By Nikol Lohr
Sundresses made of cute vintage pillow cases aren’t just for little girls. If you have a pair of pillowcases, you can make a dress that fits up to a size XL. Look for pillowcases in solid colors or that aren’t too worn out. Thin white cases mean you’ll either need to line them (just cut out some washed white cotton in the same shape as your skirt pieces and sew double layers), or relegate the resulting see-through dress to nightie status.
2 pillowcases, preferably with fancy cuffs, pressed standard/queen for a short dress; king for a longer dress
Note: I used a serger to finish edges and to sew the simple seams, but it’s not really necessary. A sewing machine alone will work fine.
Step 1: Turn pillowcases inside-out and trim short seamed sides.
Step 2: Measure 4″ in from corner near other seamed edge on first pillowcase. Fold the pillowcase from cuff-edged seamed corner to measurement and press fold. Trim off angle along fold. Save trimmed piece.
Step 3: Trim the seamed edge of the second pillowcase and cut it along long folded sides so you have two pieces.
Step 4: With right sides facing, fold one of those pieces in half lengthwise. Pin the saved trimmed piece from Step 2 along the long open end of your folded piece, making sure it’s facing the same way (narrow end on cuff side). Use it as a template to cut out the angle.
Step 5: With right sides facing, pin cut angles of first pillowcase and trimmed half pillowcase together. Starting at cuffed edge, seam. Remove pins and press seam.
Step 6: Trim cuff from remaining pillowcase half, leaving about 1 inch of excess fabric below cuff. Fold the short sides in 1/2″ and sew down. If there is any decorative trim sewn into the cuff, press it toward the folded edge so it will be out of the way when you seam it to the skirt. Working lengthwise at folded side of cuff, fold in 1″ and press. Sew a line 3/4″ from fold to create casing.
Step 7: Fold in waist edge of skirt 1″ all around and press.
Step 8: With skirt right side out, lay skirt so that the narrow back panel is centered and facing up. With placket right side down, pin the cut edge of placket to the folded waist of skirt and centered along the side opposite the narrow panel side. You can fold the cut edge of the placket up to make sure it will line properly with the skirt as you pin it. Make sure you pin through the folded flap only on the skirt.
Step 9: Fold placket down and waist flap up so that the placket and skirt are flat with right sides facing. Sew the seam as close to the fold as possible. Press.
Step 10: Cut a piece of elastic that, when stretched, is as long as the center back panel is wide, plus another inch.
Step 11: Sew one end of elastic down to the folded flap of the waist, just along the panel seam. Use a zigzag if possible, and go back and forth several times.
Step 12: Move elastic out of the way (parallel to the edge, so it won’t get sewn into the casing), and sew a line from panel seam to panel seam, 3/4″ from folded edge.
Step 13: With a safety pin as a guide, feed the end of elastic through the casing and over to the other panel seam. Sew it down securely at the panel seam (it’s okay to go through both layers of the casing).
Step 14: Sew down remainder of waist flap 1/2″ from fold, from panel seam to panel seam in the other direction (including the portion under the placket).
Step 15: If your cuffs have trim under them, you can sew it down flat both on the placket and around the hemline so it stays tidier.
Step 16: Take remainder of pillowcase fabric and fold in half twice. Cut out six 2-inch wide strips through all layers (the photo shows five, but you do want six).
Step 17: Seam them together by short ends to make one very long strip. Fold it lengthwise with right sides in, then seam the whole thing and turn it right side out, using a safety pin to guide one end through the other. Press flat.
Step 18: Snip off two 3″ pieces. Fold each in half and sew into inside of skirt on either side of elastic casing. You should have about a 3/4″ loop sticking up. Sew it down securely with two rows of straight stitch and backstitch.
Step 19: Feed the strap through casing on top of placket so the ends hanging out on either side are equal. Cross the straps and feed one end through each loop in the back. To wear, put dress over head so straps cross in back. Gather fabric at placket casing lightly. Pull straps around and either tie in front, or cross in front and tie in back.
Variation: If you’d like a deeper back and overall longer dress, leave 6 to 8 inches of fabric attached to the cuff in Step 6 instead of just 1″. You’ll need to cut all of the remaining fabric into strips in Step 16 to make a tie that’s long enough – or use 4 yards of coordinating ribbon instead.
About the Author:
Nikol Lohr lives at The Harveyville Project with her partner, 2 cats, 7 sheep, and 7 hens. She’s the author of Naughty Needles & founder of Yarn School. She blogs at The Thrifty Knitter, is cupcake on Ravelry, and queenievonsugarpants on Flickr.