The Ultimate Pillowcase Dress post

March 4, 2013

I get emails almost daily from readers who come across my pillowcase dress tutorials and want more information. So instead of trying to update the several posts I have, I decided to create a new one, combine all information into one place, and put it somewhere prominent on my blog so it’s easy to find and easy to come back to.

I have 2 pillowcase dress tutorials. The first is a very basic, wonderful for beginners, tutorial. It can be found here.

Pillowcase Dress | Sew Like My Mom

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.

**Creating a pillowcase dress with a serger is much like the first tutorial, but it cuts out a few steps, a little bulk, and shortens the creation time by a few minutes. You can certainly create plenty of dresses without a serger, but if you have one, this is by far the quickest and easiest way to make them. It’s also a wonderful project for someone who is new to using a serger and will help you get comfortable using it while creating a well-loved garment.

Serged Pillowcase Dress | Sew Like My Mom

I created a fabric size/cutting chart for the original pillowcase dress tutorial (also found in that post):

Pillowcase Dress fabric size chart | Sew Like My Mom

And the same chart but with different measurements for the serger edition:

Serged Pillowcase Dress fabric chart | Sew Like My Mom

I’m also asked frequently about the size of the armholes. It really doesn’t matter too much, but for a general rule of thumb, I’d use this new chart I created:

Pillowcase Dress Armhole size chart | Sew Like My Mom

I have information for several places you can donate dresses, for those who are interested.

The Lira School Dress Project
The Lira School Dress Project who is hoping to take 66 dresses to Kindergarten girls in Africa. The trip is in JUNE 2013 so the deadline to receive donated dresses is 1 MAY 2013. The address to send them to is:

Lira School Dress Project
1701 Lytle Trail
Abilene, TX 79602

They are specifically wanting dresses in a size 6/6X since the girls who will be getting them are in Kindergarten.

Project Yesu

I just recently learned about Project Yesu. It’s an organization founded by a young woman name Mallory, who has an amazing heart is raising money to help children in Uganda. She started collecting money for them in 2011 and so far has raised over $12,000! This year Mallory is returning to Uganda and is wanting to take pillowcase dresses to hand out while she’s there. She is collecting dresses through 31 MAY 2013 and is taking them in all sizes. Take a few minutes to look around her site, she’s doing incredible things!

For more information you can email her at

Screen Shot 2013-03-03 at 11.44.14 PM

Little Dresses for Africa
Little Dresses for Africa is always collecting pillowcase dresses for girls of all ages as well as shorts for boys. They distribute the clothes all over the African continent and do amazing things to feed, educate, and shelter the people. Dresses (and shorts) can be sent at anytime to:

Little Dresses for Africa
24614 Curtis Dr.
Brownstown, MI 48134

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Several of you have asked me for a printable version of the instructions for you to take to churches and meetings to pass out to the groups who will be sewing dresses. So, here it is. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s all the steps and all the pictures from the original tutorial condensed into a .pdf for you to download and print and use at your convenience!

Pillowcase Dress Tutorial

There is a button on my sidebar that links back to this post, so the information will always be easy to find. As I learn about more drives or organizations donating these dresses I’ll update the information so you can always have the latest if you’re interested in donating! It really touches me just how giving and selfless people are, so keep it up! The difference you make to girls all over the world is changing lives in incredible ways!

24 Responses to “The Ultimate Pillowcase Dress post”

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

    […] places to donate dresses if interested. Click on that link in the right sidebar for the “Ultimate Pillowcase Dress” post. […]

  2. jeni n said:

    Great tutorial! I want to add another fabric to the bottom. Would you add it before you sew the sides together or at the end? Thanks

  3. Melissa said:

    I would add it before you sew the sides together, make it the first thing you do.

  4. Aimee said:

    do you know of any place in australia that is doing this. fantastic, and would love to jump on board, but posting to the states . . . . . .

  5. Cheryl said:

    Aimee, I have been making dresses like this for Dress A girl Around The World and they have a rep in Australia. She has a blog at

  6. Angela said:

    I would like to make matching dresses for my girls sizes 2T, 10, 12, and 16. I see older girls wearing these dresses in the pictures and I am wondering how to alter the pattern…particularly the daughter wearing the 16.

  7. Melissa said:

    For your older daughters you’ll have to experiment a little to figure out how much fabric you’ll need. For the 10 and 12 you can probably expand my chart out, based on their height and weight. I’d probably go with 25 or 26 inches wide for them. For your 16 year old I would say she probably needs a good 30″ to give it room to ruffle, especially over a bust. To do the armholes, measure a tee in their sizes (not a fitted knit shirt, a true tshirt) from the shoulder seam to the side seam. For all of them, measure from the little hole in your neck where the collar bones join and the neck starts (where men have Adams apples) down to the length they want, then add in the seam allowances like in the chart for the tie casing and the hem. I hope this makes sense!

  8. Whatcha Craftin’ ~ Boys Swim Trunks & Project Yesu Shorts | Crafty Meggy said:

    […] a good cause? Head on over to Project Yesu’s website and learn more about it! You can make pillowcase dresses for the girls and shorts like these for the boys. I used a couple different patterns. The smaller […]

  9. Donna said:

    Thank you for the wonderful tutorial….you have beautiful children!!

  10. Laura Pol said:

    Hi Melissa! I have a quick question! I am going to be making a dress for a 9 year old and she gave me her waist, hip, and shoulder to floor measurements! I was wondering should I use the waist or hip measurement for the width? Also how many inches should I make the height for the dress if the daughter’s shoulder to floor measurement is 44 inches? Thank you so much!

  11. Kaye said:

    Thanks so much for this. I have three good friends who just got back from an OCC shoe box distribution in Uganda. One of them was telling me this weekend how much the girls love dresses which is why I looking for directions.

  12. Margie said:

    Great tutorial! Are you armhole measurements before creating the casing? I am assuming they are. Thanks!

  13. Joni said:

    I have been sewing for several months now making kits for girls in third world countries. I get lots of material donations and some of them are not suitable for either sheilds or bags but are quite light and flowery, probably poly or poly cotton but yards and yards that I cannot use. someone suggested the pillow case dresses and I thought that was a great idea. Could youi give me an email address from someone in Canada, preferably BC so that, should I spend some time sewing those also, where would I send them? right now my priority is for the hygiene kits, but if I ever run out of 100% cotton flannel, I might just wip up a bunch of dresses while I wait. I am 82 years youing with a bad spinal problem but I can sit in front of my TV. my computer or my sewing machine without pain, just cannot walk or stand too long. guess where I am doing most of my sitting? LOL

    Would like a contact in Canada please. Joni

  14. Kylie said:

    Hello there,
    I live in Australia and would love to make pillowcase dresses for the African Mothers and there teenage daughters. I love the idea of making them feel special and cared for. I am a novice sewer and on maternity leave and I would love someone to email me or draw a pattern for this dress in the Australian size 8,10,12,14,16 or whatever size you can come up with. I don’t feel experienced enough to resize a children’s pattern so any help will be appreciated. My email is Thank you, thank you, thank you. Kind regards – Kylie

  15. Jane Smith said:

    Loved your site. I am interested in supplying pillow case dresses to a friend’s newly founded orphanage in Ghana. Thought that pj shirt pattern that looks like a baseball shirt would work for the boys. I’m planning to add these items to 20 bed covers and matching pillow cases that will have 28 names of God in Hebrew embroidered on them. The first 20 are already on the way.
    Thanks for your helpful measurements and patterns. Blessings to you as you share your love of sewing with others. It was great to read the emails. Obviously you are pleased that your ideas are crossing generational lines! What a blessing that is also. Jane

  16. Ali Daley said:

    Hi I am wondering if you still need dresses to send to Africa? I would love to make some in any size that is needed. If you could drop me a line and let me know I would greatly appreciate it <3

  17. Melissa said:

    Hi Ali! Look up “Little Dresses for Africa,” they’re always taking donations!

  18. Georgina said:

    Hi Joni : I too live in BC. I leave for Phoenix every winter where my church in Phoenix needlecraft group makes dresses and sends them off for donation. If you want I could email you that church address in Phoenix and I would be sure yours are received and sent on, or I could give you my BC address and I drive them down here for you each winter snowbird season. Or perhaps a service club in your town, like the lions club; would donate postage to you for sending them directly. Also talk to a Canada Post rep, they may have the address already for others who have mailed things. I haven’t made dresses yet because I have not a machine here, but am looking into it with our needlecraft group and we are holding a sewing ” Bee ” in February for church ladies to have a day to do some.

  19. Kids Clothing Week Day 1 « Crafty Meggy Crafty Meggy said:

    […] I made to help me in the coming week. The one on the left I copied and pasted into a file from the Ultimate pillowcase post on Sew Like My Mom. The one on the right is to help me keep track of all the projects I make. I […]

  20. Karen said:

    I just made ten little dresses to send to Nicaragua.Thanks for making it so easy by supplying this tutorial.
    Some of the cottons in my stash are indeed only 36″wide, so I use this for the littlest dresses. There is an inquiry about this in the other thread.

  21. PILLOWCASE DRESS PATTERN – CHARITY AND WOMAN!!! | Sew-eclectic's Blog said:

    […] Sewlikemymom – Pillowcase Dress Tutorial up to 8 year […]

  22. DIY | Tara Mountain said:

    […] Pillow Case Dress […]

  23. Annie said:

    I just finished this for my four year old GD. I made it in Fourth of July fabric. Thank you!

  24. Kris said:

    hello! i am so excited to come across your blog! i have a question regarding the arm hole. i see it says 5″. How many inches across do you do? I did a before where I did 2″ in, 5″ down. What do you recommend? Thanks

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