Embroidery Library

Pillowcase Dress


Transform an ordinary pillowcase into an easy, breezy and adorable dress for your little princess! James' daughter Zofi models this project featuring an embroidered lion and a baby blue pillowcase.

This simple sundress has a built-in hem and just needs your imagination to make it special. 

The options are endless! Use a whimsical border along the bottom hem or personalize by adding a monogram or phrase to your little girl's dress.


Supplies needed:

One pre-washed standard size pillowcase
    (sized about 20 x 30 inches or 50.8 x 76.2 cm)

** Cutaway stabilizer (medium weight cutaway or Floriani Fusible No-Show Mesh)

** 1 1/2 yards single fold bias tape
** Spray adhesive
11 inches of 3/8 inch wide elastic
** Air-erase pen
** Safety pin

** Hem tape (optional)

Designs Used:

** Magnificent Menagerie Lion-Lg

** Or Small

Sizing Information:

Before beginning this project, we consulted this website for sizing guidelines: http://www.andersonsplace.net/sewing/pillow_case_dress.htm

* 6 months - 14 1/4 inches

* 12 months - 16 1/4 inches
* 18 months - 17 1/4 inches

* 2T - 18 1/4 inches
* 3T - 19 1/4 inches
* 4T - 20 1/4 inches

First, determine the length needed by the sizing guidelines. Lay the pillowcase flat and measure from the open end towards the closed end. Mark the measurement on each side of the pillowcase and draw a line from one side to the other using a straight edge and an air-erase marker.


Cut along the line, removing the closed end of the pillowcase. Cut through both layers.


To remove the excess width from the pillowcase, measure in about 5 inches at both ends. Connect the two marks by drawing a connecting line from end to end using a straight edge and an air-erase marker.

Cut along the line to remove the 5 inch excess. Cut through both layers.

To create the arm hole opening on the open side of the dress, mark the cut out using an air-erase marker.

For sizes 2T and smaller. measure 2 inches in and 3 inches down.

For sizes 3T and 4T,
measure 2 1/2 inches in and 4 inches down.

Be sure to leave a 1/2 inch seam allowance

Draw a rounded corner about 3/4 inch from the axis in each direction, as shown.

Cut out the shape, cutting through both layers at the same time.

To cut the other arm hole, fold the fabric over, leaving about 1/2 inch of the right side hanging over the left side.  Trace the shape of the right arm hole onto the upper corner.

The 1/2 inch overage is the seam allowance and is not transferred to the other side.

Cut out the arm hole following the lines.

Create a paper template of the design by printing it at full size using embroidery software.  Cut around the design to make it easy to work with. Lay the paper template on top of the right side up fabric. The lion pictured is about 4 inches from the top of the fabric. After finding the center of the design, pole a hole through the center axis and mark on the fabric. Measure and mark the horizontal and vertical axis points onto the template, as well. Transfer those marks to the fabric for the next step.

Remove the paper template and draw lines connecting the horizontal and vertical axis points. These lines will be used for hooping.

Hoop the design with cutaway stabilizer that has been sprayed with adhesive. Or, use a product like Floriani's Fusible No-Show Mesh Stabilizer.  This type of product works well on children's garments because it is lighter and softer than most cutaway stabilizers. Hoop the fabric and stabilizer together by aligning the hoop with the lines on the fabric.

Attach the hoop to the machine, load the design, align the needle directly over the center of the design, and embroider the design. When the design is finished, carefully trim away the excess stabilizer, leaving about 1/2 inch around the design.   

Lay the fabric, right sides together and pin along the open side.

Sew the open side together with a 1/2 inch seam allowance.  Turn the dress right side out.

To prepare the neckline for the elastic, fold the top edge with a 1/4 inch allowance and press into place.

Fold the top edges over again with a 3/4 inch seam allowance and press into place.

To create a pocket for the elastic, sew the folds in place by sewing a seam along the inside edge of the folds.

Repeat on both the front and back of the neckline.

Cut two strips of 3/8 inch wide elastic. Attach a safety pin to one end of the elastic strips.

Thread the elastic through the front neckline pockets. 

Sew the end of the elastic in place at both sides of the pocket.

Repeat on the back neckline.

To finish-off the arm hole cut-outs and add the ties, measure 10 inches of bias tape from the package. Do not cut the bias tape yet.

Change your thread color to match the bias tape.

Fold the tape wrong side together and sew from the end toward the 10 inch mark.

This is one of the ties.

Stating at the 10 inch mark on the bias tape, pin it around the arm hole.

After pinning the bias tape, measure another 10 inches, mark and cut the tape.

Sew the tape to the arm hole by sewing a seam on the inside edge of the tape. Continue sewing the open bias tape along the edge to complete the tie.

Repeat on the other arm hole.

To add an extra detail, sew hem tape to the bottom of the dress.  Simply pin in place to the bottom of the dress and...

...sew the tape the the dress by sewing on the outer edges of the tape.

Way to go! You have an adorable sundress perfect for play dates, a day at the beach, or a summer picnic.

Click here for a printable version of these project instructions.

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Products used in this Project:

Levi Lion $4.49 - $4.99

Available in 2 Sizes:

3.54" x 3.85" | 3.08" x 3.36"