tiki dress

Make A Tiki Party Dress In Under An Hour

I found a great, free dress pattern and put a tiki spin on it to create this tiki dress for our annual tiki party. It was a hit!

It’s actually a pattern for making a caftan – a flowy, Hawaiian-style dress that is ultra-comfortable and good for all body types, from skinny Minnie to plus-size.

The best part is there are only three seams to sew!

Depending on the fabric, you can make a vintage-style tiki dress, a floral Hawaiian dress or even an Enchanted Tiki Room dress.

This “mumu” style would also be a great dress for a luau or any summer party. With tights underneath and a jacket, it could be worn in the chilly months, too. It also looks great belted.

It’s nice and drapey in the back.

caftan tiki dress
Modeling my tiki creation in our home tiki bar.

Here are the steps for making your own tiki dress:

Choose fabric

This is the fun part. So many options!

You will need at least two yards. That’s what I used, but you could make this dress floor-length, or keep it short to make a top. To determine length, drape a tape measure across your shoulder and lower it to the desired length on your backside and multiply the number of inches by two. This dress is made with two rectangles – no need to overthink it. 🙂

I ordered this lovely floral print from Spoonflower. Shout out to Meredith Watson, who designed it.

There are hundreds of tiki prints on the site to choose from. This is the most difficult part of making this dress for sure: I spent twice as much time choosing my fabric as making the dress.

Depending on the material you choose, you may not even need to hem this dress.

Stretchy, knit fabric won’t need a hem. I used crepe de chine for a dressier look and sewed a narrow hem on the neckline and bottom.

tiki dress seams

Get supplies

  • Spool of elastic thread. I used Guttermann Elastic Thread.
  • Rotary cutter and mat. This is the fastest way to cut fabric that will also give you straight, professional cuts. If you’re new to rotary cutting, here is a great set with everything you need.
  • Sewing machine. If you’re in the market, I recommend the SINGER Heavy Duty 4452 Sewing Machine. It’s the closest thing to the old metal Singers I learned to sew on (and still use!) Metal sewing machines last for years and years and can sew through thick fabrics.

Start stitching

Did you wash your fabric? Yay, good move, girfriend! Now you are ready to sew.

Here is the tutorial, courtesy of the lovely ladies at Simple Simon & Company.

tiki dress seam detail

Now about that elastic thread. You will put it in the bobbin, which you will need to hand-wind. Don’t let this scare you off! It just needs to be nice and loose. You will use it with your regular thread, which will seem weird, but trust me, it works!

A couple other pointers here to mention about working with elastic thread:

  • Set your stitch length to long – 3 stitches per inch or longer – when sewing with an elastic bobbin.
  • Loosen your tension.
  • Don’t backstitch when you’re done sewing – leave nice and long tails. You can tie them together to secure your stitching, just not too tight. The goal is to make it stretchy.

And that’s it!

You are a tiki princess of your own making.

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