What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Step by Step:Pillowcase dress

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Disclaimer: I am NOT a professional. Just a lady who, when she gets an idea in her head, goes with it and gets it done by 'fudging it'. For better or for worse. There may be better ways to do this. Or more 'proper' means. But this is what I did and how I did it, for those of you who have asked. Those professionals out there...be gracious to me, ok? Or, better yet, make a PROFESSIONAL tutorial! ;-) Bear with me also, as this is my first picture tutorial ever, done only by request. Hopefully, someday, we will get high speed and it won't take an entire weekend to download the pictures for one post!

After interest was shown in pillowcase dresses and after I had already made my own method, I went surfing around and discovered this site that shares how to do a pillowcase using ribbon for the casing and sleeves. I will be trying this method out too. I also discovered THIS site that has inspiring designs to buy (or in my case, copy). I had such fun looking through the gallery/catalog and seeing all the different styles and lengths...you can even make pillowcase shirts and coordinated pantaloons! So-if this one doesn't work for you or you prefer the style of the OTHER one (or are just in need of some inspiration) check those out too. THIS tutorial is for a pillowcase 'nightgown'.

This style makes actual sleeves from fabric and uses elastic in the casing rather than ribbon. Nor does it have sewn-in 'armholes' I also made it long, utilizing the WHOLE pillowcase, since, after all, it is a nightGOWN. Keep in mind, too, this was made for my 3 year old. If you have a different aged child or want to customize the length of the dress, simply measure the length from the shoulder of your child to the length you want it to fall, adding enough fabric to form the elastic casing (you'll read about that). You'll have to customize the sleeve length as well.

Here we go:

First, find a pillowcase and iron it flat. Fold it in half vertically and trim off the closed section in a straightline, allowing 1/2 inch more than the width you would like your sleeves to be. I wanted my FINISHED sleeve to be one inch wide, so I cut the width to be 1 1/2 inches. Fold under the half inch and iron seam.

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Take a moment, now, to snap a picture of the littlest sewers hovering about your feet. This one in particular, take great delight in situating scraps around the floor, measuring them with the fabric tape, and rolling them with the little rolly do-hickey.

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NOW~this is where you can get creative or you can just get the job done. If you want your sleeves to be plain jane, simply stitch the open seam closed and move on to the steps with the body of the pillowcase.

I like to add a bit of embellishment to my sleeves, so I found a coordinated ribbon. (You can also use lace, etc.) Cut the ribbon about three inches longer than the fabric sleeve length. Stitch a basting stitch all the way down the side of the ribbon. (When basting, set your stitch length at the longest setting-remeber to switch it back when you are done!) Make sure the basting is relatively close to the edge as you want the stitching to be hidden when put in place.

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Grab one of the strings and pull, gathering it up to match the length of the sleeves, plus about an inch. Pin into place, keeping about 1/2 inch on either side. Fold the extra bit twice to lock in the raw edge. Stitch into place, close to the edge. This will give you one LONG sleeve.

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Cut it in half.
(If you are making a smaller sized dress, it will NOT equal out to be a half.) Your sleeves are done for now, so set them aside.

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Next, take a picture of the husband, lounging in your sewing room. I cropped this photo because THIS particular husband was without pants. As we most often like to be here at the Newman household.

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Grab your pillowcase and flip inside out. Measure, fold and iron down the casing, baring in mind the width of your elastic. I am using a smaller elastic this time so I measured 1 1/4 inches. Ironed. Open up the seam, the folded the edge down to meet the ironed seam. Fold THAT down again, so that the ironed edge is outside and the raw edge is hidden within.

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(For the last pillowcase dress I made, I used 1/2 inch elastic so my casing was 3/4 wide. To make the casing, I folded fabric down 1 1/2 inches.) Stitch casing, leaving an inch or two open at the end. This will be used for adding the elastic.

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Measure elastic to fit comfortably around childs chest. Add 1/2 inch to measurement, this extra will give you enough to stitch the edges together. Stick a pin in the one edge of elastic and push through the casing, all the way until you reach the opening again.

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Stitch both edges of elastic together taking care NOT to twist elastic in the casing AND making sure you make it secure. I go back and forth several times, with straight AND zigzag stitch.
Stitch the opening in the casing closed and smooth out the gathers so they are a bit more uniform.

Now, out of sheer vanity I tend to shy away from posting unflattering photos of myself. I make an exception just this once, because Matt grabbed my camera and started acting like a photographer wannabe...snapping pictures every second in every different angle shouting, "Work it BABY, WORK IT!" Too funny. So, if you have a husband like that-now would be a good time to WORK IT BABY!

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Grab your sleeves and position them where you would like them on the dress. Start on the side with the seam, making sure the seam is, in fact, on the SIDE :-) Positioning the sleeves on the back a bit more IN will decrease the chance of them falling down the shoulders. Also make sure if you have added ribbon, that it will be facing OUT on the completed project.

Stitch sleeve onto the bottom of the casing, taking care not to stitch into the elastic. After making one, I found out it is a good idea also to flip the pillowcase right side out once again and stitch the top of the casing onto the sleeve as well, otherwise, when it is being worn, the casing might flip over from time to time. Not essential of course, but still, a good thing to do.

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Now you are basically done!!! You can dress it up by stitching a little ribbon bow in front of your like, or embellishment of your choice. You can add rickrack or embroidery to the bottom edge too. THAT, my friends, is up to you!

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Finally, go have a photo shoot because you just made a pillowcase dress, nightie, or shirt! Hurray for you!

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As you can see, Corynn was very obliging.

This particular pillowcase nightgown was made from a pillowcase that Matt's (and my adopted) Gram embroidered for us, so not only is it handmade by me-it was handstitched by her. Doubly special.

As much as I have typed and as long as it has taken to upload these pictures, the process really is simple. I finish mine in about 30 minutes usually. The next one I make, I will be using the 'armhole' method, that way I can compare and see which method I prefer...let me know if you have any questions (I will TRY and answer them!) and tell me if you make one (regardless of method)! I would love to see yours!


Unknown said...

I am lurking here ... but had to stop and say that little dress/nightie is precious. I am copying the directions and putting them in my file. I have 3 grown sons but some day I will have a friend's grandchild, or perhaps my own, to sew for.

Thanks for sharing. I came by way of Kelli's place by the way.

Alison B. said...

this is so precious. maybe you can make one for MY LITTLE GIRL one day...

pray for us tomorrow because Tuesday is supposed to be the big day. more details to follow.

(i love doing this to you!)

Gena said...

THAT is the sweetest little nightgown. I have always wanted to make one of those, but didn't know how. Thanks to your excellent instructions, I will now do it.

I have sewn for quite some time and I have to tell you - I think you did a great job with your tutorial. In fact, it was better than some in the sewing magazines! Keep up the good work.

P.S. Corynn looks beautiful in her gown - like a little angel.

Anonymous said...

I love your gowns! Pillowcase gowns have been on my to do list for a long time now to. You can also make them the same way from fabric yardage. Except you have to hem the bottom. Maybe once my canning is done this week I'll be able to get a little sewing in! :-)

Michelle said...

I have been wanting to make a pillowcase dress for years, but have been blessed with three sons instead of a daughter. Now, maybe I will have a chance! ;)

Bonnie said...

Oh hooray, you posted instructions! I most certainly have to try this, as finding non cartoon related/ cute pajamas for little girls is just this side of impossible. BTW, I think you "worked it" fine, it was a cute picture, and I could almost hear you giggling!

My apologies for spelling, we all managed to get a freak summer cold, and sleep has been very much in want this week!

Els said...

If you have some boring pillowcases, you could also make sleepingbag-liners (as I did)
But these pillow cases are far too pretty!

Abigail said...

Ooh, I love this one, too! The green ribbon edging the sleeves is the perfect touch.

Mrs. H said...

Thanks so much for sharing the instructions! That made a beautiful dress.

Mrs. H

Anonymous said...

We're making the ones with bias tape for around the armholes and for the ties at the shoulders for Little Dresses for Africa, but this is so much more frugal and uses up all the scrap! I've been trying to think of how to use the end of the pillow for pockets or something, but I love these little cap sleeves. I'm trying this on the next one I make, and if I can do it, any one can. I'm going to pass along you tutorial to our sewing circle!

Rebecca said...

Gem! That is WONDERFUL! What a great idea, to make these dresses to send to Africa. I just recently participated in a skirt making challenge to send along with a girl who was going to work in some African orphanages for the summer.

I hope this helps you. Thank you for sharing them, the more people that use this tutorial, the better!

Jenny said...

Thank You Love the sleeves.

Ginger said...

This tutorial outstanding loved the whole look of the dress .
Thank you so much for showing us how!

Angie said...

I love this version of the pillowcase dress. I think the sleeves make it more "dainty". Thanks for the tutorial!

Shay said...

I love this dress/nightgown. I just made one for my daughter. It took all of 20 mins. and she was trilled. Thanks for the pattern, I will be using this over and over.