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Sewing your first homemade dress may seem intimidating, but it’s easier than you think. “Pillowcase” dresses are a great place for beginners to start. Versatile and simple, they are a great way for beginners to learn how to use a sewing machine.

Material for Sewing a Pillowcase Dress

pattern, scissors, tape measure, and a sewing machine. Workplace of seamstress. Dressmaker cuts dress detail on the sketch lines.

As the name implies, these homemade creations can be made from pillowcases. However, these only work when you are making a dress for a little girl. You can make an adult-sized garment, but you’ll need to purchase enough material to fit. To make larger sizes, you’ll simply need to add more length to the dress.

If you don’t have a pillowcase, you can use fabric. Here’s a guide to help you determine how much you’ll need. You’ll need a total of 1/2 yard to 1 yard of fabric, depending on the size you’re making.


SizeMain Fabric LengthArmhole WidthArmhole Length
3-6 months14.5”‘2”4”
6-9 months16.5”2′4”
12 months17.5”2”5”
18 months18.5”2”5”
24 months19.5”2.5”5.5”
3 years22.5”2.5”6”


Cutting out the Fabric

With no buttons or zippers, they come together quickly and make a wonderful addition to a little girl’s wardrobe. Most fabric is 44” wide. Cut it in half, so you have two 21” pieces, or cut open the pillowcase seams, so you have two pieces. These are the front and back of your dress. Measure from the top down to determine the length. Then cut armholes in the fabric based on the chart above. You will cut two roughly J-shaped pieces from the front and back pieces. Use a rounded object, like a CD or DVD, as a guide.

Sewing the Dress

Hands of a girl sews on a white sewing machine close-up on a blue background with copy space selective focus

First, put the right sides of the fabric together and stitch the front to the back, stopping at the armholes. Use a 1/2-inch seam allowance. Press the seam open, so it lays flat.

Next, make a casing at the top of the dress. Press the shorter edge down 1/4”, then another 3/4”. Stitch in place to close the edge. Cut a piece of coordinating ribbon and feed it through the front and back casings using a safety pin. The ribbon will tie on one shoulder to finish the dress.

Finally, hem the bottom raw edge. Turn under 1/4”, then another 1/2”. Stitch the finished seam in place.


This dress lends itself to creativity. If you like, add a contrasting band at the bottom. For most the sizes, cut two bands 5”x21″. Sew the short sides together and press the seams open. Then, with right sides together, sew the band to the bottom of the dress. Finish the unfinished bottom seam by turning it under 1/4”, then another 3/4”. Stitch in place for a finished edge.

Sewing Classes in Tucson

If you’d like to learn more beginner sewing skills, take a class at Catheys in Tucson. We offer a variety of sewing and embroidery classes to help beginners get started, and experienced seamstresses perfect their skills. Browse our course class offerings and register today!


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