Hot! “Sunbathing in pillowcases” | Adey Lim


The Facts

Fabric: European pillowcases on 50% sale at spotlight $16 and swimwear lining from stash.
Pattern: Simplicity 3250 bra top and Simplicity 1124 shorts
Year: 1950s
Notions: Bias tape, zipper and buttons from stash.
Time to complete: 6 hours
First worn: June 2011
Wear again: Yes, a poolside staple!

Total Cost: $16

There were no pillowcases at the thrift shops here so I visited the Ikea near my place, hoping to find some cute pillowcases on sale. Unfortunately, I discovered that all the pillowcases were sold with quilts making them exorbitant for this project. I remembered that Spotlight had a home decor department and went in search of pillowcases there. There was a 50% sale and these purple/black/white geometric print european pillowcases (they are square shaped) were hard to resist and my first thought was to sew a mod dress.


However, on opening the plastic cover at home, I discovered that the cotton/ poly fabric wasn't very nice to touch. It was a little stiff and reminded me of my son's swim shorts fabric. I thought what they needed was a good wash but even after washing and drying them, the fabric felt the same. How can anyone sleep on these?

Since the pillowcases felt so much like swim shorts fabric, I decided to sew a vintage bathing suit from two pillowcases instead. I wasn't sure if there was enough fabric so I took out the pattern pieces, placed them on the pillowcases and estimated that it could work. I tried to match most of the print but didn't have enough fabric to match the lower band of the bra.

The pillowcases were double-stitched so I spent more time unpicking them than cutting and sewing the bathing suit.  


The shorts were from the same pattern as my Explorer Outfit. I loved that they were high waisted as I have stretch marks on my tummy from my pregnancies. What I did differently this time was to sew on a swimwear lining and I didn't cut the hem band since I wanted this version to be shorter and more pool appropriate. 

I have never sewed a bra top before and this one was surprisingly easy. I added red bias tape to the top of the bodice and red buttons for some contrast and sewed a scallop bias between the bra cups and the lower band. I called it a scallop bias as I have no idea what it's called but it actually works the same way as piping. I didn't realize some of the scallop turned downwards when I was trying to snap this photo but I think you get the picture.

P6084428The zipper is really cute and comes with a lace edge. I found it in a crafting shop some time back but never had a chance to use it. The material isn't fabric, it feels more like plastic which I thought might be good with the bathing suit. 

P6084432Love that the bathing suit is so modest and I am well covered. It's definitely gonna be put to good use at the pool with my kids! Wait till they learn that mummy is sunbathing in pillowcases!




Adey Sew Convert

A former kids' television channel manager turned stay home mum from Singapore, I hated sewing since I attended my first home economic class at the age of 14. In 2007, something miraculous happened when God blessed me with a second pregnancy. I discovered that I was expecting a baby girl. That changed everything. First I went crazy shopping for handmade clothes for her on etsy. Then I decided I needed to make something for her on my own. I was a month from my due date when I took an intensive 8-hour sewing class. In Dec 2008, I made a dress for my princess before she was born and have not stopped sewing since.


Comments are closed.

  1. Wow! Love it, love it! You look fantastic, and who would ever guess this started life as a pillowcase? You are so clever!

  2. What a great use for them :) I hope it gives you a thrill to think you are swimming in pillowcases when you wear it :)

  3. Fantastic! What a clever idea. A very flattering outfit without being too revealing. Such a great print for bathers too.

  4. Oh my goodness, your swimsuit is amazing!!! I always love your posts, by the way. Your creations are always lovely. :)

  5. What a cute bathing suit and so practical! I love how thoughtful you were with all the details!

  6. love the retro style and the top is so cute. amazing use of pillowcases, who would have thought?!

  7. I love these! wish I owned them. They are amazing.. the fact that they are from pillowcases just adds to the amazing factor. I’ve never seen a zip like that.. cute. Well done Adey!

  8. How cute! I think it’s great that you were able to change your plans when the fabric wasn’t what you expected.

  9. Amazing! One would never guess this ensemble started out life as pillowcases!

  10. Wow! Super great idea and it looks fabulous on you!!!

  11. This suit is adorable! I think you did a great job.

  12. That is simply amazing.

  13. This is the best creation from a pillowcase I could ever imagine…
    incredible actually! I want it for myself!
    That is one beautiful pillowcase pattern to work with! Perfect!

  14. I absolutely LOVE this!!! The print is wonderful and what a great outfit!

  15. judy roberson

    Great job.. what an excellent idea…

  16. Thank you so much Debbie! I am loving the bathing suit too:)

  17. Thank you so much Rachel:)

  18. Thanks Jen! The print really “convinced” me to attempt the bathing suit too:)

  19. Thank you so much Michelle! It makes me so happy that you enjoy my posts:)

  20. Thank you so much Cathe!

  21. Thanks Fiona! My hubby was rather shocked when I told him it was made from pillowcases!

  22. Thank you so much Casey! I think bathing suits like these will look fab on you, go for it, make one, it would be so suitable for the Brisbane/ Gold Coast/ Sunshine coast summer at the end of the year:)

  23. Thank you Melissa! I think it’s always good to be flexible when it comes to sewing:)

  24. Thank you so much Anna, I love your black crepe dress especially that skirt length on you, perfect!

  25. Thank you so much Debi, love your creations too! You are the guru!

  26. Thank you so much Sally! I’m so encouraged by your words:)

  27. Thank you so much Jessie!

  28. Thank you Angela! Your blog and all the photos are so beautiful!

  29. Thank you so much Sarah! I love that print too:)

  30. Ingenious – you look like you stepped from a 60s movie set Adey! Personally I wouldn’t have had the patience to unpick those pillowcases – the seams would have been trimmed straight off :)

  31. Thank you Tracy! I did think of trimming the sides off but realized the fabric wouldn't be sufficient for the shorts. The unpicking process did test my patience and I am glad I did that while watching tv drama.

  32. It is medically proven that regular sunlight is necessary for our health and well-being. With people working longer hours, using sun block due to risk of burning, and lack of daylight during winter months, sunlight deprivation is having serious adverse effects on our health.