Remember last year when I went on a pillowcase-dress-making craze? I added to it! Shirred Pillowcase Dress Tutorial
Well recently all the craft blogs have been bombared with shirring (sewing with elastic thread) and I was itching to try it. When a friend called from JoAnns and said “do you need anything while I’m here” I jumped on that – YES, I HAVE to have ELASTIC thread!! (and I just love how sewing supplies get delivered by friends, without me even having to leave the house – awesome!) Now for a project to test out shirring. I thought it would give some body/shape to a pillowcase dress and I thought I was a genius for designing this look. Then yesterday I saw my same dress design – at Walmart. Guess I’m not as unique as I thought – oh well.
Let’s get started on how to make a shirred pillowcase dress.
–a pillowcase (bought mine at a yard sale for a quarter – love the lace edging)
–Ribbon or fabric for the tie around the neck and optional band around the bottom
—elastic thread, hand-wound around a bobbin
First cut a strip of fabric and sew it into a tube and turn it right-side out – this you will use as the ties around the neck. Or if you have ribbon, you can skip this step. You can make 2 shorter lengths and tie it at each shoulder or one long length and just tie it on one side. You’ll need to finish the ends, or heat-set them if you’re using ribbon. Then set that aside.
Next cut the top off of your pillowcase – measure your little girl to see how long you want the dress, and cut off the top amount accordingly. I wanted a longer dress this time – usually I aim for about knee-length, but this was more mid-calf. I cut 4-5 inches, but I was using a king-size pillowcase. Then cut armholes in each side as pictured:
Next you can hem the arm hole edges and the top. Or if you’re lucky enough to have a serger, just whip them through it on rolled hem and you’re done.
Fold down the top of the pillowcase on the front and back according to the width of your ribbon/fabric strip. Sew that into place and thread the ribbon/fabric through it. At this point if you were doing a plain pillowcase dress you’d be done – easy, right?
Now, on to the shirring, aka smocking (also EASY! really!) I glanced at a couple of tutorials and then just winged it (I told myself, it’s only a $.25 pillowcase, a mistake will be okay!). First HAND-WIND your bobbin with elastic thread – just as it sounds, using your own two hands, wrap around the bobbin, not loose but not tight.
Mark your first line with dots (can you see them in the picture? – look close) and then sew all the way around until you come back to the beginning.
Then after that you don’t have to mark – just use your previous line as a guide. Sew as many lines as you want. I even made a pattern – single, double, single…
Coming off the machine mine looked a little gathered, but not a ton, like this:
Well then comes the fun – grab your iron and steam your stitches – they will shrink! I wish I would have gotten this part on video – it was so fun to watch. So mine turned into this:
Now, I thought the dress was still a little plain so I added a fabric strip to the bottom – you could also just sew on a ribbon or buttons or whatever – get creative. I turned under a strip of fabric and then sewed it directly onto the pillowcase, above the lace detail.
I also added what might be the coolest fabric flower ever – be looking for an upcoming how-to on the making of this little beauty.
And here’s the dress in action – I LOVE how it turned out! You can see how the front and back are exactly the same except for the flower I tacked on. This whole project took only a naptime. A perfect project for a beginner sewer – go try it!
Hope you enjoyed this Shirred Pillowcase Dress Tutorial!