Do you hear that? That’s the sound of my sewing machine being revved up for the first time in 7 weeks!
Ahhh… so nice.
I really needed to get back to the sewing world- I didn’t know I’d miss it so much! Anyway, I took Corinne on her first thrift store trip the other day and we scored some good stuff, including a few vintage pillowcases for $.50 each. With all the Vintage May goodness going on at Skirt As Top and Craftiness Is Not Optional, I was inspired to bring one back to modern day life.
A quick and simple dress involving nothing more than a plain tank top and a pillowcase.
Hello, Cheap and Easy!
Wanna make one? Then read on….
Okay. Raid your Grandma’s linen closet, or hit up your local Goodwill for a pillowcase. (Random fact: according to the tag, this one was made close by in Danville, Virginia. Sweet! How’s that for going local?)
Grab a basic tank. This one is from Walmart and was probably $2…
Next, get an existing dress that fits your little girl well. Use it as a guide for measuring the length to which you’ll cut your tank, and the length of your skirt piece.
Add an inch to the tank and to the skirt piece to allow for a seam allowance.
**For my average-sized 4 year old, I cut my tank about 3″ below the bottom of the armhole.
**I cut the pillowcase skirt piece 17″ long**
Most pillowcases have one side seam. This seam will then become the middle of the back of your dress.
Next, mark the center of the front of the skirt piece. Make some some pleats 5-6″ across the front. I kind of winged it (wung it?)- mine are about 1/2″ wide. It helps to iron them down a bit.
Pin those pleats, and then sew vertically about 1″ down the fold of each pleat to keep it in place. Also sew across the raw edge of the pleated area using a 1/2″ seam allowance.
Next, you want to sew a gathering stitch (use your longest stich length and don’t backstitch at either end!) from one edge of your pleated area to the other edge of your pleated area using a 1/2″ seam allowance. **don’t sew along the pleats!
Measure the width of your child’s chest. Gather your skirt piece to equal that measurement PLUS a good 2″. Ellery’s measurement is 21″, so I gathered my skirt piece to be about 23″ wide. **pull on the long threads that are at the ends of your gathering stitch to create the gathers- i try to keep most of the gathers in the back of the skirt piece since the front piece is pleated. This will make sure that your dress has some nice flow room in the front and the back of the dress. Make sense?
Okay. Next, turn your skirt piece inside out. Then, insert your tank top (neckline first) into the skirt piece. The back seam of your skirt should line up with the back tag of the tank top (right sides together). Meet the raw edges together and pin in place. This can seem confusing the first time you do it, but think about it for a minute and you’ll get it!
(p.s. once you learn this technique, it is easy to turn any shirt into a dress!! Even for yourself!)
If you hold it up, it should look like this.
(Thanks to sis Caroline for helping! Oh, and for taking my kid strawberry picking so I could actually get time to do all this!! You da best.)
Okay, next you’re going to sew the tank to the skirt. You’ll need to handwind elastic thread onto a bobbin (this video can help you if you’ve never done this). Sew completely around the skirt using a 5/8″ seam. Sew one more line of stitches very close to the previous one- just for good measure. Using the elastic thread technique will ensure that the dress can be pulled on and off easily and have some give, but also fit your child snug around the chest.
*You can then serge, zigzag stitch, or use pinking shears to finish your seam- my serger is tucked away at the moment, so i haven’t gotten around to it yet*
When you’re done, pull your tank top back up and it looks like this:
Now turn your dress right side out to admire your handiwork. And my sisters well-tanned arm. No fair.
Give it to your girl!
I love how simple this dress looks, and I like the front being pleated instead of gathered…but I thought it needed a little more detail.
So I sewed a piece of ivory lace to the neckline of the tank (sorry no photo of that, but you can figure it out- use a zigzag stitch.)
Here is the real finished dress… and my sweet girl being the BEST child model ever! No bribes needed!
(…really mom…get me out of this scratchy, snake-infested field already…)
Thanks for visiting!