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Recycle Those Pillowcases, Girls!

I’m a thrifter.  I love thinking outside the box and have been recycling, or upcycling, or repurposing old clothes or sheets or parts of clothes for a very long time.  Once I made Emily and myself skirts from a pair of Jason’s khaki’s he had cut off…and I’ve even stooped to make myself workout shirts out of Jason’s old pitted out white-T’s, cutting out the pits, obviously

But let me tell you, old sheets and pillowcases are the best!  I have yellow and white checked gingham pajama pants from my Grandpa’s sheets, cornflower blue with rose bud pajama bottoms from 1974 (the sheets from my childhood bed), and when Em was little I used two of my favorite pillow cases to make her a sun top and super wide-legged flare bottom pants.

In 1993 when we got married, Ralph Lauren bedding was ALL THE RAGE 😉  No, but really, every. single. piece. of. bedding. we. had. was prepster, for sure.  Remember when mixing plaid and floral and stripes and solids and paisley’s was super cool?  And then when Ralph was mixing up the patterns with rustic western themes, this Arizona girl got all giddy and bought up some o’dat.  Mixed up on our old 4-poster log bed and it was very Taos-esque, Southwesternish, even in the Midwest.

About 9 years ago I made a pillowcase skirt by simply cutting off the end which is sewn shut, folding it over twice, about an inch in width, sewing it and lacing it with a drawstring.  I stitched an antique handkerchief onto it…dang that thing was cute…I think I recently gave it away…anyway…

I’ve had these pillowcases forever and have wanted to use them to make a skirt or dress but they have just been sitting in my pile…for a very long time.  But, with Spain around the corner, and my goal being to wear a sundress almost every day, I thought why not whip one up?

Here goes (hope you are easily able to follow along with the instructions):

Pick your favorite pillowcase.  This is circa 1993, old school Ralph Lauren bedding, probably from his Taos collection 😉  Oh, and it’s a KING SIZE case, which gives you ample length with which to work.

Fold the pillowcase in half length-wise (so it’s narrow)  Use scissors or your handy dandy cutting mat and fabric slicer to cut the sewn end of the case off.

Sorry, I don’t know why this one is horizontal, but then turn the pillowcase inside out and use the natural fold, as well as the seam as your guide.

Fold the fabric over one inch, the part that will be the top of the dress.  The cuff or ruffle on a pillowcase will be your natural hem at the bottom.  

Find a random piece of good elastic in your sewing box, or actually buy some for this project.  I happened to have a piece that, when pulled taught, was the exact width of the pillowcase, so decided to try it and see if it would work.  I kind of wing it like that…but it worked, so you can follow these instructions 😉  

At the natural seem, with one inch of the material folded over but not sewn down, sew one end of the elastic on securely with a zig zag stitch.

Then, pull it tightly and sew the other end to the natural fold on the opposite side of the pillowcase.

I have a base on my machine that can be removed for sleeves…remove that if you have the option, but otherwise, fold the elastic over one more inch and pull it taught with both hands, guiding it slowly through a straight stitch on your machine.  DO NOT SEW THRU THE ELASTIC BUT NEXT TO IT, so you are creating a pocket, basically, for the elastic.  (Sorry, I’m not sure I’m a “technical” writer…)

On the front side of the top hem, you will have one seam from sewing the twice folded one inch roll all the way around.  I then wanted to stitch a few rows of thread on the top front edge for a little extra touch.
***Note, when I tried it on, it was a little loose, so, tomorrow when I have a few minutes, I am going to pinch one inch on either side of the top hem, probably centered over each breast, one, to make it stay up better, and two, to bring some of the poofiness that is going on in the back around to the front to add dimension, if that makes sense???

Add a belt and some boots, and a partial afro since I haven’t used a blow dryer all summer but am trying to be “natural”, and there you have it.  A pillowcase dress in less than 20 minutes, but that I’ve had hanging around for 20 years in the linen closet.  I’m taking this little number to Spain to eat tapas and drink wine with mi esposo.

Your Peacock…Your Peacock!

Let me see your peacock!

I couldn’t resist.

Unfortunately I’ve heard the song.  I have another post for another day regarding my affection for Katy Perry, but not today.

Let’s just say, since I don’t really know what I’m doing before I go into a project like this, unfortunately I’m not able to write a DIY type of blog post.  That would be cool, but to be honest, I really DKHTDIM (Don’t Know How To Do It Myself) except for winging it…All I know is, recently in a few books and when I heard a person speak, the questions were posed:

  • What makes you feel alive?  
  • What memory from your childhood do you have of yourself being really happy while doing something you enjoyed?  
  • What do you LOVE to do?

At first I wasn’t in a place where I even knew or remembered how to answer the questions.  I LOVE to be with my family.  I LOVE to be with my friends.  I LOVE to be alone.

Oxygen makes me feel alive…

All great answers, but not exclusively “me”…but when I’m in my basement, tearing things apart and re-creating, well, that’s when I see glimpses of what makes me feel alive…

Creating.  Art.  Designing.  Making it up as I go.  
And doing it on a dime.  It’s fun for me!


I’m not bragging.  I’m just so excited I’ve found something I love to do, something that gives me inspiration and energy to face the laundry and piles of dishes.

Here’s how it’s going so far.

First we cut strips of tan ultra-suede we had left over from Em’s Sacajawea costume,  celery green ovals from some upholstery, kelly green ovals from a Baja Expedition t-shirt, and royal blue spots from an oversized man shirt Jason got from a work softball game.  We added tassels from upholstery cording my mom had given me years ago that was sitting in a box that. whole. time.

These are for the feathers that will make up a bustle type thingamajigger on Em’s tushy.

Em had a navy blue t-shirt she wasn’t wearing so we used it as the base for the bodice.  I sewed royal blue feathers for the chest out of more of the oversized man t-shirt.

Remember “Caboodles?”  Yep.  That’s my Caboodle from Junior High which once housed my electric blue mascara, now posing as my sewing box.  And that lavender tulle is going to be a bolero.  I had to have my mom come over and tell me how to work with elastic.  There are some things I can totally wing.  But elastic stumps me every time…I don’t know why, but my brain freezes and I’m not sure how to use it…it’s weird.  Maybe I got flicked by too many flying rubber bands in elementary school???

And this is my favorite part because it’s entirely Emily’s design and creation.  We got the peacock feather with a few others attached in the floral dept of Wally World, but she did all the rest, complete with gold embossed feathers and all the bling.  The kid’s got an eye for this stuff!

As the “feathers” for the actual skirt were starting to come together, Em said, “Mom, this is actually going to be cool!  I had no idea you had something like this in mind…”

Thanks, kid.  Apparently she hasn’t been that impressed with my other impromptu costumes.  Smack.

And since the creative juices are flowing in the basement, Em’s gotten out her sketch book and started designing gowns and other fancy numbers.  It’s fun to see her put her dreams on paper…one day she and I will put her paper dreams into material.