Wednesday, March 14, 2018

I May Have A Scrap Problem - You Can't Make Just One!

Hi, all!

OK, today's Scrappy Wednesday post is going to be a little different, but I still think it counts if you think of it as using up really big scraps, and leftover notions!  So here's a little tutorial...

This past weekend our church quilt ministry group decided to branch out a little bit and make pillowcase dresses for our church mission team to take to Haiti when they go in June.  Now, this was the first time I had ever made a pillowcase dress - and I can't believe it took me so long to learn to make these.  And once you've made one, you'll find it's hard to stop!  So let's get started...

First of all, you'll need a pillowcase.  If you don't have one, dig into those leftover one-yard pieces you have sitting in your stash for the following:

1 piece 40" x 27" (pillowcase body)
1 piece 40" x 9"   (pillowcase cuff)
1 piece 40" x 2"   (pillowcase trim)

When I cut these pieces, I usually cut a width-of-fabric strip of each fabric, then layer them on top of each other (fold the biggest one in half) with the folds on one side and the selvage edge on the other.  Measure 21" from the fold side and trim all the pieces at the same time, cutting off the selvage edge.  Now all your pieces are the same size!

Now it's time to go to the excellent pillowcase-making tutorial I found on the web.  I can't do any better than this one, so hop over here, put your pillowcase together, and come back to learn how to turn it into a dress!

First of all, fold your pillowcase in half lengthwise.  Cut off the seam end of the pillowcase.  You can adjust the length of your dress by how much you cut off.  We made twenty by just cutting off the seam itself, and this next batch, we will cut off three inches for smaller girls.  

Now, on the not-folded long side, you are going to mark your armholes.  Put your ruler on the corner, measuring four inches down and two inches in. Using pencil, mark from the edge to the 1" mark in both directions.  

Now freehand draw a curve between the ends of your two lines.

At this point, because I'm going to cut both armholes at the same time, I pin the fabric all together on the dress side of the line, then cut out the armholes.

Now, go look in that stash of notions you've got tucked away and find a package of bias binding tape.  I'm happy to say that we've worked through most of the stash of tape I have been hoarding for years!  You'll need about a yard of bias binding tape, either double or single fold.  If it's single fold, you'll need to fold it in half and press it.  

This is a piece of double fold bias tape.  Do you see how it's not quite evenly folded?  That's not laziness - that's intentional.  If you put the larger side on the back of what you are sewing, then you'll be sure to catch it when you sew the top side down.  Unless you feel really comfortable with finicky sewing, I suggest you use the medium width binding tape - the tiny stuff looks great, but it takes concentration to sew it down!  Of course, I don't pin mine, just stuff the raw edge in as I go, so maybe it wouldn't be quite as challenging with pins....

Once you've got your binding tape, stuff the raw edge of the armhole inside it (narrower side on top, remember?) and stitch it down close to the edge.  I like to use my walking foot for this - just personal preference - but you may find it makes it a little easier too.

See how nice that looks when it's done?  Once armholes are finished, it's time to take care of the remaining raw edges. 

Your next step will be to pick out your ribbon.  You'll need two pieces about 30-36" long.  I like 5/8"-3/4" wide grosgrain ribbon, but you can use almost anything - wider satin ribbon, or I've even seen people use shoelaces!  But whatever you use, you'll need to make your casing just slightly wider than your ribbon.  So now, let's make a casing for the ribbon to run through!  

First step - turn under 1/4" and press.  Then turn under enough to cover your ribbon - basically the width of your ribbon plus about 1/4".  You can probably eyeball that measurement, but if you're not sure, you can measure and pin it.  Press that also.

Now stitch close to the long edge of the casing, being sure to backstitch on both ends.  

Put a large safety pin through the end of one ribbon, and feed it through the casing on one side.  

Repeat for the other side, and tie the ribbons together on each side.

And look!  You've got a super-cute pillowcase dress!  Sure to make some little girl happy - I know my granddaughter spotted this one and decided it was hers!

Now here's the skinny - this dress used up three bits and bobs of fabric that had been sitting in my stash for a long time, plus part of a package of bias binding and a partial spool of ribbon from that monster tub in my closet.  And now it is useful and will make a little girl's heart sing!  And all in all, it took about an hour to make (including making the pillowcase!)  How's that for a little instant gratification?  And like I said, it's hard to make just one - you'll be looking for little girls to give these to just so you can make more!  




  1. lovely pattern and that fabric will delight any small girl, or an older one too.

  2. Really sweet. This looks like clothing construction even I could manage! LOL

  3. That's so sweet! I'm going to make a few of these to send to Honduras when the local mission team goes back. They've sort of adopted 4 little sisters whose mom left, and their dad does have a job so he has to leave them on their own. Thank goodness, the team has found a way to pay someone to watch them when he's gone. So sad.

  4. How cool! I've been thinking of asking Lori at Humble Quilts for a pattern to make these as she delivers them to South America on mission trips. And now I have one. Thank you! Great tutorial as well! These will bring some smiles!

  5. Very cute. We make them at sew days in October. We usually will tack the ribbon in the middle of the casing with a few stitches so it won't come out. Did you know that the girls are less likely to be abused when wearing a cute nice dress because they look clean and well loved/taken care of?

  6. I made two or three a few years back and sent to Lori for her mission trip. Haven't made any since. Maybe need to revisit that. Thanks for the reminder.

  7. What an adorable dress. I make pillowcase dresses for a charity. Very easily made and stylish too.

  8. Thanks for sharing this tutorial. There are lots of little girls all over the world who would love to have a dress like this. Some members of our church go to Guatemala. I would love to send a few with them.

  9. Great tutorial. I definitely have the "large" scraps to make a couple of these. Thanks

  10. I have been wanting to try one of these for my 20 month old great granddaughter. I knew I could find a tutorial online, but yours is so clear and well done. Thanks a bunch!

  11. That is so cute and it does look like lots of fun. Thanks for the tutorial.


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