The idea of repurposing items of clothing really appeals to me. I hate the idea of getting rid of stuff, only to replace it with new stuff that will later on be added to the cycle of use – get-rid-of etc… Having said that, just because I hate the idea, doesn’t mean I find it rather cleansing to dispose of unwanted/unneeded things, and shopping for new clothes (especially after dropping a few sizes) is nothing less than really exciting. Call me a consumerist hypocrite.
Back in Adelaide, I used to sew shorts for Georgia and Matthew, out of old t-shirts. Recently, I made my children some clothes out of pillow cases. Some pillow cases were handed down from my mum; others were bought for 50c at Vinnies. A popular way to dress your child in a pillow case is to sew a dress. You can find all sorts of methods of making dresses, tops, pants and skirts out of pillow cases on the internet. The side seams and hem are already done for you, so all you need to do is cut out the pattern and sew it up.
I made Elora this dress from a pillow slip that was my mum’s. Admittedly, my mother was somewhat horrified to see Elora wearing one of her old pillow cases – in the resort at Vanuatu – but I was proud of my thriftiness. However, it’s not just thriftiness that might drive me to make clothes out of old bedding. It’s a good way to test out a new sewing pattern, because I usually make mistakes or find a way to improve the project. I also give Georgia fabric from pillow cases or clothing as she learns to sew (she is currently making a stuffed toy out of my old flannel pj pants…).
I used a sundress pattern to cut out the dress on the fold (fold the pillow case, so you are cutting through 4 layers). I had a fair bit or remaining fabric (from the closed seam of the top), from which I made the binding/straps. I made an elastic casing for the top or the dress, and caught the fold of the pillow case with an invisible hemming stitch. Sewing the binding onto the sleeves was a bit fiddly, but I’m getting there with practice. Next time I will add some embellishments, like frills or ribbons.
So, you can use an ordinary pillow case for anything. You could go all Laura Ashley, or complete bottom-of-the-pile manky pillow case. You could purchase pillow cases on sale and turn them into clothing, or just hankies. Or bunting. The possibilities are endless. I’ve got a pair of pillow cases – very florally – that might make a nice dress and hat. Or dress and bloomers.
All we need now is some sunshine and warmth, so little Ella can trot around in her sundresses. Although, we must remember to cover our little children’s shoulders, in order to protect them from the sun!