Tuesday, July 9, 2013

How to Make a Pillowcase Dress

As promised in a previous post, here are the directions I follow to make a southern-style pillowcase dress.  

Gather supplies:  
lightweight cotton fabric, thread, ruler or tape measure, pins, scissors, rotary mat and rotary cutter optional, iron and ironing board, sewing machine

I started with half a yard of the main fabric (pink and white check) and about 1/4 of a yard of the coordinating fabric (pink circles).
Wash, dry and iron your fabrics before staring. 

From the coordinating fabric, cut a strip 4" by 30".  (Leave it the entire width of your fabric, 45", if you want to tie the shoulder straps in a bow on one side.)  This will become the shoulder strap.  Set aside.

Next, cut a 6" strip of the coordinating fabric the width of your fabric (typically 45").

With right sides together, pin coordinating fabric to main fabric lining up the sides neatly.

Sew together.  

Press seam flat. 

Fold in half and trim to the width of dress you want.  You can use the entire width to make a very full dress, or trim it a bit for one less full.  I trimmed mine to about 36" (about 18" when folded in half).

Making sure edges are aligned,

pin the two sides together and sew using a 1/2" or 5/8" seam.

Press seam open.

Center the seam on what will become the back of the dress.

Now fold the dress in half lengthwise.
Note: the back center (long seam) and the front center of dress are on one side (shown on right in the above photo), and the two dress sides are on the other.  

Cut the armholes in the sides of the dress.  Because the fabric is thin enough, I am able to cut both armholes simultaneously.  Begin the armhole cut about 6" down from the top.  Cut in about 1 1/2",

then curve cut towards the top, rounding the armhole.

As you cut towards the top, taper the cut rather than cutting straight up.  See photo above.

Create a narrow hem in the armhole.  Fold fabric in 1/4 inch.  Press.  Fold over again and press in place.  If using a steam iron, watch out!  That steam is hot.  The rounded corners are a little tricky but take your time and it will work out.  

Sew narrow hem in place.  Repeat the process with the second armhole.  

At the top of both the front and back fold fabric over 1/4 inch and press in place.  

Now fold over 1" and press.  This creates the casing through which you will feed the shoulder strap.  

Sew in place by stitching close to the edge. 

Hem the bottom of the dress. 
I choose to fold bottom over 1/4" and then fold over again 3/4" - just like the above directions for creating the casing.  You can hem it however you choose. 

This is what it should look like.  It's basically an open-ended pillowcase with armholes - hence the name pillowcase dress.

Now take the strap fabric you set aside.  With right sides together,fold it in half lengthwise.  Pin together making sure the edges line up neatly.  

Sew one end and sides together using 1/4" to 1/2" seam.

Turn inside out (a chopstick comes in handy for this task), and press neatly.  

If you are making a long shoulder strap that you plan on tying in a bow to wear on one shoulder, then sew open end of strap closed. 

If you want a simple shoulder strap, leave one end open.

Attach a safety pin to one end of shoulder strap.  This will aid in threading the strap through the casing.

Thread strap through front casing...

and then through back casing.  

Scrunch dress front and back centers and adjust shoulder straps on both sides so they are relatively even.  
If you plan to tie a bow on one shoulder, then you are now finished.  
If you want a more simple look then put the dress on the child who will wear it.  Adjust the straps to determine where they should be sewn together.  

Sew together.  

Bury the connection in the back casing so it doesn't show.

Create an embellishment like the above fabric scrap flower with button center, or just leave it unadorned.  

A pretty, little, Southern-Style Pillowcase Dress! 

All photographs taken by Paulette Rodriguez.

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