Free Pillowcase Dress Tutorial – Unique Vintage Pillowcase Dress Pattern

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Vintage Pillowcase DressI recently made this adorable dress using a vintage embroidered pillowcase and a purchased shirt. It was very simple to make and took less than 30 minutes to complete, so I thought this would be the perfect tutorial to share with you!

I was fortunate to have several lovely vintage pillowcases, hand-embroidered by my mother-in-law from which to choose. According to my husband, his mother, Mary, would sit most nights working on her embroidery projects. After her passing, we inherited several of her embroidered pillowcases. If you don’t have any family heirlooms readily available, don’t despair, you can check local flea markets, estate sales, or antique shops to find a vintage pillowcase that will work for you.

Vintage Pillowcase with Southern BelleI wanted this to be a special dress for my granddaughter, so I choose a charming design with a beautiful southern belle, flowers and butterflies.

I bought a cute little green knit top at my local Target store and added some rick rack for trim. It’s that simple!T ShirtRick Rack

Making The Dress

Wash, dry, and press both your pillowcase and shirt. Measure your little girl to get the correct dress length. The average dress length for girl’s size 3 is 19″. (See the dress length chart at the end of this tutorial for other sizes.) This length worked perfectly for my granddaughter, so I used that overall length to determine my pillowcase skirt length and the shirt top length.

Cut T shirtFor the empire waist, measure down about 3″ below the bottom of the arm hole, then add 1/2″ for seam allowance. In my case, my shirt length ended up about 6″ plus 1/2″ seam allowance.

Cut PillowcaseI cut my pillowcase for the skirt portion 13 1/2″ long (13″ for skirt plus 1/2″ for the seam allowance). This made my overall dress length 19″.

Gather top edge of pillowcaseUse a very long stitch length to stitch 3/8″ around top edge of pillowcase. Don’t back stitch and leave long threads to pull up for gathering. Repeat 1/4″ from top edge of pillowcase. Pin skirt to top at side seams right sides together. To gather, pull up bobbin thread in both rows of stitching from one end. (For more detailed instructions on sewing gathers, visit my post, Sewing Gathers.)

Sew Skirt to TopOnce you have your gathers pulled up the right amount and evenly distributed around, pin the pillowcase skirt to lower edge of shirt top at close intervals, then stitch all the way around, gather side up. Finish seam and trim.

Add Trim to bottom of dressAdd rick rack or other trim/embellishments for a lovely finishing touch to your dress.

What I loved most about this project is that my granddaughter now has a very special dress made for her by her Grandma and her Great-Grandma!

Dress Length Chart

Size Length
1 17″
2 18″
3 19″
4 20″
5 22″
6 24″

I would love to see your pillowcase dress creations, so please feel free to share!

Everyone loves a party! Look for me at these fabulous Linky Parties!

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13 Responses to Free Pillowcase Dress Tutorial – Unique Vintage Pillowcase Dress Pattern

  1. Kat says:

    This is such a sweet dress you can cherish & remember your mother-in-law with! You coordinated the top of the dress & ric rac perfectly. I’m going to be on the hunt for vinatage pillowcases. Stopping by from http://www.ourhomespunhaven.blogspot.com

  2. This is lovely. My mother just gave me a pile of embroidered linens that belonged to my grandmother. I think I now know what I will do with a few of them. 🙂 I started a brand new link party today. I would love it if you stopped by and linked this up. 🙂 http://thelifeofjenniferdawn.blogspot.com/2012/07/little-bird-told-me-link-party-1.html

  3. Janna Dibble says:

    oh wow this makes me look at my pillow cases in a whole new way!!!! lovely!!!

  4. Kirstin says:

    So sweet, pinning!

  5. Amanda says:

    This is so fabulous! I love it!

  6. Jessica says:

    This is darling! I MUST find a vintage pillowcase! I’d love for you to come link up to our party where we can show off all of our old or new projects! 🙂
    http://www.cutesycrafts.com/2013/03/an-oldie-but-goodie-11.html – Jessica

  7. Thanks for linking to Take-A-Look Tuesday over at http://www.SugarBeeCrafts.com – you were featured yesterday!
    – – Mandy, Sugar Bee Crafts

  8. melissa says:

    Can you be more specific in your instructions for attaching the skirt to the top for us sewing novices. What does it entail to “finish” a seam? Thank you. Gorgeous dress!

    • Kim says:

      Hi Melissa,
      Once you have gathered the skirt so it fits the lower edge of the top, pin the skirt to the lower edge of the top, right sides together making sure the gathers are evenly distributed around, then just stitch in place using a 1/2″ seam allowance. I finished my seam by zig-zagging the edges together (just so it wouldn’t ravel in the laundry.) Some people have Sergers and use that to finish their seams too. Hope this helps! Thanks!

  9. Pingback: 50+ Trim Projects to Inspire You - The Sewing Loft

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