Pleated Bow Pillowcase Dress Tutorial

This was one of those projects where I had an idea in my mind and I just went with it. Then as I started sewing, I realized that I probably should have thought it out more thoroughly. But it worked out in the end and the results turned out be to better than the image in my mind. So awesome!

I made this for Elle who is 17 months. I found this pillowcase at the thrift store and loved the pattern. I bought it for $1. This pillowcase was a regular size, not the king size like I used for the Retro Ruffle Pillowcase Dress. I still have one more design for another pillowcase dress in my sketchbook. I just have to find another pillowcase.

And like the Retro Ruffle Pillowcase Dress, I did the ribbon-button closure in the back. This time, I used a wooden button from Moda. It was just too perfect for the dress. And if you made something inspired by Simply Modern Mom, please upload pictures of it in our Flickr group to show it off to everyone. You may be featured on Simply Modern Mom.


  • pillowcase
  • matching thread
  • matching ribbon
  • a button
  • brooch pin, optional
  • matching fabric, if your pillowcase doesn’t look like this

1. Use a seam ripper to detach the opening piece of the pillowcase. If you don’t have that on your pillowcase, you can skip this step.

2. Grab one of your daughter’s dresses. Measure the collar then add 3 inches to it for the pleats. So you’ll end up with a really wide collar. Since the dress is symmetrical, I folded the pillowcase in half lengthwise and sketched just half of the dress. Make the collar more squarish then rounded. I also drew the holes for the arm and length of the dress. Remember to include a seam allowance. I did 1/4-inch for seam allowance. But go wider if that is more comfortable for you to sew.

3. Cut out the dress. It is going to look funny at first because of the huge wide collar.

4. With the pillowcase wrong side out, find the middle of the collar at the front of the dress. Start the pleating with 1/2 inch pleats. You’ll do that two more times and pin. Here’s the trick, iron as you go. The pleats will stay together better if you iron each pleat. Don’t worry about the back of the dress right now.

5. Flip the dress right side out with the back of the dress facing you. Take the extra from the back and match the collar width of the back to the front where the pleats are still pinned. You should have the extra 3 inches that was added for the pleats to cut off.

6. Before sewing the back of the dress together, I sewed the seam of the sleeves. It’s easier to work with while the dress is open from the back. Since I don’t have a serger, I fold then ironed and fold and ironed again. Then I stitched it in place.

7. Sew the pleats in place. Do the sewing at about 1/4 inch in because you want it to be covered by the bias tape that you’ll make and use for the collar.

8. For the V-split, the collar, the bottom of the dress and the bow, I used the white border that I detached from the opening of the pillowcase in step 1. I made bias tapes out of them for the V-split and collar.

9. Now sew the back of the dress together but leaving the top 3 inches open for the V-split. Then follow the instructions in the Retro Ruffle Pillowcase Dress steps 6-7 for how to put together the V-split.

10. Then follow the Retro Ruffle Pillowcase Dress steps 10-11 for how to put together the collar with the ribbon. And sew on your button after you have measure how far your ribbon goes.

11. Sew the bottom seam. And if you want to add some thing to the bottom of the hem, I used that opportunity to sew the staystitch.

12. Make a bow with the leftover fabric or matching fabric scraps. I glued mine onto a brooch pin. Or you can just hand stitch it onto the dress.

And done! That wasn’t too hard was it?

» Tell me… Do you think bows, especially big bows, are making a comeback?

Linked Today’s Creative Blog.

51 Responses to “Pleated Bow Pillowcase Dress Tutorial”

  • Hacot Elisabeth

    est-il possible d’avoir la traduction en langue française des explications de la robe “pleated bow pillowcase-dress” Merci de votre réponse. D’autre part existe-t-il un patron papier pour ce modèle.Cordialement Elisabeth.

  • mary jo

    This is beautiful! I saw it on Sewing it Up first! Love the thrift store find too — too perfect!

  • Jessica M.

    I absolutely love your site!!! My mother was searching and came across your site. We have decided to utilize some old but gorgeous purple flowered pillow cases of mine and attempt your pleated bow pillowcase dress. Your tutorials are inspiring and your work amazing! We can’t wait to see what new crafts you come up with.

  • Sertyan

    This is really pretty, I love pleats! I enjoy all the little dresses you have made for your little girl!

  • Theresa

    I love this dress. I’m looking for easy dress patterns, along with other easy patterns for my kids. This looks really good and fairly easy. I’m a beginner, though I have done a little sewing and am good enough at hand sewing. I know this is suppose to be a pillowcase dress, but are there pillowcase dresses with sleeves? Or does that take away from the easy and simplicity of them?

    • Robin

      About 40 years ago, my sis made a version of a pillowcase dress for herself (she was about 14). She used a pair of cases and made a matching bolero style jacket.

  • Summer

    Is it sad that I have a pillow case that fits me… And that i wanna try it for myself:P

  • Laura

    i LOVE this dress!!!! i am not a big hairbow mom, but do LOVE to make things with bows on them for my daughter! this dress is fantastic! i will be thrift-store shopping a pillowcase TODAY!

  • Darci

    I love this dress! Too cute! I don’t have any kids (and probably won’t for quite some time)… I’m considering ways I could make that into a cute tip for myself…

  • Robin

    So cute! Has anyone tried this for a bigger/older child? My niece is nearly 7.

  • Carol Martin

    Guess what, I don’t have any little girls so I am going to make this top a little longer for myself. I think it will look cute over a turtleneck sweater and a pair of leggens this fall

  • nikki

    love this dress this is going to be my next make, thankyou so much for patterns, cant wait to see what your next patterns going to be, thankyou again x

  • Susan Connell

    I just found this on allfreesewing and I am looking forward to making 1 for each of my grand-girls! Thank you.

  • Lynne

    I am pillowcase dresses for Little Dresses for Africa. I have already made 3 like this one. Thanks for the great idea!!

  • Pamela

    I have 3 granddaughters and they would all look lovely in this little easy to make shift dress …. look out pillow slips here I come…. thanks for sharing this cutie.

  • Wynona

    This dress is just as adorable as the retro design. My great granddaughters will look great in them.

    Your collar is called a neckband when you can see it. If it is folded to the inside where it can not be seen, it is called a facing.


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