Posted by: purityseekers | October 6, 2007

How to make a Pillowcase Dress

I was going to post this back in July, but ended up being too busy!  But today I got an email asking how I made them and so I decided to post a little tutorial now!  (thanks for the encouragement, Alex πŸ™‚ Hope this helps!!)

I had taken pictures during the process so I just went back and hunted for them!  I had to take a couple more this AM, of the straps, because I didn’t previously.

First, you need to buy pillowcases!  Make sure the pillowcases have a pretty design and if the opening is extra cute, like with ruffles, that makes a really cute bottom hem to the dress!  That’s the great thing about pillowcase dresses… they are already hemmed for you!  WOO HOO!

You can do what I did and go to "Goodwill" or any of your favorite thrift shops!  I ended up getting my cases 1/2 off and the ending price for each was .29 cents!!  But even if you don’t do thrift shops, I would think just buying pillowcases brand new would be cheaper than any summer dresses!!!

First, I ironed the pillowcase and got ready to cut the top part off…

I measured my daughters from their neck down to get a good idea of how long the dress should be.  I measured from the opening of the pillowcase up to the measurement and then cut the top right off!

I decided to get even more for my money and make the bias tape for the armholes myself with the first dress.  I ended up cutting another section that was equal in size to the first cut…

As you can see, the dress is still nice and long and modest…just a hair shorter than I had planned because of the 2nd cut. 

OK…where was I?  Now it’s time to cut the armholes.  I just took a dress of my daughters that had a similar armhole and traced it and chopped the extra fabric right off!  Easy!

Then it was time to cut the elastic for the front and back top.  I have tons of scrap elastic that I’ve used for different things, so this is the type I used.  It’s about an inch wide and I cut them 6 inches long…

I don’t have a picture of the process, and I have to job my memory a bit to remember what I did.  OK… at the front and back top I ironed them under 1/4" before I folded them down about an inch and 1/4" to make the casing to feed the elastic through.  Then I sewed close to where the first 1/4" fold was.  Then I fed my elastic through the casing (which cinches up the front and back) and zig-zagged stitched them across the ends to secure them!   Then the front and back will look like this…

Now all you have to do is finish off the armholes.  You can use store bought bias tape that’s cut nice and long to extend way up from the shoulders in the front and back to use as a tie.  OR you can make bias tape out of the leftover fabric from the top.  I did that on the yellow checkered dress, but used REAL bias tape on the other since my older daughter was too tall to have enough leftover fabric!

I took the 2 strips I cut off the top of the pillowcase, folded each in half lengthwise and ironed them.  I then opened them back up and brought the outer edges in to meet the inner fold and ironed them nice and flat and then folded at the inner fold again and ironed again.  Then you just use it as you would bias tape binding.  You open it up at the inner fold and fold it over the edge and sew all around close to the open edge of the bias tape.  Before you completely sew the strap ends, make sure to open them up and fold them under twice and refold THEN sew them shut.  (Gosh, I am confusing myself.  I hope you all can understand what I am talking about!!!)

Here’s a finished armhole…

and a close up of the finished strap…

This is the strap of the 2nd dress I made using REAL bias tape (which I also had kicking around from a previous project!) (keepin’ it frugal~~~ always!)

There ya have it!!  PILLOWCASE DRESSES!!!!  I can’t wait to make more next year!  They are SUPER easy especially after you get the hang of it!!! 

Feel free to ask me any questions if I’ve confused you!!!

And I posted this before… but this is the 2nd dress I made for my oldest daughter.  You can see that I was VERY generous with her bias strap!  Hey…I was in a hurry, give me a break!! hehe  But it’s very cool to be able to say that I made TWO dresses the morning of an afternoon family reunion!!   Just think of how many dresses you could whip up in a few days!  They are just so fast!!!  

If you end up making any…please comment and send a link so I can check ’em out!

πŸ™‚ Bridget



  1. Those look darling, Bridget! I wish I could sew (even though I think my boys would refuse to wear those dresses – lol!) Nice Job!

  2. Thanks for sharing those look great. I will have to try that one of these days. Yes I can see your store and the things you will be selling but when I click on the actual item I get nothing, but if you have nothing posted then that would explain it. I will keep checking back. I am also trying to get things done for the winter months for my kids. It all looks good. Keep up the good work.

  3. I love them! They are too cute! Now if only I had a girl to make some for…

  4. I purchased some pillowcases a few months ago for this purpose and I never got around to it…you have encouraged me to get to it!

  5. I love the dresses so sweet =)

    I'm going to try them… soon as I get a sewing machine ……… and learn how to sew =)


  6. Bridget! That is awesome! You are way too clever! I am dying to learn to use my sewing machine. You made it look ALmost easy. LOL I would love to make my daughter's clothes. I could make her some cute modest dresses…if I only had a sewing machine brain…..have a great week!

  7. I'm pretty much a beginning seamstress but I think I could try this, they are super cute!! Now I just need some pillow cases that aren't Nemo or Winnie the Pooh πŸ™‚


  8. but none of them were this cute! you did a great job, and your little girls look adorable – i'm gonna try this this summer for my two girls – they are 9 and 3 and i can never find "matchy match" stuff (which they both LOVE LOL!)… this way i can make them matchy dresses and QUICK πŸ™‚

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