How to Make a Shirred Dress With Puff Sleeves Out of Old Pillowcases

by Recreateful
8 Materials
5 Hours

If you’re into upcycling, I have an exciting tutorial for you; I’ll show you how to make a shirred dress with puff sleeves from bedding!

If you think about it, bedding is really just blocks of fabric, and you can literally do anything with it. Also, it's a bonus if you have bedding with cute prints.

I can’t wait to show you how to make this fabulous, body-hugging DIY shirred dress with puff sleeves. Let’s get started.

Tools and materials:

  • Fabric (you can use large pillowcases or a bedsheet)
  • Elastic thread
  • Normal thread
  • Sewing machine
  • Measuring tape
  • Marker
  • Pins
  • Scissors
Taking body measurements

1. Take your measurements

Before we get into the fun part, you’ll need to take your bust, waist, and hips measurements. Also, measure the desired length of your dress. 

DIY shirred dress pattern

2. Cut the pattern

I’m actually using two large pillowcases for this project, but an actual bed sheet or any other fabric would do.

Start by folding both fabric pieces in half and mark the length of your dress with a 2cm (0.78 inches) seam allowance on each end. 

Marking the dress into three sections

Next, split the length of your dress into three equal sections and mark them on your fabric. 

Calculating measurements for the dress

Take your bust, waist, and hip measurements and multiply them by 1.5. Then, divide that number in two. You’ll need this for all three measurements.

Marking measurements on the fabric

On the bottom third of the dress, mark your multiplied hip measurement. Then, going up a third from the bottom, mark your hip measurement again. 

Marking the waist on the fabric

Going up to the middle third marking, mark your waist measurement. 

Marking the bust on the fabric

Lastly, mark your bust measurement from the top third mark. 

Connecting the marks and measurements

Connect all your markings, making slight curves to accommodate the actual shape that will form. 

Cutting out the dress pattern pieces

Now, cut your pieces. 

Pattern pieces for the DIY shirred dress

You should have two large pieces to work with. 

Marking the sleeve area

To make space for those gorgeous puff sleeves, you’ll need to make some space for them on the top sides of the dress.

So, measure 8cm (3.14 inches) into the width of the dress and 4cm (1.57 inches) down the length. 

Cutting out fabric for the sleeves

Connect the two markings and cut out a triangle shape. Repeat on the other side and both pieces. 

DIY shirred dress fabric pieces

This is what you should have. 

Hemming the bottom and top of the dress

3. Hem the edges

Hem the top and bottom of both pieces with a rolled hem. 

How to make shirring elastic dress

4. Make the DIY shirred dress

Now, the shirring begins! Be sure to change your thread to an elastic one, as shown. 

Tip: When you wind the elastic thread onto the bobbin, ensure that you’re not stretching it. 

How to sew with elastic thread

Loosen your bobbin casing to ensure the elastic isn’t tight when sewn onto the fabric. Then, change the settings on your sewing machine to the largest stitch and make it a straight stitch. 

How to sew a shirred dress

When shirring the fabric, make sure the right sides are facing up. Also, always backstitch at the beginning and end of every row. 

How to make a shirred dress

Go ahead and shir both dress pieces. Stretch the already shirred fabric when sewing the following rows. This may take a while, but the results are breathtaking and worth the effort. 

DIY shirred dress

Here are the shirred pieces. 

Sewing the DIY shirred dress

5. Assemble the DIY shirred dress

Place both pieces together, right sides facing, and sew the side seams. Use a zigzag stitch for this part. 

Trimming the seam allowance

Trim the seam allowance and finish the seams with another zigzag stitch. 

Taking measurements for the sleeves

6. Make the sleeves

For the sleeve part, measure your shoulder from front to back and the length of your arm, including your shoulder. 

Measuring fabric for the sleeves

On another piece of fabric, take the length of your arm and mark it with a 2cm (0.78 inches) seam allowance on each end. 

How to measure the puff sleeves

From your top marking, vertically mark your shoulder measurement that is divided by 1.5.

Making puff sleeves for the shirred dress

Repeat the same at the bottom to create a rectangle. 

Cutting out fabric for the sleeves

Next, cut out your two-sleeve pieces. 

Creating notches on the sleeves

Create the same notches on the top of your sleeve, the same way you did on the DIY shirred dress. 

Hemming the bottom and top of the sleeves

Hem the bottom and top of your sleeves with a rolled hem. 

Sewing shirring at the top and bottom

Sew two rows of shirring along the top and bottom of each sleeve piece (by the hem).

Sewing the puff sleeves for the dress

Fold your sleeves in half and sew with a zigzag stitch, right sides facing. 

Attaching the sleeves to the dress

Attach the sleeves to the dress by matching up both notches. Sew along the edges with a zigzag stitch. 

How to make a shirred dress with puff sleeves

How to make a shirred dress with puff sleeves

What do you think of my new DIY shirred dress? No one would ever say this was made from two pillowcases. I hope you learned a trick or two on how to sew a shirred dress.

Thanks for joining me, and good luck! 

Suggested materials:
  • Fabric (you can use large pillowcases or a bedsheet)
  • Elastic thread
  • Normal thread
See all materials

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Join the conversation
4 of 5 comments
  • Doreen Kennedy Doreen Kennedy on Jan 29, 2022

    I would say your very talented!

  • Lalee Lalee on Jan 29, 2022

    I’m confused,did you shirr the whole dress or is the case material stretchy already? I luv this so much..I’ve seen so many gorgeous patterns in sheets that I’d buy them and over filled my linen just can’t find pretty material and a feminine dress like you’ve girly girl..✅

    • Recreateful Recreateful on Jan 29, 2022

      The bedsheets are not stretchy, so I did shirred the entire dress :) thank you!