Pillowcase Dress Tutorial—Basic
Everybody ready to make a pillowcase dress??? There are unlimited options for this dress; but, this tutorial will cover the basic dress only. Future tutorials will show how to add borders, different ties, elastic, etc. And, just a common sense warning, remember these dress have loose ribbon ties, so please don’t leave these on babies while sleeping or unattended J.
First, determine what size dress you want to make. Sizing on pillowcase dresses is very forgiving. A size 2 can fit up to a size 4 and beyond fi you just want to use it as a top over pants or leggings. Judge size needed primarily by length. I always find it easier to measure a child’s garment that fits well, rather than try to measure the actual child.
|Size||Finished Length||Fabric Needed*|
- I based fabric requirements on 44/45” wide fabric since it’s the most common.
I always allow for a fairly deep 3” hem because I like the way it makes the dress hang. You can always cut length off, but it’s a little trickier to put it on.
There are only 2 pieces to a pillowcase dress, a front and back, and they’re both rectangles. Fold your fabric in half, selvedges (the finished side-not the cut ends) together, and cut rectangles according to the chart.
*Some people like to use the entire width of the fabric. This will just make the dress ‘fluffier’. If you are using a thin fabric, this is a very nice, ‘floaty’ effect. After you make your first dress, you can adjust these measurements to suit the way you want your dress to look.
I’m going to be making a 12m size, so I cut my rectangles 19”x18”. Actually, I don’t cut my rectangles. I use the ‘tearing’ technique mentioned in the fabric prep. article. Just make a knick in the fabric with your scissors, and then tear it. It makes a perfectly straight edge and it’s a lot quicker.
And here, you see my 2 rectangles, each measuring 19”x22”. I usually put a pin or draw a small ‘x’ in the top of each panel, so I don’t confuse my lengths and widths, but since I have a directional print on this fabric it won’t be necessary.
Now, for the armholes. Many people just ‘eyeball’ this, but I prefer to make a template. For sizes 3m-2T, draw a rectangle measuring 2”x4”. For sizes 3T and above, draw a rectangle that is 3”x5”. Curve one corner. I use a cup or small plate, but you can just guess-timate’ if you want. Cut this out.
Next, fold each panel, wrong sides together (WST), and stack them on top of each other. You may have to do a little stretching and patting to get them to fold smoothly. Place the armhole templates with the straight edges aligned along the raw edges of the fabric panels as pictured. Trace the template and the cut all 4 layers at the same time.
I like to make my necklines angle slightly so you get a curve to the top instead of just straight across. On the folded edge, mark down 1” then draw a diagonal line to the top corner of the other side. Cut along the line through all 4 layers of fabric.
Now, we are ready to stitch this up! Unfold panels and lay them together with the wrong sides together. Stitch up each side seam using a ½” seam allowance. I like a finished seam, so I trim close to the seam and then stitch again using a zigzag stitch.
Time to work on the armholes. Press under ¼” and then press under another ¼” all along both U-shaped armholes. Then, stitch this narrow hem.
Next, press under ¼” along the top edges of the front and the back. Then, fold over again, this time about 1” and press. The first fold forms a narrow hem and the second fold makes the casing for the ribbon ties.
Then just stitch along the folded edge making sure to catch the ¼’ hem.
There are a lot of different options as far as the ties are concerned. You can just use one long piece of ribbon (I get 2yds. so I’ll have room to trim if necessary). Pin a safety pin in one end of the ribbon and just inch it through the casing. If you want ties on both shoulders, cut the ribbon in half and use one piece for the back and the other for the front.
t forget to seal the ends of your ribbon, either with Fray-Check or by slightly burning them.
Now, you have a sweet pillowcase dress! In the next tutorial, I will cover haw to so some the optional techniques, such as a bottom border, rick rack trim, and a fabric tie instead of ribbon. Keep checking back with Little Miss Country!