How to Make a Simple Toddler Dress

by Louise Harding

Making a simple toddler dress is easy to do with a pillowcase. With moderate sewing skills, you can create a dress that ties at the shoulders and can be worn as a sun top when the dress becomes too short. If the pillowcase doesn’t already have a lace hem, you can add your own trim or just leave it plain for an even faster sewing session.

Items you will need

  • Tape measure
  • Pillowcase
  • Pencil
  • Straight pins
  • Scissors
  • 62 inches of satin ribbon
  • Safety pin
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
Step 1

Turn the pillowcase inside out. Measure your child from the shoulder to where you want the hem to be, or use the size guidelines provided here. Child's age and what length to cut the pillowcase prior to sewing: 12 months: 19 inches; 18 months: 20 inches; 24 months: 21 inches; 2 toddler: 22 inches; 3T (toddler): 25 inches; 4T (toddler): 28 inches; 5T (toddler): 30 inches; size 6: 32 inches.

Step 2

Use the pillowcase-cutting template provided in this article’s reference section, or cut straight across the pillowcase, measuring up from the bottom of the case (where the pillow is inserted), according to the measurement of your child or the size selected from Step 1. For the armholes, measure from the cut edge down three inches and over three inches, cutting a shape that's half of a letter U.

Step 3

Fold the 62-inch-long piece of satin ribbon in half and cut across the center, forming two 31-inch-long pieces of satin ribbon.

Step 4

Fold the cut edges ½ inch against the wrong side of the pillowcase. Pin the edges. On the sewing machine, using a ¼-inch seam allowance, sew the edges with a straight seam. Remove the straight pins.

Step 5

Fold just the top and back straight, hemmed edges 1 inch against the wrong side of the pillowcase and pin with straight pins. Leave a 1-inch opening on each side of the top front and back edge. These will be the casings for the ribbon ties. A casing is where the ribbon is threaded through.

Step 6

Sew, using a ¾-inch seam allowance, forming the casing for the ribbon. Use a straight stitch, removing the pins as you sew.

Step 7

Fold the armhole edges over ½ inch and sew with a straight stitch and a ¼-inch seam allowance. Since you’ve previously hemmed these edges, there will be no raw fabric edges.

Step 8

Use a safety pin connected at the end of one piece of 31-inch satin ribbon to thread the ribbon through the front casing. Push the pin with the ribbon through the casing on one opening, threading the pin/ribbon through until it comes out the other opening. Repeat for the other ribbon and back casing.

Step 9

Tie the satin ribbon in bows on shoulders. The approximate length of the pillowcase dress after sewing will be as follows: 12 months: 17 inches; 18 months: 18 inches; 24 months: 19 inches; 2 toddler: 21 inches; 3T (toddler): 23 inches; 4T (toddler): 26 inches; 5T (toddler): 28 inches; size 6: 30 inches. The length of the pillowcase dress will vary based on seam accuracy and the design and lace width of the pillowcase.

Photo Credits

  • James Woodson/Photodisc/Getty Images

About the Author

Louise Harding holds a B.A. in English language arts and is a licensed teacher. Harding is a professional fiction writer. She is mother to four children, two adopted internationally, and has had small businesses involving sewing and crafting for children and the home. Harding's frugal domestic skills help readers save money around the home.