Thursday, June 9, 2011

How to make a faux wrap blouse from a pillowcase

Hi everyone! Thanks for your lovely comments on my faux wrap blouses.  As promised, here is a step-by-step picture guide to how I made the blouses!

Supplies Needed:
  • For this project you will need 1 pillowcase for the blouse (get the pillowcase size based on your bust size) and 1 pillowcase (or matching material) for the tie sash.  
  • 1.5 to 2 metres of matching trim (or more if you decide on a longer tunic length)
  • Matching thread
  • Pins
  • Scissors
Pillowcase sizes.  Apparently both Standard and Queen pillowcases are the same width but Queen sized pillowcases are longer.  They should be 20 inches wide (but as you see below I had one that was 17.5 inches and one that was 18 inches--so always double check the width).  Your bust size should be equal to or less than one-half of the width of the pillowcase.  I am a 35 bust size and could fit both the 17.5 and the 18 inch.  The 17.5 inch wide pillowcase (the blue floral one) was comfortable (but I also have a narrower back) and only required a slight bit of 'shimmying' to get it on but nothing too drastic :)

If you have a larger bust size than 1/2 the width of the pillow, try to find a 'European' or square pillow.  The standard measurements for these are 26 by 26 inches allowing for a bust size up to 52 inches--again depending on your back width and shoulder size.

For those with smaller bust sizes, you may need to make a new side seam for your pillowcase.  To do this just turn your pillowcase inside out and stitch a seam line from bottom to top for your desired width.  Cut off the excess (and iron that seam flat) and then proceed as normal.

For those with smaller hips you can even try to make a faux wrap dress with a king sized pillowcase (usually measures 20 inches across and up to 40 inches long).

Once you have your pillowcase, these are the steps to follow to make a faux wrap blouse:

Step 1: Measure Neckline:

Take your pillowcase with the folded edge up and measure the width of that edge.  Both of my pillowcases were approximately 18 inches across.

Mark the centre point with a pin (9 inches here), determine how wide you want your neckline.  You can take measurements across the front of your bodice with a tape measure.  Doing this, I decided to make the neckline at the top about 6 inches wide.  Mark your cutting lines with pins.

Also decide how deep you want your neckline.  I took my measurements and thought 8 inches would be good.  But because I was a bit hesitant about cutting it too low, I decided to cut 7 inches and to take the extra inch off later if I wanted to (I did indeed go with 8 inches on both blouses in the end).

Step 2: Cut Out Neckline Area:
Cut through both layers for 1/2 inch or so and then cut only the front layer down to your marked neckline stop point. 
My two pillowcases were slightly different.  The bright yellow pillowcase was actually stitched closed at the end and the floral blue pillowcase was folded over (i.e. it was one long continuous length of fabric just folded at the bottom).  Cut the length of the neckline you marked making a 'v' shape.  For the back of the neckline, make a very elongated 'u' shape (i.e. just add a slight bit of shaping to the back).

I found it very helpful to cut down a short distance from the 'v' shape on the neckline.  This helped when I folded the fabric under for the seam finishing.

Step 3: Measure and Cut Armholes:

 Measure on yourself how long you want the armholes to be (when measuring, take only the front measure).  I decided that 7 inches would be good.  Again, I cut it a bit short figuring if I needed to cut more that was easier than adding the fabric back!!  Cut the armholes in a sliver of a moon shape (i.e. elongated 'u' as with the back of the neck).  I cut the armhole right up to the top (again shaping it along the way).

Step 4:  Try on your pillowcase
At this stage it's really helpful to try on your pillowcase and make any adjustments in the cutting.  Also mentally note which side you want the trim to go across.

Step 5: Prepare for Finishing Seams and Adding Trim:
I decided to try and save as much time as possible and do narrow hems and to sew the trimming on all at once.  To do the narrow hems, fold under the fabric on the neckline (all the way down the front to the 'v' point and across the back) and the armholes approximately 1/4 of an inch.  Iron these flat.  You now want to take these folds and make another 1/4 inch fold (for two folds on all edges)  Since pillowcases are often made of cotton which holds the iron creases really well, I just ironed down the initial fold and folded over one more time.  I then held these in place with pins while I did the rest of the seams.

Do the same thing with the armholes.  It can be a bit tricky to do the double fold on the armholes, so pin where necessary!
I also found it very helpful to 'pull out' the bottom bit of the armhole as it tends to get awkwardly folded under during this process.  This will make it so much easier to add trim later if it is not puckering at the bottom of the armhole.

Step 5: Prepare to Add Trim:
I did both blouses a bit differently.  For the yellow blouse, I did a fold in the fabric from the neckline down the side to mimic the 'faux wrap' aspect.  For the blue floral blouse, I just put the trim down the front without the fold.  I think the end result looks very similar.

Also, when you first try on the blouse, you will see how long you want the blouse to be.  The standard pillowcase does not go over my hips at all.  I had to cut a good portion of the pillowcase off at the bottom and then narrowly hem the bottom edge as well (since I lost the already hemmed edge!!)

I ended up leaving the yellow blouse a bit longer and unpicked a small section of the side seam (just one side seam...the one that the trim goes down).  I then hemmed each unpicked side.  For the blue floral blouse, I left both side sections closed and made the blouse a bit shorter.  Experiment with different lengths when you first try on the pillowcase by folding under the fabric at different points.

Step 6: Attach Trim:
The next step is to attach the trim on the outside of the neckline and around the armholes.  The trim should conceal all of the edges but should remain on the top of the blouse.  Pin in place in the direction you are likely to stitch.

For the neckline 'v', just tuck the shorter side well underneath the longer side.

I ran the trim all the way down the side seam on one side.  Once at the bottom, I just folded the trim under the bottom to the inside (when you stitch the trim in place, it will catch this folded under bit in the stitching).

Do the same for the armholes.

Where the two edges of trim meet on the armholes, I did two different methods.  The first (which I don't really recommend if you have bulky trim like I did) was to fold one of the pieces of trim under and to sew this onto the other piece (as in the photo above).  You'll want to place these bulky ends either at the back or near the armpit so that they are not visible.

 The version I liked much better but would only really work with 'busy' trim (such as the one pictured above) was to sew one of the cut edges right over another cut edge.  To keep it in place and to prevent fraying, I sewed over where the top edge met the bottom trim at least 3 times.

Step 7: Seam Finishing and Hemming Options:
 Here you can see where I reinforced where the trim edges met on the armhole.  Once you have your trim all pinned in place, sew it on according to the trim.  For the bright yellow blouse, I sewed right down the centre of the trim.  For the blue floral blouse, since the trim had the main elements in the centre, I sewed it down the right and left sides close to the edges.  In the photo above you can see where I sewed down one side and how it also sewed the folded edges under creating the instant seam finishes on the armhole.

Step 8: Sewing the Tie Sash:
I can think of three different ways to make the tie sash.  All involve cutting the fabric (from ANOTHER pillowcase or you can even use matching fabric not found in a pillowcase) all the way from the open end around the bend and back up the back side (so you have the longest piece of fabric available).  Then you can either:

1. Cut this from the corner side so that one side of your long piece is already attached.  Fold it open so that the right sides are together and stitch it the entire length on the open edge but leaving a small portion unstitched.  Turn the fabric through this small portion and then slipstich that opening closed.

2. Since I didn't want to do any handstitching, I cut two similar width pieces.  I then folded the edges of each side under, ironed and pinned.  Then I topstiched the two pieces wrong sides together.  Since you are cutting the new pillowcase from the bottom all the way around the length to the bottom again, you won't need to finish the ends of the tie sash (since it's the bottoms of the pillowcases that are already hemmed! Hooray!).  Does that make sense?  This is the method I used for the blue floral blouse.

3.  If you don't want a double sided tie sash, you can also cut one single length of material and then just fold the edges under and stitch.  That is what I did for the bright yellow blouse.

A standard pillowcase cut this way gives enough length to the tie sash to leave it long:
Or to tie it into a cute little bow:
Et viola, new faux wrap blouse!!  Let me know if you try it out! 


  1. Wow, thanks for sharing this Debi...what a great tutorial! Your blouses look fantastic!

  2. Debi, this is so clever and such a lovely fit. Thank you for posting such a beautifully detailed tutorial too :-)

  3. Thank you for this- it is a great tutorial :)

  4. This is just fantastic on you and thanks for taking all the time to put up the post on how to make it. Nice job it really is.

  5. Great tutorial, it looks really good, not craftsy. :)

  6. Fantastic, and you always choose such lovely trims!

  7. Wonderful! I am going to give it a try.

  8. This is brilliant!!! Thank you for sharing!

  9. Oh how lovely. Wrap blouses suit everyone, this is SUCH a good make on every level: style, thrifty, environmental, and the instructions are super clear.

  10. Well, how clever! Back in the 60s I made several dresses from pillowcases but were never this cute.

  11. I've made dresses but this top is too cute and I have to say I am so jealous of your hair!


I read each and every comment--thank you so much!

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