make it happen.. Pillowcase Dresses

Ok,  these aren’t really a knitting project.  But these cute little dresses require no more sewing skills than seaming a sweater.  And, because they are easy to make and transport, they’re perfect to send on humanitarian aid missions – these are headed to Haiti next month.  I had such fun making them I’m including a how to:


1 standard sized pillow case – the brighter the better.  Gently used is ok too, what better way to recycle?

1/4″ -1/2″ Elastic – about 7″ per dress.

3/4″ – 1″  Ribbon  – about 1 yard per dress.

Needle, thread, straight pins and 1 safety pin.

Ric-Rac & other decorations (optional).

Step One:  Lay out the pillow case so that the pillow opening will become the bottom hem of the dress.  Next, you’re ready to cut the armholes.  Here is the .pdf template for the armholes.  Be sure you print it at 100% scale so the dimensions are correct.

pillowcase dress template

Once the armholes and the top seam are cut, double fold a 1/4″ seam along the arm holes (fold 1/4″ , iron, fold over 1/4″ again) and a 1 1/2″ seam at the top.

Now, stitch up those armholes and then the top seam.  You’ll need the 1 1/2″ seam to thread the ribbons through.

Here’s where you can have a little fun.  Add ric-rac, buttons, fringe or any other trimmings your heart desires.  Then, select a matching ribbon and cut two 16″ lengths of ribbon.  You may want to burn the edges of the ribbon to keep them from unraveling.

Attach the ribbons to a 7″ piece of elastic with straight pins and thread the first ribbon through the top sleeve.  A good trick:  attach a safety pin to the end of the ribbon you’re pulling through.  It gives you something to hold onto while you’re pulling it.

Last step:  stitch along the open edge of the top sleeve to attach the ribbon and the elastic to the dress.  I learned the hard way to keep the straight pin in until you’ve got it all sewed together – that elastic will try to escape.

Now,trim any loose threads, take out your pins, tie up those ribbons and admire your finished product.

These make a great service project and they’re simple enough that even kids can help make them.  Try forming an assembly line with a cutting station, an ironing station, a sewing station, and a ribbon cutting and threading station. You’ll be amazed how quickly they go.  I’m glad to know these dresses are going to girls who really need them and I hope they’ll enjoy wearing them as much and I enjoyed making them.

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