Doll and Me flutter sleeve pillowcase dresses

Doll and Me flutter sleeve pillowcase dresses

Learn to make matching flutter sleeve dresses for a child and her doll!

Our free pattern and step by step tutorial can help even the beginner to make these dresses (this can also be a very quick project for those with sewing experience). These dresses can be sewn entirely by hand. Our tutorial gives directions for hand-sewing stitches (with video tutorials on each stitch!), but if you are using a machine, a straight stitch can be used. Pillowcase dresses can also be used as nightgowns.

doll and me dress
doll and me dress
doll and me dress

Why pillowcase dresses?

Starting with pillowcases allows some of the major seams to be completed without any work. This makes sewing a dress for a beginner a much easier and faster project.

Some tips for selecting the pillowcases:

1.  We recommend using standard size cotton pillowcases. Standard size tends to be 20″ by 30″ or 32″. If you would like a longer dress, you could consider adding some extra fabric or wide lace to the bottom when you finish the dress. If you would like to select a king size pillowcase (typically 36″ long), just check that it is 20″ wide. Sometimes king size pillowcases are narrower than standard size pillowcases. If the pillowcase is narrower than 20″, the dress may be too narrow to wear comfortably. 

2.  If picking a pillowcase with a  patterned fabric, be sure the pattern will be in the right direction for the dress. An overall pattern that does not have a clear horizontal or vertical direction might work best. The pillowcase as a dress will hang down vertically (rather than the horizontal direction as used on a bed).

3.  Make sure the pillowcase you select is a woven cotton (not a stretchy jersey knit). The pillowcases we used in the photos and videos for this tutorial were from Laura Ashley (200 thread count breathable percale cotton pillowcase set) and Threshold (400 thread count performance pillowcase set).

Our tutorial begins with instructions for making the doll dress. The dress is designed for an 18″ doll (such as an American Girl or Our Generation doll), but the pattern can work for other dolls as well.

Starting with the doll dress will allow the beginning seamstress to practice and perfect her stitches before attempting child-size clothing.

Stitches will need to be stronger and smaller for child-size clothing that will likely be washed and worn more often.

doll and me dresses

Ready to make some really sweet dresses?  Let’s get started…

We recommend reading through the entire tutorial before beginning the project.

Gather your supplies…

  • 2 standard size (20″x30″ or 20″x32″) woven cotton pillowcases (not stretchy knit)
  • A spool of thread to match the pillowcases
  • 1/8″ wide elastic
  • 1″ wide grosgrain ribbon (optional)
  • Sewing needles
  • Pins (in a pincushion)
  • Small safety pin
  • Craft scissors
  • Sewing scissors
  • Sewing tape measure
  • Sewing gauge (optional, but helpful)
  • Pinking shears (optional, but helpful)
  • Large cardboard cutting board (optional, but helpful)
  • Ironing board
  • Iron
  • Our free printable doll and me dress patterns

Let’s make a doll dress!

Step 1

Wash and dry your pillowcases. Iron the pillowcases well to remove wrinkles. Use only one pillowcase for all steps in this section. (Set one pillowcase aside to be used later for the child-size dress.)

doll and me dress pattern

Step 2

Print out the pattern pieces, then cut them using craft scissors. Do not use sewing scissors to cut printer paper, as doing this will dull your sewing scissors.

Step 3

Cut off the short side of one pillowcase opposite the opening. VERY IMPORTANT: Do not cut the side where the pillow would normally be inserted – this part will become the pre-finished hem of the dress.

doll dress pattern layout

Step 4

Fold the pillowcase so that the pattern pieces needing to be placed on a fold will be on a fold (not on the seams of the pillowcase). Place all pieces (doll dress, doll sleeve, and child sleeve) on the fold and make sure none overlap the seam (if so, refold fabric to have more room). Watch this video if you need help.

Step 5

Pin on the doll dress pattern pieces. If you are also planning to make a girl size dress, you should also pin on the child size dress sleeve pattern. New to pinning patterns? Watch this video. Carefully cut out the pieces. Remove the pins, and set the fabric aside.

Step 6

As each piece needs to be cut twice, flip the pillowcase over, fold the pillowcase again so that the pattern pieces can be placed on a fold (not on a seam). Pin on pattern pieces and carefully cut out the pieces. Remove the pins. Set aside both child size sleeves to be used later.

Step 7

Place the doll dress fabric right sides together and line up the edges. What does right sides together mean? Click here to watch our quick video.

Step 8

Pin the sides of the dress. How to place the pins? Check out this quick video.

Step 9

Draw a light pencil line 1/4″ from the edge of the left and right sides of the dress before you start stitching to keep your stitches straight.

Step 10

Using a backstitch sew a seam 1/4″ from the edge on the left and right sides of the dress. The back stitch allows the dress to hold together better than a simple running stitch would (however, a very young child or a beginner might want to just use a running stitch). Would you like to learn the back stitch? Watch this quick video.

Step 11

Find the doll sleeve pieces. With the help of an iron and a sewing gauge, iron the curved edge of each sleeve under 1/4″. Do not worry if it is not exactly 1/4″ inch, as the curve will make this challenging. (Children may want to ask an adult for help with the iron.) Watch this video for tips on ironing to a measurement.

Step 12

Using a running stitch, sew a seam about 1/8″ from the curved edge of the sleeve. What is a running stitch? Watch our video.

Step 13

Pin each sleeve to the dress as shown, right sides together. You may want to pin one part of the sleeve at a time, sew it, then pin another side. Watch this video to learn how to pin on sleeves.

Step 14

Using a backstitch, sew the sleeves onto the dress bodice, 1/4″ from the edge of the fabric.

Step 15

Press open the dress side seams and press the underside of the armhole opening down 1/4″.

Step 16

Using a running stitch, stitch the underside of the armhole opening about 1/8″ from the edge.

Step 17

Fold the seam allowances at the neckline/sleeve connections so that they all face the same direction (e.g. clockwise). Then use a basting stitch to keep them down (a basting stitch is like a running stitch, but you do not need to knot the thread, and you can pull out this stitch later). See this video for help. Baste the seam allowances from the neckline and down about 3/4″. Basting down the seam allowances in the same direction will make threading the elastic in step 20 easier.

Step 18

With the help of an iron and a sewing gauge, fold the neckline of the dress over 1/2″. Do not worry if it is not exactly 1/2″ inch, as the curve will make this challenging. However, a little more than a 1/2″ is better than a little less. (Children may want to ask an adult for help with the iron.) Pin down the fold to keep it in place.

 

Step 19

Using a running stitch, stich around the neckline, about 1/4″ from the edge. The fabric will wrinkle where it connects at the sleeves (this is okay). You can remove the pins as you sew. Leave a 1″ opening between where you start and stop your stitches. This creates a casing for the elastic. Leaving the 1″ opening is essential to be able to insert the elastic.

Step 20

Cut a 12″ piece of 1/8″ wide elastic. Attach a small safety pin to one end of the elastic. Thread the elastic through the casing, being sure to hold on to the other end of the elastic so that it does not get pulled all the way through. Once the safety pin makes its way all the way around the neckline, pull the elastic so that the end of the elastic comes out of the casing by a couple inches. Put the two ends of the elastic together and make a sewing knot. Watch our video for help with this step.

Step 21

Flip the dress right side out. Put the dress on your doll. Adjust the location of the knot on the elastic so that the neckline is right for your doll. Take the dress off of the doll, cut off any extra elastic from the neckline. Use a running stitch to stitch together the 1″ opening.

flutter sleeve doll dress

Step 22

Congratulations!  You just made a new dress for your doll!  If you would like, tie a piece of grosgrain ribbon around the waist line.

Have fun playing together!

Please note, as this is a hand-sewn project, it should be treated gently.

 

Let’s make a girl-size dress to match!

Step 1

If you have already made the doll dress, find the girl-size sleeve pieces that have been cut out of one of the pillowcases in steps 5-6.

If you did not make the doll dress first, follow the beginning steps for the doll dress (wash, dry, and iron pillowcases; print and cut out paper pattern pieces). Follow steps 3 to 6 of the doll dress instructions to cut out only the girl-size dress sleeves.

Step 2

Measure from the back of the neck down to the desired length of the dress (for example, to the knee or calf). Write down this measurement to save for another step.

Step 3

Lay the pillowcase on the cutting board. Place the opening (hemmed side – where the pillow would be inserted) of the pillowcase on the zero line of the cutting board.

Step 4

Cut off the top of the pillowcase (the part that is sewn shut on the opposite side from the pillow opening) so that your pillowcase becomes your desired length. Use your measurement from step 2 (in the example here, we wanted our dress to be 25 inches long from neck to knee). Or if you want to keep the full length of the pillowcase, simply cut off the smallest possible amount. To keep your cut straight, you may want to draw a line. Your pillowcase will now be open on two ends. The part you cut off will become the neckline. Very important: Do not cut the hemmed opening of the pillow case – the hemmed opening will become the bottom hem of the dress!

Step 5

Find the armhole template. (Choose size small/medium for sizes 4 to 9, and large/xl for sizes 10 to 14). Pin the template at the top left of the pillowcase as shown (with the curved side toward the center). Cut out the armhole. Discard the cutout fabric. 

Step 6

Repeat step 5 on the right side of the dress, but place the template face down (so that the curved side is again toward the center).

Step 7

Find the sleeve pieces.  If desired, use pinking shears to cut near the edge of the curved part of the sleeves (this may help to keep the fabric from unraveling when washed, but is optional). With the help of an iron and a sewing gauge, iron the curved edge of each sleeve under 1/4″. Do not worry if it is not exactly 1/4″ inch, as the curve will make this challenging. (Children may want to ask an adult for help with the iron.)

Step 8

Using a running stitch, sew a seam about 1/8″ from the curved edge of each sleeve. What is a running stitch? Watch our video.

Step 9

Flip the pillowcase inside out. Pin each sleeve to armholes of the dress as shown, right sides together. Sleeves need to be pinned on to each side of the dress, but only one side is shown here. Watch this video of pinning the doll dress sleeves for help.

Step 10

Using a backstitch, sew the sleeves onto the armholes of the dress bodice, 1/4″ from the edge of the fabric. Sleeves need to be sewn on to both sides of the dress, but only one side is shown here.

Step 11

Make a rolled-hem on the underside of each armhole by folding over the fabric twice by about 1/8″. Pin parallel to the edge of the fabric to keep in place. A rolled hem will keep the raw edge from showing under the arm.

Step 12

Make a running stitch very close to the edge of the underside of each armhole opening. 

Step 13

Fold the seam allowances at the neckline/sleeve connections so that they all face the same direction. Then use a basting stitch to keep them down (a basting stitch is like a running stitch, but you do not need to knot the thread, and you can pull out this stitch later). Baste from the neckline of the dress and down about 1 inch. This basting stitch will make threading the elastic in step 16 easier. Watch this quick video for help (it shows the doll dress, but has the same idea).

Step 14

With the help of an iron and a sewing gauge, fold the neckline of the dress over 1/8″ and press.  Then fold over another 1/2″. Do not worry if it is not exactly 1/2″ inch, as the curve will make this challenging. However, a little more than a 1/2″ is better than a little less. Note:  This step is slightly different than in the doll dress – folding over the fabric twice will make it so that the raw edge of the fabric will not been seen, and will be less likely to fray when washed. This double fold is more complicated than a single fold, but is important as the garment will be worn by a child, rather than a doll.

Step 15

Using a running stitch, stich around the neckline, as close to the lower folded edge as possible (to be sure that the 1/8″ fold gets stitched down). Leave a 1″ opening between the start of your stitching and your last stitch. This creates a casing for the elastic. Leaving the 1″ opening is essential to be able to insert the elastic.

Step 16

Cut a 30″ piece of 1/8″ wide elastic. Attach a safety pin to one end of the elastic. Thread the elastic through the casing, being sure to hold on to the other end of the elastic so that it does not get pulled all the way through. Once the safety pin makes its way all the way around the neckline, pull the elastic so that the end of the elastic comes out of the casing by a couple inches. Put the two ends of the elastic together and make a sewing knot. Watch our video for help with this step. This video shows the doll dress, but the same concept is used for the child size dress.

Step 17

Flip the dress right side out. Try on the dress. Adjust the location of the knot on the elastic so that the neckline is right for the child. Take the dress off, cut off any extra elastic from the neckline. Use a running stitch to stitch together the 1″ opening.

Congratulations! You just made a new dress!

 

Step 18 - optional

If you would like to define the waistline of the dress, grosgrain ribbon could be tied around the waist. Making a simple 1″ long stitch on each side of the dress at the waistline will help to keep the ribbon in place.

Another option to define the waist would be to create a casing with an extra piece of fabric, sew this at the waistline, and insert elastic.

 

Ready to get the pattern? Click here.

Looking for more fun doll ideas?

American Girl Doll Party Ideas

Host a doll party!

baby doll with knit hat

Crochet a hat for your doll!

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Welcome to sparklesandsprinkles.blog

 

Make your own doll donuts!

Make your own doll donuts!

Watch our YouTube tutorial and have fun making these cute donuts for your dolls.  We use Model Magic, which is easy to shape and sturdy when it dries.  Scroll down to get our FREE donut box printable and other doll ideas too!

doll donut diy
doll donut box

Click on the image to get our FREE donut box printable.  Print on cardstock, then watch our YouTube short to see how to easily cut, fold, and glue the box.

doll food box printable

More fun doll ideas…

American Girl Doll Party Ideas

Doll birthday party

Knit a doll hat

Hand-sewn doll clothes

Note:  Some links on this page are Amazon Affiliate links.  Sparkles and Sprinkles is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Other links may or may not be affiliate links.  We provide links because we have found these products or services beneficial, and we think you might too.

Hand-sewn doll clothes

Hand-sewn doll clothes

Ready to make a cute new outfit for your doll?  It’s so easy with this beautiful pattern book by Erin Hentzel!  We found this book to be so much better than simply using a packaged pattern.  The photos are adorable, and very helpful for the young seamstress.  Even if you have not sewn before, the book gives step by step instructions for making the clothes from start to finish.  If you are an advanced seamstress, this book is still wonderful!  Each pattern shows the level of difficulty, assigning a certain number of stars to show the level.  The patterns are for 18″ dolls (American Girl-sized dolls).

erin hentzel sew your own doll clothes
American Girl Doll Clothes hand sewn

We decided to try 3 of the patterns in this book, and sew them all by hand.  Of course it would be faster to sew the clothes with a machine, but they can all be sewn by hand as well.

We chose a coordinating solid and print to make this ensemble: a purse, a top, and shorts.  The best fabric to use for these patterns is light-weight cotton quilting fabric.

To get started, watch our YouTube video for tips on cutting out the pattern (especially helpful for beginners).

 

Some tips for sewing your ensemble by hand…

We made a few modifications to the instructions to make the hand sewing easier.  For the purse, we trimmed off the edges of the fabric to about an 1/8″ from the seam.  This made it so that when we sewed the front and the back of the purse together, we did not have to sew through so many layers.  (We made our first purse without trimming the fabric, and we found it could be a bit difficult to sew through so many layers of fabric, especially for little hands.)

We chose to use snaps to fasten the back of the shirt together. (Click here to watch our video on sewing snaps.)The pattern book suggests Velcro; however, hand sewing through Velcro can be a bit cumbersome.  We simply folded over each side of the back of the shirt by a quarter of an inch, and made a seam.  Then we sewed on a snap set at the top, and another snap set about 2 inches from the top.  Just for fun, we embellished the back of the top with little bows too.

The modification we made for the shorts was to use 1/8″ elastic, rather than the wider elastic suggested in the book.  This allowed us to not be as concerned about keeping our stitches super close to the edge of the casing.  We used a 13″ length of 1/8″ elastic and then tied a knot about 1″ from the end to secure it, rather than sewing through the elastic.

Another helpful tip for sewing these items by hand is to use a ruler and a pencil to mark off a 1/4″ from the edge of your fabric when needed.  This will help the stitches to be straighter, especially for beginners.

Of course for the clothes to stay together well, the stitches should be small.  1/8″ or smaller in length.  We used a running stitch for all of the items we sewed; however, to make them even sturdier, a back stitch could be used.  We chose to thread our needle and sew with double thickness of thread.

We found “finger pressing” – using your finger to fold and press the fabric, rather than an iron – worked well for these patterns.  (However, ironing the whole piece of fabric before cutting out the patterns is important!)  Using finger pressing, rather than an iron makes it easier for children to work on these projects on their own without having the use a hot iron.  It is helpful in some cases (such as the hem of the shorts) to pin after finger pressing.  

We have only tried three patterns from Sew in Style: Make Your Own Doll Clothes, but we can’t wait to try more!  If you would like to find out more, or purchase the book, please click on the image.  Happy sewing!

Enjoy your new doll outfit!

Our 10-year-old had fun taking these pictures with her doll playing outside, sporting her cute new outfit…

American Girl Doll Clothes hand sewn

If you love dolls as much as we do, you might enjoy some of our other doll ideas:  knit a doll hat and doll party ideas.

american girl doll knit hat
American Girl doll party ideas

Note:  Some links on this page are Amazon Affiliate links.  Sparkles and Sprinkles is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Other links may or may not be affiliate links.  We provide links because we have found these products or services beneficial, and we think you might too.

American Girl Doll Birthday Party Ideas

American Girl Doll Birthday Party Ideas

Ready to play?  We are excited to share with you some fun ideas that can be used for an American Girl Doll (or any kind of doll!) themed birthday party.  These ideas could even be used for a really fun play time any time of year!

American doll t-shirt decorate

Decorate a t-shirt for your doll

We used fabric markers to decorate doll t-shirts.  They all turned out differently and were so cute!  Tip: make sure to protect your drawing surface, and even put waxed paper between the front and back of the shirt, as these markers can bleed through the fabric.  We used these t-shirts by Emily Rose – they are easy to get on and off the doll, as they have a Velcro closure in the back.  We used these Tulip fabric markers.

American girl doll money

Doll purses with money

We gave each girl a little purse for her doll.  Our daughter made them out of felt with a simple stitch around the edge.  If sewing is not something you want to do, you could simply make a wallet out of paper and tape.  You can find a free printable with doll sized money here.

American Girl doll party ideas

Doll party hats

Our free printable makes it easy to make doll birthday party hats.  Click here for the printable – party hats in 4 colors.

American Girl Doll shopping bag

Doll shopping bag

The girls at our party were given a shopping bag for their “shopping outing.”  We used extra small white gift bags and glued on stars, to give it an American Girl Doll look.  The bags we used were not available at the time of typing this post; however, these bags seem similar.  Bags that are about 4.5 by 4.5 by 2.5 inches work well.  You can find our free star printable here.  The bags can then double as a party favor bag, as the girls collect items on their play shopping outing.

American girl doll cafe
American girl doll cafe

Doll Cafe

Our 10-year-old made signs from foam board for each of the little shops.  The girls could “buy” treats from the cafe and pretend to have a cafe outing.  We thought we would have an adult be the “shop keeper” at each shop, but it turned out the girls did not need any help having a really fun time all by themselves.  Though not pictured here, we think this pastry set by Sophia’s looks great!

American Girl doll shoes

Doll shoe store

The girls also took their dolls shoe shopping… yes, it did take a while to pick just the right pair!  We found a set with a nice variety of shoes here.

American Girl doll jewelry

Doll jewelry making

The girls got to make simple necklaces and bracelets for their dolls, using stretch cord and beads.

gluten free cupcake birthday party

Cupcakes!

After all of the fun doll play, the girls enjoyed birthday party treats, including gluten-free cupcakes.  Click here to go to our delicious and nourishing gluten-free cupcake recipe!

Enjoy the party!

Note:  Some links on this page are Amazon Affiliate links.  Sparkles and Sprinkles is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Other links may or may not be affiliate links.  We provide links because we have found these products or services beneficial, and we think you might too.