Pillowcase dresses are easy to make and require very little in the way of materials, making them the perfect afternoon project. With just a few seams and some elastic and ribbon, you can transform a utilitarian pillowcase into a breezy, comfortable dress that any young girl will enjoy wearing.
Oftentimes, you can find orphan vintage pillowcases at your local thrift store that are perfect for this project. And, because they have been washed so often over the years, the fabric is soft, making these dresses especially comfortable to wear.
- Pillowcase, vintage or new
- 10-16 inches of 1/2" wide elastic
- 1 yard single-fold bias tape to match pillowcase
- 2 yards ribbon in desired width (I used 1 inch wide ribbon here)
- Sewing thread
Step 1: There are two measurements that you need before you start. You will need to determine how long you want your dress to be and cut the pillowcase accordingly. To do this, measure from the top of the shoulder to where you want the hem to fall. This will be how long you will cut the pillowcase. The second measurement is the chest measurement which determines the length of the elastic needed. For this, measure across the chest from armpit to armpit. Cut two pieces of elastic to this length.
Step 2: Press the pillowcase, straightening the bottom edges so that they are even. The open, finished end of the pillowcase becomes the finished hem of the dress, so you want it to lay as straight as possible. I pinned the bottom edges together to prevent them from shifting when I was cutting the top edge of the pillowcase. Also, the fabric of my pillowcase was slightly twisted so I cut the top open just below the seam to allow it some movement before I trimmed the pillowcase to its finished length. Measuring from the bottom hem, cut the pillowcase to your desired length. Check that the sides are the same length.
Step 3: Cut the armholes. To create a pattern for cutting the armholes, on a piece of paper, I measured down 4" on one side and 3" across the top so that I ended up with a 3" x 4" rectangle. About halfway down the longer edge, I drew a curved line across one corner to create a half "U" shape as you can see in the picture to the right. The curve does not have be perfect because the elastic and ribbon ties will allow for some adjustment. If you are concerned about matching the shape more exactly, use a girl's t-shirt in the appropriate size and fold the sleeve back so that the curved shape of the sleeve seam is visible and use that to trace the armhole profile onto a piece of paper.
Using the paper pattern, cut an armhole into each side seam, remembering to reverse the curve when you cut the second side. My pillowcase was wider across the back than the front, so I folded the pillowcase exactly along the seam on both sides before cutting.
Step 4: Press the top edges of both the front and back over 1/4" and then over 5/8" to create the casing for the elastic.