vintage pillowcase dress

A few weeks ago I had a photo assignment for work to take pictures at…a thrift store. Well of course I had to do a little shopping while I was there! I didn’t see anything clothes-wise that I had to have, but then I found the sewing/linens/material section.

I picked up some notions, including the skinniest green bias tape I’ve ever seen, an invisible bone colored zipper, a vintage parakeet colored zipper, some piping, orange buttons (not pictured) and a few spools of thread. There were many more zippers and buttons, but I tried to limit myself to what I thought I’d use. Plus I have so many buttons I don’t even know what all I have…

Then I pared my selection from a big stack of linens down to just a few vintage pillowcases.

I knew as soon as I saw the orange and yellow flowers, I knew this pillowcase, third from left, would be the perfect material for a pillowcase dress for Emma.

(The strawberry pillowcase I hope to make into a romper for Emma, and the green and white striped one reminded me of this lucky chevron skirt from you and mie. No plans for the fourth pillowcase yet.)

I used this pillowcase dress tutorial from Prudent Baby again, but in the 18 months-2T size. I’d made the 0-3 months size here for Little Dresses for Africa.

I’ve found that most vintage sheets are rather sheer and could use a lining, so I used the ubiquitous vintage yellow sheet (seen here in sleep shorts, here in a tote bag, and here in a bias tape bag) to line it. Instead of sewing the lining like I have been, using the two pieces together as a single piece of cloth, I sewed the side seams on the lining and the outer part separately and then sewed them together at the neckline and armholes. This meant I didn’t have to mess with turning under or adding bias tape to the armholes and the seams were finished on the inside.

sewing the tops together

topstitched tops

After that I did a quick hem and turned the neck down to make casings for this ribbon I already had. Someone gave it to me awhile back and I really liked it but wanted to use it for something special. The colors went perfectly with this dress.


When I was cutting out the dress, I noticed the triangle shapes that were left from the sides. I wanted to use those because I liked the shapes, but miscalculated and ended up with a piece that wasn’t as big as I needed it to be. I remedied the size by adding two more strips of yellow on the sides. So it didn’t turn out exactly how I planned, but I worked around it. Either side can be worn as the front.

Hopefully this dress will fit and be lightweight and fun for Emma to run around in during the summer. I still have a few more projects in mind for her that I’m hoping to get done soon.


6 thoughts on “vintage pillowcase dress

  1. Oh my gosh, this was the same sheet set I had when I was a teenager! My mom made curtains from the same sheets. How fun for me to see this again. I loved it back then and I still love it today. I had lime green shag carpet and a yellow vinyl beanbag chair to go with it! Thanks for the memories!
    PS It look so cute as a little dress.

    • That’s great! I always think it’s funny and kind of amazing when people post pictures of vintage sheets they’ve bought and I’ve bought the same ones. Thanks for sharing your memories!

  2. Denise Dudik says:

    Sometimes mistakes lead to an even better result than what you set out to do! This is very cute and will look great on Emma! I love the ribbon!

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