If you have been following me for a while, you know I’m not much of a seamtress. In fact, I will attach everything I possibly can with hemming tape to avoid sewing. I just haven’t had much experience with it, and I am always afraid of messing up, as well as the time I assume it will take.
But last month, I wrote a post for Crafting Chicks, and guess what? I sewed. Not only did I sew, but I sewed a dress! Say whaaaat! I was so proud of myself… but the best part is, this method is so easy that anyone could do it.
However, when I saw these candy cane striped pillow cases for $2 (for 2!), I thought they would make an adorable dress bottom or skirt. However, dealing with necklines and armholes seemed like a big task to me. So, instead of facing my fears like a mature adult, I grabbed this plain white tank top (for $3!) to use on the top. Doing this made the dress so easy that I’m convinced even the most basic of sewing levels could complete it. I really and truly can’t sew much besides a straight line, so you can believe me on this one.
To make your own Christmas pillow case dress, you won’t need very much. Your supply list will look like this:
- pillow cases (standard size) – I also used a plain white one underneath because the stripes were a little see through.
- tank top or t-shirt
- iron on vinyl
- co-ordinating thread
- wide ribbon (optional)
- hemming tape (optional)
I took a picture of every single step, so to save space, I’ve grouped them together into main body and sleeve steps.
Step 1: Using a dress that fits your child, measure how long you want the skirt to be. Leave an additional inch for hemming. The hem of the pillow case will be the hem on the bottom of your skirt (hooray for saving time!) so make sure you cut the excess off the closed pillow case end.
Step 2: If you are using a liner, cut the liner about an inch (or a hemline) shorter than your printed fabric. You may also want to iron it, which I was too lazy to do, as you can see.
Step 3: Set your sewing machine to the longest straight stitch it has, and run the skirt (both layers) through the machine. Don’t backstitch at the beginning or end. Leave long tails at both ends so you can gather the fabric by pulling on the bobbin thread (the bottom one) until the fabric gathers. Spread the gathers out evenly.
Step 4: Cut your tank top using your dress as a guide (I always cut 3 inches down from the arm hole) and pin it to the skirt, right sides together. Run it through your sewing machine again, cut any loose or long threads, and flip the right way out. (PS – see the holes along the bottom of my top? Yeh… I kinda ran it through with the wrong side of the shirt facing the skirt… My seam ripper and I got pretty close that afternoon. But no biggie, it was covered up by the new seam.)
When you are finished these steps, your dress will look like the image above. If your shirt has sleeves or you want to make a tank dress, you could stop there, but if you want simple flutter sleeves, just follow these three simple steps:
Step 1: Fold the excess fabric from the pillow case in half and cut a small shape like the image above. When unfolded, it will look like a really skinny C. Use your first cut as a pattern for your second. I cut my sleeves to be the height of the arm hole.
Step 2: Sew a straight stitch along the curved side of the sleeve, backstitching both ends. The straight edge will be gathered, so follow the process above for gathering. (If you aren’t sure how to gather, I highly suggest watching a YouTube video – that’s how I learned.)
Step 3: Pin to the inside your shirt, lining the center of the sleeve up with the shoulder seam. Run it through your machine one last time.
And ta-da! You have a dress! You could stop here, but while we’re at it, I wanted to dazzle mine up a bit. I used some red iron on vinyl and cut out the phrase “ho ho ho” with my Cricut Explore. (The image is from their image library in Design Space if you want to use the same one!)
Once the vinyl is weeded, position it on your shirt, and using an iron on with the steam off, adhere it to the top of the dress. Always follow the iron on instructions, because usually they call for a layer of thin fabric between the iron and the vinyl. I use a (wait for it…) pillow case.
The only step I don’t have a picture of was adding the ribbon around the waist. It was a last minute addition, and not neccessary. The only reason I added it was because the tank top was quite as fitted as I had hoped – plus, who can say no to a pretty bow? I didn’t have any red thread, so I used hemming tape to fuse the ribbon to the dress.
My little sweetie just loved her dress, and she loved telling everyone that I made it even more! She even wore it to school today when she was “Ami du Jour” (friend of the day) so she could show it off.
So are you convinced? I hope you feel confident enough to make own yourself, and if you do, I would love to see it! Tag me on instagram – you can find me at @becomingmartha.