Tutorial ~ Fat Quarter Pillow Case Dress

by Destri on April 9, 2011

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I’m a sucker for fat quarter bundles.  They are just fun packaged up in coordinating fabric goodness.  You can make oodles and oodles of stuff with them, and I thought I would add a pillowcase dress to the mix.  Who doesn’t love a pillowcase dress, right?  They are quick and easy, and so so cute.  I took my little girl out to lunch in her dress and had three people ask me where I bought it…that’s the best! “Aw shucks (blushes), I made it, and for the right price….”

Pillowcase Dress Tutorial

I have made up a Sizing/Cutting guide to make the dress in sizes 3 months on up to a children’s size 6.  On the chart I included suggestions for older girls too. You can of course make this with fabric scraps, and it is a very budget friendly pattern for fabric cut off the bolt.  You only need five 1/4 yard fabric cuts off the bolt.

Front Tie Pillowcase Dress Tutorial

I have created a collection of these dresses with different options including a front tie or back tie version, a elastic no-tie option suitable for infant dresses, and a lined version with bottom trim.  You will use this tutorial as a supplement to all those patterns.

You can use the print button at the bottom of this post to remove any images and text for saving on ink when printing.

Easy Fat Quarter (Paneled) Pillowcase Dress

For fabric cuts use the Sizing Guide I have provided.  If you are new to sewing I have a Sewing Tips Directory that might be useful.  It’s always a good idea to read through the directions before sewing, especially if you are using another version for this pillowcase dress and this as the supplement.


  • all your sewing stuff
  • ribbon or double fold bias tape

Assembling The Basic Paneled Pillowcase Dress

You will use a 3/8 inch seam allowance throughout unless noted.  Don’t forget to back stitch, and warm up your iron.

To start, you will sew 4 panels together.  Place two with the right sides together and then sew up the long side with a straight stitch and then add the other two in the same manner.

Finish each of the seams with a serger or zigzag stitch like I did (tutorial for finishing seams with a zigzag).  Press all the seams to one side.

Now with the right side of the panels facing up, sew down each seam right along the edge, securing the seam allowance and top-stitching the top. Here is a tutorial for getting a great looking topstitch.

I like to use a little longer stitch length when top-stitching, and then press with steam after to set the stitch. It will give you a nice finish.

Now take the bottom panel and press in half with the wrong sides together.  Cut it to match the length of your body panel.

Lay the sewn panels face up on a working surface.  Place the bottom panel on the bottom of the pieced body.  You will want the raw edges together and pin in place.  Pay attention to the panels, and make sure that you have the bottom panel so that when all sewn up they are in the order you want.

Now sew with a straight stitch,  and serge or zigzag the seam.

Press the seam up and top-stitch right above the seam on the right side, this will lock that seam up. Repeat all the above to make a second panel.

Now for the armholes.  You will lay the two panels together and cut off the corners as follows:

  • 3-12 months measure in 3 inches on the top, and down the side 3½ inches
  • 18 month-2T measure in 3½ inches on the top, and down the side 4 inches
  • 3T-4T measure in 3½ inches on the top, and down the side 4½ inches
  • 4T-6T measure in 3½ inches on the top, and down the side 5 inches

Repeat on the other side.

Now iron each cut corner over 1/4 inch and then a 1/2 inch.  It is on the bias so you can curve it a little.  Repeat on the other three corners.

Sew each armhole with the right side facing up.  This will give you a nice facing stitch.  Just sew with a 1/4 inch seam allowance (edge of fabric lined up with the presser foot), with a straight stitch.  Repeat on the remaining three armholes.

They should all look like this when you are done.

Pin panels together with the right sides together, making sure the arm holes are lined up nicely.

Starting at the top, you will sew down the side.  At the beginning you will have a larger seam allowance as you can see in the picture.  You just want to make sure that the stitch is on the folded part of the armhole, then you will gradually let the stitch out to the side making a ½ inch seam allowance. This will give the dress a slight A-line as well.  Make sure to back stitch.  Serge or zigzag to finish it off the seam.

*Edit -  After I sewed the side seams, I trimmed the seam just under the arm to make it a uniform 1/2 inch seam allowance, and then zigzag stitch to finish off.

This picture shows you where my seam started and how it comes on the inside of the raw edge on the fold.  I am making this sound a lot more complicated than it is, it will make sense when you are sewing it up!

Press the seam, and this is how it should look for you in the end.  Easy Peasy.

Almost done!  Turn the dress wrong side out, fold and press the top on each panel over 1/4 inch and then again a half inch.  Sew up each top making the casing.  Decide how long you will want the bias tape for the tie, and then sew up the side to make one long ribbon.  With a safety pin attached to one end, thread through the casings on the dress.

All done!  So cute, and a fun use for the fat quarters sitting in your stash.

Here is the back side.  It looks adorable with a little shirt under it too.

I hope you have a chance to make this one, it’s really a fun little dress.  As always, if you make one let me know!

**this post has been edited to reflect the sizing guide that was added to supplement it.

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{ 341 comments… read them below or add one }

Donna K September 22, 2013 at 10:29 pm

Thank you so much for posting the tutorial on making a pillowcase dress out of fat quarters. I made my 5 year old granddaughter one this afternoon using a Halloween print and 4 other orange and/or black designs. It turned out fantastic. It was so easy!


Destri September 23, 2013 at 8:05 am

Oh, I need to make a Halloween dress! Thanks so much for letting me know Donna. So happy you loved it!


Susana March 13, 2014 at 12:54 pm

Thank you very much for your blog, clear and easy to understand!
Hugs and kisses froma Guayaquil, Ecuador.
Susana :)


Sarah March 14, 2014 at 5:36 am

After stumbling across this tutorial I decided to give it a go! Being a real amateur I hoped it wouldn’t be too confusing but your instructions were great and I’m over the moon with the dress! I made mine from cute vintagey pinky prints- all I need now is a little girl to give it to! :) thanks for a fab tutorial xx


Destri March 18, 2014 at 2:19 pm

Thank you for letting me know, so happy it turned out for you!


Jenn April 1, 2014 at 2:17 pm

Thank you so much for posting this. God bless you! I’m going to use this pattern with the church ladies to make pillow case dresses for needy children in orphanages. Thank you for posting this :)


Darlene April 6, 2014 at 4:03 pm

Need Measurment’s for a 7,8,10 pellow case dresses


Destri April 10, 2014 at 11:29 am

Darlene – I would just add an inch to the length per size – or leave them shorter and wear them with leggings. You probably wouldn’t want to get much wider.


Karen April 16, 2014 at 10:27 am

I’ve made two so far and am hoping to get a mother/daughter beginning sewing class going at church so we can make some of these for orphanages our missionaries work in. My 3 granddaughters aren’t going to be lacking for dresses this summer! Thanks for the awesome instructions.


Bea April 25, 2014 at 12:34 pm

Thank you so much for such a good idea! I’ve just completed two identical ones in co-ordinating pink patterns for my two granddaughters, who are 18 months and 2 years old. They look so cute!


monca May 11, 2014 at 6:02 pm

I just added several mixed horizontal pieces at the hem to make it longer for older girls!


Kat J June 7, 2014 at 7:51 pm

Dear Destri I love your sundress pattern. I remember making one like this for my daughter 45 years ago. Thank you again. Kat


Argentina June 9, 2014 at 4:37 pm

Lovely dress, I wish I cold sew, my mother I. Low gave to me a sew machine but I don’t know how to start sewing, I would like to make very easy & using scrap tha I have, but I don’t no how where to start. Can some one give to me an ideia please.


admin June 10, 2014 at 12:47 pm

Start on youtube and search for “beginner sewing videos” and that will get you started!


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