Bustle Back Dress Pattern


Okay, here is the pattern for the bustle back hatler dress.


This pattern should fit a size 3t.  I have read that you can go up two sizes and down up to two sizes by adding/subtracting 3/8″ per size to the cutting lines, but never tested it so… do want you want with that info.  This is a pretty simple pattern with an easy fit so I am sure it won’t be too difficult to size up or down.  Please ask any questions in the comments section so everyone can benefit.


Download the pattern here
I used one yard for the main fabric and 1/2 yd for the bustle ruffles.
Seam allowance is 1/2″ unless otherwise specified.


1) Cut out all the pattern pieces.


Note:  The pattern calls for the ruffles to be  cut on the bias so that you do not have to finish the edges (as pictured in the white & pink dress), but for this dress (green flowered dress), I cut the ruffles on the grain and did a rolled hem.   If you want the look of the pink dress cut the ruffles as indicated on the pattern.  If you want to do a rolled hem like on the green dress cut the ruffles on the grain.  Cutting the ruffles on the grain will reduce fabric waste.  If you need help figuring out how to cut on the grain, check out this post.


~ only cut out 3 bustle ruffles
~ you also need to cut a 2″ x 16 3/4″ strip of fabric for the elastic casing
~ If you prefer to use premade bias tape, you do NOT need to cut out the bias tape pattern piece.


Sorry for so many changes.  I would change it on the pattern, but I no longer have the software to update it.  : )



2)  With RIGHT sides  facing, stitch dress ruffles together at the short ends to create one long strip.  Finish the raw edges of the seams then press open.

3)  Finish the BOTTOM edge of the bustle panel and the TOP edge of the bustle ruffles (serge, overcast, or zigzag).

4)  If you are doing the green version, hem the bustle and dress ruffles using a narrow or rolled hem.

5)  Run a gathering stitch along the top edge of the bustle & dress ruffle.



5)  Use a fabric marker to draw three lines across the bustle panel at each of the small circles.  This is where you will sew the bustle ruffles to the bustle panel.

Note: I recommend using a disappearing fabric marker because you don’t have to wash the fabric to get rid of the ink since it disappears as it dries.  Plus, if you need the line again once it is dry you can iron the fabric on a steam setting and the line will show up again as long as you haven’t washed it yet.


6)  Gather the bustle ruffles to fit the bustle panel.  Then, starting from the bottom, pin the ruffles across the bustle panel so that the gathering stitch is directly on top of the line you drew.  Stitch each ruffle in place before pinning the next one.



7) Baste the sides of the bustle ruffles to the sides of  the bustle panel stopping at the bottom small circle.


8)  With the WRONG side of the side back facing the RIGHT side of the bustle, pin and baste along the sides once again stopping at the bottom small circle.





9)  Pin the bottom of the bustle ruffle out of the way.   Then, with RIGHT sides together, stitch the front and back of the dress together. Finish the raw edges; press the seam open.


10)  Gather the dress ruffle to fit the bottom edges of the front and the side backs.  Pin; stitch.  Trim seam to 1/4″ and finish.  Press seam up.



11)  Topstitch about 1/8″ above the seam.



12)  Pin the top of the side backs to the top of the bustle panel and baste at 3/8″



13)  Run a gathering stitch along the neckline at 3/8″ between the small circles and gather the neckline.   It should measure about 9″ once it is gathered.



14)  If you are not using premade bias tape, make the bias tape using your preferred method.  Trim the bias tape to fit the armholes; pin in place, enclosing the raw edge of the armholes in the bias tape with the wider edge on the inside of the dress.  Edge stitch in place.


15)  Take another piece of bias tape (about 48″ long), fold it in half to find the center; finger press to mark it.  Line it up with the center front of the neckline;  pin in place.  Starting at one end of the bias tape, edge stitch the folded edge the entire length of the bias tape.


16)  Fold each of the short sides of the elastic casing in 1/4″; press; repeat on ONE of the longs sides.


17)  Pin the RIGHT side of the casing to the WRONG side of the top of the bustle panel; stitch.


18)  Starting about 1/2″ in from the edge of the casing, trim the seam down to 1/4″ ; press the casing up.


19)  Fold the casing over even with the armhole; press.


20)  Edge stitch the casing in place.  Then, thread your elastic into the casing.


21)  When you get to the end of the elastic on one side, do a narrow zig zag stitch to hold it in place.  Repeat on the other side of the casing.   I also edge stitched the short sides of the casing down after I inserted the elastic.


And you are done!


Please ask any questions in the comment section so everyone can benefit.   : )
Happy Sewing!


  1. Remation says

    i loved the dress wen a sow it in burdastyle project ..

    i wold love to make one to my girls .. but the link to the pattern did not work with me *SAD*

  2. April says

    @Remation I checked the link and it is working for me. If you send me your email (you are
    listed as no reply and I cannot access your profile to see if you have a blog) I will email you the file.

  3. Denise says

    I just tried to download the pattern as well and it gives me an error. Any suggestions?

    Denise (asprinkleofthis.blogspot.com)

  4. LeidiBird says

    This is really beautiful! I love love love the ruffles! I have two little girls this would be perfect for, thanks for sharing!

  5. Jenna says

    Bookmarking this one to make once Little Bean gets a little bigger.

    Thanks for linking at Sugar Bee Crafts, visiting from copycatcorner.blogspot.com and a friend of RocknRegalia!

  6. scrapmania says

    Excellent tutorial! I was very happy because now I can make it to the birthday party of my daughter, so I finish I will send a photo for your enjoyment. Thank you!

  7. Amanda says

    So sorry for the link — I didn't mean to put that in there!!! I was going to tell you I featured you on Today's Top 20!! So sorry!! :)

  8. redheadedmemeof3 says

    LOVE LOVE LOVE this dress and want to make it for my 2 grandbabies but i cant get the pattern to print…

  9. Amanda says

    Thanks for linking up at Today's Top 20! This is on my list of as soon as I can have a girl I will totally make this! :)


  10. Sharon says

    I love this dress! I made a size 1 for my daughter and it turned out just beutiful! Thank you for sharing!


  11. Aubrey Rose says

    I am in love with this dress! I cannot wait to make it – I know my 3 year old will never want to take it off!

    I am having trouble downloading the pattern (am sure it's my computer and not your pattern) and also having trouble finding your email address. Is it possible you can email it to me? mlex55 *at* yahoo

    Thank you and I promise to send photos when I finish it :)

  12. Mari Angeles Iglesias says

    I was pretty dress, and very funny with all the frills.

    Greetings from Granada, Spain, from espiralcaracola.blogspot.com

  13. sarah says

    hello, i just happened upon this posting and i am curious to know if you have a flickr group of photos for this dress or a collection of pictures showcasing dresses others have made from your tutorial?? i would love to see their combinations for fabrics as well.

  14. Candice says


    I have been looking for a pattern for a ruffled bum dress for my 3 year old – this looks like it might be the one, but all of the photos are gone (just a black square with an exclamation mark in a triangle. Do you know why? IS it because I’m in France???
    If so, would you be able to send me a photo of the finished product?


  15. jenn harpster says

    I love this dress and would love the pattern. Like some others, it won’t appear when I pull up your blog. Any suggestions??

  16. says

    The photos went away most likely because you changed the settings on your Flickr account (if that’s where they’re stored) – has happened to a lot of people. I have the pattern saved on my computer, but forgot the instructions and what it looks like – now that I have a little girl, I’d planned to make it :)

  17. Donna says

    I am about to become a grandma to a baby girl and would love to make this for her but I can’t see the pictures. Is there a way to see this tutorial?

    • April says

      @Donna. I have redone these pics just haven’t uploaded them yet. I will try to get it done this weekend!

  18. Joy Allen says

    I was able to download the pattern but the pictures that go with the instructions are not showing (black squares). Any help getting them up? I would love to make this for my grand-daughter to wear at her 3rd “Pink” Birthday party. Thanks!

  19. Joy says

    Love this! Can’t wait to make it for my 2 yr olds bday dress. I’m going to use pink paisley cow girlish coordinating fabrics:) thanks for the great tutorial and photos!

  20. Shauna says

    I’m probably just getting myself confused but it the front all one piece or 3 separate ones? DO you have any pictures of the pattern completed? ^^;

    • April says

      @Shauna The front is only one piece. The back has the bustle panel & bustle ruffles that you put together. Then, you put the side back pieces over it. The first pic is a pic of it completed. I did this afternoon and see if I have anymore. If not I’ll take some pics of Sophie in the new one and post them tonight.

  21. Alexandra says

    Hello April!
    I’m just getting to the casing for the elastic, this the the first dress I’ve ever made. I’ve quilted and upholstered so thought I’d try my hand at something ruffled for my 3.5 year old. My daughter is ecstatic. I can’t seem to find the length of the elastic? As I said, I’m new so this is throwing me for a loop. Any help would be appreciated. Otherwise: improvise!


  1. […] April from Wildflowers and Whimsy shares a free pattern for her bustle back halter dress for little girls.  This is such a pretty dress!  It’s a fairly simple halter dress on the front, but the back opens into rows and rows of ruffles.  Her pattern will make a size 3 dress.  If you need a different size you could draft your own using her pattern as a shaping guide, and a garment that fits the child as a sizing guide.  Get the pattern and tutorial. […]

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