Pillowcase dress (adult version)

The finished "Pillowcase dress"

The finished “Pillowcase dress” (I probably should iron it before photographing it…)

I saw a few examples of the “pillowcase dress” (or top, nightie, etc) on Pinterest, and actually really thought it was cute for a super-casual summer dress, top, or tunic, so the other day when I was on a sewing spree, I figured I would make it up.

I wanted to see how it would work first off, so I picked some leftover fabric from another project. I’m pretty sure I picked up this blue cotton from one of the East Indian stores (Reena’s probably) for super-cheap, for some costume I made for a friend-of-a-friend when we attended an SCA event years ago. I picked it for him because it was a good colour, super light, and yep… cheap.  It’s similar to a cotton batiste (actually it probably is a cotton batiste…)

Pattern.. we don’t need no stinking pattern….

First I cut off three strips of fabric from the raw edge – these would become the straps for the dress. They were sewn end-to-end, and then into a tube, and then turned. I didn’t even finish the edges since I used the selvage on the tube ends.

Pattern drawn on folded fabric with chalk (and and then drawn on in Photoshop so you can see it better)

Pattern drawn on folded fabric with chalk (and and then drawn on in Photoshop so you can see it better)

Really I just guessed and estimated on where the lines should go. I folded the fabric in half, then half again the same direction, so I could cut the front and back in one go. I drew the lines on with chalk, but for this photo (above) I’ve drawn the lines on with Photoshop so you could see them better. From the leftover ‘scraps’ I cut not-quite-bias strips which would become the arm binding, and a straight strip on grain to bind the back neck. This resulted in very, very, very little waste at all.

Cutting a slit for the back neckline

Cutting a slit for the back neckline

Next I cut a slit in the back panel, about 6 inches down, in the center top where the neckline will be. I just did this freehand as well. This will make the ties go in the back instead of the shoulders – like in this example from the Sew Tessuti Blog (originally found on Pinterest).

Binding the back neckline

Binding the back neckline

I bound the neck slit the same way you’d bind the placket on a cuff for the most part – really super-simple and not tailored at all. This fabric sewed up so nicely – I really didn’t need pins at all for the most part. Binding was super-easy too, because this fabric presses so nicely. I basted the binding by hand, and then finished it by machine – the sheerness of the fabric meant the hand-binding went really quickly.

The finished "Pillowcase dress"

The finished “Pillowcase dress”

Next I sewed the side-seams, using an enclosed seam technique usually used for sheers (mostly because I was lazy and didn’t want to change my serger thread, but also because this fabric is semi-sheer and it does look good, plus nicely secure) followed by binding the arm holes with the nearly-bias strips I had cut from the ‘waste’ fabric. Then it was just a matter of sewing down the top edges to create the casing for the drawstring. I didn’t even have to finish this edge because it was on the selvage!  The hem is also on the selvage, and for the time being I’m leaving it unhemmed as well – we’ll see how it wears this way; I may need to add a hem just to give it some weight in the future.

The result

I’m really happy with the result; as a simple summer dress or tunic it works perfectly. It’s light and airy, and with all the gathering I didn’t find it too sheer – though let’s see how that turns out in the bright summer sun. It would also work well for a nightgown, and shorter for a simple top.

The day after finishing it, I actually started cutting out another version.. though this time in a gorgeous super-light-weight satin.

But… I also have another thought for this blue cotton version… which I’ll share in a few days…

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