Charming embroidered pillowcases from the past or those with beautiful cut-work or pretty scalloped edges can be made quite easily into a little girl’s summer dress. Vintage textiles can be used as well to create a delightful heirloom-quality keepsake dress. In times past, many a frugal grandmother or mother would sew pillowcase dresses for their little ones. The pillowcase dress is truly a nostalgic tribute to days gone by.
To begin, measure how long you want the sleeveless dress to be and cut across the sewn pillowcase end, opposite from the pillowcase opening, leaving an additional one to two inches in length.
With the cut pillowcase laid flat, cut two curved arm scythes from either side of the pillowcase top edge. These will become the armholes. The armhole cut is approximately 2 inches measured in from each side, and 3 to 4 inches long as it curves down in a "J" like shape on one side and reversed on the other. You can also use any child-sized pattern that contains a top or shirt to use just the armhole shape for a template. Encase the armhole edges in purchased bias tape if you'd like to secure the armhole edges or sew a running stitch on the armhole edges 3/8 inch from the edge, clip curves, turn in on the stitched edged and top-stitch to secure the edge.
Turn down the top edges, front and back, one or two inches, press, then turn the raw edge under again 1/4 inch to form a clean edge, press again then stitch across the pressed edges separately to form a front casing and a back casing. Thread approximately one yard or less of wide satin or grosgrain ribbon through the front casing and a separate similar length of ribbon through the back casing. Gently gather the front and back of the pillowcase dress by tying the ribbon ends in a bow over each shoulder area.
If you choose not to use a pillowcase, but have some beautiful fabric instead, about 45” wide, then just cut the fabric length the measure for the finished dress plus add a little more for the hem edge and the casing edges. Sew the selvages together to form a back center seam, press flat with the center back seam at the back, and then continue as above. Add an eyelet flounce to the straight hem or some lace at the top or bottom edges to add some vintage whimsy to the dress. (Note: 1 in = 2.5 cm)
Sew happy, sew inspired.