UPcycled: smocked pillowcase dress

I made Grant a new pillowcase this week, and his old one became an easy, breezy dress for Ellery.  I followed the general guidelines for a smocked dress in Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross , but I found this video  to be extremely helpful (if you click on the picture, the author demonstrates her technique on Martha).  I kept the original hem of the pillowcase, and added some scalloped stitches in orange, pea green, and yellow.  It was my first time trying out my machine’s decorative stitches and I am kicking myself that it’s taken me this long… I think they look super cute.

Once that was done, I cut off about 5 inches at the top edge of the pillowcase, drew 7 straight lines 1/2″ apart with my special blue marker (the ink disappears with a little water) to be a guide for the stitching .  I hand-wound elastic thread in my bobbin, thread some yellow thread in the needle and began the shirring process. 

This was WAY easier than I thought.  The fabric gathered up slightly, as you’ll see below:

The cool part is once you are done sewing, you spray water all over the smocking, and then press it with a hot iron which magically shrinks it all even more.  For the straps, I made casings out of an old shirt of mine and inserted some 1/4″ elastic. 

I ended up zig-zaging the top edge of the dress since I didn’t leave quite enough fabric to fold over and hem.  So, yeah it’ll probably fray a bit over time, but for a next-to-free dress, you won’t hear me complain!


It fits!


Yesterday was the perfect day for this dress.  It was almost 70 degrees and sunny. Ellery was happy to go outside for a photo shoot.

I have no idea where that pose came from, but I like it!  Work it, girl!

Okay, so maybe she looks a little bit like she should be gathering eggs.

Or….. milking a cow, perhaps?

She did do some garden-prep for us.

She wore this the entire day, had fun pulling it on and taking it off multiple times, and even called it her “party dress”.

…I wouldn’t go that far, Ell.  But, I will take that as a compliment!

– Erin

4 thoughts on “UPcycled: smocked pillowcase dress

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