Weekend DIY Project: “Pillow Case” Girl’s Dress

August 14, 2012

My girls (twins, age 2 1/2) just recently went through a major growth spurt and are starting pre-school in a couple weeks (eek!). So… of course that means a shopping trip to Goodwill for some newused clothes, but it’s hard to find somewhat matching or coordinating outfits at a thrift store (aka, one-of-a-kind finds!). So, this past weekend, I challenged myself to make them matching dresses… AT NO COST! And since my sewing skills are somewhat limited, I needed an easy pattern to follow, and cue Pinterest. I found the perfect tutorial (mostly because the title was “Easiest Pillow Dress Ever”). A big thank you to “Sew Like My Mom” for the inspiration! And… away we sew!

What you need:

  • A sewing machine
  • A good pair of fabric shears or sharp scissors
  • Fabric (the amount of fabric needed depends on the size dress you plan on making. I used a little over 2 yards for two dresses for a size 2T/3T dress (and had plenty left over) – so 1 yard of fabric should be PLENTY! Just remember, this is usually made out of a pillowcase!)
  • A spool of thread to match fabric
  • An iron/ ironing board

Since my goal was to create these dresses at no cost, I looked in my fabric stash for something that would work and found an old bathing suit cover up. It was one of those that you could wrap around you to make a skirt or dress, fold to make a halter… but it pretty much stayed folded in a drawer. The colors are pretty and the pattern subtle… perfect for me. I tend to be a little bolder with the colors and patterns I choose for my girls, but I thought it would look cute on them and be perfect for the summer.

How to:

  1. The fabric had a natural hemmed border on the top and the bottom of the fabric, so I folded it in half so that I could use that border at the bottom of the hem. Then I folded it in half again, sideways this time, with the border on the bottom. I measured the fabric using one of the girls dresses and cut around it, leaving extra room for the hemming. The fabric ended up being about 22 in wide and 26 in long. I then cut the folded sides so I had 4 separate pieces. And here’s my tutorial for dress number one:
  2. On one of the sides of the piece, fold the end over about 1/3 of an inch and iron down. Then fold over one more time on the same side and iron again. Do the same on the other side of the piece. And then again on both sides of the other piece.
  3. Next, sew each side of each piece down to give you completely hemmed sides.
  4.  Then fold and iron the top down about an inch to allow for the ribbon casing. Fold down another inch and iron one more time. Repeat for the other piece and sew both down to the fabric.
  5. Place the pieces together, insides facing out. Pin down 6 in for the arm hole and pin it the rest of the way down. Sew together the sides along the hem, inside the fabric.
  6. Lay the dress flat and iron the hems down to the fabric, this will create a smooth surface on the outside.
  7. Fortunately, I already had a finished edge for the bottom of the dress, for instructions on how to hem the dress, read here.
  8. Now that the hard part is done, only a few more steps… Your easiest choice is using a ready-made ribbon, but I didn’t have any that matched, and since my goal was to be cost-free to me, I made my own!
  9. They are very simple to do! To make them about a 1/3″ wide, cut about an 1 1/2″ strip of fabric. Iron it in half to make a crease and fold one side in to meet the middle crease. Iron down (R1).
  10. Then do the same on the other side (R2).
  11. Fold in half with the raw edges on the inside of the fold. Iron down. Do it again so you have two long ribbons. I made mine about a yard each (R3). Sew a hem down the ribbon and to finish the edges off, tie the ends in a knot.
  12. Feed the ribbons through the ribbon casings on the top of the dress. One trick my mom taught me was to safety pin one side of the ribbon and push it through – this will help you feed the ribbon through. But the knots help as well (R4).
  13. Once the ribbon it straight and centered, mark the middle of the top of the dress with a pin and sew the ribbon in place. (R5).

Since my fabric already had a hem, there was no need to hem the bottom of the dress, but to do this, follow step 4. All in all this took me almost 4 hours to complete, but again, I am a very novice sewer. It was all worth it though when I showed it to my youngest who demanded to wear it immediately. Once on, she loudly exclaimed “I’m a PRINCESS!” Yes, my dear, you certainly are.

If you have any suggestions on how to improve this process or tips to make it easier, I would love to hear them! Happy back-to-school shopping… or hopefully… sewing!

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