Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Pillowcase Dress Tutorial {for the complete sewing dummy!}

A couple girlfriends are wanna-be sewers like myself so we decided to try our hands at those super cute pillowcase dresses you see all over! They look so cute on the little girls and pretty straightforward and easy to make.  I found this tutorial online which had pictures and pretty good instructions so I went for it!  Joanns had some awesome fabrics on sale for only $2.99 yd so I bought enough for 3 dresses {Savannah was specific in her color requests but I couldn't choose between 2 for Emmie so got both for that price!}  I found coordinating fabric in those "Fat Quarter" packages, on sale for 99cents, because I planned on making my own bias tape & maybe even putting a strip of it across the bottom for contrast (lemme just jump in & say all that fanciness did NOT happen).

I was so proud of myself cranking right along through all the steps on the tutorial..then it all came to a screeching halt and the frustration started along with the dummy hat I was convinced I was wearing since I could not for the life of me figure out how to sew the arm holes.  I can sew a straight line pretty good now that I have been practicing but sewing on a curve in a 1/2 circle was WAY beyond me!  I opted for the fold 2x & iron then sew method because I was intimidated & scared of the whole bias tape route.  Maybe the bias tape would have been easier & I should have been scared by the method I chose..Who knows?!?! I think I will try the bias tape for Savannah's dress so I will report back :) 

So come along on my journey to my 1st piece of apparel since those awful 7th grade home-ec shorts!

Cut your fabric to size & then sew together like in 1st pic then iron seam open (yes I am ironing on my kitchen counter using a pizza peel - mad skills I tell ya!)            


Now fold your dress in 1/2 - and get ready to cut your arm holes, I used the measurements she gave as a guide since I was clueless here & just ask Dave - I cannot run a measuring tape to save my life.  Whenever we work on something around here I give him measurements like "Its 25 inches & 3 little lines, just short of the 2nd big line! He LOVES its & that's why I am no longer allowed to be on that end of the tape measure)

*HUGE important note here* - Be SURE to keep the seam you just sewed on the side you are cutting for the arm holes.  A lovely wonderful woman who shall remain nameless did not do this so the seam was in the back & created HUMUNGO problems later!

I was all smug at this point thinking I had this thing in the bag & why had I waited so long to try...I went to fold 2x, iron, pin & sew the arm holes.  While I am trying to fold & iron I started to feel like the stooge hat was on my head.  I was thinking if I cannot even get this to fold easily how in the world am I going to sew this evenly?  I was not & let me tell you I ripped out (thanks goodness for that seam ripper! The instructor of my class was not kidding when she said its a sewers BFF!) probably 4 seams and kept trying before finally throwing in the towel and started my google search of sewing arm holes - there must be some super secret easy trick to this I was just missing since I am new to the sewing world.  I didn't find any & at the advice of my neighbor & sister I just went slow, kept raising the presser foot & scooting over the fabric & sewing more.  Finally it was "good enough for who its for" in my book & I went onto the neckline. 

Here is where the HUMUNGO issue came into play I mentioned earlier.  I folded over the top of the dress about 1" and ironed and pinned it in place. 

Ahhh...a nice straight piece of fabric to sew again - life is good & I will conquer this...not so fast.....In the back of my head I kept thinking its probably going to be hard to feed this ribbon through after its sewn but I don't want to put in the ribbon & then sew because I might catch the ribbon and won't be able to adjust it for the straps.  I sewed both sides of the top, got a skewer (hooray for unprofessional tools!) and pushed it right through to the other side.  Hooray I am seeing the light at the end & visions of Em dancing around in her handmade dress are in my head!  I go to feed the ribbon through the back piece and it gets jammed right in the middle and won't go further!  @#$%?!  I realize now why it was a "side seam"  Well there is no chance in you know where I was going to rip it all apart & start over since I was this far..I carefully took apart just that small piece of the seam and shoved the ribbon through, made sure I had even pieces on each side & sewed the opening closed - thank the lord above I used pink thread that totally blends in with the fabric because it really helps to mask all these mistakes!

Now, finally time to fold, iron, pin & sew the hem along the bottom and be done! This was fast & easy just how I thought the whole show would be! 

AND just to add insult to injury - I had bought this super cute 1" lime green ricrac to go along the bottom seam just to add a little detail.  I start to wrap it around and pin it in place only to realize its about 2" short -

Voila........finally done, I might still add that ricrac trim when I get back to Joanns to get a bigger piece or I might just save those cute little touches for my next try now that I think I might be able to avoid most of the mistakes I made on this first attempt!!

Disclaimer - this cost me 1 spring oreo @ 8:30am!


  1. What a super cute Dress and girl! She is soooo tall. Nichole you did a great job! Welcome to the wonderful very frustrating world of sewing!
    Love ya

  2. not sure if she is all that tall or the dress just ended up WAY shorter than it was supposed to! ha ha :)

  3. Great job! You sure didn't get the sewing gene from me!!

  4. Love it! I'll take a size 3T for Lexi!!!

    Thank You,

  5. Totally adorbs!!

  6. Wow that's a little skimpy there Martha Stewart...