Gosh, it was not this hard with my daughter’s sundress. It took alot of concentration and ALOT of researching but I finally finished my sundress. Perfect, now that the weather is so cold here! ugh! Us SoCal people think 70 degree weather is a bit on the chilly side (or is it just me?) Anyways, it turned out just the way I had envisioned but it went through many trims and cuts (and a lil bit of swearing)! So the biggest thing I found while researching this pattern/dress was that people wanted more instruction than the one provided. And while I had good intentions (as always), my tutorial may not be as thorough as desired πŸ™‚ Let me tell you why and then we’ll get started.

1. this pattern is not made for a skinny minnie. I’m on the thinner side and the X-small pattern just did not cut it for me, despite cutting it a half inch smaller. You’ll know what I’m talking about in a bit.

2. b/c of #1, once I completed the dress, it looked a bit like a muumuu…not the look I was going for. So I took in the sides and shaped it a bit more…just so I didn’t look like I was wearing a tent.

3. lastly, damn the shirring! I swear that my daughter’s dress smocked more than mine but after a few attempts, this is the best I was able to get it.

For all these reasons, my frustration got the best of me and at some point, I stopped taking step-by-step pictures 😦

NOTE: This tutorial is on the dress WITHOUT the pockets. Also, I will be using the words “smocking” and “shirring” interchangeably.

So here we go…

Step 1: Print the pattern. I tried to “tile” it, as suggested, but never worked. Took it to Kinko’s and had it printed for $5.71. Worth the labor of trying to piece together 20 sheets of paper, I say.

adult mendocino sundress 001

So here is what I was talking about above. The dotted line represents a size XS-S but I figured I would need to go a bit smaller than a “generalized” XS-S. Afterall, that is a big range, in my opinion. So I cut it a 1/2 inch smaller. I was going for an above-the-knee length so I immediately trimmed the bottom as well.

Step 2: After washing and drying your fabric, I folded my fabric in half, placed the pattern sheet on top, pinned it, and cut it.

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Do this step twice.

Step 3: Pin the dress right sides together.

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And you should end up with something like this.

adult mendocino sundress 003

***make a mental note of this picture as I will be referring to it later in regards to the shape of the dress***

Step 5: Sew sides together. I used a 1/4 inch seam. And if you are lucky enough to have a serger, serge away. And if not, you can zig zag stitch like I did. I found that pressing your seams after helps keep everything nice and tailored.

Step 6: With fabric wrong side up, turn and press with your iron the top raw edge 1/4 inch to the wrong side all the way around, and then again. Don’t sew yet as you will be attaching straps at the end.

adult mendocino sundress 005

Step 7: It is suggested in the lil girl’s version to start marking smocking lines 1 inch below the edge of the pressed crease. However, I started 3/4 of the way (personal preference). I continued to mark lines 1/2 inch apart until it reached 5 inches. At that point, I tried on the dress to check visually how much I wanted the top to be shirred and adjusted accordingly. The pattern suggest anywhere from 6-8 inches (again, personal preference)

Step 8: The oh-so-fun part! Loosely wind your elastic thread around your bobbin. The difference between my daughter’s dress and mine was the color and make of the elastic thread. Now, I don’t think that it could have the color itself that would have affected the shirring…I’m wondering if it was the different brand???

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Here is where I start to lose it a bit. After pulling out the first line (b/c I thought that it should smock up a bit more), I gave in after 2 tries. It was either the different brand or the cotton that caused the “less smocking”. The instructions do not state how to end off at each row. So here’s what I did…when you get to the end, I overlapped a few stitches, left a tail, and then knotted it with the starting tail about 3 times.

adult mendocino sundress 007

Step 9: The fun part. Spray the smocked area (really wet it) and with a HOT iron, press the smocked area. The stitches should shrink up further.

Step 10: Press the bottom hem, just as you did for the top.

adult mendocino sundress 009

Sew the hem. NOTE: you should probably pin your hem but I just went for it πŸ™‚

Step 11: I purchased bias tape b/c I didn’t want to make it this time around and it saved me so much time. Since I opted for halter staps, I left my bias tape in one piece, folded in half, tucked it inside the top edge hem and sewed it. Wish I had a picture to go along with this but here’s what the end result looked like.

adult mendocino sundress 010

This part was tricky b/c the area was so thick. I had to go real slow to make sure I caught the bias tape, plus the folded hem.

Here’s what the front looks like.

adult mendocino sundress 011

As mentioned above, it looked a lil muumuu like so before I sewed the bottom hem (which I had to trim and adjust as well), I took in the sides. I think that if you were using a soft jersey type cotton, the pattern itself would be perfect. And although my fabric is lightweight cotton, it just didn’t drape the way I would have liked and it seemed big on me. After taking it in (I took it in almost a 1/2 inch starting from the bottom of the smocked area and almost 1 1/2 towards the bottom) , it’s a bit more form fitting but flowy, if that makes any sense.

And here is my Mendocino Sundress. I am officially ready for Hawaii. We are leaving in less than a week and this was my project to complete so I could throw it over my swimwear!

adult mendocino sundress 013 rsspecial thanks to my 3-year-old twins for taking this picture (this was the best one). Otherwise, you would have never seen the dress in its entirety!

LAST NOTE: I wore this dress around the house today and the smocked area was just too loose. Despite the straps, it just did not feel secure. So I ripped the top apart and made spaghetti straps. sigh. MUCH better. You better believe this dress will be the only outfit I take…after all this work! sheesh! Here’s the revised top.

adult mendocino sundress 016 rs


big sis