Tutorial ~ Front Or Back Tie Pillowcase Dress

by Destri on March 31, 2012

Front Tie Pillowcase Dress Tutorial

Hello friends!  Today I have a front tie or back tie option that I am excited to add to the Fat Quarter Pillowcase Dress collection.  Using a front tie is a great way to make a pillowcase dress look a little more formal, and a back tie is a great option for keeping little fingers from untying the bow.  You could of course use this idea for any pillowcase dress pattern, and I will explain how to do that as well.

Front Tie Pillowcase Dress

I made this dress to fit a size 4T so I made a big sash, to make a big bow – but you could make that sash any size you want.   I have a sizing guide for the fabric cuts you will make for a size 3 months on up to a 6T.  You also can use any kind of fabric cut for the dress panels, and I have included a budget friendly fabric buying guide for buying off the bolt to make this dress. Catch me after the jump for the full tutorial!

Front Tie or Back Tie Pillowcase Dress Pattern

Use the Sizing Chart and Cutting Guide that includes measurements for 3 months on up to 6T (or even older) to determine the fabric cuts, and the Fat Quarter Pillowcase Dress Tutorial as a supplement to this tutorial.  You can read through the directions first and then using the print button at the bottom of each post delete text and photos that you don’t need from each to save on ink.

After you have made your fabric cuts, follow the directions of the original tutorial, assembling one front/back piece using 4 panels and finishing seams as instructed.  Then assemble two of the opposite panels to give you two sides like shown in the picture.

Place the two sides together, right sides together.  Making sure that you are working on the top part of the panel, and place a pin three inches from the top of the inside edge where you will sew the two sides together.

Now sew the two panels together on that inside edge, starting 3 inches down the side where the pin is.  Make sure to back stitch, and then finish the seam with a zigzag stitch or serger.

With a hot iron, press open the 3 inch section, folding over about a 1/4 inch as shown.

Now fold over another 1/4 inch and press. You can see the gradual curve from the seam, where you have folded it.

Now sew down each fold meeting at the point.

Now follow the original tutorial from the point of having both sides assembled with the 4 panels, starting at the point of adding the bottom panels.

You will continue on this tutorial at the casing.

For the casing fold the top edges over 1/4 inch on the front and back.

Then fold over 3/4 to 1 inch depending on the tie you will be using.  For a larger sash type like I used for this dress, fold over 1 inch.  For a smaller ribbon (I used 1/2 inch double fold bias tape) like the original fold over 3/4 of an inch.

Now sew it up forming the casing, making sure to leave the 6 ends open to allow for threading the tie.

Front Tie Pillowcase Dress Pattern

To make the sash for this dress I sewed together some of the remnants of the fat quarters making a long strip measuring 48″ x 2½”.  Then I folded all the edges over a 1/4 inch twice and sewed up the edges.  For the tips, I just folded over one corner and sewed to make an angled tip.

To create the casing at the top on a single panel pillowcase dress, cut a 3 inch slit in the middle at the top.  Use double fold bias tape to enclose the raw edges where you cut.  Then complete the dress casing as described above.

If you have any questions leave them in the comments and I will answer them there.  And just in case you’re curious, I bought the fat quarter bundle for this dress at Joann’s Fabric 2 years ago. I have seen the bottom panel fabric at Hancock Fabric recently, so it’s still around.

I hope you have fun with this version, and as always – thank you for reading and your support!


Print Friendly
  • Facebook
  • StumbleUpon
  • Twitter
  • RSS

{ 69 comments… read them below or add one }

Amanda March 31, 2012 at 9:31 am

Super cute tutorial, thanks for sharing!


katie March 31, 2012 at 5:55 pm

Oh my, that’s darling! Thanks for the tutorial :)


cheryl March 31, 2012 at 8:57 pm

I HATE to sew, but this is SO cute, that you have me wanting to make 3 for my three cute granddaughters, who are all between 2 and 3 years old. Saw some cute pillowcase dresses from etsy that have a big bow on one shoulder, and I think that’s what I’ll try with these – now just to decide if they should all be in the same colors or not!


Destri April 11, 2012 at 6:50 am

LOL! I love it, so glad to I can get you in the mood! I have been itching to make one with the big bow on the side too. let me know how it goes :)


Suzanne March 31, 2012 at 11:31 pm

love the colors of this dress, it will be so cute on her for Spring.


Jackie Payette April 1, 2012 at 10:33 am

Wow, I have 3 granddaughters and I am this day sewing up the panels I cut for them, they are ages, 2, 4, and 6. I LOOOOve this little dress. It is so precious, and the new one is exactly an idea I had for a sash at the top, even though I love the little string ties too… but my little girls are mischevious at times and I could just see them grabbing the ties and creating a constant “tie the dress again” dilemma for Momma!! Hence the larger sash idea behind the back, and lo and behold as I was sewing today and needed a guide for s process as I was sewing, I see that you have put up the guidelines for the exact idea I had!! THANK YOU SO MUCH!! The cutting guides will be so helpful too, as I had to do a little math on that :) You are a great help and keep on sewing, I love your ideas!


PamB April 1, 2012 at 11:10 am

Love this twist on a “new” old favorite!! Thanks for sharing your as-ever cleverness!!


Shiloh April 2, 2012 at 11:35 pm

Once again, Destri, I’m highly impressed. I really thought I was over the pillowcase dress. I really thought I’d seen it all. The sash totally makes it worth another go. Little Emma will be happy to have another quick dress in her wardrobe. I thought she’d be happy about the dress I’m making for her baby doll, but she’s already talking about her next “bess” (dress). Hmm… matching ruffle sandals… awesome. Thank you!


Annie Mae April 3, 2012 at 12:05 pm

Would u have Adult measurements? So cute!


Destri April 11, 2012 at 6:23 am

I don’t yet, but it’s coming!


Lorna April 4, 2012 at 3:06 pm

Thanks for the tutorial, love this super-cute dress and your site. I was just wondering if you could let me know what length the sash should be for the smaller 3-6 month dress please? Also has the no-tie infant version been posted yet?


Destri April 4, 2012 at 3:54 pm

It depends on how long you want it, which at that age I would think short would be safest. If you are doing it for a special occasion dress, I think a longer wide one would be fun (about 36?) but just make sure they wear it under supervision. I am editing the photos for the no-tie version now, and it’s adorable! It has elastic in the casing with fixed bows. This eliminates the worry of a long sash. It should be up tomorrow!


LongsTok April 21, 2012 at 2:52 pm

I just love it!
I just finished a dress for my littlegirl from one of my hubby’s old T shirts.
I used your post as a guide.
Thanx a lot! I’ll be making some other variations soon.
Here is the link to my blog: http://longstokcreations.blogspot.com/

One Love!


Suzi Haas May 4, 2012 at 6:29 am

I have a new granddaughter arriving in a couple weeks who already has a big sister who is 9 – Elziabeth wants matching outfits so that she and EMily look alike – I found a pillowcase pattern for both girls in Simplicity but I refuse to pay the prices for patterns and no one has patterns on sale soon – a friend hooked me up to this site and now both my daughter and myself are full of ideas! Thanks so much – already have finished one dress and starting Elizabeth’s now. They will be dressed identically when Emily comes home from the hosptial in a couple weeks! This oattern is great since Elizabeth is tall and slim and needs something I can add length to – plus this will make beautiful tops for her to wear this summer, they are full enough to hide her feeding tube which can so often present a problem due to the fact that it does show under tee shirts. When I have a photo of both girls in their matching dresses I will try to post, I not only sew with a passion I am am a photographer!


Carol May 14, 2012 at 10:20 pm

Is there some way to secure the sash to ensure it won’t get pulled out of the casing without
limiting the ability to adjust sizing?


Destri May 15, 2012 at 7:27 am

You could try the elastic option, just put the elastic where you normally would have the sash. But really, even when I have washed mine the casing hasn’t come out, so you are probably safe!


Carol May 15, 2012 at 9:41 am

Thanks Destri for the suggestion. I already have the dresses that were made by someone else. We are sending them out with Dress a Girl Around the World and want to make double sure some little girl who washes her dress in the river doesn’t loose her sash!


Sarah May 18, 2012 at 5:39 pm

If the dresses you have have 2 ribbons that tie on both shoulders, we tacked the ribbon to the dress in the front and in the back at the center of the casing. That way it is adjustable but the ribbon won’t come out. If you were making a dress like this that ties in the center of the front, tack down the sash in the center of the back.


barb ricketts May 17, 2012 at 5:57 pm

if you leave the six ends open for the threading,after the threading do you sew up the six ends and is there a way to secure the sash so my friends dont have to rethread after each washing?I am new to sewing and just started sewing dresses for my grandbabies and i Love this pattern and size guide….Your fantastic and my daughters Love you!!!!! p.s. so do my daughters friends!!!


Destri May 19, 2012 at 10:34 am

Aw, Barb you made my day! I just got back from vacation and what a great compliment to come home to.
As for the sash, I have never had a problem with the sash coming out in the wash. At first I just tied it in a bow, but have found I don’t even need to do that.
Let me know if that answers your question!


nan May 18, 2012 at 3:34 pm

I ASSUME more horiztal border(stripes) /lenghten will make it into a adult size?


Destri May 19, 2012 at 10:23 am

Yes, you will have to play with the numbers a bit, and maybe use another shirt as a guide.


Pastorale May 25, 2012 at 10:16 pm

I just made today for a birthday gift for my daughter that turned one today! Thanks for the tut. I’ve had some Pooh bear toile hanging around for a long time and it was perfect for this. I used a bit of some tiny check gingham for the bottom panel and the sash and it is just darling.


Andrea shields May 28, 2012 at 5:44 pm

I know how to make a regular pillowcase dress but I don’t understand how to make a whole for it to tie in the back??? Help please!


Destri May 29, 2012 at 5:19 am

Oh super easy! So here’s what you’re going to do:
-Decide how big of a casing you need – the bigger the sash the bigger the casing.
-If you need a one inch casing then cut a 3 inch slit at the center top on the back panel. Cut before you make the casing.
-Then use bias tape to enclose and reinforce the raw edges (links for tutorials on how to use bias tape here http://www.themotherhuddle.com/sewing-tips-directory/ )
- Then make the casing as usual making sure to leave the ends open where you will be threading through the sash.

Hope this helps, and let me know if you have anymore questions!


Michelle M June 1, 2012 at 8:01 pm

I have now made two dresses with your tutorial and I LOVE them. Your instructions make it so easy. Thank you!

Need help… I want to make a dress out of a single fabric and no panels. I can figure out what size to make the fabric. But what I am struggling with is how to make the dress fuller. With more flow in the skirt. Should I just make the fabric wider or should I make it wider AND cut the sides in a bell shape before sewing up the sides? I don’t have a little girl so I can’t go study one of her dresses :)

I want to get this right and I don’t have a lot of fabric to experiment with :). Thanks for any help you can give me.


Destri June 2, 2012 at 7:18 am

Hey Michelle!
Would love to help. Can you find a picture of a dress you have in mind? Maybe search on pinterest or your favorite store, then we can really get it right. I will look and see what I can find too and leave a link here.


Michelle M June 2, 2012 at 8:32 pm


Thanks for your help. Here is a red one the seems a lot fuller. I am really thinking I just need to make it a little wider. I have read so many tutorials for these and yours is way better. Some seem to be making it more complicated than it is.

Let me know if you have a suggestion. Thanks again!


Chloe June 20, 2012 at 10:50 am

This is a WONDERFUL tutorial! I love the easy to follow instructions and photos. I made one of these today for my almost 2 year old and she won’t take it off now! Thank you so much for sharing this!!!! :)


Destri June 26, 2012 at 11:36 am

Thanks so much Chloe! And you are welcome :)
So glad it went well, nothing is better than when they love it too!


Marsha Pazos June 20, 2012 at 11:36 am

Well, I bought my material this past Saturday, straighten and washed the material Monday morning. Sewed the pillow dress up before my husband got home from playing golf. Destri, I made a few changes but the tutorial you did is such a big helping tool. Wish I could have added a picture, it really came out beautiful. I even added her initials at the right side of the bottom, right above the border.
PS your web site is great!!!!


Destri June 26, 2012 at 11:34 am

Oh I wish you could have too! I would love to see it with a monogram! I am going to see if we can add an area where people can upload images to make it easier for sharing.

Thanks so much for letting me know and for your sweet comment!


Sarah July 12, 2012 at 6:30 pm

Hi. This is so super cute!!! I can’t wait to make it. I am confused about the sash. You say to “Now sew it up forming the casing, making sure to leave the 6 ends open to allow for threading the tie.” I’m having a really hard time envisioning this in my head. I can’t seem to grasp how the tie comes out the middle of the casing to be tied. I would really appreciate your help. Thanks again!!!!!


Destri July 13, 2012 at 8:08 am

Hi Sarah,
Okay, so the casing in front has four openings – with two right in the middle that are created with the first steps in the tutorial. When you make the casing it leaves about 1 1/2 inch slit in the front (or back) that the tie ends come out of. It’s hard to put into words but once you get to sewing it, I’m sure it will make sense!
Let me know if this helps!


Emily K July 23, 2012 at 11:40 am

Hi Sarah,
Love your ideas and hints! You are truely gifted! Have made one of your dresses and it turned out just perfectly. Just wondering if there is a certain site you like for fabrics. I love the fabrics you use and would love some hints!


Destri August 13, 2012 at 4:43 am

Hi Emily, thanks so much for letting me know! So glad the dress turned out great. As for fabric, I have this problem with needing to feel it, so I usually get stocked up when I am in Utah at a local fabric shop that carries boutique fabric – which is what I have used for all these dresses. Actually this one and the original were made from bundles I bought at Hancock fabrics and Joann’s fabrics – so there is two more. If you don’t have any local shops, I have bought from The Fat Quarter Shop and loved my experience with them, and for great apparel fabric I like to order from Fabric.com.
I have bought a few times off etsy, and that is usually when I am looking for a specific fabric that is no longer in print and I can search for it there and find a bit of it.
Hope this helps!


Toni July 23, 2012 at 3:01 pm

How do I print to original size


Destri July 24, 2012 at 7:59 am

Do you mean the text and images? You can use the print button on your computer, or we have a print button at the bottom of the post. Let me know if that helps!


dawn July 27, 2012 at 2:57 pm

I wish every tutorial was as easy to follow as yours! I have made six of these so far and plan on making a lot more. Thanks so much for making such great memories for all my nieces!


Destri July 30, 2012 at 7:36 am

Yay! Thanks so much for letting me know! You made my day :)


molly August 14, 2012 at 6:12 am

Hi Destri- I am making the 2T tie version and am confused at the directions- I have finished the back and front pcs. – do I sew down the sides with 3″ left at the top and follow the directions from the tie-sash page ? Or do I go down 4″ and over 3 1/2″ and cut ? Thanks for your help- I can’t wait to finish it- I am a beginner sewer and will be making quite a few for friends, if this comes out good. Thanks so much-


Destri August 15, 2012 at 7:12 am

Hi Molly! Okay, let me make sure I understand your question – are you referring to where you have the opening in the front or at the armholes? Let me know and I will keep an eye out on the computer today!


Jennifer September 3, 2012 at 12:53 pm

Thank you so much for the tutorial. I have made my fair share of pillowcase dresses, but love this idea of having the bow in the back instead of on the sides!! My daughter loves her new dress:)


Destri September 5, 2012 at 4:12 pm

You’re welcome! Thanks for letting me know!


Creations By Cindy September 19, 2012 at 9:35 am

Thank you for this! Adorable! Hugs and blessings, Cindy


Sally September 23, 2012 at 9:22 am

Hi! Love this idea! If I’m using a single panel for the back and I cut my 3 inch slit, do I have to use bias tape? Or can I can I fold under twice and sew? Will that leave too big of a gap? Thanks!


Destri September 23, 2012 at 9:43 am

Hi Sally, I don’t think it would make the opening too big I would just worry it would tear easily. So just make sure that corner is good and secure. Let me know how it goes!


Deana September 23, 2012 at 4:09 pm

I absolutely fell in love with these dresses in all of their variations!! I love coordinating fabrics so this is a wonderful way for me to create dresses for my granddaughters and get my ‘fix’ as well!! I have had so many compliments, and I always dress them alike (age 5 and 15 mos) which is even more adorable!! Thanks for sharing and keep creating variations!! =)


Jenn September 27, 2012 at 1:30 pm

Omg I love this tute!!! I have two boys and my only girl pal at home is my dog. I love to sew and have made four of these already and just got back from getting more fabric to make more!!! I am doing and trying to start an etsy shop and was wondering if I have your peission to sell the dresses I’ve made there? I would love to put a website URL on the tags so others can see/use the pattern. I didn’t see anything in the pattern that says not to sell finished products but wanted to be polite and ask if its ok. Thanks again!!!


Suzie September 30, 2012 at 5:33 pm

Hi there.. Sooooooop gorgeous.. You are so talented all of your projects are amazing. Do u have an adult size by any chance.

Thank you


Destri September 30, 2012 at 10:43 pm

Thanks Suzie. And not yet, I’ve been wanting to do it for ages now, especially for a swimsuit cover-up – I think that would be fun! I shall keep you posted!


Nicky October 2, 2012 at 9:34 am

Hi all! Just wanted to say THANK YOU for this tutorial! I am new to the sewing game and this was my very first project outside of my 2 sewing classes at Joann Fabrics. It was super simple and extremely easy to follow. Thank you for not using big sewing words like “French seams,” LOL.


Cre8tive Minxy October 2, 2012 at 2:41 pm

I’ve been wanting to make this adorable dress for my 2 1/2 yr old granddaughter for awhile. This past weekend I came across several nice remnants for less than .50 each. So for less than $2.50 and a bit of time I was able to create this cute little dress. Now if only I could figure out how to post the pictures!
Next on my list is the Twirly skirt and then the Central Park Swing coat. :c )
Thank you for the simple, easy to follow patterns.


Kiryn :) November 20, 2012 at 2:23 pm

do you do the topstitch?


Destri November 20, 2012 at 5:34 pm

Yes, I love the topstich :)


Jennifer December 18, 2012 at 8:31 pm

Thanks for all you shared! I just made three of these for my 10 month old
granddaughter. Can’t wait to give them to her for Christmas. I got tights
and long sleeved onesies to go under them.


Destri December 20, 2012 at 10:17 am

Oh I just made one for winter too! You’re welcome, thanks so much for letting me know!


Neisha March 1, 2013 at 12:14 pm

Do you have a tutorial for just the fabric tie?


admin March 1, 2013 at 2:10 pm
Kristen March 25, 2013 at 3:39 pm

Hi there! This tutorial is absolutely fantastic. I just picked up some lovely fabric in greens and blues that will really bring out my little love’s big blue eyes. My question for you is this:

When making the 1″ casing for the (front or back tie dress) large sash, did you use double bias tape as you did in the smaller ribbon 3/4″ casing?

I’m so grateful to stumble upon your website. Keep up the wonderful work!


Destri March 25, 2013 at 4:18 pm

Hi Kristen,

I actually made the sash for the front or back tie pillowcase dress, but you could still easily use double bias tape.

I have a tutorial for the sash here, and it makes it much longer, which is actually a look I prefer even more!


Let me know of that answers your question :)



Marissa May 1, 2013 at 11:37 pm

I love these dresses. I am wondering if you could tell me what you might suggest in sizing if I wanted to make a dress for a little girl who is just turning ten? Thanks for sharing your tutorial. I love it!


Maria May 15, 2013 at 1:10 pm

Wonderful job with all of the pillowcase dress tutorials! I was able to take instructions from each of them to create a lined dress with a tie in the back for a friend’s little girl. Thank you for the clear instructions and great pictures!


Tami July 3, 2013 at 10:53 am

Have made 2 dresses in one day! I’m having trouble visualizing the slit that’s needed for the front sash/bow. Does the cut begin at the top edge of the fabric? And once it’s folded down to form the casing, it’s still open along the edge. Is that correct?


Destri August 8, 2013 at 4:26 pm

Hi Tami, yes that’s right!


Neishataka Dudley July 15, 2013 at 3:32 pm

Can you please provide me with the measurements for this dress if I wanted to use three different fabrics that are “not” fat quarters for all of the sizes please and tutorial on how you made the tie to the front. I have been trying to figure out how to do that but I cant. I know how to make the sash just need to know how to get it to tie in the front.
Thank you so much..


Diane June 4, 2014 at 9:30 pm

Thank you so much for the tutorial. It was very helpful and I am a beginner. I’ve used it to make a solid one and one from fat quarters. My daughter is darling in them!


Patricia Moulton June 9, 2014 at 3:01 pm

When using fat quarters, do you cut them in strips? Thank you for thiss wondderful pattern. Pat


admin June 10, 2014 at 12:47 pm

Yes, you cut them according to the cutting guide – have fun with it!


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: