Easiest Pillowcase Dress Ever–serger edition

November 14, 2012

I know I’ve been MIA lately and I have 2 really HUGE reasons for that. I’ll share them soon, I promise, but until I’m ready to divulge my surprises, I wanted to get this tutorial posted. We talked about it on my Facebook page late last week and I was finally able to get all this together!

I’ve received many notes, emails, and messages from you amazing readers over the past 18 months about using my pillowcase dress tutorial to make dresses for little girls all over the world. It’s always moved me that so many of you are so giving and caring and take the time to not only sew for others, but to share your stories with me. I posted the latest email I got last week and it sparked a conversation about how more of you would like to get involved and sew these amazingly simple dresses to donate to girls in need. I know of one drive currently taking place so I wanted to share the info with everyone who was interested. If you know of any others and would like to drum up more donations for them as well, please feel free to shoot me an email with details at sewlikemymom@gmail.com.

UPDATE APRIL 2013: I have created an all-encompassing post on the pillowcase dress, full of size charts and multiple places to donate dresses if interested. Click on that link in the right sidebar for the “Ultimate Pillowcase Dress” post. ————>

Interested in participating? Great! You can either use my original Pillowcase Dress Tutorial

                         Sew Like My Mom | Pillowcase Dress tutorial

Or check out the new one I’ve worked up for those of you with a serger.

From my first post many have asked me about how big to cut fabric for different size dresses, so I’ve created a little chart for you all to use.


Sew Like My Mom | Pillowcase Dress tutorial


Sew Like My Mom | Pillowcase Dress tutorial

*For all sizes that are 22″ wide, that means you should use the width of the fabric. Fabric comes in 2 widths, 45″ and 60″. Nearly all cotton fabrics are 45″ wide, then are folded in half and wound around the bolt. So when you buy a yard, you’re buying a piece of fabric 36″ long by 45″ wide. To use the width of the fabric, keep it folded in half, but make sure you line your edges up evenly, and cut it in half. Each half is now approximately 22″ wide. After you cut off the printed selvages your piece will be more like 21.25″ wide, but that’s okay. There’s plenty of room in these dresses.

**To make a dress bigger than a size 8, continue following the formula for each size increase.

Since I discovered the wonder of serger sewing, I’ve been making my pillowcase dress with even greater ease. I can whip one up in about 30 minutes now and they’re so simple to create for special occasions or to give as gifts.

Sew Like My Mom | Pillowcase Dress tutorial

And the new way has a simple arm hole that provides less bulk for the wearer.

Sew Like My Mom | Pillowcase Dress tutorial

I made this dress in a size 6 to give to a friend as a birthday gift. So I cut 2 pieces 22″ wide by 27″ long.

Sew Like My Mom | Pillowcase Dress tutorial

To begin, serge the top and bottom edges of each piece.

Sew Like My Mom | Pillowcase Dress tutorial

Sew Like My Mom | Pillowcase Dress tutorial

Cut the tails off and serge down the side edges on both pieces.

Sew Like My Mom | Pillowcase Dress tutorial

Now all four sides of each dress piece will be serged.

Sew Like My Mom | Pillowcase Dress tutorial

Tie off the serger threads and clip them short. Now measure for the armhole. For most size dresses, I use 6″ as it’s a roomy amount without showing too much side. I need to add 1″ for my top casing so I measured down 7″ and pinned the front and back together with right sides facing.

Sew Like My Mom | Pillowcase Dress tutorial

Sew from the pin to the bottom of the dress using a 1/2″ seam allowance. Repeat for the other side.

Sew Like My Mom | Pillowcase Dress tutorial

Open the dress and press the side seams open, continuing past the stitching and ironing the armhole sides down as well.

Sew Like My Mom | Pillowcase Dress tutorial

Starting at the top of one side, using a 3/8″ seam allowance, sew the arm hole sides down. Stitch down one side until you’re about 1/4″ past the bottom of the opening,

Sew Like My Mom | Pillowcase Dress tutorial

leaving the needle in the down position, raise your foot and turn the dress 45 degrees to sew along the bottom of the opening.

Sew Like My Mom | Pillowcase Dress tutorial

Then making sure you’re lined back up at 3/8″, sew up the other side to the top.

Sew Like My Mom | Pillowcase Dress tutorial

Sew Like My Mom | Pillowcase Dress tutorial

Repeat for the other side of the dress.

Now fold down the casing. I generally use 7/8″ size ribbon, so I like to measure down 1 1/8″ and iron. If you’re using a smaller ribbon, 1″ will be fine. Repeat for both sides.

Sew Like My Mom | Pillowcase Dress tutorial

Stitch down the casings. I generally just sew along the edge where the serger stitching ends, in this case it’s just under 1″.

Sew Like My Mom | Pillowcase Dress tutorial

Then fold up your hem 1″ and stitch it in place.

Sew Like My Mom | Pillowcase Dress tutorial

I double the width of each side for my pieces of ribbon. So for this dress, I used 2 ribbon pieces 44″ in length. Thread each one through the casings on each side of the dress and stitch them in place in the middle of the casing to prevent them from coming out.

Sew Like My Mom | Pillowcase Dress tutorial

Tie off your ribbons and you’re done!

Sew Like My Mom | Pillowcase Dress tutorial

36 Responses to “Easiest Pillowcase Dress Ever–serger edition”

  1. Easiest Pillowcase Dress Ever | Sew Like My Mom said:

    […] I’ve also posted an updated tutorial on making this simple version of a pillowcase dress using a serger: […]

  2. Diane J. Reed said:

    What a wonderful post! This totally warmed my heart–so in awe of the work you are doing & showing others how to do the same. And the dresses are just precious! : )

  3. Lauren G said:

    I love your blog! So many fabulous ideas and great tutorials! I am considering buying a serger since the majority of what I sew are clothes for my girls. I was wondering what type of serger you have and if you could recommend guidance on a good machine for a beginner to serging? Thanks

  4. Melissa said:

    Hey Lauren! I would love to share!

    I have a Brother 1034D serger. I got it 2 years ago and I love it dearly. I chose that particular serger because it was inexpensive and because it has RAVE reviews. It’s a wonderful machine for anyone just learning to serge and it doesn’t break the bank. It’s fairly easy to figure out the threading and tension and it’s extremely user friendly. It uses regular sewing needles and regular thread (though I do buy the big cones at Jo-Ann’s for $1.99 each) which makes it easy to replace broken needles or find different thread at midnight when you’re trying to finish that dress the night before the event. 🙂 I also recently broke my top knife and was terrified of the cost of replacement. I found one at a replacement parts website, for $24 it was at my door 3 days later and 3 minutes after it appeared, with just a few turns of a screw driver, it was good as new! I really can’t tell you enough amazing things about it–I’ve even recently talked my Mom into getting one! I have several friends who have bought this serger on my recommendation and they all love it as well. This is where I got it and highly recommend it to anyone who wants one!


  5. Helen said:

    Thanks for this tute. I made your dress with the sewing machine last night and was thinking of doing the sides just with the overlocker and one fold only to reduce bulk (my sewing machine hates bulky seams and its a horizon 7700!!!) and you have literally put my thoughts into pictures and words! I too am making up dresses to be taken to an orphanage in east africa just after christmas – so the rush is on and many thanks for the detailed list for sizing and fabric cuts. It makes it that bit more quicker for me. Fantastic blog by the way.

  6. Ashleigh said:

    I am so glad I found your blog. I have recently decided to
    Teach myself to sew and you tutorials are really easy to follow
    For a beginner. I can’t wait to go looking for some pretty fabric to make
    My niece a pillow case dress. It’s gorgeous!
    I have also started my own blog to share all my new hobbies and life
    As a at home mummy of 3 boys under 4.
    Would love for you to stop by.

  7. Hello blog! « girl with a sewing machine said:

    […] I’ve decided to sew a very simple pattern which is the pillowcase dress. Here’s the easiest pattern I found. I promise to post a photo of the dress whether it’s a successful first attempt or a waste of […]

  8. Project #1: pillowcase dress for muppet | girl with a sewing machine said:

    […] I used mostly her instructions: http://sewlikemymom.com/easiest-pillowcase-dress-ever-serger-edition/ […]

  9. Gwenna said:

    Are you using duck cloth on one of these dresses?

  10. Melissa said:

    No, all my dresses are made from cotton.

  11. Meagan R said:

    Just wanted to thank you so much for helping me simplify my dress pattern. 🙂 I’ve been making them waaaaay too complicated!! Here’s a link to my newest “Brave” inspired dress. It fits my 7 year old daughter perfectly!! http://flic.kr/p/dPDShb

  12. LaShunda said:

    I love this! I have decided to have a sew along of sorts and donate the dresses made to this project. I have always wanted to sew for charity. Thank you for giving me the chance

  13. divas said:

    Hola! I’ve been reading your weblog for a long time now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from New Caney Tx! Just wanted to say keep up the fantastic job!

  14. Erin said:

    Hi! I can’t wait to try to make this adorable dress for my 1 year old. I’m a beginner and just wondered if you could adjust the fabric size for 2 fabrics? I liked the look of some of the dresses that had a coordinating fabric at the bottom and wondered how to adjust your turorial to make that one as well. Thanks!

  15. First of Many | GypsyJasmer said:

    […] followed the instructions from Sew Like My Mom.  Very easy and she also has great links for other dress organizations. I love sewing and I’ve […]

  16. Stacy said:

    I made this dress for my nieces and love how they turned out. I’m wondering about the ribbon though, how do you keep it from fraying on the ends? Especially after a wash?

  17. Melissa said:

    To keep it from fraying, you heat seal it with a lighter. Just hold the ribbon near the flame, but not in it, and it’ll melt the ends enough to ceal them and they won’t fray, even after washing.

  18. Melissa said:

    To keep it from fraying, you heat seal it with a lighter. Just hold the ribbon near the flame, but not in it, and it’ll melt the ends enough to seal them and they won’t fray, even after washing.

  19. Stacy said:

    Thank you, I’ll try it out:)

  20. mary huskisson said:

    Thank you sooo much Melissa. I made a beautiful dress (except when I serged both pieces of fabrics together when you said to do each one separately). I can do something better if I see pictures of it. Could you do a tutorial on how to add a wide band on the bottom of the dress?

  21. Kelly said:

    Would you still measure 7 inches for the armholes on a 12 mo and 24 mon dresses? I am making them and don’t want the armholes to be too far down the sides when they put them on. What are your thoughts?

  22. Melissa said:

    Kelly, there’s an armhole chart in this post that should help! http://sewlikemymom.com/the-ultimate-pillowcase-dress-post/

  23. Stickytarts said:

    This is a brilliant tutorial for making the pillowcase dress with an overlocker, as we call it over here in the UK. I have started a little group called the #stitchingsisters on Twitter and Facebook that are using this pattern and your other one for making dresses for Dress A Girl Around The World. Even one of our novice sewers found it really easy to follow ! Thanks and here is a link to our little group and pictures of dresseshttp://stickytarts.co.uk/blog/read_75960/dress-a-girl-around-the-world-stitchingsisters.html

  24. Précieux moments (recettes et couture en O majeur) | M Comme Muses said:

    […] Robe […]

  25. Pam said:

    Hi I love this dress and I going to try and make it for my grand daughters. I’m new to this so please don’t laugh if this sounds silly to you, but do you only use a serger when making this dress or do you use a regular sewing machine too.

    Thanks for your help


  26. Asha said:

    Thank you so much for the tutorial! I made a few for my three girls and blogged about it. I linked your blog! Let me know if you want me to take it down and I’ll do so!

    Blog post here: http://randomdomesticity.blogspot.com/2013/07/making-clothes.html

  27. Alex said:

    This pattern was the easiest I have ever made for a pillowcase dress! Thanks for making it so easy.. Here is a picture of the one I made.. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10200493603805989&set=pb.1334283488.-2207520000.1375799032.&type=3&theater

    Now to try to make one for a size 12, if i can figure out how… Thanks again..

  28. Trick or Treat, Chapter 2 | maddieinstitches said:

    […] would be just perfect for a pillowcase dress.  Again, there are many tutorials out there. The one I used, from Sew Like My Mom, is specifically for a serger, which made even quicker work of a quick […]

  29. Rachel said:

    I’m a total beginner. Would like to make one of these dresses for my niece who is just turning one. What measurements would I use? And what is a serger?? Any information gratefully received x

  30. Melissa said:

    You’ll want to use my other tutorial: Easiest Pillowcase Dress Ever. There’s a link to it in this post. A serger is a special sewing machine that you don’t have yet. The measurements for a 12m dress are listed in the charts provided. Good luck!

  31. pillowcase dress said:

    […] seen pillowcase dress tutorials all over Pinterest, but I’d never tried one before. This tutorial from Sew Like My Mom is fabulous. I was especially excited to use my new […]

  32. The Ultimate Pillowcase Dress post - Sew Like My Mom | Sew Like My Mom said:

    […] Then I created another tutorial for how I make pillowcase dresses using my serger. The technique is a little different but the finished product looks exactly the same. See it here. […]

  33. Nisha said:

    Hi…I have been looking for a simple pattern to start stitchin again….wen in college had taken classes for stitching a 6 pc skirt…but the pattern books lost in all these years…
    I have not been stichin for almost a decade now and feel bad
    Bcx i want my girl to have those lovely frills that i had wen i was small
    Where i live everything available in frills is only for parties…..too heavy or too shiny….
    Wen i came across ur page felt mayb i can do it….I am not sure i can use the serging technique yet bcx my machine might not have it!!!!
    Can u tell me how do i measure how much arm-hole shld b kept for a 6yrs girl????
    after all these yrs i feel i am all lost n layman in this area again….would love to follow ur page and learn everything anew!!!!!

  34. Pillowcase Dress with back ties - Sew Like My Mom | Sew Like My Mom said:

    […] modification will work with your favorite Pillowcase Dress pattern. Of course, I prefer mine! I did the serger method for this dress–love those smooth […]

  35. Amber Mabry said:

    For the arm hole, i saw the chart, is it the chart measurement PLUS one inch? or is the inch included in the chart measurement?

  36. Melissa said:

    Depends on the size you’re making. In the example, a 6, it’s 7″ total. Then you fold down the casing and what’s leftover is the appropriate size.

Leave a Reply