Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Make a Pillowcase Dress

Warm sunny days invite us to picnic at the park, and a breezy sundress is perfect for relaxing in the fresh spring air. My grandmother has developed her own techniques for making pillowcase dresses in under an hour. Her directions follow. And while you're here, don't forget to enter yesterday's drawing for a pillowcase dress!

1. Our version of the pillowcase dress uses cut fabric instead of actual pillowcases. Cut two rectangles of 45-inch-wide fabric for dress fabric and lining. Before you cut, measure the length you want from underarm to hem. Then add about 5 inches to this measurement to determine the length you need to cut. Sew a seam in each rectangle, right sides together, to create two tubes of fabric -- one for the dress and one for the lining. Press seams open.

2. If you would like to add a generous ruffle to the bottom of the dress, cut two 9" long strips of 45-inch wide fabric and stitch them right-sides together to create a ring. Press the seams open, then fold the fabric wrong sides together and press. Sew two rows of gathering stitches, and pull the bobbin thread to gather the ruffle. Pin the ruffle to the bottom of the dress fabric, as shown in photo 2 above. Sew the ruffle to the dress, right sides together, using a 1/2" seam allowance. Trim excess fabric from this seam, press the ruffle down, and remove gathering threads from the ruffle.

3. Pin the dress and lining tubes, right sides together, around the top. Make sure the seams match up, and center these for the back of the dress. Draw a pattern for the arm holes, and trace it onto each side of the dress with a blue fabric-marking pen. (My grandmother's guide is about 3 inches wide and 3.75 inches at the longest point.)

4. Mark about 1 inch down on each side of the guide, and sew around the arch from point to point. Leave the top open so you can create a casing for the ribbon straps.

5. After you sew the armhole stitching, trim excess fabric and clip the curves.

6. Using a narrow seam allowance, sew a straight seam across the top of the dress from one arm hole to the other to join the outer and lining fabrics. (Leave space between this seam and your arm holes so you will have room to run the ribbon through.) Do this for the front and back of the dress. Trim excess fabric, then turn the dress right side out and press.

7. To complete your casings, sew straight seams on front and back from arm hole to arm hole again, leaving enough room for your ribbon width. Cut two lengths of 1/2- to 1-inch ribbon, at least 26 inches long, for the straps. (I used 48-inch grosgrain ribbon lengths for the dress in my giveaway.) Pin the end of each ribbon, and thread them through the casings front and back. Center the ribbon in the casing, and mark the center of the dress. Gather each side of the casing to 3 inches from the center, and tack the casing shut. (This will make the gathered casings on front and back both 6 inches wide.) Top stitch around the arm holes.

8. Press the dress again, and fold the edge of the lining under. Stitch the lining to the dress, careful to cover the edge of the ruffle. Finish the dress with a monogram if desired, or add details with ribbon trim sewn around the bottom of the dress. Trim the ends of the ribbon, and finish them with a fray-check solution.

9. Take your little girl for a garden tea party in her breezy summer sundress!

Tomorrow, another of my grandmother's ideas for completing this summertime look!


86 comments:

The Quintessential Magpie said...

Melissa, this reminds me of the rompers my grandmother used to make for me, but how incredibly clever to make these from pillow cases! And the girls are so cute in them. Love the mongram on the front, too.

XO,

Sheila :-)

Shell in your Pocket said...

Honey, I can't sew a button let alone a dress!
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Elise said...

Melissa, how special to have instructions from your grandmother. These dresses are so sweet and the touches you have added (the ruffle and monogram) make them even sweeter.

Has your grandmother handwritten these instructions for you? At the moment I am in the process of collecting recipes from family members and I have been appreciating the handwritten ones from my grnadmother and my husbands grandmother.

I am looking forward to your next post.

Elise

Ms. Elaine said...

THanks so much! I cannot wait to make this! I really enjoy your posts and your pictures!

Leah said...

Thanks for sharing this! My mother has made Marley one actually from a pillow case, but I'm glad to have the instructions to use with whatever fabric I choose!

Christina said...

Thank you for sharing....I think my 8 and 9 year olds want one too. It will keep me off the street ;)

gr. Christina

Becky said...

Thanks for the directions...will definitely have to make these for my girls!!!

Judy said...

Hey sweetie! Can you e-mail these directions cause I can't seem to get them to print. Also, I'm entering Taylor in your pillowcase dress give-away.

Hugs!
Judy

judy36109@yahoo.com

Laura McCann said...

Now I know why they are the cutest and best looking pillow case dresses I have ever seen!!

Anonymous said...

I made one of these dresses today for my granddaughter and it turned out precious! It took me longer than an hour but I am not a very fast seamstress. It has a lot more body with the lining and ruffle than the other pillowcase dresses I have seen. The tutorial was very clear and easy. I really enjoy your blog. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU sooo much for the directions!!! I can't wait to make one for my little girl!!! I know what she is wearing for her birthday :)

Jen said...

Thank you, thank you for posting this little tutorial! It's wonderful, thank you so much to your grandmother, and your daughters are beautiful! I am trying to make a pillowcase style dress for my daughter who wears size 18-24 month. Do you have any recommendations on sizing this a bitter smaller for her? - jen

Hafford Family of 5 said...

Thank you so much for your tutorial. I have intended to make these precious dresses for a while, but didn't like the "unlined" versions I kept seeing. Your pattern is easy, clear and produced a lovely finished product. Thank you, again.

Allison's Mommy said...

Super cute and love that your pattern is lined. I am a newbie to the whole sewing game and am confused by the dimensions of the rectangles. Can someone help me with this?

jennifer hewitt said...

great tutorial! i just made a very cute easter dress! thank you!!

Rachael said...

So sweet! I am working on one for my DD right now! Wanted to let you know for the ribbon you can burn the ends with a lighter and it will not fray or make the ribbon look burnt. Hope that makes sense! I don't keep fray check around so this works for me. Thank you for posting this and all your other creative ideas. I really enjoyed looking at your site!

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Thank you so much! I have looked at so may patterns and this was by far the best I have seen. I am new to sewing and even I could follow it lol Thanks again and GOD BLESS! Megan

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Anonymous said...

When you make the ruffle do you fold the fabric in half or just hem the bottom so that it doesn't fray?

Unknown said...

Melissa....how do I get in touch with you to ask a question about this pattern. I have gotten through most steps with no problems.....but then hit a glitch. This should be easy for me.....but my mom passed away recently, and I am having so much trouble concentrating.

Thank you...
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Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing! Making this for my daughter...just need to hem the bottom. So cute already! Took me way more than an hour, but this is my first project in about 17 years!!

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