Tutorial Tuesday: Pillowcase Dress {simple version}

We all know by now that as a mama of boys I LOVE getting the opportunity to make treats for little girls {see this post}.  Many of my friends have asked for a tutorial on pillowcase dresses.  There are several out there so this isn’t any new information but I will give you an overview of how I sew them.

I recently found a chart for sizing over at Alexia Jean designs on her pillowcase dress tutorial post.  FINALLY no more guessing on sizing or asking the child’s mom to measure their daughter for me.

So drumroll please….. as I give you my very own pillowcase dress tutorial.


completed dress

Materials needed:

- fabric 1/2 yd to 1 yard of fabric

- coordinating thread

- extra wide double fold bias tape (you can use smaller, but the wider is easier to sew)

- coordinating grosgrain ribbon – for the ties OR some of your leftover bias tape {tutorial on making your own tie to come another day!}


Begin by washing your fabrics.  Yes, this takes extra time and while you might be impatient like me when beginning your projects, this will be worn {hopefully a lot} and you don’t want it to look silly after it is washed.

Once fabrics are washed and ironed.  Fold your fabric right sides together and sew up the side where the selvage edges meet.  You will now have a tube.

sewn side seam

Next decide which side will be the bottom.  {For this tutorial I am just laying out the most basic of pillowcase dresses, you can add on a panel of coorindating fabric on the bottom to jazz the dress up a bit, but not this time}.  Turn the edge up 1/4 inch and press, then turn another 1/2 inch to complete the hem.  As you press the hem pin it into place.  Then sew all the way around the hem using the folded edge of your fabric as your guide.

1/2 hem around bottom

{If you really want a quick way to hem, buy the EXTRA EXTRA wide bias tape and just sew that on along the bottom!  It looks super cute and there is no need to heat up the iron!}

Now we move onto the arm holes.  Fold your dress in half bringing the side seam and the opposite folded edge together.

Fold sides together

Measure and draw lines 2 inches over from the side and 7 inches down  {I use a disappearing quilting pen}.  Just before your lines meet, curve one line into the other so you end up with a J shape.  Cut along your line and toss the small scraps in the trash.

7 x 1 1/2

Curve to connect lines

Cut armholes

We are getting to the tricky part!  The bias tape…  Don’t be scared, it’s not as hard as you think especially since we are using wider bias tape.  I take a little more time with my bias tape simply because I have tried it the shortcut way and have not ended up with great results.

The first time I used bias tape I watched a uTube video on how to sew it.  The visual was VERY helpful.  Here is the tutorial I watched {yes, it is a bit strange but it helped so I am sharing it with you}. Basically, open up your bias tape, you will notice one side if a bit more narrow than the other.

bias tape

attach narrow side around armhole

Place that narrow side on the RIGHT side of your arm hole and pin all the way around the U shape.  Some find you don’t need to pin the bias tape in place but I am a pinner ;)

Pinned, ready to sew

Stitch the bias tape around the arm hole making sure your stitches line up right in the fold.  When you get to the end of the U, just cut the bias tape and then repeat on the other arm hole.

stitch in the fold

flip to reverse and fold over

Now that the bias tape is secure, fold it over, pin it again, and sew it all the way around to enclose the edge of the fabric.  Make sure you sew as close to the edge of the bias tape (where it meets the fabric) as possible.  Ta-Da!  You are almost done!!!

armhole complete

Final step – make the casing for the tie at the top.  Just like you hemmed the bottom of the dress press the top edges 1/4 inch and then to make a casing fold fabric 1 inch up and press.  Pin that into place and sew along the folded edge.

Form casing for neckline

Completed Neckline

You can now take either your ribbon or your bias tape and put a safety pin at one end.  Be sure you have burned the ends of your ribbon first to prevent fraying. (If using bias tape, sew up the open side).

Sew open side of bias tape

Feed the safety pin through your casing openings.  You can either do one in front and one in back for ties on each shoulder OR you can do one long tie and go through the front and back tying the tie on one shoulder only.

Feed strap through casing

finished ties

And there you have it!  An adorable pillowcase dress fit for a princess to wear!

completed dress

Be sure to check back next week for a tutorial on how to add the coordinating panel of fabric along the bottom and make our own tie using that same coordinating fabric!


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