Tutorial ~ Elastic Neckline Pillowcase Dress

by Destri on April 5, 2012

Elastic Neckline Pillowcse Dress Tutorial

Okay friends, I’m almost finished with The Fat Quarter Pillowcase Dress Collection, then I promise to lay low on the whole subject!  Today I have an option that replaces the sash or tie in the casing with elastic, making it nice and easy to pop over little heads. This is a safer version for babies, and a great option for toddlers that just won’t leave the sash alone.  I made this dress in a size 3-6 month, isn’t it sweet?  You can still replicate a large sash and bow for a dramatic look, or keep it simple like I did here.  Again, this goes along with the original tutorial, and you can use the Sizing Chart for size 3mo to 6T.  Catch me after the jump for all the details!

Elastic Neckline Pillowcase Dress Tutorial

This tutorial is part of the Fat Quarter Pillowcase Dress Collection.  You can find the free Sizing Chart here to determine the fabric cuts you will need and the full pattern and tutorial here.  You can use the print button at the bottom of each post to delete text and images you don’t need to save on ink when printing.


  • Dress made up to the point of the casing complete
  • 1/2″ elastic – like soft braided
  • pins
  • large safety pin
  • all your sewing stuff

Elastic Cuts:

  • 3-12 month – 3½ inches
  • 18 month-2t – 4 inches
  • 3T-4T – 4½ inches
  • 5T – 5 inches
  • 6t – 5 ½ inches

*I edited the elastic measurements on 4/22/12 – You can also measure the chest of the child you are making the dress for, but these measurements are pretty universal.

Take the safety pin and attach to the end of the elastic. Pull through the casing to the point that the end of the elastic is just inside (about 1/4) in the casing and pin the end to hold in place.

Then gather up the casing until you have the safety pin out.  Remove the safety pin and carefully pull on the casing until the elastic is positioned just inside the casing and pin.  Repeat on the opposite side.

You will want about a 1/4″ left at each end so you can sew the straps in.

Now stitch right along the seam of the panel if you can to secure the elastic. I had to move my pins over a little.

You can see that the stitch is right along the seam.  Repeat on the opposite side.


For the straps I am using 1/2 inch double fold bias tape that I stitched up the side.  You want to cut it to be the length of the armhole, like it would fit right in side if lined up.  Note that you do not want these too long, or the arm holes will be too big.

If you find that the straps are too long once on the child – I would just tack them in the back, that way you can let them out and it can grow with the girl.

Now tuck one end into the one side of the casing, and one on the opposite.  Sew right along the stitch line of the armhole to hide the stitch. Repeat on the other side.

You could be finished at this point, or you can add a bow:

To make a bow like I made,  I used the same bias tape stitched up the side.  You will need a needle and thread.

Take a long enough piece to make the size of bow you want, and bring the ends together along the back and overlap. Then secure the ends with a needle and thread.

Now take another piece, and fold so that it creates a V, and sew to the back.

Take a third piece and tie a knot in the center – or you can leave it straight.

Pinch the ends around the center of the bow so the knot is in the front. Sew where you are pinching close to the bow with needle and thread.  Make sure it is on there good and tight!  Leaving the ends on the center piece, sew it onto the dress where you want it and then trim the ends when finished.

And there you have it! Easy.

Like I said, I really like this idea for babies as the longer sash can pose a safety issue.  I made this dress in a 3-6 month size, and it goes great with a matching diaper cover.  The dress can then be worn as a top I would say up to 12 month so you can get a lot of wear out of it.

Another great option for little ones, is the Back Tie Pillowcase Dress version as it keeps the bow from little fingers that might tug on it.  You can also tie it in the front for a fun look.

I bought this fabric at Hobby Lobby off the bolt, not in fat quarters.  It is super soft and has a great drape.  All you need is a 1/4 yard of each fabric!

If you have any questions leave them in the comments and I will be happy to answer them there.

Happy sewing and thanks for reading!


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{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

Aubrey April 5, 2012 at 7:35 pm

So cute! I’m excited to make some of these for my girls!


Roberta Smith August 10, 2012 at 10:06 am

I just returned from a missions trip to the island of Negroes Occ, Philippines to help build a church. The missionaries there are asking for simple dresses for the children. Some ladies from my church here are going to start making all sizes to send overseas and I’ve chosen this pattern. Can’t wait to get started!!!


Destri August 12, 2012 at 3:26 pm

I love that! Thanks so much for sharing and let me know how it goes!


Kristy April 6, 2012 at 8:31 am

Just finished a dress using this tutorial for a Dress A Girl sew along, thanks for sharing! :)


Destri April 11, 2012 at 6:18 am

I love this idea Kristy, I always see comments saying they wish they had a girl to sew for, now they do :). Shared it on our Facebook page today!


Kristy April 11, 2012 at 6:28 am

What a great point! Yes indeed, the more dresses made the more lives touched! Thanks so much for helping spread the word Destri!


Carla April 6, 2012 at 10:13 am

I have made three dozen similiar dresses for http://www.littledressesforafrica.com
If interested, visit that above website. The directions, etc. are there as well as where you can mail them in the States. Then, they will be mailed to orphanges in needed countries. This is a good way to use up small pieces of fabric, rick rack–trims of any kind. On the website are pictures of little girls wearing the dresses.


Destri April 11, 2012 at 6:05 am

Thanks for sharing Carla, I have heard of the project and wanted to learn more about it!


Carla April 11, 2012 at 4:33 pm

I hope you found the info you were looking for, Destri. It is an addictive, fun project. I have started sewing Britches for Boys.


Destri April 12, 2012 at 4:12 am

I did! I even found a friend who had a little dress a girl challenge as part of dress a girl around the world. Thanks for the “push” :)


Amy April 10, 2012 at 10:58 am

I love this idea- especially for infants. :) I have a few baby showers coming up that I will have to make these for. Thanks so much for the tute- and the sizing chart! I appreciate how much work you have put into these!!


Destri April 11, 2012 at 5:22 am

You’re welcome Amy! You’re going to be the favorite of the baby showers :) Thanks so much.


Katie April 14, 2012 at 8:25 pm

I love this – such an interesting twist on the traditional pillowcase dress. I’m going to be making this style for my own 20 month old (she loves to untie things that are tied). She had so much fun picking out the fat quarter bundle today at the store! Once I’ve practiced, then I plan on whipping one up for a baby girl in my husband’s family who is due to arrive in the next month or so.


Destri April 19, 2012 at 9:01 am

Oh see, you’re a good mama. Will have to let my little one pick out some fabric too, and the bundle route would be a pretty safe option :) Let me know how it goes!


Deanna April 20, 2012 at 7:56 pm

Has anyone had sizing issues? I have made two in two different sizes and they are both super big especially in the arm area….


Destri April 21, 2012 at 7:57 am

Hi Deanna,

What sizes did you make? I tested 3-6, 12month, 2T, 3t, and 5T. All tested out fine, but with the 12 month I had to adjust the arms for a not-so-pugdy baby. I have had one other feedback with it being large on her 12 month old, but she was rather small. All the other tests have come back fine.
By nature pillowcase dresses are big, and pretty easy to customize. With the elastic in the casing, you can shorten the length of the bias tape or ribbon used on the arms.
Let me know what sizes, and thanks so much for the feedback, I really appreciate it.


Deanna April 21, 2012 at 8:14 am

I made the 12 month and the 6. I did the 6 earlier this week and didnt think anything of it until my friend tried it on her daughter. I havent seen it on her, I am waiting for pictures. For the 12 month I made last night, I tried it on my 9 month old and it was huge. I just switched the straps out so it ties on either side. I just don’t think some people know how pillowcase dresses are supposed to fit….


Kay May 1, 2012 at 2:14 am

I only got my sewing machine a week ago and have been teaching myself to sew. This dress was my third and favourite project so far!
Here is my attempt:

It is a fantastic tutorial and so easy for a novice like me to follow. I made the 12-18 month size and it fits my daughter lovely. I can’t wait to make another.
Thank you for your fab website!


Destri May 1, 2012 at 5:12 am

Ack!! I pulled up the photo of your daughter, and I had to look twice, she looks so similar to my baby girl at that age!
The dress is beautiful, your finish work looks awesome, so I’d say you are off to a great start. I love the fabric choices you made, that really is half the success of a project!
Thanks so much for the feedback too, that was one size I needed to confirm.
Look forward to seeing you around!


Evy Rosebrook May 2, 2012 at 9:10 pm

I too, sew for Dress a Girl. Today, as I was downstairs sewing, I was thinking through my mind exactly what you did here. I love the fat quarter idea too. Dress a Girl meeting tomorrow. I am sure I will be sharing with them. Thanks for sharing.


Bonnie Walker May 4, 2012 at 6:53 pm

I loved this tutorial and the DIY flip flops! I made a dress and matching flip flops for 3 of my friends’ babies now and of course one for my baby :) I posted a picture on my blog. http://bbwalker18.blogspot.com SO SO cute! Thank you!!!


Sativa June 1, 2012 at 3:05 pm

Absolutely in Love with your Pillowcase Dresses! I also will be making dresses for DAG, (Dress a Girl) I think I might just use this pattern…Love it!! Thanks for Sharing it!


Kelli June 17, 2012 at 10:12 am

This dress is so cute. I got so excited I went through my stash of 1930′s reproduction fabrics. It will be so cute on my little girl. She is 2 1/2. I love sewing so this seems like something I can do easily while taking care of my very active toddler. Thanks for the size conversions. You are awesome.


Destri June 17, 2012 at 12:11 pm

Oh I definitely want to see it with those fabrics! Send me a pic when you have it finished.


Amanda June 21, 2012 at 5:10 pm

I’ve been contemplating trying this with some leftovers from a jelly roll. What do you think?


Christie June 24, 2012 at 12:49 pm

For some reason, I can’t get step 7 and step 8 pictures to load… I just get a blue-box question mark. I’m to that point, but have pinned and stopped since I can’t see the close-ups of this instruction. Any ideas??



Destri June 24, 2012 at 1:51 pm

Thanks so much for letting me know – we switched servers and in the process some of the pictures have come up missing. If you find anymore let me know!



tegan September 27, 2012 at 2:33 am

i just made one of these for my little miss soooooo cute!!!!! i think she’ll have a few of these in her wardrobe


Jeannette March 12, 2013 at 11:40 pm

Hello! I saw a link on Pinterest and decided to stop by. Thank you for posting your ideas and patterns! I have been looking at patterns to make my granddaughter (not here yet) some pretty dresses because clothes have gotten so expensive. Then again, so have patterns. I was so excited and delighted to see you have pillow case dress instructions! These are my favorite. I love how pretty yours are; and they are so diverse compared to what I’ve seen in catalogs. I will definitely be making this for my granddaughter. Again, I am VERY thankful you have shared your knowledge. :)


Rachel March 19, 2013 at 2:36 pm

I was at Joann’s the other day and noticed that they now carry fold over elastic in a variety of colors (I make diapers). While looking at the FOE, I noticed some really cute “decorative” elastic where the long edge is scalloped (like you could do to the bottom of girls fleece pants by stretching the fabric while doing a zigzag along the edge). Anyway, that elastic would be super cute as the arm straps on a dress like this. I only saw it in darker colors in the store, but I bet you could get it in cute lighter shades too. :)


KaMarlowete March 27, 2013 at 12:19 am

I just used this tutorial to make a few dear little summer shirts for my daughter; fabulous transition into warmer weather for my toddler and so sweet and breezy! I especially love that there Isn’t a sash. I prefer a simple, elegant look and this is it!


Carrie April 25, 2013 at 12:06 pm

How long does it take you to finish on of these dresses, from cutting to sewing?


Phyllis June 24, 2013 at 6:32 pm

This is the best site I have seen for pillowcase dress instructions, so many variations. I love them all, thank you so much!


Lynn July 3, 2013 at 5:21 pm

Quick question…. do you put elastic in the front AND the back?


Destri August 8, 2013 at 4:25 pm

Hi Lynn, yes i did!


Ronel September 2, 2013 at 4:35 pm

Destri, I LOOOOOOOOOVE this dress! I quickly made one yesterday morning (we celebrated Spring Day in South Africa, although it was VERY cold) before (and then finished it after) church. Only saw the elastic front and back-version after finishing it. I might just convert my daughter’s dress to this version, much better for a 1 year old! Now I know what I’ll be using all my scrap pieces of material for this summer. Thanks for sharing! I can’t wait to sew up a storm!


Destri September 3, 2013 at 9:33 am

So glad you like it! Thanks so much for letting me know, and yes, the elastic version is great for the babies!


Barbara November 23, 2013 at 9:54 pm

Thank you so much for this idea and the details! I have used it for several different pillowcase dresses with different over the shoulder types. Even a flower girl dress with ruffles onto the straps – I think it would help to have the strap sizes for each age for those grandma’s like me that live far away from grandchild. Thanks!!!


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