Hey, guess what! I finally had a little girl and she does wear pillowcase dresses! I updated this tutorial with instructions on how to make this dress with bias tape for the armholes and a couple other cute embellishments. You can read that here.
If you want the version that doesn’t require bias tape, then read on…
You know what’s funny? When I was pregnant it seemed like EVERYONE was having a boy, but after I had Kendall it seemed like the world is full of little girls. Case in point is our local playgroup. Out of seven regular members, only 2 of us have boys. And even as we’ve started to add new members to the mix, it seems like they ALL have girls.
So as birthday season approached this year (there was a stretch of 4 months where I swear we had at least 2 birthdays to attend each month), I had to get a little creative about what to give for birthday gifts, and after seeing so many pictures of adorable little girls wearing stylish pillowcase dresses, I set my mind on figuring out how to make them. They sell on sites like Etsy for $25+, but you can make one with less than a yard of fabric and a couple yards of grosgrain ribbon.
Now, pillowcase dress tutorials are not hard to find online. There are hundreds, or… I don’t know… maybe thousands? I looked high and low for the easiest one I could find. I ended up mainly following one from AndersonsPlace.net. A few months ago a friend asked for a link to the tutorial, and when I went to send it to her I noticed the link was dead. It hasn’t come back up since, and AndersonsPlace appears to be blank. Luckily, I printed out the tutorial long ago and it’s still readable.
So I’m going to just type out the tutorial below based pretty closely on what I printed off from AndersonsPlace.net If anyone from this website reads this, please contact me! I’m not trying to rip you off, and would LOVE to give credit. It was such an easy, helpful tutorial that I think it needs to be accessible again. The photos that I’m using are mine.
I always start with a yard of fabric and have never actually used a real pillowcase for one, but you can do it either way.
If you are using a pillowcase, cut it off, leaving the hemmed end, based on these measurements:
6 months -14 1/4″
12 months – 16 1/4″
18 months – 17 1/4″
2T 18 1/4″
3T 19 1/4″
4T 20 1/4″
If you are staring with a yard of fabric, cut it to the length specified above, and a width of 28″ for 6 months, up to 33″ for 4T (adding one inch in width for each size up). This, however, can really be based on your own judgement, depending on how wide you want/need the dress to be on the girl.
While you are cutting fabric, go ahead and cut one piece 1 1/2″ wide and 30″ long and set aside for later.
Fold up half an inch along the bottom of the large piece of fabric (will be the bottom of the dress), press with iron, and fold again. Stitch along the top fold to hem.
Fold the fabric vertically (lengthwise), right sides together, pin and stitch 1/2 inch from un-joined edge to create a tube of fabric.
Use pinking shears to trim excess fabric from the seam.
Lay the tube, seam side up, with the seam in the middle and press to one side with an iron.
Fold the tube in half vertically to cut the armholes. From the top (un-hemmed) edge, measure 1.5″ in and 3″down for sizes up to 2T. For 3 and 4T measure 2″ in and 4″ down.
Using your marked measurements, cut a J shaped armhole through all 4 layers of fabric. Don’t stress about perfection.
Okay, this next step, for me, is the most difficult, but once you figure it out, it gets much easier. (That’s why I included a ton of pictures.)
Unfold the dress (guess we can stop calling it a tube now) and line the 1.5″ x 30″ piece along one armhole, right side of the strip to wrong side of the dress (dress is still inside out at this point). Fold down the top of the strip about 3/8″ and meet the top of the fold with the top of the dress. Stitch the strip all the way around the armhole. I tried pinning this, but it’s really much easier if you just freehand it. Maybe pin the top to help you get started.
When you get close to the end of the armhole, cut off the extra fabric, leaving enough to fold down 3/8″. You will use the remaining fabric on the other armhole.
Fold down the 3/8″ and finish off the armhole.
Repeat on the other side, then turn the dress right side out.
Next fold the strip in half so the raw edge is touching the raw edge of the armhole.
Then fold again over to the other side of the armhole, creating a binding. Pin as you go along the entire armhole (I use about 4 pins and just keep most of it in place with my fingers while sewing).
Stitch along the binding and then do the same for the other side.
Turn the dress inside out again.
Fold the top of the front and back 1/4″ and then again 5/8″ and press with an iron to form a casing with no raw edges. Stitch along the bottom fold, similar to what you did for the bottom hem.
Thread 1 yard of ribbon (or less for the smaller sizes) through each casing. I like to pin a safety pin to one side and use that to guide it through the casing, then trim the ends of the ribbon when I’m done.
Gather the ribbon and tie bows on the shoulders and you’re done! You can also secure the ribbon by stitching it in the middle to the inside of the casing (wrong side of the dress) by hand.
Now, even though these dresses don’t make appropriate winter wear by themselves, they do look adorable over long sleeve shirts and jeans or leggings! So you can make and give these all year, even for the holidays 🙂
Hope this was clear! Please let me know if you have any questions.