Note: Once a week I share a popular post from the archives. This post was originally published in June 2012.
This week we’re going to make a traditional pillowcase dress. If you’ve never really sewn before this will be a great first project. I had intended to use an actual pillowcase for this dress but Esther was so excited to use her fabric that I went ahead and used that instead. Also, pillowcases are somewhat thin and the ones I have for this project are white so I want to line them. So I’m saving those for next week.
You’ll also notice that I’m using pinking shears in the pictures. The only reason I am is because when we
hid everything, um, I mean cleaned everything, before the graduation party I told my children to take the stack of sewing stuff from the costumes (cabinets included) and make an exact pile in the attic. Well, the attic was about 2000 degrees the afternoon I decided to make the dress. So, you go right ahead and use regular scissors and/or a rotary cutter.
Pillowcase (or fabric)
Bias tape (optional)
1. Make your own “pillowcase” (if using an already made pillowcase skip this step)
Cut rectangle to size. Esther wears about a 3T so my rectangle was 18″ wide by 22″ long.
With wrong sides together pin each side seam and sew a 1/4″ seam.
Trim the seam close to the stitching without cutting the stitching.
Now, turn your fabric so that right sides are together pin the seam again, making sure that the seam you already stitched is nice and flat. Now stitch another 1/4″ seam and voila you have a French Seam. Now the inside of the dress won’t fray and it will look nice and tidy.
2. Cut off fold of pillowcase
3. Make armholes
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 did about 2″ in and 3.25″ down – ignore the marking on the mat, the first one I did was too small)
I’m going to show you two ways to finish the arm holes. The first way is to fold the fabric down about 1/4 inch and then fold it again – so that there are no raw edges showing. Pin as you fold.
Stitch close to the edge.
This is one way to finish armholes with bias tape. It’s not the “right” way … but it works just fine. Open up your double fold bias tape and sandwich the raw edges of your arm hole inside.
Pin the bias tape down making sure that the edge of the armhole is sandwiched in.
Stitch close to the edge
Now, turn the bias tape to the inside of the garment.
Pin the bias tape down and stitch using a 1/4″ seam. I just put the edge of my fabric along the edge of my foot.
4. Make a casing for the ribbon
Fold down about 1/4″ of front (between the armholes) toward the inside of the dress. Iron if you want to.
Fold down about another 1″ and pin. Make sure that the casing is plenty wide for your ribbon.
Stitch along the edge.
Using a safety pin insert the ribbon into the casing.
If you used a pillowcase you’re done! Unless of course you want to add some embellishments. If you didn’t use a pillowcase keep going.
5. Hem your dress
Fold the bottom of the dress up by about 1/4″ and then again. (like you did for the armholes if you didn’t use bias tape). Pin.
Stitch close to the edge.
6. Adding ribbon
Pin your ribbon where ever you want it on the dress. I chose the very bottom…that way I don’t have to worry about marking lines to make it straight, I can just use the edge of the dress.
Stitch the ribbon along one edge. When you get to the end, fold the end under so that the raw edge will be enclosed. Now, stitch along the other edge.
Happy Sewing! If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments. Also, if you make a dress leave a link in the comments so we can all see it.
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