by Judy Roberson
After many requests, here without further adieu is how the pillowcase dress came about & how to make it.
Pillowcase dresses are so easy to make, as well as being fun to wear. I originally got the idea from my mother, who is 80 years old. She told me, that they originated from when she was a child, since so many folks back then had a hard time clothing their children, they often just used what they had on hand due to shortages of supplies, funds and time.
One such instance is that of the pillowcase dress. People would cut the sewn ends off of their worn pillowcases, then cut arm holes, turn under, stitch and add strings, thus a pillowcase dress was made.
Today, the pillowcase dress has returned, but with many more options for us than there was in our parents day. You can still make them out of beautiful pillowcases or you can make them from purchased fabric, it’s your choice. If you use a pillowcase, you will be cutting the sewn end off.
My granddaughter loves Curious George. When I found this fabric, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it! A cute pillowcase dress for Callie.
Here are basic instructions for this simple dress using purchased 45″ wide fabric:
Step 1) Determine the size you need for your child by measuring from her collar bone to the knee (or whatever length you want the dress to be) this measurement is the length you will need to cut your fabric from 45″ wide fabric. Don’t forget to consider how deep you want your hem to be though.
Step 2) Right sides together, sew up the open side using a 5/8″ seam.
Step 3) Keeping fabric folded, you are now ready to cut out your arm holes, so at the top of the fabric, on each side, cut out a strip of fabric to form a backward L (in other words, from the top of the fold, cut in about 2″ and down about 7″. Once the armholes are cut out, clip the curves.
Step 4) Now cut 2 strips of fabric 2″ wide x 18″ long (this is to bind your armholes with). Around each arm hole, pin one of the 2″ strips of fabric to the armhole area (right sides together) and stitch together, clip curves again, double fold the raw edge of the strip over to the inside of the dress and sew, easing in as you approach curves. Congratulations! You’ve just finished binding your arm holes (note: you can use pre-packaged bias tape if you prefer, in place of making your own binding).
Step 5) Fold the top front down 2.5″ and stitch (this is going to be the front casing for the shoulder ties). Do the same on the top back to create the back casing for the shoulder ties. Now insert gross grain ribbon in the casings for the front and back (hint: you can attach a safety pin to one end of the ribbon to help you feed it into and through your casings).
Step 6) You’re now ready to hem your beautiful little pillowcase dress. Or you can take it one step further, as I did on this cute little Curious George dress. I added a matching yellow check border and topped that with red rick-rack. I then found a cute generic embroidery design from Designs by Sick from a set named Fruit”. I chose design no. 02 (bananas):
and then added the words Curious George above the banana design (we all know George has to have his bananas).
This adorable little pillowcase dress is so easy to make. It can be worn in the summer as a sun dress or in fall with a long sleeved t-shirt and leggings for another adorable look. So you see, our ancestors stretched their dollar and so can we.