Pillowcase Shirt Tutorial

Today I’m very excited to be guest blogging as part of Sew Chic and Unique’s “Inspire to Create Series”.  Mayya of Sew Chic lives in Oman! How cool is that!! I love how blogging helps me meet and share ideas with people all over the world!

Today I’m sharing a tutorial for a little girls pillowcase shirt.

Those of you that have been following my blog this summer may know that I’ve been experimenting with sewing pillowcase dresses.  The pillowcase dress is not a new thing and I’m sure there are a lot of different ways to make one, I’ve just been sharing a few ways that I’ve figured out to make them.
After I made the first pillowcase dress I got a lot of questions wondering if there was a way to make it in a shirt size instead of a dress. This week I sat down and decided to see if I could figure it out. I’m happy with how this one turned out. I think it looks adorable with skinny jeans and could easily be layered under a long sleeved t-shirt so that it could be worn into the winter.
This shirt is EASY to make. It is made using ONLY 3 fat quarters.  2 for the front and back and 1 for the trim. This one fits my daughter who is about a size 8. My guess is that this shirt would fit from size 5-8. You can shorten it if needed.
For this project you will need:
-3 fat quarters
-1/2″ wide elastic
-2″ wide ribbon
To begin, take your fat quarters for the front and back and square up any uneven edges and cut off the selvages. You want to leave the fat quarters as close to their original size as possible.

On the 18″ side of the 2 fat quarters measure down 5″ and over 2″. Cut a J shaped hole out of both sides of both pieces of fabric.

From your 3rd fat quarter cut 2 pieces 4″x 18″. Stitch to the uncut 18″ side of your other 2 fat quarters. Press seam towards 4″ piece of fabric.

Place shirt front and back pieces together and stitch 2 side seams of shirt with 1/4″ seam. Zigzag or serge.

Turn under raw edge of shirt band 1/4″ press. Fold over so that folded edge of fabric is even with the seam of the shirt/shirt band. Stitch in place. Press.

Cut 2 pieces, 2″ wide on the bias from your 3rd fat quarter.

Pin right side of bias pieces to right side of underarm seams. Stitch with 1/4″ seam.

Fold under raw edge 1/4″ and press. Fold again and pin in place. Stitch & press.

Turn under top edges of shirt 1/4″ and press. Turn under again 3/4″ and stitch close to folded edge. This will create the elastic casing.

Thread your 1/2″ elastic  through the front shirt casing.  Adjust the width of the elastic based on the size of the shirt you are making. The smaller the size the more gathering,  the larger the size the less gathering. Feed end of ribbon into the casing, it will only go in about 1/2″.  Stitch so that the elastic and ribbon both stay in place.  Repeat for other side of shirt.


also I just wanted to say THANK YOU to everyone who gave me suggestions this summer for the pillowcase dress construction!  That’s where I got the idea to use elastic in the top instead of ribbon!!

linking up to these fab parties!!

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  1. Thank you Melissa for guest blogging for Sew Chic and Unique it is an absolute honor to have you.

    This pillowcase shirt is beautiful cant wait to make them for my girls!

    Mayya @ Sew Chic and Unique

  2. The j-shape for the armpit is a great tip. I made a shirt similar to this for my daughter but didn’t do the j-shape. I think it would help the fit of the arms.


    PS yours is very cute.

  3. Great job on the pillowcase top. I always hated when the ribbons never held the top together right. The elastic is a great idea.
    I linked up your post on my blog.

  4. Thank you soooo much for the pillowcase shirt tutorial!! I absolutely LOVE it! In fact, I made one as a gift a few weeks ago for a friend of my daughter’s birthday. It was a huge hit with all the girls and parents!

    This particular shirt pattern is now my daughter’s favorite and she wants me to make each guest one for her birthday sleepover and one for their 18″ doll. I’m super excited to tackle the challenge (and flattered that my daughter actually likes my sewing), but the party is in exactly one week…EEEKKKK!!!! Talk about cutting it short!! She has 6 guests and their dolls coming to this party.

    Question: Two of the guests are older girls, more like a 10/12, the rest are size 7/8 so the pattern will work fine for them. How on earth can I make this work for these two older girls? I’m not pattern savvy at all. I do have access to bigger cuts of fabric, if I need them, but I love the simplicity of your design.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi!!
      I’m so glad you enjoy the tutorial… My daughter is 11 now and think it’s time to make her another shirt.

      What I do for sizing is look at sizing guides for stores online… For example Gap. (the link to their size charts is at the bottom of their main page).

      According to them a size 10 girls shirt (their Large) would fit a girl with a chest circumference of 28 1/2 ” This shirt is made for a size 6 (or their size S) and a chest measurement of 25″ -26″… a difference of 3 1/2″ (round up). I would add 3 1/2″ width to the front and the back pieces. Then also add to the length based on sizing on the chart I would guess 8″.

      Another trick.. (might be easier) go buy a VERY cheap t-shirt in the size you want. Just use that as a rough guide for the shirt. Remember a good rule of thumb for gathers (like this shirt) is to double your width… so if the store bought shirt is 10″ wide cut your front and back pieces 20″ wide (that’s just a guess).

      Have fun, pillowcase dresses are very forgiving, just play around a bit!


      1. Melissa,

        Thank you sooo much for the help and great advice! I’ve got my pieces cut now and I’m ready to sew as soon as the babies go down for a nap. I will let you know how it turns out. Hopefully, the weather will hold here for this sleepover on Friday and they won’t cancel school. I’ll get a pic of the girls and dolls in their outfits to share with you. I’m so excited!

        Thanks again!

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