Hot! The Thrifty Floral Pillowcase Dress | Veronica Darling


image from The Facts 

Fabric: two thrifted pillowcases  ($2)
Pattern: Simplicity 5016
Year: early to mid 1960s
Notions: bias binding, stash
Time to complete: 2
First worn: June 2011
Wear again? Maybe, if I cut the neckline lower.

Total Cost: $2

As one to never shy away from thrifty materials like bed linen, curtains and tablecloths in my sewing, I have worn pillowcases (and made many skirts for my friends!) a go go. But for some reason, I've been away from the sewing room for over a week and my seamstress touch has left me! I'd selected my pillowcases from my favourite secondhand store last week, went to Sydney for work and came back to be totally bewildered by the bold and large print.

These pillowcases scream early 1980s (black and pastel pink were HOT in fashion!) to me, and I'd found the twin set to be in good condition, slightly worn but not enough to fade the print. They were both slightly larger in size, and upon inspection: They were HANDMADE!

I feel totally chuffed to remake a handmade set of pillowcase!

However, let's not get too excited!

I ummed and aahhh and decided that the bold larger print would suit a shift dress, and found this Simplicity 5016 in my collection that Amanda from Adelaide has loaned me. And because it's now really cold (and officially winter!) in Melbourne, I really need to have sleeves. But! I've never really sewn many sleeves before and unfortunately this wasn't the dress to try it with this material.


Have you seen these 'elbow' darts before? They're quite cute, but I have no idea if I made them right, and considering the pillowcase fabric is quite stiff, the sleeves are now a little weird.

The other weird fit issues were due to my resizing (the pattern is a 34 and I'm a 32 at the moment), and the fact that the neckline is way scoopier and boatlike in the pictures. I recut the neckline (because it was too tight when I first tried it on) but may have to shave off more. I also cut corners by laying the back piece on the fold, because there weren't any darts in the back piece and I decided to 'Do a Mena' and try it on without a zipper first, and voila! I didn't need one!


Hopefully my Sewing Touch or Seamstress Instinct returns next week!


Veronica Darling

Veronica Darling has been sewing well for about 4 years, blogging for 5 years and smiling for over 33 years. In 2011, she joined Mena's Sew Weekly in sewing through the year, and in 2012 will keep challenges slightly smaller in scale.


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  1. I think this dress is really cute! And I also think the sleeves look great! Really interesting pleat details!!

  2. Love it! You girls have been so creative with your pillowslips!

  3. I hate when your inner seamstress goes on holiday and leaves you just hanging. I think your dress is fab, I’m scared of bold prints myself, I love that you can pull this off it looks fab on you and those pleat details on the sleeves blend in well with the fabric pattern. I’m really impressed with the quality of your photos too they look very profesh.

  4. judy roberson

    Cute… You did a great job on the sleeves.

  5. i think it looks great! i really like the sleeves.
    also, i’m pretty sure i had pillowcases that were veeery similar to that print… and there were also homemade (by my mom). haha!

  6. Great little dress. I’ve seen those sleeve darts on a few patterns but am yet to try them. (I remember that fabric too – it looks much better as a dress than as manchester)

  7. I LOVE it! I’ve never even heard of elbow darts… but they look really good! Sounds like your Sewing Instinct was still there in the background – you tried new things, remedied fitting issues, strayed from the pattern instructions (lose that zip!) and had success! You have been giving your Inner Seamstress a run for her money lately with all the grading, self-drafting and other nifty tricks you’ve been pulling out week after week… maybe she just needed a Queensland holiday too! Anyway, I love the dress – you definitely have the eye for turning 80s into awesome!
    PS. Before reading your write-up, I saw the pattern cover and thought, “Hey, I think I have one like that!”

  8. I have done a vintage dress with one elbow dart below, it kinda provides shaping for the long sleeves but I love that you did 3 on each sleeve, it makes the garment so unique. Can’t tell that this was made of pillowcases at all:)

  9. Thanks Debi! I think it feels weirder on than it looks in the pics!

  10. Every pillowslip creation is so different too! Thanks Debbie!

  11. Thank you Molly! And good luck with your sewing classes! YAY!

  12. Thanks Kazz! I just did a little write up about the photos actually on my blog:
    It’s due to the back lighting IMO! xoxo

  13. Thank you Judy, I had some doubts!

  14. Maybe these were your Mum’s pillowcases!?!! Thanks Lauren!

  15. A whole bedspread in this fabric would have been wonderful in the 80s, but would be a little strange now! I agree: much better as a mini dress!

  16. Thank you Amanda! Love your positivity! On the brightside, you’re right, I have achieved a lot recently with heaps of nifty tricks!

  17. Thanks Adey! Yes, it has given it more shape around the elbow, but I’ve never really sewn with sleeves before and so I was a bit baffled! xoxo