Jun 2, 2010

Smocked Pillowcase Dress Tutorial

Today's tutorial is from Jennifer of: That girl... That Quilt.

Another fun use of elastic thread.

My daughter is having a blast telling everyone that she's wearing a pillowcase.  We went to church tonight and I cringed the first few times she said it but then I got over it when everyone was telling her how cute she looked. :)  She is just so impressed that she has a dress made out of a "real" pillowcase...

This is a standard size pillowcase; the ruffle on the open end of the pillowcase becomes the ruffle on the bottom of the dress.  How cool is that?  I bought a matching set of cases fromWhimsiedots and I can't say enough good things about her and her shop.  She is queen of all things vintage!

I took me less than an hour to make the dress and I thought I'd share how I did it here...

Accross the width of the pillowcase, cut the enclosed edge of the pillowcase off.  This is where you will determine the length of your dress.  For my 6 year old, I ended up cutting approximately 3" off.

Take that strip and cut it into a 2.5" wide strip {it will still be the length of the original edge of the pillow case}.

Cut your strip in half {I followed the natural crease of the fold} and set the two strips aside.

Now take your the case which will be the body of the dress.  The bottom of the dress is already hemmed for you because it's a pillow case so all you have to do is hem the top!  Fold the fabric 1/2" and press.  Fold over again another 1/2" and press again.

Topstitch as you desire and then you have the top of your dress hemmed and the real fun can begin!

Get your elastic thread and wind your bobbin by hand.  Don't wind it too tight or too loose.  Now you are ready to sew your rows of smocking.

About 1/2" below your hem, start your first row of stitching.  I backstitch at the beginning and the end of each row but I'm a habitual backstitcher... ;).

Once you finish your first row, move on to the next row.  I just let my presser foot follow the edge of the first row to get the spacing for your second and so on...

At this point it's up to you how much smoking you want to do.  I did five rows which gives a nice ruffle and structure to the dress.  My daughter complains about a lot of smocking being "itchy" and we certainly don't need that!

Trim your stray threads and then you are done with the body of the dress.  Not bad, huh?

Grab your strips that you set aside earlier.  Fold them right sides together and press.  With right sides still together, stitch lengthways down the strip.  Repeat for the second strap.

Now here's the not so fun part... turn each strap right side out.  As my friends across the pond say, "it's a bit fiddly...".  I can think of a few other words to use instead of "fiddly" but I'll leave those off this blog. 

Once you have the fiddly part done, with the seam running down the middle of the strap, press.  This will hide the seam and give the straps a nice finish.  Lastly, topstitch down each side of the straps approximately 1/8" away from each edge.

You're almost done!  To attach the straps, I put the dress on my daughter so they would be perfect on her.  While threatening being stuck with a pin if she wiggled too much, I eyeballed where I wanted the straps.  Pin them to the inside of the hem and extricate your child from the dress without messing up where you pinned the straps.

With a normal stitch, sew the straps to the inside of the dress.  I recommend backstitching a few times on both edges of the straps for extra strength.  Press the dress if you need to and then you are done!  One vintage pillowcase turned into a super-cute summer dress!

Edited to add:  If you don't have a pillowcase, you can substitute two pieces {the front and back of the dress} of fabric that measure approximately 19" x 24".  Place those pieces right sides together and sew down both sides to create your own "pillowcase".  Before turning the dress rightside out, serge or zig-zag stitch down the raw edges of your seams.  After that, adjust the length of the dress the same way by cutting a strip off the top of the dress which will give you the fabric for the straps.  You will have to hem the top and bottom of the dress but otherwise, all the instructions are the same.  As you hem the bottom of the dress you could also add a ruffle...

Thanks Jennifer for a great tutorial!


Amanda Drietz said...

Jennifer!! The dress is absolutely adorable!!! OK-send the pillowcases back-haha!! Thank you for the great tutorial! It is always so fun to see what amazing beauties you make.

Sandra :) said...

Awwwwwwwwwwwwwww obviously your daughter considers you the coolest mom ever - can't beat that! Adorable little moppet wearing an adorable dress - this post gives me a happy :)

That Girl said...

Amanda LOL! I wish I could but the dress is made and I gave the matching pillowcase away on my blog! As always, these pillowcases were perfect so thank you, you're the best...

Jennifer :)