How to make a pillowcase dress
- 100% cotton fabric ( 2 panels of 20″ x 26″ = 51 cm x 68 cm for front and back). This is for a size 4 dress, my daughter wears size 4.
- fabric marker
- pinking sheers (optional; I used them to cut the ribbon)
- ribbon for the bow and to add over the hem as detail
- matching or contrast thread
- sewing machine
- bias binding
- Start by pre-washing and ironing your fabric.
- Lay your fabric on the table, both panels (front panel and back panel), wrong sides together.
- Fold both in half, lengthwise.
- Cut out the arm holes. By folding the fabric first you can cut perfectly symmetrical arm holes. Cut down 6″ = 15 cm from the top of the fabric and 2″ = 5 cm from the sides. Mark using a fabric marker. Round the corner as shown in photo below.
- I used French seams to join the front and the back panels at the sides as I don’t own a serger. If you don’t like French seams and don’t have a serger but have pinking sheers, use those. I am not particularly fond of French seams, in spite of the clean finish, but I thought I should give it a try for this project. It’s probably my last time, I’d rather use pinking sheers or double fold the seam in.
- Next is time to sew the bias binding to finish the arm holes. Line up the edge of the seam binding with the edge of the fabric, right sides together. Pin carefully, especially around the curve, to avoid puckering and pleating in the fabric.
- I did find this a pretty challenging experience for a beginner so be patient if this is your first time sewing bias strips at arm holes. Stitch on the fold line of the seam binding. Backstitch at the beginning and the end.
- Clip the seam and fold bias binding to the wrong side of the dress (inside). Clipping will help you sew around the armhole easier as the fabric won’t be pleating that much.
- Press and pin in it in place again. There should be no raw edges visible as they will all be encased in the binding.
- Starting somewhere inconspicuous such as the underarm seam, edgestitch the binding to the inside of the dress all the way around the armhole. Backstitch at the beginning and the end.
- I added an extra decorative stitch around the armhole but you can skip this step.
- Next is the casing at the neck for the ties. Fold under 1/4″ = 0.50 cm twice, from the top of the front and the back panels of the dress and stitch a small hem.
- Then fold the tops down 1 1/2″ = 4 cm and stitch in place to form the casing in the front and the back panels.
- Hem the bottom of the dress. Fold under the fabric 1/4″ = 0.50 cm twice and top stitching. I folded under once, ironed the fold then I folded and ironed again before stitching.
- Stitch decorative ribbon over the hem or leave it as is. I found the dress too plain and looking too “handmade” without the ribbon so I opted to add ribbon over the hem and also use ribbon as tie too instead of the fabric tie I made initially.
Note: If you sew with satin ribbon, make sure your pins are thin and sharp as satin damages pretty easily. Use a short stitch length and hold the fabric taut as you feed it through the machine to prevent seam puckering. Also when ironing, do it on the wrong side of the dress as ironing directly on satin can make it glaze.
- Thread the ribbon through the casing using a safety pin. I cut along a diagonal line at the ends with my pinking sheers. I made a fabric tie first, as mentioned. but I didn’t like the look so I replaced it with ribbon.
- To make the tie, cut a strip the width of your fabric by 4″ = 10 cm height. Hem the edges of the tie by folding under twice, as narrowly as possible. Finish the ends similarly.