The first time I made Phoebe a pillowcase dress I made it the traditional way and I thought it was pretty cute. It was a little hard to get the ribbon tied without the dress falling off but we eventually got it done.
When Christian, who was then about 11, saw it he declared it “inappropiate”. What???How is this inappropriate for a five year old? I asked. He said that if the tie comes untied the whole dress will fall off. And he was right. So I began making the dress with elastic and bias tape instead of ribbon. This is probably my favorite way of making pillowcase dresses.
Pillowcase (or fabric)
Iron (optional) Ric Rac (optional)
Cut rectangle to size. Esther wears about a 3T so my rectangle was 18″ wide by 19″ long but I cut it on the fold so that I only have one seam instead of two. I’m making this one with a contrasting fabric at the bottom so it’s a little short. If I weren’t using a contrasting fabric I would make it about 21″-22″ long.
If you want to make your dress with contrasting fabric here’s how to do it…
a. cut piece of fabric that is the same width as your dress (18″ in my case) and about 2-3″ long. You can make it longer and double it over. That way you won’t have to hem the dress. With right sides together pin the contrasting piece to the bottom of the dress. (raw edges together if you folded your contrast)
b. stitch the contrasting piece onto the bottom of the dress using 1/4″ seam allowance.
c. zig zag the edge of the seam to keep it from fraying.
d. open up the seam and iron it on the wrong side so that the seam is laying against the top of the dress not the contrast. Now with right side of fabric up stitch about 1/8″ from the seam on the top of the dress. This is called topstitching and it will make sure that seam stays nice and flat.
e. this is how the right side of the fabric should look
f. this is how the wrong side of the fabric should look – everything nice and tidy.
Pin the sides together. If you cut on the fold like I did you will only have one seam. Sew the sides together using a 1/4″ seam allowance and a zig zag or make a french seam (instructions are in week 1)
You now have a tube with the top and bottom open go to step 3. If you don’t have the top and bottom open go to step 2.
3. Make armholes
Lay your dress out with the side seams on the side if you have 2 side seams. If you only have one seam you can either put it on one side or down the back. I chose to put it down the back.
Fold your dress in half longways.
On the seam side you’re going to go 1.5″ to 3″ in and 3″ to 4.5″ down. I marked 2″ in and 4″ down. Then I just curved the rectangle like a backwards J.
Cut along your markings.
Fold down about 1.5″ of front (between the armholes) toward the inside of the dress. Iron if you want to.
Pin the fold down it should be about 3/4″ wide. This is the casing.
Stitch along the bottom edge of the casing close to the edge.
Using a safety pin insert the elastic into the casing. For the 3T I used 6″ of elastic. Just measure across the chest to see how long yours needs to be.
When the end of the elastic gets close to the edge of the casing stitch the casing closed to secure the elastic.
Cut a piece of double fold bias tape about 15″ to 20″ depending on how big you want the bow to be. Open up the bias tape and sandwich the armhole inside. Make sure that the middle of the bias tape is lined up with the middle of the dress so that the strings for tying will be even. Pin it.
Then I stitch from the top of the armhole (where I started before) and go all the way to the other end. I don’t usually pin the bias tape that is going to be the ties but you can if you want to.
First zig zag the raw edge of your dress to help the fabric not fray. Then pin on the ric rac lining it up with the edge of the dress. If your ric rac has a pattern on one side then put the patterned side down.
Now, fold the ric rac to the underside and it should look like this. Pin it down.
Here’s a great place to purchase all kinds of fabric at a fantastic price. (read our affiliate disclosure here)