A chance meeting with an old friend introduced me to sewing pillowcase dresses for girls in Africa and rekindled my love of sewing. I’d forgotten how much I used to enjoy it!

This meeting paid off when I was coming up with an idea for a new mystery series. I fell in love with my fictional town of Hideaway Grove and including this charitable project seemed like a perfect fit. Thus, the Sewing Studio mystery series was born.

I’ve sewed and donated over 1,000 dresses so far. Here are the instructions and some tips if you’d like to join the fun.



Constructing a pillowcase dress requires only a pillowcase, notions, a sewing machine, and basic sewing skills.

You’ll need:

Cut off the sewn end of the pillowcase.

Fold pillowcase in half and cut arm holes. Cut through all thickness. Cut 4 inches down and 2 inches in.

Fold down the top about 3/8”. Stitch to make a casing. Slide 6 inches of ¼” elastic through the casing to cause it to gather. Repeat on the back.

Cut two 38” lengths of double-fold bias tape for the armholes. Fold each in half and stitch along armholes leaving extra at the top to tie the dress at the shoulder.


A good place to find gently used pillowcases is a thrift store. Shop on one of their discount days for lower prices.

Put out the word to friends and family.

Check out yard and estate sales.

Watch for sales at fabric stores. Hobby Lobby frequently offers a discount on all sewing notions. Joann Fabric has weekly coupons.

A cotton or cotton blend pillowcase works best, in a color or pattern suitable for girls.

Extra wide double-fold bias tape is easiest to work with.

Have fun!