Introduction: Pillowcase PJs: Upcycled Night Dress

This is an adorable, upcycled dress I made out of an old flannel pillowcase! After making it, I realized that it would be perfect for the Make-to-Learn instructables contest.

Answers for the Make-to-Learn contest: One day I was searching through a pile of old Tshirts and rags in my basement, and found a practically untouched sheet set, in the rag pile because of a doggy-defiled bottom sheet. So the pillowcase was good as new! I sewed it (on a sewing machine, but with some patience it could be hand-sewn) into an charming night dress. I was feeling pretty flexible, so the specifics of the project fluctuated slightly as I was making it, a solely make-at-home, lazy weekend type of project. I was surprised how open-ended it could be, so if I did it again, I would try switching up some of the specifics (i.e. hem length, shaping, buttons instead of elastic, etc.). I'm really proud of how easy it was to pull off, and I hope that other people think so too!

(This is my first instructable, so feedback would be greatly appreciated!) 

Step 1: Materials

• Pillowcase
• Sewing scissors
• Pins
• Elastic (optional but recommended) (I used 1/2 inch wide elastic)
• Iron (optional but recommended)
• Sewing machine with buttonhole maker (again, optional but recommended)
• Seam ripper (not pictured)

Step 2: Cutting for the Casing and Fitting

Iron the pillowcase if needed.

Cut off about a one-inch strip from the narrow edge of the pillowcase opposite from the hemmed opening, in order to create a tube. To adjust the length of the dress, vary the width of the cutoff edge.

If necessary, you can adjust the width of the dress by cutting a strip off of the long edge of the pillowcase and sewing the edge in closer.

Step 3: Casing Opening

With a pencil, mark about a 3/4 in. line halfway between (and parallel to) the two side seams, about two inches down from the narrow cut edge. If you're using a buttonhole maker on a sewing machine, this is where the buttonhole will be. Note: If your elastic is wider than 3/4 in., make the mark bigger.

IMPORTANT: If this is your first time making a buttonhole (or even if it's been awhile), try it on an extra scrap first!

     Set your sewing machine to the first buttonhole setting (picture #1).
     Attach the buttonhole foot (picture #2). If you're not sure how to do either of these, look in your sewing machine manual. Set the tension as directed in your machine manual; with mine, I used the zigzag stitch, and dialed back the tension, but every machine is different.
     Starting with the buttonhole foot pulled all the way forward, with the needle right over the start of the pencil line you made, sew down one side of the buttonhole (#3), which was setting 6 on my machine. When you reach the end of the line, sew a few bar tack stitches (setting 7 on my machine), and sew back up the other side (picture #4), which was setting 8 on my machine. Sew a few more bar tack stitches (picture #5). Some newer machines will do this all automatically for you.
     Next, remove the fabric from the machine, making sure to leave a generous length of thread behind. Using a pin or seam ripper, draw the extra thread through to the back of the fabric, and tie in a knot (picture #6). Trim.
     Insert a pin right before one end of your buttonhole. Then, stick a seam ripper in the other edge and slowly rip the inside of the buttonhole, stopping before you get to the pin and the bar tack stitches on the other side (picture #7). 
     Celebrate, you've created a buttonhole! (picture #8)

For more buttonhole help, try here.

*If you don't have a buttonhole maker, make about a 3/4 in. slit parallel to the side seams, at the location marked earlier.

Step 4: Sewing the Casing

Turn the pillowcase inside out. Fold the narrow edge that was cut and buttonholed over about one and a half inches as if making a hem, then tuck that raw edge under about half an inch. Pin, making sure that the casing opening is on the right side and between the top and the line of stitching, then straight-stitch all the way around with a minimal seam allowance. (*Make sure you set your sewing machine settings back to normal!!) This will be the top of your dress.

Step 5: Making the Elastic Drawstring

Measure around your chest, a comfortable distance from your arms, and subtract two inches. Cut the elastic to approximately this length. From a scrap of fabric (I used the bit I had cut off in step 2), cut two rectangles, 11 inches (about 25.5 cm) by three times the width of your elastic.

Place the elastic on top of one scrap of fabric, wrong side up, with the long side of the elastic perpendicular to the short edge of the fabric, overlapping about one inch (see picture #1). Fold one side of the fabric over the elastic, creasing the fabric all the way down through the strip of fabric (picture #2). Repeat with the other edge, so they overlap. Tuck part of the top edge under itself (without exposing the elastic) (picture #3) and then pin (#4).

With a zig-zag stitch, sew starting at where the elastic meets the fabric all the way to the edge of the fabric, through all thicknesses (#5 & #6).

Repeat for the opposite edge of the elastic.

(If using a shorter elastic, lengthen the scraps of fabric. If you aren't using elastic, cut one rectangle, 1.5 inches [about 4 cm] by the distance around your chest plus 20 inches [about 51 cm]. Fold the strip into thirds lengthwise, tucking part of the top flap under itself (about 1/4 in., or 3/4 cm), then pin and sew down the middle.)

Step 6: Assembling the Drawstring

Attach a safety pin to one edge of your drawstring. Insert through the opening you created in the casing, and thread it all the way through, while keeping hold of the other edge of the drawstring. Pull on the shorter end of the drawstring in order to even out the two ends.

Step 7: Customization

Now you can experiment! Try adding straps, making a belt, etc. Make it your own!

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