Adding Rick-Rack As Insertion On A Pillowcase Style Dress

The project my friend and I chose to make trying this technique was a pillowcase style dress. My friend's dress was about a 3 mo. size, and mine was about a size 3. These are the general steps we followed to complete the dress.


1. Determine the finished length the dress should be.

2. Determine how much of the finished length the hem would be and the insertion would be. In my case, on a size 3, I used a 3" hem and the extra large rick-rack was 1 ¼" tall.

3. Subtract the combination of the items in #2 (the finished hem length + the length of the insertion) to know how long to cut the piece for the upper dress, adding back ½" for seam allowances.

4. Cut the strips of fabric for the upper dress and the hem section for the dress, making sure to add ½" to each section for seam allowances. Remember that your hem section will be double the length of the finished hem because it will be folded in half, wrong sides together. Serge one side seam on both the upper dress and the hem section.*

5. Press the hem section in half, wrong sides together. Open the hem section out and press under ¼" on each long edge so there are no raw edges on the inside of the dress.

6. Iron Heat 'n Bond or Steam a Seam strips to the folded down seam allowances on the tops of the inside of the hem band and remove the paper backing. Slide the very tips of the rick-rack into center of the folded hem section, pressing them together to bond the rick-rack into the center of the hem edges. Stitch very close to the top edge of the hem, making sure to catch both the front, back, and the rick-rack tips in the stitching.

7. Do a rolled hem edge on the serger for the bottom of the upper dress section and then press it under to make a 1/8" seam allowance. To that edge iron on Heat'n Bond or top side of the rick-rack insertion, making sure to keep the side seam area lined up on both the upper dress and the hem band. Once that is bonded, take it to the sewing machine and sew very close to the edge catching the turned under rolled hem edge and the tips of the rick-rack. Now you have the insertion completed.

8. Serge the other side seam making sure to catch the rick- rack in the serged seam.**

9. Fold the dress in half and match the side seams to draw out the curved armhole on one side seam before cutting. When you cut along this line, it will cut out both of the armholes. Open out the dress.

10. Cut a piece of bias tape the length of the cut armhole. Open out one side and stitch right sides together with raw edges flush. Turn bias tape right side out and press well. Clip curves of armhole, and turn bias tape to inside of the arm; press down well and top stitch it to the dress.

11. Attach the satin ribbon to the upper edge of the front and back upper dress sections with the ribbon on the right side of the upper edge falling toward the hem with raw edges even. Stitch a box the width of the ribbon by 7/8" down from the top on both sides. Turn down ¼" at the top of the upper dress and press. Press the 5/8" casing down and stitch, making sure not to catch the ribbon ends in the casing. Insert about 7" of elastic into the casing, stitching across one end and pulling the elastic to the other end and securing that end with machine stitching. ***

12. Tie satin ribbons into floppy shoulder bows and stand back and admire!

*On the infant sizes, a full width of fabric would be too full. My friend used about 36" of the width; so she trimmed away about 9" of width on both the upper dress section and the hem section so that they were both the exact same width. Her dress had a center back seam. On the toddler size 3, I felt that using just the 45" width would be too skimpy; so I cut two widths and had the two side seams. However, I only bought 2 yards of the rick-rack trim, so I too cut my panels down to 36" in width before seaming the one side.

** If the rick rack is "suspended" within the insertion area after sewing the side seam (or center back seam on an infant dress) you can hand "crochet" a little bridge of chain stitches to both the top section of the dress and the hem to hold it in place at that point .

*** If you prefer, instead of using elastic in the casing along the top of the front and back sections, you may run the satin ribbon through the casing and gather the sections tightly and stitch across the ends of the casing to keep the ribbon from pulling out. My friend did this on the infant sized dress. I chose to use elastic since my dress was nearly 72" in diameter.

Rough dimensions of our dresses My friend's 3 month size:

"Finished length = 13"

"Finished hem = 2 ½"

"Jumbo rick-rack = ¾"

"Satin ribbon = 1 yard split into 2-18" pieces

My 3 Toddler size:

"Finished length = 19"

"Finished hem = 3"

"Extra Large rick-rack = 1 ¼"

"Satin Ribbon = 2 yards split into 4-18" pieces.

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