Womens Pillowcase Dress – (30) Days of Sundresses

Women's Pillowcase Dress Tutorial - mellysews.com

OK y’all…imagine I’m really draaaawwling today as I take you through this women’s pillowcase dress tutorial. Because I’m wearing a dress…and boots…and I’m leading my horse around the fields. So this is about as Texan as I can get, y’all.

Cute pillowcase dress for women with tips for sewing/ wearing them without looking ridiculous - mellysews.com

I’ve been asked before about a pillowcase tutorial for women, and I have to admit…I was hesitant to do it. So before I get into the pattern and sewing, let’s go through some caveats. Because let’s face it – these kind of dresses are adorable on little girls and really tough for women to pull off.

So, if you’re determined to make/wear a pillowcase dress and you’re over the age of 12, by all means PLEASE

  • Don’t use quilting cotton. Sorry, if you’ve got boobs, you need fabric that drapes more, or you’re just going to look like you’re wearing a tent. The dress I’m wearing is silk I got at Mood last year during LA Fabric Weekend. Knit is also a good option.
  • Your dress needs to have a little bit of an A-line shape; if you go with an actual pillowcase (and I’d like to see the pillow that needs to be covered by a case that can fit a grown up woman!) or rectangular shape, it’s going to look like you’re wearing a sack. And not in a good way.
  • Consider a belt. Honestly, next time I wear this dress, I will probably add one. The breeze helped in these pictures, but otherwise this dress is a little shapeless.
  • Length is important. A pillowcase style dress for a woman either needs to hit above the knee or be maxi length. Midi length + borderline shapeless = supremely unflattering.

So please raise your hand and repeat after me, “I, (your name), promise to follow the above rules before I attempt to sew or wear a pillowcase dress.”

OK, let’s talk about how to make the pattern. See the diagrams below. Note- if you want maxi length, you’ll need to go with collarbone to floor length instead of collarbone to kneecap length.

Pattern step 1 - Women's Pillowcase Dress Tutorial - mellysews.com

Take your rectangle and modify it as shown below. Cut 2 of this piece.

Pattern step 2 - Women's Pillowcase Dress Tutorial - mellysews.com

To sew the dress:

  1. (Not shown) sew the side seams with the dress front and back right sides together. Finish these seams.
  2. Use single fold bias tape to finish the edges. Pin the unfolded tape right sides together against the fabric, sew along crease line closest to the raw edge of the fabric, then turn tape to the inside and stitch it down along the other edge.

Sewing Step 1 - Women's Pillowcase Dress Tutorial - mellysews.com

Sewing Step 2 - Women's Pillowcase Dress Tutorial - mellysews.com

If you want your straps to be of the same fabric as the dress, make a long 2″ wide strip of fabric and sew it right sides together, matching the long edges and using a 1/4″ seam. Turn your tube right side out and thread through your casing, tie it off at the length you like and knot the ends of the tube to prevent fraying. If you don’t want the same fabric, you could use ribbon, bias tape, I even contemplated using a jewelry chain on mine.

Hem your dress, and then get your horse to parade around with you as a photo prop. Can you tell Major is thrilled?

Girl, horse, pillowcase dress - Women's Pillowcase Dress Tutorial - mellysews.com

Honestly he was probably just glad that I finally combed the dreadlocks out of his mane. Poor pasture pet; I haven’t had much time to ride lately.

Buckskin horse, girl in boots and a dress - Women's Pillowcase Dress Tutorial - mellysews.com

Horsin' around with a Women's Pillowcase Dress Tutorial - mellysews.com

But hey, he posed pretty for this photo. And yes, he has one brown eye and one blue. Some people think it’s creepy, I think it’s really cool.

Just a girl and her horse - pillowcase dress tutorial - mellysews.com

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  1. Allison Cornuet says

    Seriously I can’t pass up a horse post, much less a colored one with chrome!!! He’s gorg! Maybe I’ll have to start using mine as a phot prop too, hope you don’t mind. Haha!! And the dress is lovely too :-)

  2. says

    Looks nice, though definitely not on my list of dresses to make. Shapeless doesn’t work so well for me, especially with the length restrictions–neither of those lengths look particularly great on me. But I think I may put a pillowcase dress on the list for my daughter one of these summers.

  3. yvonne says

    This is just so cute and it looks so cool–like “cool” (2 thumbs up) and like “cool” for the summer heat.
    I love it, and the hair cut just adds to the charm. Great job, Melly.

  4. says

    I thought a pillowcase dress was brave! The fabric is pretty and gives it a nice lie. I’m sure it will look really cute with a belt too.

  5. Linda Steaples says

    Hey Melly BEAUTIFUL fabric & horse !!!!! Love the dress I wanted to tell you my last born he is SC13 now but he has one blue eye & one brown eye just like your horse !!!!!!!!

  6. Robin says

    Nice dress and the horse is gorgeous! I’m envisioning the top fabric slightly longer and less border, but then I guess it wouldn’t be a pillowcase dress then. I would make this for a night gown but wouldn’t be brave enough to wear in public. It looks great on you though.

  7. Linda B. says

    I’ve been looking for a loose and comfy pattern for a nightgown. This pattern is just purfect. I’ll be having shoulder surgery and if I make the straps as ties it will be so mush eaiser to wear. Thank you so much for all the patterns and info that you post. Linda B. P.S. Major is a very handsome fella.

  8. Sena says

    I’m new to sewing and an academic by training so when I say I’ve read A LOT of sewing blogs and tutorials lately, or as I call it sewing research, I mean it far more than the average person. And this dress is hands down one of the cutest tutorials I’ve come across: the fabric, the styling, the backdrop and prop, everything just screams high-end catalog shoot and has instantly inspired me to try and make it, no hems and haws. And I just find it so sweet how humble you are about the finished results, it is GORGEOUS on you and the hair is just perfect. I can’t say enough nice things about this post, so glad I joined your email list. Thank you thank you thank you!

  9. Jeannie D says

    Great post! Thanks for the tips …I would love to make this as a nightgown in cotton voile…looks so cool and comfy !

  10. says

    I’ve always loved them on little girls and thought they’d be cute. I will take your pledge and abide by the rules. I think it might be cute with leggings too and maybe a long sleeved top, for cooler temps.

  11. says

    I’ve made myself one pillowcase dress that is lovely and comfy to wear and at closing in fast on 60, I don’t care if I wear a dress that would look better on a 12 years old! I have severe arthritis and I keep putting on weight right at my middle so to be comfy, I need garments that flow free and don’t have a lot of things like buttons and zippers. With limited physical ability these no-pattern types dresses are much easier for me to make than to mess around with patterns and cutting out each piece.

    Anyhow, I do try to stay inside except for mailbox runs when wearing my pillowcase dress! I know they aren’t flattering, but they are comfy and not another source of discomfort for me. I do like the idea of the A-line and will try to follow that next time I make one.

  12. Mary says

    These were really popular to make for summer nighties in the early 1960’s (probably the 1950’s too). I was about 5 in 1963 and remember my sisters and cousins making them for all us girls.

  13. Emily says

    I love this pattern. I make lots of clothes for my younger siblings and this is by far the easiest way to make a dress yet! Thank you so much!

  14. Donna K Smith says

    This 73 yo granny, retired in Mexico, is playing around with this pattern: adjusting to a mature. very mature, figure. First, I added a waistline casing with elastic. Now I know I need to it needs to be placed for an empire waistline. That will happen manana. Retired in Mexico with a mature figure, unable to find clothing that is cool enough for the tropics, yet flattering to my body. My sewing skills and eyesight have deteriorated but am eager to create. Been reading your site and others mentioned. Thank you for this opportunity. Donna K

  15. Susie says

    Didn’t think about making one for me, but thats a great idea. I can see that it would be shapeless. So I will make it a top.

  16. says

    I literally laughed out loud when I read your rules, because they’re so dead on. Great tutorial, and I LOVE your version of this dress. Thanks!

  17. Mrs. P says

    I was looking for an easy comfy top to pair with tights. I may increase the a-line shape a bit and make it just long enough to cover my bum. Thanks!

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