Here's a pattern-less tutorial for the two sundresses I made recently.
The dress is composed of three rectangular parts:
1. The straps
2. The bodice
3. The skirt
(The photo above shows both my bodice and skirt already folded in half and sewn up at the side seams)
1. Make four simple tie straps.
2. Cut your bodice about 4 inches wider than your child's chest measurement and long enough to reach from chest to waist (plus a little for hemming).
3. My skirt is made of several panels of fabric all sewn together, just for fun. It's wider than the bodice and about waist-to-knee-length for my child.
*Note that the bodice is not as wide as the skirt.* If you make the bodice too wide, the shirring won't gather it tightly enough to fit against the chest.
4. Fold the top edge under and stitch in place then attach your straps to the inside of the bodice.
5. Gather the top of the skirt so it is the same width as the bottom of the bodice. (I've finished both raw edges ahead of time. Of course you can do this now, or later).
6. Sew the skirt to the bodice. See how the bodice looks way too loose for your child?
7. Do several rows of shirring. (If you're not familiar with shirring, it's simply elastic thread in your bobbin instead of regular thread. Google it. Super simple.)
I did nearly 20 rows of shirring. Wow, that really shrunk the top!
8. Hem your skirt. I added some pretty ribbon.
On this dress, I did only nine rows of shirring so the top didn't shrink up as much.
Easy huh? If you make one, don't forget to show it off on my Sewing Dork Showcase Flickr page.
(Just because some of you often ask, the white fabric with the script on it is from Ikea, the black fabric is a Japanese linen which I bought online, and the teal print is Marcus Collection from Fabricland. The yellow and black print dress fabric is also from Fabricland).