave the shoulder straps and bottom open.  

 Cut notches in the seam allowance of the curves so that when you turn in right side out the neck and arm holes will lay flat.  Be careful not to cut any stitches when you notch the fabric.

 Turn the bodice right side out.  Press the edges nice and flat.

Top stitch an 1/8" from the top edge of the bodice back, stretching the elastic as you sew.

Next you will make your straps. Fold the straps in half lengthwise with right-sides together and sew along the edge. 1/8" seam allowance.

Turn the straps right-side-out.  I find the easiest way to do this is to attach a safety pin to one end and  push it through the tube of fabric and out the other end. You can also use a crochet hook by sticking it up the tube, hooking one end and pulling gently to turn the tube right-side-out.

Press flat. Fold the tops down into triangles and stitch closed.

Fold the tops of the shoulders on the bodice in a bit by poking it in with your finger.  Place the bottom end of one of the straps in and sew the shoulder opening closed with the strap secured inside. Do this for the other strap as well.

Congrats!  You now have a teensy-weensy, fully-lined, halter-style bodice!

To make the skirt we must first gather the tulle.  Fold the tulle in half lengthwise and, by hand, make large gathering stitches.  Keep gathering tulle until you have 44 inches of ruffled tulle.

Stitch the ruffle to the good side of the skirt bottom. 

Iron the seams up so that they cannot be seen through the tulle.

Top stitch 1/8" from the edge of the skirt fabric to keep the fabric from fraying and to give the skirt bottom a finished look.

Hang in there.  You're almost done!

Sew the sides of the skirt together with the right sides together. Press the seam open.   A tight zig-zag stitch along the fabric edges will keep them from fraying.

Sew another gathering stitch along the top of your skirt.

Pull your gathering thread until your skirt fits nicely into the bottom of the bodice.  The skirt will go between the bottom edges of the bodice and lining that you folded up earlier.  Pin it in place.

Top stitch 1/8" from the bottom of the bodice to hold the skirt in place.  Be careful not to get the straps stuck in your stitching.  I'm only saying this because I got my straps stuck in the stitching.  You're probably smart enough not to make that mistake....

You're done!  Congratulations! You made a fab little dress for your fab little girl!  Give yourself a pat on the back and enjoy.

The fabric I used is Kumari Garden Sacha Pink and the pink tulle is Tulle Spool Paris Pink.

Thanks for visiting The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking!


  1. Your girls are so cute! If only I had a baby girl to make your sweet little dress for!

  2. Very cute! I cracked up at how you said you are a "weird kind of thrifty" because I do the same thing. I will pass up on a clothing item hanging in the store, but get me in the fabric store and I will somehow allow the same cost for supplies to make it myself. I justify myself in delighting in creative and crafty pursuits are always worth the extra put in them. :)
    ~Whitney @Reviving Homemaking

  3. Ha, I'm the exact same way! I turned on the cold water in my shower with a pair of pliers for a year because I didn't want to buy a new knob, but I don't seem to have a spending limit for 'supplies' :)

  4. Really cute! I want to see a picture of all 5 of your kids in their Easter outfits!!!!

  5. Very cute. I can completely relate to being "a weird sort of thrifty." thank you for sharing this great project.

  6. Love this! Definitely going to give it a try. Hopefully mine turn out as cute as yours! And your girls are adorable!!

  7. Great job! Love the dresses and your girls are adorable, too!

  8. The dress is darling!!! So are your girls!!

  9. they are sooooo cute..God bless them!!

  10. You're girls are so precious!
    The pattern is delightful, and the girls really sell it :)

  11. Hey, I thought you didn't "do" sewing tutorials... this seems to be a fantastic one! :)

    They are so cute. Good job on the babies and the dresses.

    1. Haha're right! I forgot I said that! I guess I've come a long way...actually measuring and pressing and finishing edges some of the time!

    2. Hee hee - I'm not a big presser and edge-finisher myself, since sometimes the only way to get it done is to wing it... which makes it even more impressive to me that you managed not only to sew these dresses, from your own pattern no less, but to blog about it too! :)

  12. They are way too cute!!
    I love that fabric - I used it to make curtains for my daughters room :)

  13. You are so talented! Love their dresses!

  14. I am new to this sewing can I make this for my 12 month old? she is 22 lbs and tall


  15. I love this pattern. My twins Chloe and Olivia are nearly 6 months and i have been searching for a pattern of a pretty dress for me to make them for the summer. Thank you.

  16. Oh my gosh. I just stumbled upon your site from Pinterest, following the Staging 101 pin. I was just scrolling down and saw this post. Your girls are absolutely PRECIOUS! That first picture of them looking at you smiling! ADORABLE!

    BTW, thank you for taking the time to write about your staging! I will be doing quite a few of the suggested things. Hopefully it will help the house sell soon! It's already been on the market for a month.

  17. I love this dress. I hope to have enough time to make it in the next couple of weekends. Thank you for the tutorial!

  18. Your girls are adorable! When I first saw your family picture, I thought they were baby dolls. lol. Not logical, I realize, but they are just so beautiful! How old are they? My daughter is eight months old...they look not too much older than her. Just curious :)
    Oh and the dresses are amazing too!!

  19. Hello
    love the ruffled tulle - it seams you have two little princesses?!
    Greetings from wiebke, germany

  20. oh how i wish the measurements were in cm as well as in inches. I am from sweden and we don't use inches here...
    But with that said- the desses are beautiful as well as the two little models!!

  21. sequin dresses look so gorgeous and wonderful. One can never have enough of them ! And they are just fine for any event.


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