Pillowcase Dress Tutorial

Pillowcase Dresses are just too cute! And easy too!

Pillowcase Dresses are so adorable and fun to make! Learn how to make one for your little girl, as gifts, or to sell with our tutorial by Sweet Mama J’s Boutique.

Hi Ribbon Retreat readers!! It’s me again, Ashley, from Sweet Mama J’s Boutique!

Come check out my new blog, Project Bazaar. Fun tutorials, recipes and great photos!!
I would love to see you stop by!

I am SO excited to share with you one of my FAVORITE items to make!
They are SO quick and easy and are just adorable as well!

Learn how to make a pillowcase dress, perfect for all little girls!

Pillowcase Dress Tutorial

Let’s gather our supplies and get started!


I am making approximately a size 3T.

My little princess niece measured in with a 19 1/2″ chest and 21″ from neckline to shin.

Adjust your pillowcase dress as necessary for your princess.

I used:

3/4 yard Half Moon Modern – Ruby by Moda in Ruby Leaves
1/4 yard Half Moon Modern – Ruby by Moda in Ruby Novelty Writing
56″ Moonstitch Grosgrain Ribbon in Cranberry with White
So Fine! Superior Thread in Scarlet

I always start by prewashing my fabric.

Prewash fabric

Cut 2 rectangles of fabric.

I measured the 1st one out of the Ruby Novelty Writing at 5″ X 37″.

The 2nd rectangle measured at 19″ X 37″.

To get the measurements of your rectangles if you are making a different size:

Decide on how big you would like the contrasting band of color to be at the bottom, then add 1″ on the height. ( I wanted mine 4″ + 1″ = 5″) For the width, take the chest measurement and almost double it.

For the larger rectangle, take the neckline to shin measurement and subtract how big you WANT your band to be, then add 2″. (Measurement was 21″ – 4″ = 17″ + 2″ = 19″) Same width.

Fold rectangles in half and sew the sides together.

Fold both triangles in half with right sides together. Sew a 1/4″ seam right down the fold. This seam will balance out the seam on the other side.

Sew together your pieces, zig zag the raw edge.

Place your smaller rectangle on top of your larger rectangle with right sides together. Line up your middle seams and pin into place. Sew a 1/4″ seam along the edge where they meet up.

Zig-zag or serge your raw ends to prevent from fraying.

Press your seam down, towards the bottom of your fabric.

On the right side of the fabric stitch below the seam you just made, to hold the seam down on the back. Make sure you are close enough to the seam to hold it down.

Large rectangle.

You should now have 1 large rectangle.

Match up edges and sew together.

Fold that in half along the seam you did before so the sides match up with right sides together. Pin in place. Sew a 1/4″ seam along that edge to make a wide tube. Zig-Zag or serge the raw edge to prevent from fraying. Press your seams down.

Turn inside out.

Make a hem on the bottom of your contrasting band by turning your tube inside out.

Fold over fabric 1/4".

Fold over 1/4″ fabric and iron the fold. Continue all the way around.

Fold it over again 1/4".

Repeat, by folding your fabric again 1/4″ and ironing. Continue this all the way around.

Pin to get ready to sew.

Pin the double fold so it is straight and ready to sew. Sew down the hem. Press to lay flat.

Now resembles a pillowcase.

Now you have what resembles a pillowcase with the top chopped off!! We’re getting really close.

Fold the pillowcase in half.

Fold your tube in half.

Cut out the armholes by making a backwards J on one side.

To cut the armholes you will start at the top, outside corner (along the 2 seams.) I measured 2″ along the top and 5″ down along the side.

I marked those measurements with a pencil, and then cut a backwards J connecting them.

Open up and fold 1/4" and another 1/4" for all the edges along the top.

Open up your tube and starting with one armhole at a time, fold over 1/4″ and iron down. Repeat 1/4″ fold over, and iron down.

Pin in place.

Pin into place.

Sew along armhole hem, approximately 1/4″ from the outside of the fabric. Press to lay flat.

Sew along both armholes.

Repeat with other armhole.

Arms done, now for the neck casing.

Now for the neck casing and the ribbon.

Fold the top of the dress down 1/4" and press.

Starting with the front of the neck. Fold down fabric 1/4″, and iron. Just like on the hem.

Fold again, leaving enough room for your ribbon to pass through.

Then fold over again leaving enough room for your ribbon to pass through. Pin into place. Sew the ribbon casing down.

Now there is a place for you to thread your ribbon through for the straps.

There should now be a place for your ribbon to thread through for your straps.

Cut your ribbon and heat seal the ends.

Take your Moonstitch ribbon and heat seal the ends, to prevent from fraying.

Attach a safety pin through one end of the ribbon and thread through the casing.

Attach a safety pin to one end and thread it through your casing on the neckline. Repeat through the other casing continuing so you have one large loop of ribbon.

This is so your dress ties on only one side.

Learn how to make a pillowcase dress, perfect for all little girls!

You did it! Enjoy!

Spikey Clip Bow Tutorial

For the coordinating hair clip I used:

7/8″ Moonstitch Grosgrain Ribbon in Cranberry
5/8″ Solid Grosgrain in Black
5/8″ Solid Sheer Ribbon in White
7/8″ Damask Ribbon in Black with White
3/8 Saddle Stitch Ribbon in Black with White

I used the Spikey Minnie Mouse Hair Clip Tutorial.

Make a pillowcase dress for your princess.

Pillowcase Dresses are so easy and comfy!

Thank you SO much to The Ribbon Retreat for letting me share this tutorial with you today!! I had a blast!

Thanks Ashley, as always, for the wonderful tutorial! Every little girl needs a pillowcase dress, and with how easy they are, she can get her wish!

Also check out the beautiful fabric selection that is available at The Ribbon Retreat.
Gorgeous fabrics from your favorite designers!

And finding matching ribbon is so easy with our huge selection!

If you have a fun blog and wonderful tutorials, we would love to have you on The Ribbon Retreat as a contributor! Check out our Project Submission Page for more details and to apply.

Have a great day! ~ Shirley, The Ribbon Retreat Blog Editor

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  1. joyce johnson
    Posted December 8, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

    I can’t wait to make this, it is adorable !

  2. Sue Whittenberg
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    This is so cute and I actually made mine out of pillow cases. lol They are adorable and so is your little girl, my grand daughter loves them!

  3. Posted February 26, 2013 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    Thanks so much for posting this cute project. My granddaughters want me to make these dressed for them…I had an idea in my mind, but your post has made my project so much easier…I don’t have to invent my own “how to.”

  4. Whitney
    Posted April 9, 2013 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    Thank you so much for the step-by-step directions! I am a novice sewer, and got frustrated quickly with a patterned dress for my almost 2 year-old. With simple measurements and clear directions I was able to sew my first dress for her, and she loved it – and I got lots of compliments on it at church!

  5. Dawn
    Posted May 21, 2013 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    I have a question. What width ribbon did you use? The link to the moonstitch ribbon says 3/8″ but it looks so much wider in the pictures. Thanks!

  6. Kelly
    Posted June 8, 2013 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

    I don’t understand how that cute little girl has a 19 & 1/2 inch chest. Could you please explain how to take those measurements for thhe chest area, thank you so much!!!!!! :):)::)

    • The Ribbon Retreat
      Posted June 13, 2013 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

      Hi Kelly! Thank you for your question. I asked Ashley and she said the following…”I had her mother measure all the way around her chest at the widest part just under the armpits.

      According to Kohl’s sizing charts, a typical 3T is around 21″ for the chest measurement. My little niece is very slim. Thank you for your question. I hope this helps!”

      Thanks for your question Kelly! Have a wonderful day! 🙂

  7. Wedding Headdress
    Posted August 21, 2013 at 3:17 am | Permalink

    OH… it is so cute !Loves them!

    • The Ribbon Retreat
      Posted August 21, 2013 at 7:19 am | Permalink

      Hi and thank you for your comment! Have a wonderful rest of your day!
      Michelle 🙂

  8. Ann Merchant
    Posted September 26, 2013 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

    I the pics of the little cutie modeling the dress I don’t see where the ribbon ties on one shoulder. Did you stitch the ribbon together instead of making a tied bow?

    • The Ribbon Retreat
      Posted September 30, 2013 at 9:41 am | Permalink

      Hi Ann! Thank you so much for your comment! Ashley says…”On the pictures posted for the pillow dress tutorial, the bow has been strategically placed behind one shoulder because my nieces have a really hard time with the bows being near their face as well as with the extra ribbon flying around. In the picture of her on the bench, you can see the bow behind the shoulder.” I hope this helps. Thank you again Ann and good luck! Michelle 🙂

  9. Natasha
    Posted October 4, 2013 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

    I am actually wanting to make these dresses for my girls as christmas dresses nad I am having trouble figuring out how much fabric I need for a 6x/7 and a 10/12. Can anyone help?

    • The Ribbon Retreat
      Posted October 22, 2013 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

      Hi Natasha! Thank you so much for your question. This dress would be super cute for your little girls for Christmas. As far as making sizes to fit your girls, you would first want to see how long you want your dress to be. Measure from shoulder to knee or calf depending on where you want your hem on the dress to hit. For example, if your measurement is 45″ from shoulder to knee, you would subtract out the 9″ for your contrast piece at the bottom. That would leave you with 36″ left for the main fabric. On the arm holes you could measure over 3″ and down about 7″ to allow for your arm holes. Also, keep in mind that if you want your dresses fuller than just the width of the fabric you can add additional fabric according to how full you want them. I hope this helps! Good luck making your dresses! Thank you Natasha and have a wonderful rest of your day! Michelle 🙂

  10. Heather
    Posted October 5, 2013 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    How do you adjust for a bigger size. I’ve never adjusted a tutorial or pattern before.

    • The Ribbon Retreat
      Posted October 22, 2013 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

      Hi Heather! Thank you for your question. The first thing to do to adjust for a bigger size is to take a measurement of the fullest part of the body of the person who you are making the dress for (the hips most likely). The fabric is 44″ wide so if their measurement is 25″ (for example) you wouldn’t need to add additional fullness to the dress, if you don’t want to. You would then just adjust the length. However, you always could add additional fabric for additional fullness if that is your desired result. Those are just a couple of tips for adjusting a pattern. I hope it helped a little. Thank you and good luck. Michelle 🙂

  11. Betty Grocki
    Posted December 12, 2013 at 6:22 am | Permalink

    I love this tutorial. If I wanted to make these in all different sizes for resale….how would I judge fabric measurements? That is the part I always find confusing.

  12. Betty Grocki
    Posted December 12, 2013 at 6:24 am | Permalink

    P.S. I would be making different sizes for resale so I wouldn’t have exact measurements to go by.

  13. Lynn
    Posted January 27, 2014 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the great tutorial. I plan on making a dress this summer for a 2 yr. old. I have over 4o years of clothes making experience, but that is using patterns. I am not a designer, so this tutorial is perfect for me. This will be a fun project!

    • Posted January 27, 2014 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

      Hi Lynn! Yay! I am so glad you love this tutorial. This dress is adorable and will be a great summer project! Good luck and have so much fun making this cute little dress! Have a great day! Michelle 🙂

  14. brenda quinton
    Posted February 16, 2014 at 3:49 am | Permalink

    I was so glad to find your blog! my daughter wants me to make my new granddaughter one for easter but I had never heard of it less alone know what it looks like. now I can make baby Rylee some, thankyou

    • Posted February 18, 2014 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

      Hi Brenda! Thank you so much for your sweet comment and for sharing your story! I am so incredibly happy that you found our tutorial. This dress is so adorable and will look amazing on your new little Rylee! Congrats on your new granddaughter and thank you again for sharing! Have a wonderful day! Michelle 🙂

  15. Celeia
    Posted April 18, 2014 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    Thank you so much for this tutorial. My daughter-in-law asked me to make a dress from a precious old pillowcase that belonged to her grandmother. I wanted to make sure I could do it before I made the dress. Needless to say I will practice on an old pillowcase first. You made it look very easy to make. with your step-by-step tutorial. Thank you so much for sharing your talents with all of us. By the way your niece is so adorable.

    • The Ribbon Retreat
      Posted April 21, 2014 at 8:09 am | Permalink

      Hi Celeia! You are welcome! Thank you for your comment. Wow…what a cool way to use a wonderful piece of memorabilia. Good luck with your dress and thank you again for your sweet comment! Have a wonderful day! Michelle 🙂

  16. amber
    Posted June 5, 2014 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    i love it. i cant wait to make this. ive been waiting to for a long time, you make it easy for me todo now thank you so much,

    • The Ribbon Retreat
      Posted June 6, 2014 at 8:46 am | Permalink

      Hi Amber! Thank you so much for your sweet comment. I am so glad you love this fun dress and are so excited to try it! Have so much fun making this cute dress! Have a wonderful day and thank you again! Michelle 🙂

  17. Kellie
    Posted October 21, 2014 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the tutorial! You made it so easy! My only question – How is it kept so gathered at the top and the ribbon so loose? The only way I can get mine gathered that much is if the bow is tied directly at the spot the front and back meet, essentiallty holding the gathering in place. Thanks!

    • The Ribbon Retreat
      Posted October 23, 2014 at 4:52 am | Permalink

      Hi Kellie! Thank you so much! I am so glad you like this fun little dress. I am sorry you are having issues with your ribbon. I am not sure if your casing for your ribbon is slightly larger so that is causing the slipping. If your casing fits around your ribbon a little more snug, that could possibly help it from slipping and giving your more options of where you can lay your bow. I am sorry I cannot be of more help. When pulling the ribbon it should tighten to your desired tightness and when you loosen it, it should loosen to loose how you want it so I again and not sure if the size of your casing would help this. Thanks again Kellie, and I hope this helps a little! Have a great day! Michelle 🙂

  18. Heather
    Posted November 5, 2014 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    I saw that you said you prewash your fabric before starting, but what about after it is worn, how do you care for it? Do you leave the ribbon in while washing and drying? How do you do it?

    • The Ribbon Retreat
      Posted November 6, 2014 at 9:08 am | Permalink

      Hi Heather! Thank you for your question! Yes, you can leave the ribbon in when you wash it. When you press the dress (if needed, after you dry it or hang it to dry), you may have to carefully press the ribbon as well so you still get a pretty bow. Thank you again for stopping by and good luck with your Pillowcase Dress! Have a wonderful day! Michelle 🙂

  19. eugenia
    Posted March 8, 2015 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    Hola gracias .que medida se baja en el hombro talla 4??

  20. katherine
    Posted July 17, 2015 at 5:38 am | Permalink

    Thanks for this tutorial! I have just adopted sewing and I am loving it! Would you please explain how to cut the measurement of this dress for a size 5. Thank you so much!

    • The Ribbon Retreat
      Posted July 21, 2015 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

      Hi Katherine! I am so glad you have started sewing and are loving it! It is so much fun! Thank you for your question. In regards to measurements for a size 5…you are first going to want to decide on how big you would like the contrasting band of color to be at the bottom, then add 1″ on the height. In the tutorial, Ashley wanted her bottom band to be 4″ so she added 1″ to get 5″ (what you will cut your bottom piece for the band at). For the width of the band, take the chest measurement (of who you are making it for or someone similar in size) and almost double it (Ashley’s daughter chest measurement was 19 1/2 so she doubled that to 37″). For the larger rectangle (which will be the body of your dress), take a neckline to shin measurement and subtract how big you WANT your band to be, then add 2″. For example, in the tutorial, Ashley’s little girl’s neckline to shin measurement was 21″ so she took 21″ – 4″ (how big she wanted her band to be) to get 17″. She then added 2 to get 19″ which will be the length you cut your large rectangle piece at. So Ashley’s band is cut at 5″x37″ (width of band she wants + 1) x (almost double chest measurement). Her large rectangle piece is cut at 19″x37″ (neckline to shin measurement – width of band + 2 to get length of large rectangle) x (almost double chest measurement). I really hope this helps! Good luck Katherine and thanks again! Michelle 🙂

  21. Posted April 17, 2016 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

    What a great post! I just started sewing and in an attempt to make something relatively easy as well as super cute and sassy, I made my first pillowcase dress. It turned out adorable and I am so pleased! You can see the end result here:

    • The Ribbon Retreat
      Posted April 18, 2016 at 10:47 am | Permalink

      Elizabeth…that is so awesome! Great, great job! I love that dress, and your fabric choice is so fun! You are so amazing! Thank you so much for sharing! You made my whole day! Have a great one and thanks again! Michelle 🙂

  22. Posted April 19, 2016 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    Hi I am new to sewing do I am a little confused,. She says cute two triangle one big and one small. Then she says sew fold
    Triangles down the middle and sew
    Center seam. Are there actually three
    pieces to cut? Two for the dress and one for the bottom? Also, I don’t understand what she is saying by sewing up the center seam ?
    Is she saying sew on the folds of these two pieces to join fabric ?
    Thank you

    • The Ribbon Retreat
      Posted May 19, 2016 at 9:33 am | Permalink

      Hi Carol! Thank you for your questions. I hope I can help you! 🙂
      You only cut two rectangles. One is for the dress top and one is for the dress bottom. In regards to the center seam, she is just having you fold the fabric in half, with the right sides of the fabric touching each other and sewing down the fabric to create a seam so when you sew the open ends of the rectangle/fabric together to create the dress, you actually have two seams (one on each side of the dress) instead of just one. This will make the dress look more symmetrical, one seam under each arm expect just one under one arm (which is what you could have if you didn’t make a center seam at the very beginning. I hope this helps. Thank you again and good luck with this adorable dress! You are going to love making it! Have a great day Carol! Michelle 🙂

  23. Harini
    Posted April 24, 2016 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the tutorial. Just stitched 2 dresses (identical) – one for my daughter and one for my niece. I did not use the contrasting fabric, just attached a small lace at the bottom. Not sure how to share the pic with you. I still need to get the ribbons to thread through.

    • The Ribbon Retreat
      Posted April 26, 2016 at 5:04 am | Permalink

      Hi Harini! Yay! You are so awesome. I bet the dresses look amazing. Thank you for sharing your sewing success with us! Have a wonderful day and great job!!! Michelle 🙂

  24. Carol Easterwood
    Posted May 18, 2016 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    I am not understanding how you made the
    arm holes. Could you please explain to
    me in a little more detail? I am new to
    all of this !
    Thanks, Carol

    • The Ribbon Retreat
      Posted May 19, 2016 at 8:40 am | Permalink

      Hi Carol! Thank you for your question. I am sorry for the confusion. Armholes can be a little hard, but I actually love the way they are described in this tutorial. All you do is lay your tube out flat on a table or floor. If you are making the same size of dress as is in the tutorial, just measure from the outside edge (by the seam) of the tube going towards the neck 2 inches (do this on both outside edges). Then from the top outside edge, measure down towards the bottom of the tube 5 inches (again, do this on both outside edges). Then, comes the fun part…connect the dots using a nice curve. If it would help, find a big mixing bowl or something that has a nice curve on the bottom and use that to trace from the top line to the bottom line. Then you just cut along the line and waaaaa-laaaa, you have an armhole shape. Then just make a nice hem/seam to give the armhole a nice finished look. I hope this helps. Good luck and have so much fun making this adorable dress! Michelle 🙂

  25. Posted May 20, 2016 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    Your tutorial is FABULOUS! I have a friend with twin girls and plan to make them pillowcase dresses by following your tutorial. Love love LOVE this adorable little dress being modeled by your lovely niece….she’s precious!

    • The Ribbon Retreat
      Posted May 23, 2016 at 9:58 am | Permalink

      Hi Barbara! Awesome! How lucky are those sweet twin girls?!? They are going to love their new dresses! Have a great day and thank you so much for sharing! Michelle 🙂

  26. Crystal
    Posted May 27, 2016 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    What a perfect tutorial! I think even I (a novice sewing enthusiast) can handle this one!! Thank you for sharing!

    • The Ribbon Retreat
      Posted June 17, 2016 at 8:43 am | Permalink

      Hi Crystal! Thank you so much! I am so glad you like this fun tutorial and YES…you could totally make this dress! Good luck and let us know how it goes! Have a wonderful day! Michelle 🙂

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