Hot! The “Don’t Be a Hero” Dress

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The Facts

Fabric: Thrifted pillowcase (part of sheet set), $4
Pattern: none
Year: none
Notions: Thrifted buttons, $0.05
Time to complete: 2 hours
First worn: June 2011
Wear again: Perhaps — Might cut it into a shirt.

Total Cost: $4

When it comes to these challenges, I've got to learn that it doesn't quite pay to be too stubborn.

For this pillowcase challenge, I really really wanted to make a dress from the pillowcase form (rather than just cutting the fabric and using a pattern) since I had fairly good results with my dress for the xoJane piece. What I didn't realize at the time is how crucial the starting length and shape of the pillowcase has on the final results. The Ikea case I used for my first dress was long enough to make a short, but modest enough dress. That wasn't the case for the next two pillowcases I went through for this challenge.

The pillowcase I used this week came from a bedding that I had purchased at a thrift store for about $4. Unlike the other two pillow cases that I attempted to use, this one wasn't threadbare or too sheer. That made a whole world of difference. 

For this dress, I didn't use a pattern. Instead, I used the basic form of the pillowcase and  cut holes where the neck and arms should be. Like the xoJane pillowcase, I stitched up the sides to be a bit more form fitting. That alone didn't work and I needed to add darts up the front, back and side bust.

From the extra fabric I took from the sides, I made the belt and ties for the shoulder straps. Finally, I added some buttons for a decorative touch.

Under the dress is yet another pillowcase (one of my too sheer rejects). I'm wearing it as a half slip to provide for much needed length to the main dress.

So do I like the dress?

I think it's a lot cuter in person than in the photographs. There's something that just not conducive to posing. Perhaps the length, perhaps the volume at the waist. While I wouldn't call this dress a reject, it wasn't a home-run.

Lesson: Don't be a hero! 

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Mena Trott

Mena Trott started The Sew Weekly to document her attempt to sew all of her own clothes in 2010. Since then, she's made over 125 outfits and has way more clothes than she needs.


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  1. I love how happy you look in this dress! I’d count it as a win!

  2. I would too! You might not feel like it, but I think it is very slimming!

  3. I have never been brave enough to try out my vintage sheet stash (which is seriously threatening to take over my life) on myself. I have made a shirt and a dress for my daughter this spring/summer though. The dress looks very nightgowny, but her shirt turned out just as I imagined! I am gearing up to start making my own clothes, and I can see myself using vintage sheets as a possibly wearable muslin. Love the belt, it looks great!

  4. I think you are too hard on yourself. It’s really pretty and is perfect for summer!

  5. margueritedesigns

    It looks great to me, particularly the belt detail.

  6. I think it’s very flattering–and I love you how you used the second pillowcase as a half slip, very pretty!

  7. I think it’s cute, especially with the slip.

  8. i’m holding out for a hero.
    i think, truly, it looks smashing as a dress. i hope you don’t amputate. at first glance i thought you’d found a pillowcase with a pretty extra border attached.

  9. I think it is really cute!

  10. I think it’s totally cute, the fabric is sooo pretty!

  11. I think you’re being too hard on it. It’s not quite the style you normally sew, but I think it’s a lovely, sweet, romantic, summery dress. Maybe it’s just the photo-styling, but I really think it’s one of my favorites.

  12. I like it – it doesn’t look too bulky around the waist to me – I think it lookd great on you. I love the slip, finishes it off nicely. I think it’s a winner!

  13. I like it! The fabric is vair pretty and the white lacy bit on the bottom really makes it for me.

  14. the idea of using the second pillow case as a lengthener is a great idea. Pretty case too – the ones I have are not such a dainty design.

  15. Looks cute Mena! And gives you a nice little waist! Super clever with that belt too!

  16. Love it, Mena! I think it definitely looks fabulous and you cannot tell it was once a pillowcase :)

  17. That is such a lovely dress and it looks great on you. I think you did a fabulous job!

  18. I think that dress is super cute! Great job!!

  19. This is so cute and I would not have known you didn’t use a pattern but just cut it the way you did. You are amazing.

  20. I think it is a very sweet and flattering dress perfect for the humid heat of summer, you should love it!

  21. Thanks, Ellen!

  22. Thanks, Carrie!

  23. Thanks! The first cut is always the hardest!

  24. Thanks! Maybe I am :)

  25. Thanks, Diane!

  26. Thanks! Yes, I was very thankful for that added length!

  27. Thanks, Amber!

  28. Thanks, Oona! I think just wearing it out (and not worrying about how it looks in photos) is the key.

  29. Thanks, Amanda!

  30. Thanks, Alessa!

  31. Thanks! I think it not being my style might be the issue. But I will give it a chance!

  32. Thanks, Debbie!

  33. Thanks, Lisette! I really like the fabric and will use the sheet to make an actual dress from a pattern. I’m thinking Parfait.

  34. Thanks, Jen! I lucked out because it is a dainty design but it’s also fairly opaque. That’s usually the problem with the pretty cases.

  35. Thanks, Veronica! Belts are always the answer.

  36. Thanks, Meg! My goal was basically not to have it look like a hospital gown.

  37. Thanks, Ronniie!

  38. Thanks, Rosy. Now I just have to go where there is heat in Summer! :)

  39. I absolutely love it!!! I love the button details and the shoulder ties and the belt!!! That last photo is fantastic and I love how you did your hair :)

  40. This is such a sweet dress and I love that you used another pillowcase as a half slip. The belt adds cuteness to it all:)

  41. judy roberson

    so cute on you..I love the added pillowcase under it..Really cute.. and the belt is cute too..great pillowcase dress.

  42. I think the dress looks very cute and you look incredibly sexy in it (is that a weird thing to say in English? :-D)

  43. That is so ingenious Mena! I think it’s a home run as far as a pillowcase goes. My baby romper I made somehow never made it to the pillow talk group page even though I tagged it correctly.