DIY Pillowcase Dress With Ruffle
I haven't been to a fabric store in forever...at least not a proper one. For some reason, the few I visited in Florida, though big name stores, were small and dingy. Casper didn't have any bigger brand name fabric stores so when we got to Billings and I saw that they not only had a JoAnn Fabrics, but it was new, and big, and a stones throw away from a Baskin Robbins, (thank you Jesus!) I was so so thrilled!
I recently stole away for a little mommy time to browse the selection. My husband is a big 'Becca going to the fabric store alone' supporter. Not that he doesn't like it, but he knows my tiny restless soul desperately needs time alone, and beautiful fabric to inspire and restore me....THAT is 15 years of marriage speaking kids. I was not let down by their selection there. I bought more than I should have and was ecstatic to find so many fabrics that excited me. I'll show you some of those today!
This pillowcase dress is so easy you will be done in no time at all, girl. Here I made a dress with a ruffle hem. If you don't like a ruffle hem, you're wrong, but that's fine. Just ignore that part. Also, if you want a pillow case top, instead of a dress, simply shorten up the measurements.
For my three year old Penny, I started with a rectangle 44 inches wide, by 23 inches long, pressed in half. For her ruffle hem, I made a long rectangle 4 and 1/2 inches long by 55 inches wide. I didn't want her ruffle to tight so I didn't go very long on ruffle fabric. If you want a tight super ruffly hem, then you go Glenn Coco and I'd add AT LEAST another 10-12 inches. Ruffle that bad boy girl! My autocorrect changed that to "Ruffle that BAG boy".... I'm not sure what ruffling a bag boy is, but it sounds dirty. I hope my mom isn't reading this....Anyway.....
If you are making this for yourself your length will depend on what you want, and how long you want it, but for your width (get out your calculator) measure your widest part- bust, waist, or hips...no judgment here girl...put that number into your calculator with this formula
• Your measurement × 1.5 ÷2+1...bahaha if you hate math like I do I'll break it down for you (but if you trust me just put it into your calculator and that's your width for one whole side of your dress) Let's say your widest part is your bust, and its 36 inches. Just do 36 × 1.5 ÷ 2 and add 1 inch for your seam allowance. 36 ×1.5÷2+1=28 this is your width for one whole side of your dress. Since you will probably want to cover both your front and back, you'll need 28 inches of fabric two times, or one piece 56 inches long. Again, your length depends on if you want a dress, or a top, and how long you'd like those to be.
Once you have your rectangle, fold it in half the hamburger way and set it aside.
*Click on any of the pictures below to enlarge them
Ok, so you've thrown your calculator against the wall and you're winging it. Perfect. This next step is super easy. We are going to make a template for where your little arms go. Find a shirt that fits well and lay it, inside out on a piece of paper. Fold the sleeve back so you can see this backwards J shape (see picture two) trace from the top of the arm hole ( I have no idea what we call this) down to the bottom of the armhole and just a bit down, and cut it out.
Now you have the template! If you plan on making more ( you totally should) I like to make notes on my templates so I know what they are for and at what age. On this one I wrote "Penny pillowcase dress age 3.5".
Now place your template on either corner of your dress and cut through both layers of fabric to form your arm holes....there really has to be a better name for this.... then do it for the other side since i'm sure you have two arms. If you don't have two arms i'm very sorry.
Next I want you to sew from the bottom of your armhole, down the side of your dress, stopping about two inches from the hem so we can neatly add our ruffle later. If you don't want that ruffle, just sew that puppy aaaaall the way down. Surge or zig zag those same areas while you're at it. See below.
•Finishing the Arms•
This next part is so neat and tidy and looks so professional. I totally geeked out after I learned how to do it and showed my husband and son how it looked....I mean they were nice about it....but...
Take each arm hole and press them open and flat (see first picture below) Next take your bias tape and unfold it all the way, with the outside facing down (think microwave popcorn bag) and start at the top of the right side of your fabric (this is important!) and pin it open all the way around the curve of the arm hole.
Once you have pinned all the way around the arm hole, sew a quarter inch in all the way around that curve (see below) I'm so excited for this part, now, let the bias tape fold back onto itself, and fold it over so that the neat little tape is now on the inside of your dress all folded up and looking like Michael Kors himself perfected the arm hole details on this dress. I bet he knows the right name for the arm holes. Pin the folded up (and now on the inside of your dress) bias tape in place.
If you did like I did here, and you chose to do a bias tape that is a different color than your dress, now is the time to switch that thread. Since we are sewing with the tape facing us, I did pink thread on the top, and blue in the bobbin. Sew neatly along the inner edge of the bias tape. Cut your thread, and look in awe at that professionalism. Zac Posen is so impressed. Tim Gunn thinks it's flawless. Nina is speechless. Heidi thinks it looks expensive. You humbly thank them, but you already know it's perfection. The other designers both envy and despise you. It's lonely at the top.
•Casing for the Neck Ties•
Stay focused, we aren't quite done yet. Next we are making the casing for our adorable neck tie. At the top of your dress, you will fold the fabric down a quarter inch, then another full inch. Simply sew a straight line at the base here. See last photo below. If you are making this for yourself, and you'd like your tie a bit bigger like I did, I pressed a quarter inch in, and then another inch and a quarter.
•Making the Ties•
Now the tie, you can make one continuous tie that will go through both sides and tie together on just one shoulder, or if you're a cuteness junky like myself, you can make a separate tie for a bow on each shoulder. I made Penny's ties each 30 inches long by 2 inches wide. If you only want one just make one continuous piece 60 inches long. For my ties I did two, each 38 inches long by 2 and a half inches wide.
First, take your piece and press it, wrong sides together the entire length of your tie(s). Open it, and on each end, fold both corners in till they touch to a nice and tidy point. Now fold and press both sides of your ties in about an eight of an inch (see fourth photo below). Then simply fold them back in half and press the whole thing together. Isn't that the tidiest point!? Sew that bad boy as close to the edges as you can., and your ties are done!
Let's thread those adorable ties. I just put a safety pin on one end and gently pushed them through. If you did one tie, thread it through both sides of the neck until both of your tie ends meet up on one side. For two ties, simply thread each one through each neck casing. Then just scrunch your fabric together (see last photo below).
Ok, if you STILL don't want the ruffle, simply hem your dress/shirt by folding it under a quarter inch and pressing it, then another inch, pressing it and you are done! If you made this cutie, i'd love to see it! Scroll to the end of the post and shoot me an email! If you'd like the ruffle, read on!
So as I wrote at the beginning, you can make this super tight and ruffly if you like. Penny's width was 44 inches total so since I didn't want a tight ruffle, I made it 55 inches long by 4 and 1/2 inches high. If you want it more ruffly, add 10-12 more inches to your length.
Here's how we'll sew the ruffle. Start by hemming one side since this will be the bottom of your dress/top. We are going to do a tiny hem so it stays light and ruffly looking. Fold under and press a quarter inch, then sew under and press another quarter inch. Sew a straight line. (See the second photo below). Now flip to the other side and what we are going to do is sew two straight lines, just a bit apart from one another *IMPORTANT* just sew straight, no back-stitching to hold the stitches. You need to be able to gently pull on the strings. So two straight lines, no back-stitching. (see last photo below) Once you've sewn your two lines, you can serge or zig zag over your raw edge just to keep everyone behaving.
Now gently pull the threads and bunch the fabric to the desired ruffly-ness. See below.
Last step! You're almost done! Line your ruffles up with the hem, right sides together. We are going to pin our ruffles all around the hem from one open side to the other. This is where you will make sure you spread things out evenly. Adjust as needed.
Sew a straight line in past the stitches of your ruffles so when you flip it over, you won't see the stitches from the front. I could've done better at this... learn from my mistakes!
To keep everything clean, I like to press, and sew down where the fabrics were joined together. The first and second photos below show how that looks. Now line up and sew those last couple inches along the seam, serge to make sure things stay in place (see third photo below) And you're done!!!! Is this not the cutest!?
Thank you so much for sewing with me. If you made this dress I would genuinely love to see it!!! You can shoot me an email at email@example.com. Subscribe below so you can stay up to date on future tutorials!