Pillowcase dresses are so cute. I'm sewing quite a few this week. I have a new go to dress!
My dresses have a ruffle at the top and a band at the bottom. They also have a button and buttonhole elastic for growing room. I use a steam iron as much as a sewing machine during constuction of these dresses.
Here's how I do things:
Measure the target child from armpit to knee. This is your finished length (FL).
A little figuring will determine the length of fabric to cut for each dress.
The ruffle at the top and the seam at the band adds 2".
The only variable is the width of the elastic for the chest. Add the width of the elastic (WE) to the total.
FL + WE + 2" = cutting length
For example: Abby needs a dress that is 18" long. I am using 1/2" buttonhole elastic. So 18" + 1/2" + 2"= 20 1/2". I will cut a piece of fabric 20 1/2" long.
My dresses use the entire width of the fabric. Abby's dress is cut 20 1/2" by width of fabric (wof).
Now for the band. I like the looks of a 4" band. So I cut the band 9" by the width of fabric.
On to the sewing! Fold the dress right sides together matching the selvedges. Sew a 5/8" seam making sure to backstitch at the beginning and ending of the seam. Fold the band, and sew as for the dress. (NOTE: make sure the dress and the band are the same width. One seam may have to be a bitty bit bigger than the other.)
Press both seams open. Fold the band wrong sides together matching cut edges. Press flat. I use lots of steam, but that's just me. Pin the band to the dress right sides together. Stitch using a 1/2" seam. Press seam towards the band. Press the band towards the dress. Sew a straight seam around the band, a generous 5/8". (See pictures.) The raw edges of the dress and band are enclosed within this seam.
This makes sure that the dress won't ravel, and the hem will NEVER fall out.
Now for the top of the dress. I put buttonhole elastic and a button in my dresses.
Fold down, wrong sides together, the top edge of the dress 1/4". Press flat. To make the casing for the elastic, I fold the pressed edge down the width of my elastic and 3/4" more for the ruffle. Press this flat. No sewing yet.
At the seam, mark for a buttonhole near the bottom fold of the fabric. Sew a buttonhole that your elastic can fit through. Sew a button beside the buttonhole. I put my elastic under the button as I sew it on. (The elastic goes inside the casing with a safety pin attached. The pin will allow the elastic to be threaded through the casing once it is sewn.) Cut open the buttonhole. All this is done before sewing the casing for the elastic.
Pin the casing into place taking care not to catch the elastic. While pinning the casing, pin the ribbon ties also. Sew a straight seam around the dress at the pressed fold. Moving the elastic as needed, pin the top edge of the dress. Sew a 5/8" seam to create the ruffle. Thread the elastic through the rest of the casing and out of the buttonhole. Button the elastic on the button.
Thank goodness for Easter break! I've been sewing for Abby again.
She has wanted to wear the butterfly fabric since she has seen it. I had several pieces to show her. "Nooope, nooooope, noooooope, don't 'wike' it. Noooooope, I wanna wear it, Mamaw!"
I bought several yards of each in order to make some pillowcase dresses to sell. Several people are asking for my dresses. I'll sew some up and see. I found buttonhole elastic in the local Wal-Mart. Now the dresses can be adjustable.
Simplicity 2574 is my go to pattern for Abigail. This dresses were all cut from the same pattern.
This little plaid dress has the front yoke and straps cut from the square yoke view. The yoke and straps are one piece. The pleated skirt is directly from the pattern. However, I used my one piece back that I cut from butcher paper. The facings were cut from the pattern. I generally don't use those tiny facings.
Simplicity 2574, again. This time I used the one piece front and and back butcher paper patterns. The lace was sewn down the front and the ric-rac was added before any other sewing was done. I made this dress following the same steps as the
I made the facings using the dress front and back pattern pieces. I have a line drawn on the pattern paper about 31/2" down from the armscyes straight across to the center front or center back.
I'm still sewing for Abby. I had planned another dress for her, but she had different ideas. She liked the teddy bears with flowers, and she liked the 'widdle birds', but she loved the owls and butterflies and flowers. She kept bringing the owl fabric to me to talk about. She showed her brother, and cousin, and her papaw. She wore the owl outfit home today. It was Simplicity 2684.
This is an easy dress to make. However, basic sewing skills are necessary.
I start my dresses with a pattern. I have little interest in drafting a pattern. So I buy them. Abby is wearing a 1/2 or a size 1 in Simplicity patterns. My current go to pattern is Simplicity 2574.
make sure to match sewing line
2574 has separate yoke pieces for the front and back of the dress. Most of Abby's dresses have a solid back. I simply pin the yoke pattern piece to the dress skirt pattern piece.
I've used the patterns so much, that I needed to make a butcher paper copy. I traced around the pattern pieces and cut them out. With the front made into a single piece, a longer yoke can be made.
I cut a bodice piece from a solid yellow to compliment my focus fabric. I turned the bottom edge of the front to clean finish the edge. I also cut bottom bands to finish the bottom of the skirt.
Pin the yoke to the front of the dress. Pin only aroud the neckline and the armscye. Seam each armscye and the neckline. DON"T SEW THE TOP OF THE SHOULDERS.
Clip the curves very close to the seamline. Pull the seam line straight to make sure the clips are adequate for the garment to lie correctly.
Turn the front of the dress right side out. Press, making sure the seams are pulled out as far as possible.
After a little practice, sewing in a zipper will take less than 10 minutes. No, that's not a typo, TEN minutes. I always make a single lap zipper opening. It seems to cover the zipper best.
Mark the length of the zipper for the back of the dress on the seam allowance. Baste the back dress opening closed. Cut the thread at the end of the basting. Stitch the rest of the back opening closed using the normal stitch length. Backstitch at each end of this stitching. Press the opening open.
With the bottom of the dress away from you, and the wrong side up, put the closed zipper face down on the right seam allowance. (Make sure the dress is not under the seam allowance.) Baste the zipper to the seam allowance. Stop sewing as you approach the zipper pull and open the zipper. I find it best to leave the needle down in the fabric while I ease the zipper open past the presser foot. This will allow you to make a straight seam. Finish basting the zipper. Turn the zipper face up, forming a fold in the seam allowance. Stitch along the fold close to the zipper teeth. Press the zipper and seam allowance flat (like it will be in the finished dress). From the right side of the dress back, beginning in the 'ditch' of the seam at the crimp of the zipper, sew the zipper in using a normal stitch length. Stop sewing as you get to the zipper pull again. This time you will need to rip the basting stitching out to be able to unzip the zipper past the machine's presser foot. I find it best to leave the needle down in the fabric while I ease my seamripper an inch or two past the presser foot. Finish sewing the zipper. You are done with the zipper!
Turn up 1/4" hem on the bottom edge of the facing. Stitch into place. Pin the facings to the dress backs. Fold the center back seam allowances over the zipper at the neck edge. This will make the neck edge finish cleanly. Stitch the facings as you did the front facings. DO NOT STITCH THE SHOULDER SEAMS. Clip seam allowances.
Press the facings away from the zipper. Press the back of the dress as you did the front.
At this point in the process, you have a dress front, and a dress back that is completely finished except for the shoulder seams. I sewed three buttons on the dress front. Topstitch the dress front edge.
Glue the trim over the line of topstitching. Glue basting really helps keep the trim straight. Much better results than pinning.
Now my sewing techniques take a turn from the traditional. Now, to work on the dress shoulder seams. Turn the back of the dress wrong side out. Slide the dress front into the dress back, between the dress fabric and the facing.
Make sure the right side of the dress front is next to the right side of the dress back.
Work the front shoulder seam allowance into the back. Meet the edges. Stitch the seams. Clip the corners.
Pull the dress front out. Press the seams.
Stitch the side seams, fold the back facing over the front of the dress to make the underarm seam finish cleanly.
Stitch the seams of the bottom band. Baste 1/4'" from the top edge of the band to make a folding line for the hem. Pin the right side of the band to the wrong side of the dress. Stitch the band to the dress bottom. Press the band's top edge along the basting stitches. Pin into place, topstitch. Glue baste the band's trim into place. Topstitch.
I've been sewing a lot for Abigail lately. Several of my friends have asked me how to do the dresses I've sewn. Here goes my best shot.
This dress is made from Simplicity 2574. The fabric was purchased at Hobby Lobby, the green ric-rac at Wal-Mart. There is three sizes of ric-rac on this dress, tiny, medium, and huge. The buttons were in the stash.
This pattern has a front yoke and a back yoke. I cut the front yoke out of a scrap from my stash. But, the fabric is still available.
I've already pinned the patterns down so many times I've almost worn out the pattern.
The pattern is a Project Runway pattern. It has several variations. One has a buttonband (flap) at the neckline with a ruffle. I left off the ruffle.
I will take pictures of the sewing process for the construction of the next dress I sew. See that post for details of my process. (Editted to add: See post "How did you make that dress?")
The ric-rac across the chest is sewn on after sewing the front yoke to the dress front. Press the seam towards the yoke. The first row of ric-rac covers this seam. The next two are placed by eye making sure they will be under the button flap.
Pin the button flap to the dress front before sewing on the front facing. I sewed the buttons on before the front facing also.
The tiny ric-rac around the armscyes and neckline were sewn on after the dress was completed. The jumbo ric-rac was applied after the dress was hemmed. (FYI, I use lace hemming tape just 'cuz I like it.)
I am a wife, mother, and grandma who likes to quilt. I also enjoy sewing, reading, eating, and singing. I am a central Louisiana native married to the same man 32 years. I am a mother of 2, grandmother of 4.I teach Special Education in public school.