Sunday, May 15, 2011

Tutorial: Vintage Embroidered Pillowcase Dress with Straps - no ribbons here!


Pillowcase Dress with Straps - no ribbons!

Have you ever seen a pillowcase with such details and embroidery that you couldn't imagine a person would ever lay their head on it at night? I've seen pillowcases in thrift stores and antique stores with your basic embroidery, but this pillowcase is almost magical. It reminds me of the book, The Secret Garden, and it's flowers seem to jump off the fabric, wanting to grow around and up the walls of that garden.

I found this embroidered pillowcase in my mom's linen closet a few months ago and my niece, Taylor, wrapper it around herself and said it would make a beautiful dress. My mom said they were her pillowcases when she was a little girl - they are over 50 years old - and in the best condition. I saved them in my sewing room for weeks, just thinking about what I could do with them, not wanting to lose the colors and embroidery.

That's when I decided to make a dress from a pillowcase, but not your basic pillowcase dress with ribbons. Ribbons slip, slide out, untie, and my little girl can take those dresses off herself during a nap, so I knew this dress had to be put together differently.

So here is a:

Vintage Pillowcase Dress with Embroidered Straps Tutorial


1. Lay out your pillowcase and cut 2 inches off either end to use as 2 straps. (This is cut from the vertical part/the length of the pillowcase).

2. Now you will have 2 "straps" and your pillowcase for the dress. (I only used one of these bordered edges because my little girl is tiny and cut it in half. You may need both for straps.)

3. Lay your pillowcase right side down.You will draw a horizontal line 2 inches below the top edge, extending across the entire width of the pillowcase. Draw another line 2 inches below this drawn line, also extending across the entire width of the pillowcase. This is for your elastic casing.

4. Take your bottom drawn line and lift it up to meet the top line you drew. Once you make both lines meet, iron this in place and pin where the 2 lines meet.

5. You will now have a folded "casing" that is pinned. (See photo above.)

6. Sew along this folded edge using a 1/8 inch seam allowance. You are sewing this to hold the fold in place. Sew as close to the fold as you can get.

7. Turn over your pillowcase so the right side is facing up. You will see the line you sewed and the folded fabric below it. Pin along the width of the folded fabric.

8. Sew along the folded edge using a 1/8 inch seam allowance. You are sewing this to hold the fold in place. Sew as close to the fold as you can get.

9. Now you have created your elastic casing (it's like a tunnel for your elastic).

10. Take your child's chest measurement and subtract 3 inches. Cut a piece of 1/2 inch elastic
this length.

11. Use a safety pin to guide the elastic through the casing. Pin on both ends.

12. Both edges should be pinned like the picture above.

13. Sew vertically over the elastic casing so the elastic will stay in place and backstitch.

14. Serge or zig-zag stitch the strap edges (the long side/the length) to keep them from fraying. If you use a zig-zag stitch use a very close stitch length and wide stitch width along the edge, making sure your needle goes on then off the fabric with each stitch. Trim your threads.

15. Lay your strap piece right side down. Fold over the zig-zagged edge 1/4 inch and pin in place.

16. Sew along the folded/pinned edge using a 1/8 inch seam allowance. Repeat for other strap. Trim threads.

17. Lay out your strap, measure it's length and cut two pieces of elastic 3 inches shorter than the length of the strap you are using. (Example: If the strap is 10 inches, cut a piece of elastic 7 inches long for each strap) - I used 3/8 inch elastic.

18. Lay each strap right side down. Pin each end of the elastic to each end of the strap.

19. Sew along the elastic strip using a straight stitch, pulling the elastic gently as you sew. Trim threads and any excess elastic hanging over the end.

20. The elastic will make your strap "bunch up" - this is what you want it to do.

21. Lay your pillowcase dress right side up. Take the left side of the dress and fold it over the meet the right side. Match your raw edges and pin in place. Sew along the pinned edge.

22. Serge or zig-zag stitch over the raw edges to keep them from fraying. Use a short stitch length and a wide stitch width. Trim your threads.

23. Lay your dress right side up. Lay your straps where you want them and pin each in place.

24. Flip it over (now it is laying right side down and you are looking at the back of the dress), lay your straps where you want them and pin each in place.

25. Sew over each pinned strap's edge using a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Backstitch and forward stitch again to reinforce stitches. Repeat for all 4 straps. Trim threads.

You're DONE!

Be proud of what you made and go try it on that little girl!!

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