Layered Bodice Sundress DIY – 30 Days of Sundresses

Layered Bodice Sundress DIY

sundressgraphic copy I pretty much live in maxi dresses all Summer long. In my opinion, they are the most comfortable outfit to wear while still looking nice. My hair can be thrown up in a messy beach bun and I can be wearing no make up, but if I am wearing a maxi dress with sunglasses – its still a total score. After shopping around to add to my collection, it turned out – I couldn’t find a single maxi dress that I liked! Luckily, I happen to know someone who can sew :).

The Layered Bodice Sundress is a knit sundress with a fun extra knit layer that sits over the top of the dress. You will be surprised at just how easy this dress is to make for the experience beginner seamstress. It is part of the 30 Days of Sundresses Series going on at Melly Sews. 

Layered Bodice Sundress DIY

Layered Bodice Sundress DIY

Layered Bodice Sundress DIY


  • Knit fabric, lots and lots of it. About 2.5 yards should suffice.
  • Good fitting tank top to help use as a pattern piece.
  • 1 yd. 1/4″ elastic
  • Basic Sewing Essentials (sewing machine, serger optional, rotary cutter, thread, etc.)


Layered Bodice Dress DIY

  1. Lay out your knit fabric so that it is on the fold, and the stretch is going from left to right. Place your folded in half tank top on top of the fold in the knit fabric. Cut around the top of the tank top (adding seam allowance), arcing down in a gentle outwards curve at the sides to the length you want your maxi dress to be. Determine the length of your maxi dress by measuring from your shoulders to the floor, and add 4″ to that number. Cut (2) dress pattern pieces. Alter the neckline for the front and back dress pattern piece to match your tank top’s neckline.
  2. Lay your folded tank top once again on top of the fabric, also on the fold, and cut around the neckline. Bring the side seams way out, almost triangular in shape from the tank top side seam, stopping at your natural waist line. Cut (2) layered bodice pattern pieces, altering the front and back to match the tank top’s neckline.
  3. Place your layered bodice pattern pieces right sides together, pin and sew the shoulder and side seams.
  4. Place your dress pattern pieces right sides together, pin and sew the shoulder and side seams. If you want a side leg split opening, leave the side seam unsewn from the hem up to your desired point.
  5. Turn both the dress and the layered bodice right side out. Slip the layered bodice inside the top of the dress, matching up the shoulder seams. Pin around the neckline and sew using a stretch stitch, serger, or zig zag stitch.
  6. Flip the layered bodice out, so that it is on the external of the dress and the neckline is enclosed in between the dress and the layered bodice.
  7. Using a ruler and a pen (fabric marker preferred), find where your natural waist would be on the dress. Move that line to 3″ down from the natural waist, and draw a line across the dress from left to right – on both the front and back of the wrong side of the dress.
  8. Cut a piece of elastic the same length as your natural waist measurement. Sew the ends together using a zig zag stitch, creating a loop of the elastic.
  9. Pin the elastic to the inside of the dress, at both sides and the front and back of the dress along the drawn line. Sew the elastic onto the dress, pulling the elastic as you sew, using a zig zag stitch.
  10. Add a faux waistband tie to the front center of the dress, directly on top of the elastic.

You are finished!

Layered Bodice Dress DIY

As you noticed, I didn’t bother hemming the dress or finishing the armcyces – I left the knit fabric unfinished instead. I wanted to keep this dress as simple as possible, and knit fabric does not fray. It still looks great! But of course, you can always finish these edges on your own for a more finished look.

Layered Bodice Dress DIY

And now I am off to the fabric store to buy more knit fabric in e-v-e-r-y color! Lol

For more sundress DIY ideas, and to enter an awesome giveaway, be sure to hop on over to Melly Sews HERE

Thanks so much for stopping by, and until next time…

Happy Sewing!

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Jess Abbott the Sewing Rabbit is the founder and creative director behind the me sew crazy blog, as well as, 5 & 10 Designs, GNO Events, and co-editor of STYLO. She resides in Virginia Beach with her husband and 3 children.
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  1. says

    wwoooo! love it! it’s a great dress for summer, easy and attractive. Thanks for these DIY. I’ll try to make it with short skirt.
    merci again!

  2. says

    That’s a lovely sundress maxi — in the category of real-life chic. Great work! I will keep thinking about this dress until I get it sewn & worn :). Thank you for sharing.

  3. says

    Love it Jess – it has that modern crop top vibe without actually revealing any tummy – perfect! Thanks for sewing along this year.

  4. Jennifer Bott says

    Do you think this could be made into a nursing dress. I’m expecting twin due mid August. And we live in El Paso Texas. Its hot down here all year long.

    • says

      That is a really interesting thought Jennifer! I definitely think it could with a little bit of thought involved and perhaps an extra bodice layer on fabric in the front to create an ‘envelope’ of sorts for pulling down the bodice and not revealing anything!! That is a GREAT idea!!!!

    • says

      Thanks Megan! I just bought more fabric to make another one :). Here is to a nice, long, comfy summer looking fabulous in a dress that hides it ALL. Lol

  5. Amanda says

    Love this! I’ll be making some for sure! But you know what I’m thinking too? Could you make it as just a top? As in, exactly like it is here, but without the skirt? I’m sure you can….but can you tell this beginner how you would go about doing it? I need some tops to help hide my post baby belly when wearing shorts too! This would be perfect!

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