how to make a pillowcase dress

I did a little sewing this weekend, something I haven’t done in a very long time.  It was cathartic in so many ways, and I had forgotten how much I enjoy it.

I bought some fabric a few weeks ago to make a table runner.  Princess saw it & asked if I was going to use it to make her a pretty dress.  I told her there wasn’t enough but that I would take her to the fabric store and let her pick out her own fabric to make a dress.

Now I have a confession.  At the time, I had absolutely no intention of making Princess a dress.  It was one of those things I just said to appease her, assuming she would forget all about it in a matter of minutes.

Well guess what?

She didn’t forget.  She asked at least 5 times a day for almost two weeks when we were going to go pick out fabric for her pretty dress.  She wore me down and finally I succumbed.

I am by no means an expert sewer.  At one point I may have been an intermediate sewer, but for the most part, I don’t have the patience to mess around with complicated projects or patterns that take more than a few hours.

I fell in love with pillowcase dresses a few months ago when I did this Haddy Grace Designs giveaway back in October.  I remember thinking at the time, “I wonder if I could make one of these?”  Of course the fall-themed dress is now packed away in the attic with all my fall decorations, so I had to improvise a little.

But I think it turned out pretty cute.  At least Princess liked it.

how to make a pillowcase dress

And it was super easy to make, even making it up as I went along!

To make this dress, you will need about a yard of fabric (or less for a smaller dress) and about 1/4 yard of a coordinating fabric.  You will also need about a yard of coordinating ribbon.  And there are no complicated techniques–if you can sew a straight line, you can make this dress!

how to make a pillowcase dress

Step 1: Cut out the dress out of 2 identical pieces of fabric so it looks like this.  The easiest way to figure out the size is to take a dress that fits and use it to measure the length, then make it a little wider.  When cutting, fold it in half lengthwise so that your armholes are uniform.  To make the armholes, cut a “J” shape about 6″ long and 3 inches wide.

how to make a pillowcase dress

how to make a pillowcase dress

Step 2: Cut 2 identical pieces of contrasting fabric about six inches long and match the width to the bottom of the dress.  Fold the two trim pieces in half lengthwise, then iron flat.

how to make a pillowcase dress

Step 3: Place folded trim piece on “right” side of fabric with raw edges matched up.  Sew together, then fold down and stitch once more.

how to make a pillowcase dress

Step 3: Once you have added the trim piece to both dress pieces, match the dress pieces together, “right” sides together.  Stitch the sides together.

how to make a pillowcase dress

Step 4: Fold over the armholes, iron flat, then pin to hold and stitch.  This is the hardest part of the whole dress!

how to make a pillowcase dress

Step 5: Fold over the top of the dress, then fold again so that the raw edge is hidden.  Iron flat and stitch closed, leaving about an inch between the seam and the edge.  (This is where the ribbon will go).  Repeat for other side.

how to make a pillowcase dress

Step 6: Cut ribbon in two pieces.  String one ribbon through front and one through back, then tie together on each side.  Voila, you’re done!  How easy was that?

how to make a pillowcase dress

If you are a good or very meticulous sewer, these directions will probably not satisfy you.  There are some raw edges (I used pinking shears to prevent fraying) and I didn’t really measure anything.  The dress I made for Trouble ended up being too wide, so I simply re-stitched the sides and then trimmed the excess.  Not exactly master tailoring!

But who cares, right?

In just over 2 hours I had two cute dresses for two happy girls.

how to make a pillowcase dress

how to make a pillowcase dress

how to make a pillowcase dress

Sometimes perfection is overrated.

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{ 21 comments… add one }

  • Dawn February 22,

    These are adorable, Ruth! It makes me want to pull out my sewing machine….

    Reply
  • Tonya February 22,

    Great Job Ruth! These are adorable :)

    Reply
  • RuthAnn February 23,

    Thanks for sending some blog love my way!! :)

    Reply
  • Jennifer February 23,

    love it! May actually try this one :)

    Reply
  • Crystal L. (Crafting & Rambling) March 7,

    Oh my goodness, these are adorable! I think you did a fantastic job, and I can’t help but feel inspired to (maybe) try it myself! :) tfs

    Reply
  • Michelle Wiles March 16,

    I love your pillowcase dress. Do you have the arm size for all ages. If so could I have them. Thanks you so much for your time.

    Reply
  • yasmin May 11,

    Hello Friend.

    This dress is very cute.. I have just bought a sewing maching but dont know how to sew at all….. however i have some pillowcases from the charity shop and im going to have a go…. it has taken me a good few hours to learn how to sew in a straight line, but practice makes perfect.. thanks for putting this up for all of us beginners.
    yasmin xx

    Reply
  • meghan May 18,

    thanks! i can’t wait to get started!

    Reply
  • brandis of HEARTdot May 30,

    Your site came up in my search engine results & I am so glad I clicked on it! Love your site & love this entry. I’m new to sewing & just bought my first machine yesterday. Thanks for the dress tips! Can’t wait to try it out. :)

    Reply
  • Ashley B July 5,

    Just wanted to let you know, I made my 3 year old daughter a pillowcase dress following your directions, and it turned out so cute! There are 100s (maybe 1000s) of how-to directions out there, but yours was perfect for the kind of person I am: crafty, but not perfect! I am so happy to have found a simple yet satisfactory method in making my daughter this style dress…she’ll have one for every occasion! Thanks for sharing your idea. Sincerely, Ashley B.

    Reply
  • Kim August 25,

    Would you be able to show a video of how you made the dress. Im not that good at looking at pictures when it comes to this kind of stuff. Would love to make these for my little girl :)

    Reply
  • Mindy Rogers August 30,

    Wow! I had some leftover fabric that my daughter had picked out and used it to make this today. I found your instructions today (I prefer pics to video) and made this in an afternoon. I had the front and back with the trim at the bottom sewn on in an hour. (It takes me a while before I cut the fabric and I have to chase a 2 yo all over the place!!)
    Thank you so much! It turned out great and I know she is going to love it. The next time I make this, I know I can knock the whole thing out within the hour. Amazing! I love easy projects!!
    :)

    Reply
  • Shelly March 6,

    Thank you for the easy tutorial…I looked at your blog so many times. For non professional sewers I like that you made it so simple…so many other sites seem so complicated for a beginner. Thank you!!

    Reply
  • Misti May 3,

    How much fabric for an adult size dress??? Yes I will make one for myself and wear it proudly? I’m 5′ and medium build…

    Reply
  • jessica May 19,

    I love these dresses i am definitaly going to try this

    Reply
  • mel May 29,

    what are the stats for making a larger size dress for plus size? i would love to have a go at this for one of my friends

    Reply
  • petey July 13,

    alert(‘wow’)

    Reply
  • Jess March 17,

    Absolutely adorable! I’ve got some leftover fabric and a few yards of fabric that my awesome Mother in law gave me and I’m definitely trying this!!! Thanks!

    Reply
  • Jen May 15,

    Great tutorial! I had a cute polka-dot fitted sheet rip at the corner and was about to put it in the “donate” pile, then realized I probably had just enough fabric to make one of these! Excited to try it out.

    Reply
  • novoline hot 7 October 27,

    Fantastic web site. A lot of helpful information here. I am sending it to several buddies ans also
    sharing in delicious. And naturally, thank you to your effort!

    Reply
  • More Support October 6,

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    And i’m glad reading your article. But wan to remark on some general things, The website syyle is ideal, the articles is
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