This beautiful silk Ikat dress from Jcrew has been hanging, unworn at the back of my closet since about 2011. I haven’t worn it in years because it’s a bit too small nowadays, and it’s a strapless dress that doesn’t have support in the bodice, a.k.a. it tends to fall down when worn. All this, and I still really and truly adore this dress, so I haven’t been able to bring myself to get rid of it.
Call it nesting or call it “you need to pair down and make room your baby arriving in February,” either way, I recently came to the mental clarity that I needed to either do something with this dress, try to sell, or donate it. Enough is enough.
When I really started to psycho-analyze why I loved this dress so much, it wasn’t the dress style for aforementioned reasons. It was the fabric. Blue and white silk classic Ikat. Yes in every language. Thus the idea of turning it into a simple envelope pillow was born. If like me, you also have a skirt or dress that you no longer wear, but love the fabric so much, can’t bear to get rid of, then give this tutorial a try. There aren’t any zippers to put in, these bad boys sew up in a snap!
- Old dress
- Coordinating pillow back fabric in a similar weight to dress fabric. I used cotton duck fabric.
- Sewing machine
- Coordinating thread
- Sewing pins
- Grid paper for pattern (optional)
- Feather pillow form – I recommend a form that’s 1-2″ larger than your pillow for proper fullness
1. Begin by deconstructing your dress to create the largest piece of fabric possible. Cut up the back seam of the dress and remove the zipper (if applicable). Then remove the top bodice from the dress to release any darts that may be gathering the fabric at the waist. You’re left with one large rectangle of fabric.
2. Determine what size pillow your fabric will accommodate. Because of the pockets near the top of my fabric, I chose to make a pillow with finished dimensions: 12″ x 20″, a standard size for lumbar pillows. Once you land on your pillow dimensions, add 1″ to the length and width of that dimension and cut out a pattern piece with those dimensions. My pattern piece is 13″ x 21″. Pin the pattern to your fabric and cut out. I centered the pattern on the dress so the existing side seams would be symetrical on the pillow, though they’re hardly noticeable on the finished pillow.
3. Then cut out two identical 13″ x 12″ rectangles of pillow back fabric.
4. On the 12″ long edge of each backing fabric piece, fold and iron the edge inward .5″, then fold and iron it again and pin into place. Thread your sewing machine with coordinating thread and sew along the folded edge, 3/8″ seam allowance. Don’t forget to back tack at the beginning and end of each seam!
5. Place the front pillow piece face up on your work surface. Then lay the two backing pieces face down, with their seams (sewn in step 4), overlapping by 1/2″ at the middle. Pin the front and back pieces together along the perimeter and sew together with a 1/2″ seam allowance.
6. Turn the pillow right side out and stuff in your pillow form. Place in your home and give it a good karate chop in the middle!