Beginner’s Sewing Project: Child’s Pillowcase Skirt

When you’re first learning to sew you can end up spending a lot of money without producing anything of quality. That’s because you haven’t figured everything out yet, and with mistakes, you can end up throwing away nearly everything you make. However, if you practice on some pieces that aren’t all that complicated, and you use fabrics and supplies that aren’t expensive, you don’t have to worry so much about ruining the item you’re creating. So, start by practicing your different stitches, tension settings and similar things on leftover scrap pieces or even an old sheet. After you’ve gotten a little confidence you can then move on to easy projects that will allow you even more practice without the high cost of mistakes. One such project is a simple skirt you make for a little girl. You won’t have to buy patterns or even make your own. All you need to do is go find a nice pillowcase and get started!

An ordinary pillowcase is just what the doctor ordered when it comes to learning how to sew. Since pillowcases come in a variety of colors, and already have a hem in the open end of the case, it’s perfect for practicing your new sewing skills while actually producing a quality garment. If you have a little girl she’ll love the finished skirt which is unique, will fit great, and is really easy for you to make. Although a plain pillowcase is fine for this project you’ll make a much more impressive skirt if you choose one that’s decorative around the open end. You can use a solid color, or a patterned cloth to add more interest, or you can later decorate the skirt in any number of ways.

No matter what type of pillowcase you’re using the open end of the case will become the hemline for the new skirt. Since the length of the skirt will be determined by you there is not standard measurement you can use to cut away the excess fabric. Measure the child from the waist to where you want the hemline to be. Add a couple of inches to this figure to allow for the waistband. Take the final number and use it to decide how much of the pillowcase to cut away. Cut the excess material from the opposite end of the pillowcase opening. Now the skirt is complete except for creating the waistband.

There is more than one way to create the desired waist of the skirt. One way is to use narrow elastic and sew it directly onto the cut edges of the pillowcase. Start on one side of the skirt and set the end of the elastic. As you sew the elastic around the waist tug on it a little to stretch it while you stitch. Quarter-inch elastic works great and you can choose whether or not you want to use a straight stitch or a zig-zag. Keep the elastic right next to the cut edge as you sew. When you get to the place where you started butt the two ends of the elastic together and stitch over the top of them. Back-tack to secure and trim away any excess thread. Now fold the elastic over once and stitch all the way around again, but this time, choose only the straight stitch.

To create the same waistline as above you have a second choice. Instead of sewing the elastic directly into the waistband you can thread it through instead. Start by folding the cut edge of the pillowcase over a half-inch. Now fold it over once again, but this time, an inch and a half. It can be helpful to use a warm iron to press both folds into place. Pin the folded fabric in place and remove the pins as you stitch along. Begin sewing by starting on one side of the pillowcase. Keep the stitches right next to the folded edge so that you are creating a long, narrow pocket that will hold the elastic. After sewing almost all the way around stop a couple of inches before you get to the place where you started.

Take a length of elastic and wrap it around the waist of the little girl. Cut the elastic to fit comfortably around her waist then fasten a safety pin to each end of it. Slide the first safety pin through the elastic encasement and attach the second pin to the fabric of the encasement. The first pin allows you to easily push the elastic piece through the narrow encasement. The second in guarantees you won’t accidentally pull the elastic all the way through. After you have threaded the elastic through the encasement remove both pins. Sew the two elastic ends together then sew the final couple of inches of encasement shut. The skirt is now complete.

Don’t want an elastic waistband? Sew two darts in the front of the skirt and space them evenly apart. Each dart should be placed evenly between the naval and the side. These darts will make the skirt smaller around the waist so that it tapers to fit. Make sure you measure and pin these; if you make darts that are too large the skirt will be too small for the girl. After you’ve sewn in the darts cut a long, wide piece of material to use as the waistband. The material can even be excess you cut from the original skirt. The piece you cut should be at least a couple of inches longer than the actual waistline of the skirt.

Take the long, wide piece of material and fold it in half with right sides together. Sew up one short side of the band, down the long side, then across the other short side. Turn the band right-side-out and pin it to the waistline of the skirt. Stitch around the band, keeping the top edge of the skirt trapped between the two open pieces of the band. When you get to the end there will be more band than there is waistline. The extra band allows you to create a button, snap or other closure. Simply create a button hole or sew on the other fastener. This skirt is a little more complicated to create than the ones that have the elastic around the waist.

If you’ve used an ordinary pillowcase you can use fabric paints to create colorful patterns or even fabric glue to attach fake jewels. Sewing is so much fun, but when you’re ruining outfit after outfit, it can make you want to quit! Practice on easier garments and you’ll soon be an ol’ pro. When it comes to choosing such a project you can’t beat the pillowcase skirt. It’s impossibly easy to cut out, a breeze to sew together, and will produce a cute skirt unlike any other! Your little girl will be proud to wear it!