Thursday, August 11, 2011

My first dresses

Last Sunday, two of the little girls at church were dressed in the cutest matching dresses.  I could tell they were homemade so I asked my friend about them.  She explained that her mom had bought them from someone who had made them and that they were called "pillowcase" dresses.  

Hmmm... the wheels in my mind started spinning...  could I make one?  I've only ever attempted one outfit and it was with the help of a friend in Australia.  AND that was 17 years ago!  

I went home and found this youtube video:

It seemed pretty straight forward so I thought I'd give it a try.  Here's my first attempt on the hanger:

The hem and dress are actually not tilted--it's just hanging on the hanger that way.  Here is my younger daughter modeling her new dress

After she tried it on, I hemmed the yellow piece so that the dress would be shorter.  When she's taller, I can let out the hem and she'll be able to wear it for longer.

Here's my second attempt:

The video was very helpful.  It doesn't give measurements though.  I figured those out on my own.  The dresses are called pillowcase dresses because they were originally made from pillowcases for little girls.  I believe they are similar to the flour sack dresses of old.  I searched for sample measurements and came up with these for a size 6x dress:  The top piece is 26" long and 18" wide.  You need two of these pieces (front and back).  You need one piece for the trim that is about 37" long (room for trimming) and 4 1/2" wide.  This will give you a dress that is about 28" long.  The armhole I cut was 4" long and 1 1/2" wide.  The video shows a good example of how to cut these.  I did fold my material in half to make sure the hole cuts match in size.

The first dress I made took me about 2 1/2 hours.  The second about 2 hours, The third about 1 1/2 hours and the same for the fourth.  The first dress took so much time because I needed to remember everything from the video and figure out the fabric measurements.  

Tips I learned in the process:
1) I took the time to wash and dry the fabric first so that the dresses won't shrink.  I made myself slow down and make sure to wash and dry the fabric before I started this project.
2) White thread on fabric that has a white background blends in.  White thread on the red dress really showed up!
3)  These are simple dresses so you don't need pins if you feel comfortable with eyeing things.  But, if you feel better with pins, use them :)

I'm excited.  I never thought I could make a dress for my girls.  They were thrilled.  The most challenging part was juggling making the dresses with the rest of my life.  It was very stressful having the girls attempt to come in and out of the room where I was sewing and ironing.  I am very anxious about one of my children knocking over my iron and getting burned.  This morning I made my third and most of my fourth dresses while my kids were at vacation Bible school.  I have to admit that this was so much easier.  In the future, I am only going to work on these when they are in their rooms.  When they are a little older, I look forward to teaching them how to make these dresses!  But, I think that time isn't here yet.  They need to be able to slow down and concentrate a bit more.  They also need to be better at obeying my directions to a tee.  There's no room for error around a hot iron!


  1. Fun! I made these with my girls and their friends, for themselves and their dolls. What precious memories. Glad to hear you're enjoying it so much.

  2. What's really funny is I googled for images of pillowcase dresses and the one of Brooke and her friend came up! Your dresses look really cute. I thought it was really neat to have different fabrics on front and back. :)