Monday, June 20, 2011

Pillowcase Dress

Let's start at the beginning.  Pillowcase dresses got their name from making an easy little girl's dress out of a...pillowcase!  All you do is cut the end seam off, cut scoops out for arm holes, fold down, sew, and add ribbon for the top.  These have been a big hit for a while..then they morphed into shirts (we've done that too-with two bandannas!):
and I still like them for summer.  Cool, easy to wash-and-wear, and even easy to make.

**How in the world am I getting this done today? daughter is at girl scout day camp!! She's called every two hours with blood sugars, and I've helped her along.  She is doing so well-I'm very impressed!**

Did you get some fabric?  I got enough for two dresses, but I'll show you how to make the first.  I chose a darkish fabric with a light back, so you can tell the front of my fabric from the back.  I also got a coordinating fabric to sew a band around the bottom, but it's totally optional for when you feel like embellishing! : )  Hobby Lobby also had the ribbon that coordinated too (!!), so we chose it.  I usually like to choose a polka dot ribbon with gingham fabric or solid ribbon with floral, etc.  Not so matchy.

(You can always opt to actually use a pillowcase if you want!  They are sold in pairs, or you can find a beautiful vintage pillowcase at a flea market.  Shabby Chic sells some gorgeous ones (at Target!) : )  A standard size pillowcase is about 21" x 32", a queen size is 21" x 36" and a king size is 21" x 42".  The originals are all good up to about a girl's size 6x.  Above that, I like fabric to go a little bit fuller around.

First.  Measure your daughter (or the lucky girl!) from her neck to where you want the dress to hit on her legs (usually somewhere between under their knees and their calves).  Add three inches.  (*the little extra at the neck gives you a seam allowance for the top, and the three inches is seam allowance for the bottom)  This is the length of the fabric you'll need.

Second.  Measure around their widest part (bottom or chest), and add 16" (14" for room and 2" for seam allowances).  This is the width of the fabric you'll need.

Third.  Cut your fabric into a big rectangle (length x width).  Remember to make your shortest dimension (top to bottom) with the fabric print right-side up.  (You don't want your damask going sideways or anything crazy!)
Top >
Fourth.  Hem the bottom.    First, turn one inch under all along the bottom hem, iron, then turn it under two inches, iron, and stitch.
Ironing adds a step, but makes it super easy to keep it straight! : )
You can do this three ways.  One: blind stitch the bottom by hand.  Two: do a straight stitch on the edge of the seam.  Three: use a blind stitch on your sewing machine.  Use a presser foot that has a guide, and look for this setting and picture (if you have one from 1994 like me):
See the fourth presser foot and stitch?  That's the blind stitch! : )

on my machine, I have to dial to the stitch ; )

You fold it back so there are lots of stitches in your folded seam allowance, but only a teensy stitch every third stitch on the outside.

Finished it looks like this on the inside.

On the outside, you can only see the little stitches every inch or so.
Fifth. Close the dress.  Turn the dress inside out, and stitch along the open side.  Serge or zig-zag stitch the seam allowance to prevent unraveling.

Sixth.  Cut out "arm holes"-think scoops.  You can't really mess up, so no stress.  Lay out your dress (still inside out).  Turn your seam to one side, so it will be under an armhole.

On one side: make a mark at 7.5" from the top in pencil.  Then, on the same side of the dress, make a mark along the top at 3.5".  Now use those marks to draw a sweeping scoop with pencil until you are happy.  Then cut.  Next, fold the dress in half, and copy that cut in pencil on the other side of the dress, so the scoops will be the same!  Now, cut the second armhole.  
Ignore the upside down ruler!  Just check out the scoop. ; )  7.5" x 3.5"

The left mirrored on the right to keep them the same.  Also notice, the seam allowance is not included. : )
*You are only going to roll the seams and stitch, so you don't need a very wide seam allowance (under 3/8"), and this is included.  A picture is worth a thousand words:

Seventh.  Roll the arm cutout seams (or use a special presser foot!) toward the inside of the dress, and stitch down.  This keeps the edges covered so they won't fray.
Here they are after rolling and sewing.
Eighth.  (Optional!)  I add an extra "pleat" at the top of the dress so that the neckline will lay flat.  It is about a 5/8" deep pleat in the very center of the front and back.

Ninth.  (You've made it this far, and you are almost done!  Yay!)  Similar to the bottom hem: turn under an inch, iron, turn under another inch, iron, then stitch along the bottom of the folded edge to create a "tunnel" for the ribbon to go through!  Do this with the top of both the front and back.

Tenth.  Now, thread your ribbon through that little 1" tunnel you just made, gather the front and back on the ribbon and tie!  You can pull it all the way through and tie on one shoulder, or cut into two pieces and tie on both shoulders.  (I use about 38" of ribbon in the front, and 38" in the back)'s done!  It took me all day..and I pulled out four sets (meaning l-o-n-g rows of stitches.  I think sewing is God's way of teaching patience.)

*For Extra Credit: 
One.  Heat-seal the ends of your ribbon: run them above an aim-a-flame (not touching the fire!)'ll see them slightly seal-can't explain it..kinda melt?) then they won't fray on the edges.  
Two.  You can fold the center 5" section of your ribbon into thirds, and sew to hold it neatly inside the dress.
Now, pin an extra three inches on both sides, making sure all pins are going the SAME way.  (This is so you can pull out the ribbon a little, to remove the pins!)
Now, pin and sew the edges of the foldover with the folded ribbon inside (so it doesn't get caught in the stitching!)
Pull ribbon out gently (and remove pins), then center it again.  I stitched a tiny line in the middle over the fabric and ribbon, so the ribbon will always stay centered, and can't pull out.
And tomorrow?  We're making waffles!  Oops..that just came out.  I mean, we are making a matching flower (to pin on the dress, make a hair bow/headband, or make two and make flower flip flops!)  ; )


Unknown said...

I glazed over when looking at the directions...LOL.

Amy@Diapeepees said...

Love that. Very cute. I think you need another giveaway!

Hallie Addington said...

Oh my goodness! I sooooo wish I could do this! That dress is darling!!! But I dont have a sewing machine. You inspire me, Holly! Fantastic!

Vanessa said...

I think that I need to come over for some sewing lessons o.O Hehe I wish I could make things... I am a terrible sew-er (haha)

Unknown said...

LOVE this! My 4 yr. old daughter and I (minimal help from her, but enough to let her feel involved!)made this dress in about 2 hours!! I had bought fabric and a pattern a while back, but when I started with the store bought pattern I got overwhelmed and just put it away... then I found your site and it inspired me to give it a try!! Sooo simple and cute! My daughter LOVES it too. Thanks!!!

Holly said...

Aww..bless your heart! Thank you so much! I made so many of these, and I was getting confident. ; )

My girl will still wear them..and she's 11!! Woohoo! I (yes, ME!) have a couple that are made by Kelly's Kids (with skinnier ribbon/sewn fabric). So..make yourself one! ; )

And thanks for stopping by! : )