Baby Sunsuit Tutorial

I’m guest blogging for the Baby Bonanza over at luvinthemommyhood today, where I’m introducing this sunsuit tutorial.  If you’ve just come from there, welcome!  If not, you can go see a few more pictures and read my new-baby advice over there if you’d like.
C hates grass, not her sunsuit

It finally cooled off here in Michigan.  Last week it was so hot and humid I thought it was mid-August. I got the impression C would rather go naked than wear anything, so I made this little sunsuit for her.

The fabric is Far Far Away double gauze by Heather Ross. This fabric couldn’t be more perfect for baby clothing.  It’s lightweight without being too flimsy, incredibly soft and breathable.  And the sunsuit itself is so easy to make I thought I’d make a tutorial!

The tutorial works from your baby’s measurements for a custom fit and has a snap closure at the bottom for easy diaper changes.  I’ve also included the measurements for a 6-12 month size if you’d rather not measure your baby or are making one for a gift.  The shirring (gathering) at the top and legs is done by putting elastic thread in your bobbin and is a popular technique that I’ve seen all over the place for the last year.  I’ve included a few links at the end of the tutorial where you can learn how to shir (is that a word?) if you haven’t tried it before. Shirring did NOT come easily to me (4th paragraph) so make sure you take some time to learn how to do this before you commit to this project.

You’ll need at least a 1/2 yard of fabric, two buttons or snaps for the straps, and three snaps for the bottom closure.  That’s all, let’s get started!

All text and photos are the intellectual property of Rae Hoekstra; you may link to this tutorial as long as you give proper credit, but do not copy content for distribution.  Thanks!

Note: I’ve included small pictures to take up less room, but you can click on any image to enlarge if you need a closer look.

Step 1:  Measure your baby (these don’t need to be exact, over the clothes or diaper is fine)
Measurement A: around the chest right under the armpits
Measurement B: start from the base of the neck right where it meets the shoulder and measure to the crotch, right where a onesie would snap.  This will help you take into account the length of your baby.

Step 2: Cut out fabric

You’ll need two rectangles out of your fabric.  The width should be [Measurement A – 1″] and length should be [Measurement B + 4″].  For a 6-12 month size I cut 16″x19″.  Take a moment to find and mark the center of the top edge of each panel.  This will make attaching your straps easier later.

You’ll also need a 2″ strip for the straps as long as Measurement B.  Cut this in half to make two strap pieces.  So for the 6-12 month sunsuit I cut a 2″x19″ strip.

Step 3: Cut out circles on bottom
Draw a semi-circle in the center of the bottom edge of each of your rectangles.  Make it 1″ high and 2″ across.  It does not need to be exactly circular, but do your best.

Cut out your circles from both the front and back rectangles.  This is where the snap closure will go.

Step 4: Make arch pieces for snap closure
Whenever you have snap closures you need to reinforce the fabric so the snaps won’t tear through.  Using the semi-circles as a template, trace another semicircle along the edge of a new scrap of fabric (4″x8″ is big enough).  Then draw another semi-circle 2″ outside of the first one.

Cut two of these arches out:

Step 7: Sew snap panels to main panels using 1/4″ seam
For the front, you’ll place the arch so that it’s right side faces the right side of the front panel.  For the back, place the right side of arch to wrong side of back panel.

Step 8: Clip and flip.

Clip seam, then turn and press the arch to the other side of the panel so that the right side faces out.  Then press under the raw edge along the top of the arch.

Step 9: Add snaps
Mark location of snaps with marking pen, one exactly in the center and the others 1.25″ away on either side.  Measure this carefully so that your snaps will all line up nicely.  UPDATED:  Try and get your three snaps placed in a straight line if possible. Since my double gauze stretches a little it didn’t really matter for me but for those who are using quilter’s cotton the snap closure will be a little wonky unless you can get the snaps to line up.

I use a snap pliers because I find it to be an easy way to apply snaps, but you could also use sew-on snaps.  Another way to do the bottom closure would be with buttons and buttonholes, but that seemed a little fussy for me. I purchased my snap press at my local sewing chain store, but here’s an etsy shop where you can get the kits online for about what I paid for mine.  You can also get fancy snap presses for even more, but this works just fine for me.  I used size 15 snaps.

Each half of a snap has a ring with teeth that goes through the fabric to hold it in place:

Put one ring and half of the snap into the pliers:

then position pliers over markings (make sure the ring is on the wrong side of the fabric) and press the two sides firmly together.  The finished product looks like this:

Step 10: Sew down the snap panels
Using a zigzag stitch, tack down the edges of the snap panels.

Step 11: Sew back and front together and finish edges
Using a 1/4″ seam, sew the side seams.  Pink or serge so seams won’t fray. To finish the top and bottom edges, I turned under 1/4″ twice and sewed down, but you could also do a rolled hem with a serger or by hand.

Step 12: Shirring the legs of the sunsuit.
Using elastic thread in your bobbin, sew two rows along leg openings starting at one snap panel and going toward the other. I sewed the first row 1/8″ from bottom and second row 1/4″ from bottom.  I backstitch a couple times at the beginning and then just turn the fabric around when I get to the other side and go back, then backstitch a little again at the end.  (please consult a shirring tutorial if you have never done this before!!! see below for links)

Step 13: Shirring around the top of the sunsuit
Sew 6 rows 1/2″ apart to create a band of shirring 3″ wide at the top of the sunsuit.  For newborns you may want a narrower band of shirring, say 2″, and for older babies you may want to go wider (3.5″-4″).

Start at a side seam about 1/2″ from the top edge.  Sew parallel to the top edge, cross the other side seam and keep going across the back.  When you get to where you started, steer the presser foot to sew another row 1/2″ below the one you just did and just continue until you have enough shirring.  You won’t have to lift your needle or stop sewing so this part should go very quickly. You are essentially sewing a spiral around the sunsuit until the height of the gathered portion looks good to you. A closeup is shown below so you can see the seam where I started and ended (the red stitching is the elasticized stitching).  It looks a little wonky but it doesn’t have to be perfect since it will gather up anyway.

Here’s what your sunsuit should look like now, more or less:

Step 14: Make Straps
Go to my Easy Strap Tutorial to see how I made my 3/4″ wide straps.  I put buttonholes in the ends but you could also use snaps here.  Another option would be to do a pair of ties at each shoulder.

Step 15: Attach Straps
I measured and marked 3.5″ inches from the center mark (with the fabric stretched out) on both the front and back of the sunsuit.  Sew the buttons to the back first.  Button the straps in back, and safety pin the straps to the front and try it on your baby to check before sewing them down.  I think I had about 1/2″ of excess on the end of each strap which I just tucked inside and sewed under when attaching the straps.

You’re finished!  Put sunsuit on that baby, photograph, ooh and ah!!!

Shirring Resources
Here are the places I found good shirring information.  I’m sure there are many more but this will give you a place to start:
Pretty Ditty’s Shirring Tutorial
Portobello Pixie’s Shir Madness Tutorial (link is on right side of blog)
MADE’s Summer Vacation Dress and Shortie Pattern (lots of great variations there!)
Craftstylish Shirring Tutorial by Cal Patch
Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross

62 thoughts on “Baby Sunsuit Tutorial

  1. Very very cute and I love that it is crawler-friendly. I can start making some for my little one who should be crawling by our summer. Thanks! 🙂

  2. this definaly makes me wish i had a girl too!

    or someone was having a girl soon!

    everyone i know i just having boys 🙁

  3. Thanks for the tutorial, the sunsuit is so cute, the only thing cuter is Clementine!! She is adorable!! You must be a proud mama!

  4. Another fabulous design, Rae. p.s. I kinda stole your button off of luvinthemommyhood so I could finally have one on my blog. 🙂 It's just too cute. You should put a gotcha box with it on your sidebar. Everyone will want one.

  5. This is super adorable! Too bad I only have boy babies in my life right now. However, I have been practicing shirring to make swimsuit cover ups. I had a lot of trouble with my Brother machine and realized it was automatically adjusting the tension (or something like that) so it was almost impossible to get it to work. Last night I pulled out my 1973, solid steel, White machine and it worked like a dream! I don't know about you, but I am ready to shir everything!

  6. that is the cutest baby outfit ever!!! wow, I love love it and can't wait to make one. I love that you included the snaps etc. for easy access! 🙂

  7. You've done it again!! Thanks, Rae. Once I click "publish" here, I will be adding it to the collection of patterns at the new online sewing community at:

    I expect to see a lot of members using this pattern! Soooo cute! And who is pinching your baby? 🙂

  8. What a great outfit! I just may attempt this for my neice who turned 6 mo. today!
    Am I crazy for thinking my son would be cute in it too?????

  9. i wish i could make that style of thing for my baby girl. it looks so cute! but baby girl is allergic to elastics, so shirring is always out. But so so cute. I'll have to keep it in mind for any other little girls in my future!

  10. adorable… and that is exactly what lydia looked like the first time we put her in grass, haha. I wish I was brave enough to get myself to try a shirring project…maybe in the future.

  11. haveing a july baby and if it's a girl–I can't wait to try this tutorial!
    thank you!

  12. So adorable! I thought it would be fine for a little boy as well, but my husband disagrees…

  13. I wouldn't have guessed a rectangle could make something so bubblicious! Hmmm….wonder how this would look on an 22-month-old?? Probably not as cute as your sweet Clem, better stick to dresses over here 🙂

  14. So so cute! Almost makes me wish I was having a girl! I just have to tell you how much I love the screaming photo of C. I love unhappy baby photos. Many people are afraid to take them, but I love capturing all my babies moods :).

  15. So cute! I just came from vacation in MI, and let me tell you, I'd take the heat over Calgary, Alberta's chill any day! I'd wear the sun suit if I could have the heat!

  16. Darling sunsuit! Too bad my girls are a bit big for this, hehe. Love that yellow orange fabric you used too, so perfect for summer!

  17. Can't wait to make this for her 4th of July outfit!!! How did you make the little bow?

    LOVE your itty bitty baby dress!! I made two sizes before my daughter was born- the super small and one a bit larger for her coming home outfit (identical…. I wanted to make sure one would fit!) I'm glad I made the small one as she came 5 weeks early! Since then I have made her soooo many of your dresses! Thanks for the pattern!

  18. Love it! Love it! I'm going to make it for my almost 8 month-old granddaughter this weekend. Thank you SO much for your amazing work!

  19. I just made two of these for my 9 month old twins and they are super super adorable! Thank you for the tutorial. They wore them to church tonight and everyone thought they looked adorable!
    However, I really had problems figuring out the snap closure. I made the arches fine but I didn't understand how to place the snaps. The ones on the front look like they are on the inside and the ones on the back look like they are on the outside (which is what I ended up doing), but they don't fit together so well Can you do a close up of the finished crotch pieces and how it's snapped? Mine kept coming undone because of stress and the weird angle that it came together. I still don't get it.

    Thanks again! I needed some crawling friendly outfits for the twins!

  20. OH, Rae, this is adorable! What a great tutorial! And Clementine is getting so BIG and beautiful!

  21. i LOVE it! i was just posted on my regular mommy forum that i wanted to make my baby girl a bubble romper and couldn't find any tutorials. thank you so much for this simple to follow one!

  22. Ditto on the snaps. Mine didn't come out right either. I've sat & thought about it for a while, but I still have no idea how to do them. Looking really cute so far though!! 🙂

  23. I know you've heard this a thousand times, but this is absolutely adorable! I too only have a little boy but I totally want to make myself a comfy summer dress using the shirring technique; the fabrics that come pre-shirred are never very cute. I may have to make a sunsuit for a girlfriend's baby just because I'm dying to make one. Thanks so much for the tutorial!

  24. That first picture and caption made me choke on my green tea. How classic! I just love love this! Sunsuits on summer babies are wonderful. Thanks so much for sharing this, I'll be linking.

  25. OK! I need to make twelve of these! Cute! Cute! I was at Purl the other day looking for this very fabric but couldn't find it! I always screw up snaps and end up doing velcro. YOur tutorial makes me want to take a deep breath and try again.

  26. I made this sunsuit and it's great!! so cute and easy once I figured out the shirring…and snaps….and buttonholes! lol! But now I know how to do all 3!

  27. Ok, I kinda sorta ADORE this. Do you think I could get away with dressing my (insanely boyish )18 month old BOY in this thing? No? Oh, BOTHER. Guess I'll have to wait then. 😉

  28. I love this little sunsuit. I like the elasticated legs. Love the first picture. My little one used to hate sand and would cry if she touched it. So cute.

  29. this sun suit is soooo cute!!! i LOVE your tutorial! I am using the bottom half your tutorial for the bottom of my son's halloween costume. I FINALLY got all the snaps on, man those pliers hate me. I will let you know when i post the pics of the finished costume on my blog. i of course will be highlighting your great tutorial.

  30. Thanx for this fun quick tut! My first 2 sunsuits are on there way to a tropical friend…next up a couple for my girl 🙂

  31. Hi Rae! I'm having so much fun making this for my little one – in GREAT anticipation of warmer days. I'm a bit confused about the snaps. You mention that the fabric that holds the snaps needs to be reinforced (thus the extra arches), but in the pics it seems you attach the snaps only on the extra flaps. Should the snaps go through both layers of fabric or just one? Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  32. I am wanting to make this for a gift and don't have that small of a baby to measure. Do you know how many inches I should take off for a 0-3month size? Just wondering. Thanks.

  33. i love this sun suit. i also love the headband and flower. do you have a pattern for them as well.

  34. Hi guys! Thanks for all your great comments. Let me try and address some if possible.

    Melissa Ann: Yes, there is some wonkiness with the snaps. I need to redo that part over, as I've since thought of a better way to do that.

    Alyssa: You're right, the snaps should go through the entire sunsuit, not just that one layer, otherwise they will pull through. Need to redo that too.

    Cami: No I'm sorry I don't know what measurements you'd need for that size. :{

  35. Thank you for taking the time to make and post this tutorial. You are very generous with your tallent. I just made a sunsuit for my 4 month old daughter, and it turned out really well!

    Lots of people have commented on the snaps. I live in a small town in Costa Rica, and can't get them. So, I cut a set off scraps from a onesie that I had converted to a t-shirt. I reapplied them to the sunsuit following your instructions for placement. It works great.

    I can't wait to make more sunsuits. Maybe adding ruffles to the butt when she is crawling. Thanks again!

  36. Thanks for the nice tute! Mine turned out super cute, with the exception of the snaps like some other people. I followed the directions and pics very carefully but I either messed up or the pirces don't fit together there. In any case, thanks again!

  37. OK, guys: Just yesterday I successfully completed a new sunsuit with a much better snap option. Will put together a tute and report back ASAP!!

  38. I’ve been obsessed with this sunsuit forever, but never had the nerve to try it…until today. I decided that dishes and laundry are totally overrated, and put them on the back-burner to make my kiddo this darling new outfit. I totally have my priorities straight. 🙂 Thanks a million for your talent and this tutorial! BTW, I decided to use button holes and buttons instead of snaps for the bottom and while I’m kind of dreading diaper changes, it turned out stinkin’ cute! 🙂

  39. yeah! this pattern is great, i’ve just finished making my little lovely girl one, its almost the same ;-), just got my mashine and this is the first time i’ve made anything! i hope she wakes up early tomorrow to try it on lol

  40. Can’t wait to try this one!!! Baby isn’t born yet… so I think I will have to measure an outfit I have already since I can’t measure her yet!
    So glad someone posted about how to Shir with a Brother machine, I have 3… and they are all by Brother!!

  41. Just wondering if the snap instruction changes will be updated at all?? I just made this and the snaps just do not work at all for a newborn! I cut the bottom off and hemmed it and made matching bloomers to go under it lol

  42. I love this bubble romper and have been looking for a pattern, but yours is the only one I can find. I was hoping to make a couple for summer for my baby due at the end of June – do you know how to adjust the sizing for a 3 month size? Thank you!

  43. Love this tutorial! This is so cute. I have the perfect fabric and am dying to try it… but I saw above that you’re updating this post with a better snap option? Should I wait for that update or just go head and try to rework the snaps on my own? Thanks!!

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