Sunday, August 3, 2008

summer dreams: tutorial for a pillow case dress

I really wanted to sew something special for my nieces...something to help them remember their summer with us. It had to be easy and quick, because each day was packed with adventures. I made these vintage pillow case summer dresses in one evening after everyone was tucked in. The girls were thrilled and I knew the perfect location for the photo shoot! Just down the road is a huge meadow filled with Queen Ann's lace. It was totally ethereal at sunset...the girls felt like fairies in their own field of flowers.


Materials for one dress (fits 6-10 year old):
-vintage pillow case (cases with detailing or lace on the open side lend interest to hemline)
-matching thread
-seam ripper
-twill tape or grosgrain ribbon


Instructions:
1. Cut neckline: pillow case's opening becomes dress bottom.... cut along the closed seam at top, to open for neckline.
2. Cut armholes: lay pillow case flat and mark measurement with a pencil for a diagonal cut. First mark 2 inches from side seam towards the neckline on both sides. Next mark 3 inches from top of side seam down each side. Use a ruler to connect your marks on both sides and cut out triangles.
3. Fold over armhole's raw edge 2x. Pin. Sew.
4. Fold over neckline 2x (creating a channel wide enough for ribbon). Pin and sew.



5. Feed ribbon through front and back neckline and adjust to fit on child. Sew ends of ribbon together, cut excess and pull into the channel (no ribbon ends visible). Gather.
6. Depending on the style of pillow case and size of child, you may want to add slits on the bottom sides, as I did.
These are very simple summer shifts. Light and breezy. Let me know if you give it a try or if you have any questions.


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43 comments:

  1. Beautiful photographs.The dresses are beautiful, the hemming just makes them perfect.

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  2. So very romantic! I still haven't tried the party hats, and now I want to make a pillow case dress for my eldest daughter, sigh...not enough time in one day...

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  3. I have to try this, Maya! I don't have the pillowcase yet, but still... I love the pictures, as usual.

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  4. These are beautiful little dresses and I love the location of the photo shoot. It's perfect!

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  5. I love these dresses. I want to make one for my daughter. Shoot I want to make one for myself. Do you think I can find pillow cases to fit a size 6/8 woman? I think it would look fabulous with a belt. Do you think this is possible even if I don't sew, but only fantasize about sewing?

    Actually what you show on your blog is my fantasy of a future life. Do those beautiful fairies have any fairy dust for me?

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  6. Thanks everyone! Pillow cases are easy to come by at thrift stores...they don't have to be vintage:)

    Rowena- I know you can make one! I would try a king size pillow case for an adult. I'm a 6/8 also, and although these were a bit short for me, they fit just right other than length. I'd be happy to help if you get stuck...just contact me.

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  7. what beautiful fairies and dresses. what a great setting for the photos. i miss seeing fields of queen annes lace.

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  8. Thanks so much for this! I just made my toddler a few of these with some fantastic dragonfly fabric I never would have gotten around to using without such a sweet and simple pattern.

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  9. These are absolutely adorable. Thanks so much for sharing your steps!

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  10. This is perfection! Thanks SO much for writing all this up! I'm totally including it in the Daily DIY today!

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  11. Those are simply perfect what a wonderful Idea!! thanks for sharing!! but now I want one in MY size!!! so I can wear one around as a light house shift, nightie thingie etc??!!! any suggestions??? thanks! Hugs Linda

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  12. i adore this simple and stunning idea and can't wait to get to the second hand shops to find the perfect pillow cases (yes plural) for my daughter. in response to the previous post about an adult version with a belt, it might work to sew two cases together and hide seam with belt? could work for an elegant below the knee or maxi dress, right?

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  13. These images are absolutely beautiful.

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  14. I came over from the Sew mama sew blog to tell you that the photographs are really pretty. The dresses and the girls are cute too :)

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  15. These images are so beautiful and innocent. I have three boys, but I have two little girls in mind for whom I could sew these. I also have loads of vintage pillowcases just yellowing in my linen closet. Thanks for the inspiration.

    Jill

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  16. Such Beautiful dresses, we are coming to the end of winter here in Australia, might whip some up ready for our summer - thanks for sharing!
    Janelle ;-)

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  17. Thanks for sharing the directions for these lovely dresses. You should enter the photos in some contests- they are very special.

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  18. Thank you for this tutorial! I made it yesterday, super cute!

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  19. I love these! Great job on the tutorial. Thanks so much. The girls look absolutely beautiful in these.

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  20. There's a woman that makes these to sell at our local children's consignment store. I was just admiring them yesterday, thinking, "These would be so easy to make...". And now I read your tutorial! Great timing & great post!

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  21. I'm so glad I found this tutorial! I've been wanting to make a nightgown for my daughter out of one of my grandmother's old nightgowns that she handed down to me and I wore for nursing when my kids were babies. I had stepped on the hem so it tore at the neckline. I used this tutorial, and it came out beautifully! My daughter will love her heirloom nightgown, and since I made it extra long and left about eight inches of extra ribbon inside, she can wear it for a long time to come!

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  22. We've been making these all summer, too. In fact, I made some for my girls to wear at the beach and forgot til now to put them on them. Oops!

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  23. I'm a big fan of pillow case dresses too since I hv a 8 yr old daughter who loves them as well!

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  24. Stunning photos, I'm soooo inspired to try this, thank you thank you thank you :D

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  25. These are lovely! I'm too tall for a dress, but I did end up making some shirts out of pillowcases. I love them!

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  26. Omigosh! I tried but didnt quite understand how to do the neckline in the pillowcases and so i did a tube tob, its almost done, ill post a pic later! Im so happy im only 12!

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  27. I don't quite understand how to cut the "triangle" for the arm hole? Is there any way you could put it in a different way? Maybe a diagram or pic of what it looks like after you cut it, but before it's gathered with the ribbon? LOVE IT!

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  28. So happy this tutorial continues to be enjoyed! Kristi, the part that confused you is really just a connect the dots and cut. What you cut out becomes a triangle. If you are still having trouble, please e-mail me and I'd be happy to help!

    Can't wait to see the anonymous twelve year old's version! Great job!!

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  29. I have a beautiful embroidered vintage pillowcase I have been saving that will be perfect for a dress. Thank you for the tutorial.

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  30. I just found your blog and I love it! I would LOVE to make this little dress for my daughter but I am a BRAND new sewer and (silly) me is a little confused about where and what to cut to get the neck and arm holes. Anyway you could email me a pic or 'dumbed' downed version for me!?! Thanks!
    nicdec@hotmail.com

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  31. Just to say thank you for the tutorial - it's great. I had found some lovely '70s pillowcases a few weeks ago in a charityshop, and have turned one of them into a dress for my youngest. She loves it, and I love that she does! (she says, swelling with pride at actually having made one!! :-)..) So many thanks!

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  32. I love making pillow case dresses. Very nice tutorial. Fabulous photos!

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  33. Lovely girls and a nice tutorial. I've posted a link to this in a summer tutorials post on my blog, The Handmade Experiment. http://emilyflippinmaruna.wordpress.com/2009/06/15/must-make-monday-its-summer-tutes/

    Thanks and have a great summer!
    Emily

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  34. I came across this post a couple days ago, and after reading it I immediately went to the thrift store to get some pillowcases!

    I found a great white one with an eyelet hemline and was surprised to find that it fit me perfectly, even though I am a good 5'7"! It hit just above the knee, so it was long enough to be appropriate and still short enough to be a great summer dress. Adding a scarf belt really brings the whole thing together.

    Thanks for the amazing post and the inspiration!

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  35. These dresses are so cute and the pictures so lovely and sweet. I had to post about them on my Thursdays Creative Thrift today.

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  36. I just read about this post in the Artful Blogging magazine last night and I couldn't wait to see the photos. They are gorgeous! What a great pattern idea and what a beautiful way to illustrate it.

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  37. thank you for your clear and simple tutorial. I whipped up two of these tonight for my daughters for nighties, not as nice as yours but still super cute. I think I mangled the splits in the side, but I'll do better next time - planning on making many more.

    thank you again.

    Perdita in Aus.

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  38. Very cute! My daughter lives in casual dresses all summer. I think she would love these. They look comfortable. Thanks for sharing.

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  39. Love the dress, very ideal for the summer! THanks for the share.

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  40. Thanks for the tutorial, I made a couple from op shop pillow cases and get stopped in the street and asked where I got them!

    I am now holding a class at the local primary school teaching the girls there how to make them as they are such a hit!

    Lovely!x

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