Vintage Pillowcase Romper Tutorial

Okay, y’all.  First, thank you for all the nice comments (and the blog traffic-  whoa… thanks kristin and jess!) on yesterday’s post!

We had so much fun sewing up those looks for our kids and as promised, I am back today with a tutorial for you!


So grab a vintage pillowcase and let’s get started!

**disclaimer: I am one who learns so much better by seeing and doing, so i have included a picture for each step here.  it’s a little photo overload, but if you are a beginner this will hopefully be a good thing!**

We’ll begin with the appliqued peter pan collar…

Pick a onesie, any onesie. (or a shirt, or tank, etc…) This one is an 18 month size.


Lay a piece of paper over the neckline and using a marker, trace the curve of the neckline, just below the neckline ribbing.


Draw in a collar!  Play around until you like it.


Then cut one of those shapes out for a little template.


Fuse your steam-a-seam (or whatever you like to use) to the wrong side of your collar fabric- I used a shiny gold satin- but how cute would this be in any color or print?

 Trace two collar pieces on… mirror images.


Cut those out.  (You’re still looking at the wrong side there…)


Place your collar pieces onto your onesie and iron on according to the instructions of whichever iron-on product you choose to use- I used Steam-a-Seam.

If you want, sew on a little ribbon rosebud in the center, or a tiny bow.


That’s done.  Next, we’ll hack it up!  Cut straight across it, about 1″ below the arm pit.


**Okay, so the following measurements are pretty perfect for a baby that is about 18 months old.  Coco is 14 months and pretty average if not slightly on the tall side… and this fits perfectly with some extra room, but i did have to take the crotch panel up about 1/2″ on the front and back once it was all done so it wasn’t too baggy in that area- but it was a cinch and I’ll explain more later…

For Corinne, I measured the length from the middle of her chest (as in the nipple line) to her crotch (12″) and added 2″.  So, my pillowcase piece was 14″ in length, and 19″ wide (i think most pillowcases are between 19-21″ wide, fyi).


Most pillowcases just have one side seam.  I shifted the side seam over to the center- this will become the back center seam.  Give a little ironing.


Mark the center of your pillowcase (note- i LOVE using frixion pens for this- one tap of the iron and the marks vanish!), and then mark 2 1/2″ on either side.

(This will be the crotch.)

p.s. I have to give a shout-out to Rae here.  I loosely followed her baby sunsuit tutorial to figure out how to cut the leg holes.  Thanks Rae 🙂


Measure 5″ up from the bottom of the pillowcase on each side.  This mark is where the pillowcase will meet the outer thigh.


Lightly mark a curve from one side of the crotch, to the thigh mark on the side.  See below how I made sure the curve started a bit up from the crotch before it starts to curve…


Fold your pillowcase in half, pin in place, and cut the leg holes!


You should now have a big pair of Granny panties.

**  Can you see here that the crotch looks maybe a tad long?  No biggie- either cut it a little shorter here, or just do it at the end like I did.  It’s a good thing bloomers are forgiving…wish I could get away with wearing some.**


Turn it inside out.  Fold both leg curves up 1/4″ and press.  Fold up again 1/4″ and press again. Pin in place and sew.


Next, cut 2 pieces of double fold bias tape to 5″ long.  Sandwich the raw edge of the crotch into the bias tape, tucking the ends in, and sew.




Now, measure the fattest part of your baby’s thigh.  My girl’s chunk is 13″ in diameter.  Cut a piece of 1/8″ or 1/4″ elastic to that length minus 1″.  So, 12″ for me.


Turn pillowcase inside out, line up the center of the elastic with the center of the leg hole.


Sew from the center mark down to one end, pulling the elastic a bit as you go to stretch it to or almost to the bias tape.


Then, start from the center again, and repeat going the other way.


It should look like this…

(note- once you wash your romper, the elastic will shrink up perfectly and hug those chunky thighs!  Sometimes when you stretch elastic like this and sew it on, it can seem a little loose.  Just spray with water and throw in the dryer.)


Next, add some snaps to the crotch piece- It takes a little elbow grease to push them through the bias tape, but i used the end of a pen to push the snap prongs in and it was just fine.  You could use snap tape here, but I usually don’t have it.


Now, to attach the top to the bottom.

Mark the center front and back of your onesie and the center front of your pillowcase.

Sew two lines of gathering stitches (use your longest stitch length and don’t backstitch!) at the top raw egde of your pillowcase. Pull the long ends of your threads to gather the pillowcase.


You’ll want to take your babe’s chest measurement here.  Coco’s is 19″.  Add 2″, and gather your pillowcase to about that measurement.  So, I gathered mine to 21″.  I just took my measuring tape and placed it across the bloomers at the top, and made sure it was about 10.5″ (which means the it should be about 21″all the way around… got me?).  We’re just trying to give some wiggle room here for your kid to move around comfortably.

Next, turn your bloomers inside out.  Insert your top (right side out) into the bloomers, matching the centers at the raw edge.  Take a good look at the photo below.  If you haven’t done this, it can seem confusing at first.  But, stay with me.


Pin your top to the bloomers at the raw edges, and stretch your onesie top a bit if you need to make it fit to the bloomers… See below, I was measuring across? Just making sure the bloomers were wide enough to fit comfortably around baby’s chest.

  So, just try and get your onesie to evenly fit with the bloomers.


Sew together just to the left of your gathering stitches…


Should look like this now.


Next, this is optional, but I really like to add elastic here.  I think it makes for a more comfortable fit, but also keeps things gently snug around baby’s chest.  Cut the elastic to your baby’s chest measurement. (I used 1/8″ elastic and cut it to 19″).  And again, I like to match up the center of the elastic with the center front mark on the onesie.  Start sewing from that center front point all the way to the back seam, and then do the same again for the other side, starting at that center front mark.


See?  I just stitched it right over the other stitches.  No prob.


Trim your inside seam, and iron it down.  You could serge this edge here, but I didn’t.


And you are done!


SO.  Once I tried this on Coco, it was a little long in the crotch.  I fixed that super quickly by just folding each crotch piece up and stitching along the fold- and it looks perfect on her.  So, again… you can probably get away with these measurements if your baby is 18-24 months, but if she’s a little younger or smaller… either alter it at the end like I did, or when you are cutting your leg holes and crotch, just make it shorter.



Please let me know if you make a pillowcase romper!  Or if you need any help!

Thanks for reading.  🙂


19 thoughts on “Vintage Pillowcase Romper Tutorial

  1. Thanks for this great tutorial! I wish I had a baby to sew for! 🙂 Perhaps I should just sew cute baby clothes and pass them out to strangers as I see them! ha!

  2. so so so cute! i wish Em was little enough for a romper like this to work…think i need to make her more of a shorts-y one this summer. great tutorial! you rock vintage may.

  3. Great tutorial! I need to squeeze some Coco Chunk! Seriously!
    And I always wonder about water and washing and ironing elastic. Is there a certain amount of shrinkage built in on purpose? Why doesn’t it just keep shrinking and get too tight? So do you leave some extra space knowing that it will shrink? just saying…how do you know?…

  4. Oh, Erin, this is the cutest thing…..EVER!!!! I love it. I’ve done this little method for peter pan cuteness, but this is taking things to another level!!!! Great job. 🙂

  5. Oh Such cuteness I LOVE IT.. Also I am a visual learner so the photos are just PERFECT FOR ME.. Thanks for the tutorial I know I can make this now. I will send pictures when it’s done but my machine is in the shop now so later it will be. I am a new follower Love you blog and baby girl is so cute… Have a Blessed day. Linda

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