To Make a Pillowcase Dress from an Unwanted Shirt:
- old shirt
- 2 pieces of ribbon
- bias tape
2. Find a shirt that you no longer wear. Actual old pillowcases or skirts (or just about anything else) will work for this as well, but I will be writing instructions for working with a shirt. Also, unless you have a special sewing machine or some serious skills, you will want to stick to non-stretchy fabrics. Stretchy fabrics tend to pucker up while sewing them, so avoid them (at least for now). The size of the dress you can make will depend on the size of the clothing you are using... a women's size small shirt will generally only be enough material for an infant dress. If you are making a dress for a toddler, make sure you have a garment with plenty of material.
3. Lay your dress out onto the front of the shirt. The bottom dress hem should match up with the bottom shirt hem. Trace your dress onto one side of the shirt, leaving about an extra 1/2 inch on each side and about 1.5 extra inches on the top.
4. Cut out the traced dress, cutting through both layers of the shirt.
5. Place the two dress sides together so they match up with the wrong side of the fabric facing outwards on both pieces (so you are looking at the dress "inside out"). Pin the 2 sides together from the bottom hem to the bottom of the armpit and sew along the two sides with a straight stitch, leaving about a 1/2-inch allowance. Now finish the edges by going back and doing a zigzag stitch next to your straight stitch (this will keep the fabric from unraveling when it gets washed).
6. Now we are going to use bias tape to finish the armpit. If you want the bias tape to show, use double sided, if you don't want it to show, use single-sided. Match the edge of the bias tape to the front edge of the dress and pin in place, all the way along each armpit. Sew in place along the fold. Fold bias tape all the way under, so now the bias tape is on the interior of the dress, pin, and sew again. If you have never used bias tape, this can be a bit confusing, so you may want to find a website that has some photographs. This website has a pretty great pillow case dress tutorial, along with some pictures of how to sew on bias tape.
6. Now for the top. Fold the top hem in about 1/4 inch and iron. Now you want to fold again. The amount you fold will depend on what you are tying the dress with (wider ribbon will need more room than a thin ribbon). I normally fold it inside the dress about another inch here, and iron again. Now sew at the edge of the hem.
7. Using a safety pin, thread a piece of ribbon through the front hem and another through the back hem. Tie at sides! Alternatively, you can thread one long piece through that ties at the side, however, this could pose a choking hazard for young babies, so please make sure to supervise baby while wearing the dress. The ribbons will easily pull out from the seams, which can be sort of annoying. Make sure to tie before throwing into the washing machine. You can also tie beads onto the ends of the ribbon (use beads that are larger than the opening your ribbon goes through), however, again this could be dangerous if the beads come loose and your child puts them in their mouth. I usually prefer to just make sure the ribbons are tied before washing and use a safety pin to re-thread through again if needed.
You're done! Easy, right? The best part about these dresses is that they will grow with your child. They can be worn as a dress, a shorter dress with pants, and then eventually a shirt. That's a lot of use out of something you were going to get rid of!
And, for a chance to win one of my upcycled baby dresses, be sure to check out my interview on A Life Sustained!
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