Introduction: Put Scarlett O'Hara to Shame: the Pillowcase Dress

Why The Pillowcase Dress?

You’re probably wondering why anyone would want a dress made from a pillowcase. Let me explain.

A few weeks go a friend of mine was invited to an "Anything But Clothes Party." Because few people are actually willing to show up to a party naked, the point is to come up with a creative outfit made from materials that are NOT clothes. The trick is creating a look that fits with the theme of the party, but still looks good. Common outfits include trashcans, skirts made from cardboard boxes, sheets worn as ponchos, paper towel body suits, duct tape shirts and pants, and the occasional birthday suit.

After considering Scarlett O’hara’s dress (featured in the film classic Gone With the Wind) made from window drapes, my friend and I decided that a pillowcase might be a more practical solution to our dilemma. The end result was so impressive that I decided to recreate the pillowcase dress as an instructable. 

NOTE: No sewing experience? No problem! This instructable is simple and requires limited materials.

Step 1: Selecting Your Pillowcase

Pick Your Pillowcase

Unless you want an extremely short dress (or a shirt), I recommend using a king-sized pillowcase. 

Obviously, the colors of pillowcases available to purchase are limited and often neutral in nature. Therefore, you might want to consider dyeing your dress in order to add some flair and fun to your look.

Food coloring can be used if you need the dress quickly. However, if you want a more complete and professional dye job, you can make a quick purchase of some fabric dye from an arts and crafts store (i.e. Michael’s or Hobby Lobby). A fun possibility I have wanted to experiment with is a tie-dyed pillowcase dress. For more information on how to achieve this type of effect, see other instructables articles on the process of tie-dye.  

Step 2: Materials

Gather Your Materials

You only need three things to make this project work: scissors, a pillowcase, and a friend. If you are feeling ambitious you can probably do this project alone, but I recommend borrowing a friend.

Step 3: Cut a Hole for Your Head

The First Cut

You are about to start cutting your pillowcase.

NOTE: Before you begin taking scissors to your pillowcase REMEMBER: You cannot undo your cuts. It is much easier to enlarge a cut that is too small than it is to fix cuts that are too large. Also, unless you are quick with a needle and thread, you cannot afford to make a cut that is too large smaller. Make your cuts little by little. I’ve included the measurements I used when making cuts, but they will vary based on your body type.

To make the hole for your head you will start at the sewed end of the pillowcase. Directly in the middle of the sewed end, make an incision of about 5 inches toward the opened end.

Step 4: Put Your Pillowcase On

Donning Your Pillowcase

Put your pillowcase on by placing your head through the hole you just made.

Now you will know whether or not your original cut is large enough. If the cut is too small, resist the urge to force your head through. Once the threads begin ripping, you run the risk of the material unraveling. To remedy the issue, simply make a slightly larger cut.

Once your head fits comfortably through the hole you have cut, pull the rest of the pillowcase down around your body.

Step 5: Create Your Collar

Expanding The Collar

Now you can work on making a more attractive collar. If you're pleased with the original V collar you cut, move on. However, a more ornate collar will add to the flair and style of your already interesting idea for a dress.

NOTE: If you are not comfortable making the cuts on your collar while wearing the pillowcase, mark with a pen or pencil what cuts you would like to make. Then take it off and make the desired cuts.

I made small cuts that slowly expanded the collar. Feel free to make the collar any way you wish (short, long, round, squared).

Step 6: Cut Armholes

Making Your Armholes

Once your pillowcase is on and your collar is made you are ready to cut holes for your arms.

NOTE: Cutting armholes while the pillowcase is on is the easiest way of measuring where the armholes should be, BUT be sure watch the blades of the scissors carefully to avoid cutting yourself. If you are not comfortable making the cuts while wearing the pillowcase, mark with a pen or pencil where the top of your shoulders meet the cloth. Then take it off and make the cuts listed below.

To cut the holes make a horizontal cut of about 3 to 4 inches right where the cloth meets the top of your shoulder.

Step 7: Finish Armhole

Finishing The Armhole

After making your horizontal cut, you need to make a vertical cut of about 2 inches that extends down from the previous cut. This additional cut will give your arms more mobility while the dress is on.

Step 8: Cut Opposite Armhole

Repeat Steps 6 and 7

On the opposite armhole, make the same cuts as in steps 6 and 7.

Make a horizontal cut of about 3 to 4 inches at the point where the cloth meets the top of your shoulder. Then make a vertical cut of about 2 inches that extends down from the previous cut.

Step 9: Place Arms Through Holes

Placing Arms Through Armholes

It is likely that you will need to pull the dress off of your body in order to get your arms through the holes. As you pull the dress back over your head, slide one arm through its armhole. After this arm is completely through, slide the other arm up and through the hole.

If your armholes are not large enough, extend your cuts. Remember, ripping the material will decrease its usability, not to mention the fact that it will look less finished and well made.

Your dress is now on!

Step 10: Accessorize

The Finishing Touches

Feel free to add stylish items like a belt or a hat to your new pillowcase dress.

For the original purpose of this dress, a hat and a belt would not have been appropriate accessories because they’re technically clothing items. I used a dog leash to make a belt and fashioned a headband from some old fabric. A necklace made from paper clips was added as a finishing touch.

I encourage you to be original with your dress. Carefully try out different styles of cuts when making the armholes and collars. The most important things are to have fun, be comfortable, and look good!


ehsuz made it! (author)2014-01-18

Very clever. Attractive model as well. :)

gbooker1 made it! (author)2012-06-06

you can probably do this project alone, but I recommend borrowing a can probably do this project alone, but I recommend borrowing a friend.

gbooker1 made it! (author)2012-06-06

The trick is creating a look that fits with the theme of the party.

Yellow.Orchids made it! (author)2012-02-16

I think that this is absolutely adorable and I love the simpleness of it because it's cheap and imaginably easy to accessorize. I'm gonna try this sometime in the near future (maybe March). I will take pictures, I swear.

cillianwall made it! (author)2010-10-06

Oh my gosh!!! This is sooooooo cute! I can't wait to try this! I've been looking for a way to make some cuuute dresses for a hippy party next weekend. Thank u for the really good deets- and the pics help super a lot. Make more pleeze! Lolz.

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