Details: beach dress, made by me | similar beach hat | asos glasses (under $30!) | target blanket | old navy beach bag (old) | rhea sandals, c/o
*photos by jana laurene
Although we’ve had a little cold snap the last few days, we’re pretty much fully into summer weather here in SoCal, which means most of our days from here on out (especially when school gets out in a few weeks) will be spent at the pool and the beach. So of course I’ve been prepping for all these beach days with a few new things, like a new swim dress, and new sandals.
I learned about Rhea sandals recently and was intrigued by their no slip grip soles. I’m always sliding around in my rubber flip flops along the beach walk or in the bathrooms at the beach, and of course all around at the pool, so I was excited to try out this cool new no-slip technology (they have a cool video here showing how it works!). Plus, I learned that slip and fall accidents are the leading cause of injury, and every 8 seconds someone is victim of slip and fall, causing 2 million hospital visits and 20,000 fatalities over a year just within the U.S. Yikes!
When these pretty little mint and blush sandals showed up in the mail, I was inspired by them to make a swimsuit coverup. I’ve been hanging on to this palm print fabric for a few weeks and had no idea what to make with it, but as soon as I saw these sandals the idea was sparked. Plus, it’s a super easy dress to make, so snag yourself a pair of Rhea’s pretty sandals, make yourself a coverup, and you’re ready for summer!
click READ MORE below to see the sewing tutorial!

1 yard lightweight woven fabric (mine is a lightweight polyester, but chiffon, lightweight rayon, or even a lightweight linen blend would work well).
1 package of bias tape
1 matching thread
Merrick's Art Pleated Beach Dress Tutorial
1. Cut your pieces. Use a tank top or sleeveless dress as a pattern, but make the neckline about two times as wide to allow room for the pleating. Cut two, one for the front of the dress, and one for the back. Make sure to cut the neckline of the front a little lower.
2. Mark the center point of your neckline, and then fold your pleats in toward the center so they’re symmetrical and evenly spaced across the neckline. I did six pleats in the front and four slightly larger ones in the back.
3. Once your pleats are pinned in place, sew over them with a basting stitch to hold them in place.
4. Sew up the shoulder seams of your dress.
5. Cut enough bias tape to fit around the entire arm hole. Pin to the arm hole with right sides together, then attach with a straight seam. Repeat for the second sleeve.
6. Now it’s time for the neckline. Cut a piece of bias tape that is big enough to fit around the entire neckline, then sew it together to form a loop. Pin to the neckline, with right sides together, then sew around the entire neckline with a straight stitch. Use a seam ripper to pull out your basting seam if it’s visible.
7. Tuck all the bias tape inside, press and pin in place, and then sew around the arm holes and neck hole to secure the bias tape in place.
8. Now sew up the side seams with right sides together.
9. Hem to your desired length, and you’re done!
A huge thanks to Rhea Footwear for partnering for this post! 



  1. Bold Bliss says:

    I truly admire your sewing skills! Love the easy and casual shape of the dress.

  2. Shae says:

    I need to break out my sewing machine and try one of your dresses someday. Love the fabric you chose for this one!

    Shae @

  3. Natali says:

    Such a cute dress!! You look beautiful and I still can’t wrap my head around the thought how talented you are in DIY!! Thank you for the inspiration!

  4. Gina H says:

    I LOVE this! How do you decide on what fabrics to use for your dress? I’m always so overwhelmed in Joann’s!

  5. Tori Hall says:

    DIY Friday’s are the best. 🙂 I love this! So cute, and I need a new swim cover up. Thank you!

  6. Sarah Page says:

    Hi Merrick! I love your sewing tutorials and your blog posts about outfits! However, I am getting a little bit tired of being sold something every time I read your blog. This is a sewing tutorial for a beach cover up. Why are you trying to sell me shoes? (Does anyone else feel this way? Maybe its just me). I’m not opposed to people making money off of their blogs, but some of your post lately don’t seem exactly genuine (to me) :/ Sorry for the criticism, I mean it in a constructive and un mean spirited way. Hope you have a great day!

  7. Paige Cassandra Flamm says:

    Another awesome tutorial! I got rid of my sewing machine when we moved a few weeks ago and I’ve been itching to get a new one so I can make some great dresses for summer!


  8. Hi! I see a little bit of your swimsuit above the cover up and it looks super cute! Where did you get it? I hope you don’t mind me asking! I love your sewing tutorials! I only wish that I was better at sewing so I could make them!


  9. Such a cute dress. That is the perfect cover up. Makes me wish I had a sewing machine to make one!

  10. Merrick why do you tease me so? I can’t sew beyond buttons,hems and darning lol lol

  11. This looks super comfy. I need something like this for the beach this year, so I’ll definitley be giving this pattern a try! Thanks for posting it!

  12. Wow ! this dress looks perfect! I need to try to make it 🙂

    xx BBB

    || ||

  13. Laura Gausden says:

    Love this dress! Do you happen to remember where you got this fabric? I probably can’t get it anymore, but I love it on this dress. Also, did you use single or double fold bias tape? I’m guessing it doesn’t really matter since you are tucking it in and hiding it anyways, but just wondering if one works better. Sorry, I’m a beginning sewer and started by making dresses for my baby girl so I am just starting to try out stuff for myself. Going to try your T-Shirt Dress now, so cross your fingers!! Thanks so much for all of your great tutorials!!

  14. Kitanya says:

    Omg your dresses are very pretty! I’m fairly new at sewing and wondered about the pattern pieces. Did you trace or outline from an older piece of clothing onto the fabric?

  15. Alice H says:

    Thanks Merrick, you inspired me to give it a go myself:

    Unfortunately I cut it too small at first so had to add in panels! Oh well, you live and learn! Love the blog and will be making more from your tutorials!


  16. Love you dresses! Thank you for inspiration!

  17. CraftedBySteph says:

    I’m really sorry, but I can’t find the link to the free pattern? Please could someone help me find it? I love this dress!! Can’t wait to make one myself! Beach holidays here we come! Thanks, Steph

  18. Marjolein says:

    Hi! Awesome dress!! Just one QUESTION: do the bias tap need to BE stretchy? i usually use Non-stretchy cotton but i wonder if that will work here. Love to hear from you!

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