Make a Pillowcase Dress Pattern

Written by Andrea

My first memory of seeing someone make a pattern was when I was a young child at my cousin’s house. She had a box of wax paper, a marker and a measuring tape. She was measuring her daughter and making marks on wax paper, measuring it from one side to another. I can remember thinking that it looked as complicated as blueprints for a building.

I suppose it can be pretty complicated. There are lots of things to consider, especially when you are looking at making something extravagant. However, there are some items that are more simple, making that box of wax paper, scissors, and measuring tape much less daunting.

Now, in an effort of full disclosure here, I tell you that I am NOT a patternmaker. I do not pretend to have all the answers and most certainly am not very skilled at doing this. So, if my measurements are off or if you think something doesn’t look exactly right, feel free to change anything I’m about to tell you. And, feel free to correct me on here, too. I could probably use the help!

With all that being said, I thought it would be fun to share a homemade pattern for a simple pillowcase dress. I chose the pillowcase dress for a few reasons. First and foremost, we are about to launch a “12 Weeks of Homemade Christmas” here on Our Cups Runneth Over and the pillowcase dress is one of the tutorials and features that we will be posting about. Look for the full tutorial next week! Secondly, I chose the pillowcase dress because there is really only one piece needed for the pattern, which makes it a great starter piece when learning to sew, make your own patterns, etc. Lastly, I chose the pillowcase dress because I love the versatility of it. It is a great “base” with so many options. You can add a contrasting piece of material at the top or bottom. You could add embellishments. You can use ribbons for the straps or make your own from matching fabric. And, the pillowcase dress is perfect for all seasons. Your little girl can wear it in summer with her flip flops or winter with a long sleeve t-shirt, tights, and her favorite boots.

OK. Enough discussion about the wonderful merits of the pillowcase dress.

Let’s get started on this pattern.

First, you will need some wax paper. I’m not really sure what sizes wax paper comes in… and I’m quite certain that you can use something other than wax paper, but for the purposes here, I’m using 12-inch wide wax paper. You’ll also need scissors, a measuring tape, and a marker. I realize that this photo shows other items. Sorry about that. You’ll see it again next week.:)

Next, it is time to work. Here is where you geometry and math class comes in, folks.

Well, not really. Unless you really have to have this down to an exact science… er… math. Nevermind.

Just use your measuring tape and you’ll be fine.

Below, you’ll see an image of how you will want to cut your wax paper. I’ve included the measurements in the image for a size 8 girl’s dress. At least, it’s what I call a size 8. So, for your convenience, I’ve also included the measurements for other sizes under this image. If you can’t measure the child you are making this dress for, it should be close to the same size that they would wear. If you have to guesstimate, err on the side caution and make it the larger size. You can always alter it to make it smaller much easier than to try to alter it to make it larger. If you can measure the child, you simply need to measure her from the base of her neck to the length that you would like for the dress to be.

Size Fold Line Length Outside Seam Length Top Width Bottom Width
3 17 13.75 7.5 10.75
4 19 15.5 7.75 11
5 20.75 17.25 8 11.25
6 22.5 19 8 11.5
7 24 20.75 8 11.75
8 26 22 8 12
Finished Length of Dress
Measure the child from the base of the neck to determine size
3 19
4 20.25
5 21.5
6 22.75
7 25.5
8 26.75

And, that’s it! It seems way too simple, right?! Look for my post next week that includes the complete instructions on how to make this easy peasy dress! In the meantime, get your wax paper out and make your pattern so that you’ll be ready to go!

Questions? Please let me know! Happy Monday!

Christy Teter - September 29, 2011 - 1:46 pm

My daughter received two pillowcase dresses for her birthday from her grandma! One she made with a pattern and one was from an actual pillowcase. The one from an actual pillowcase hangs a little funny so we pair it with leggins and a belt. This was the first I had heard of them or seen one! Cute!!

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