How I made a four-year-old happy with vintage sheet scraps

Several months ago I was delighted to get a gift from Amanda at Vintage Sheet Addict. She sent me a stack of beautiful vintage sheet pieces after I’d made a comment on one of her Instagram photos. (Check out her blog to see what she did with the same fabrics!)

vintage sheets from Adabea

Fat quarters of lovely vintage sheets. So 70s! Aren’t they just wonderful together?

I knew right away I’d want to do something special with them. Then one afternoon while the grandkids were jumping around the house an idea suddenly clicked: I’d make a dress for my four-year-old granddaughter.

rick rack detail

Have a sneak peek into my imagination! I pictured a pieced and gathered skirt and a solid bodice. Just like this. 🙂

I didn’t want to waste any fabric, so I did some simple calculating. All the sheet pieces were roughly the same size and would divide into 3-inch strips. A rotary cutter and a 3-inch-wide ruler made it fast and easy to cut a pile strips.

vintage sheet strips

Random strips, all about the same length, waiting to be joined. I figured the skirt needed to be pretty wide to gather up and be twirly. I didn’t measure it, so don’t bother asking how long it was! I just used all the fabric I had.

A few minutes later I was stitching the strips together.

sewing strips together

I used a 1/4″ seam and pressed them all open. The edges were zig-zagged to prevent raveling and then pieces were all trimmed to the same length. A serged seam would have been better.

This many seams would make a hem lumpy and complicated. I decided it would be easier to finish off the bottom with some vintage trim. I’ve got so much of it hoarded!

vintage trims

Turquoise, purple, jadite! I love them all! They all looked so good together. But I narrowed my choice to blue rick rack and lavender double fold bias tape.

fancy hem finish

Hide that raw edge! I stitched both pieces of trim on the bottom of the skirt before sewing the back seam.

I saved the largest piece of vintage sheet for the bodice. I didn’t have a pattern and ended up making my own with a cereal box from the recycling bin. I roughly traced around one of my granddaughter’s shirts and tweaked the pattern until it seemed to “drape” on her pretty well. (Tissue paper or a paper bag would have worked better, but I didn’t have any.)

cereal box pattern

It’s not Vogue, it’s Rice Chex!

lined bodice

I scrounged a piece of pale yellow fabric out of my stash for the bodice lining. You can’t see it here, but the back is two sides, made to lap over.

sewing skirt to bodice

Stitching the skirt to the bodice. All day long I kept hearing, “Grandma, is my dress done yet? Grandma, is my dress done yet?” Well, I was sewing as fast as I could!

mother of pearl button detail

We picked out three shimmery, mother of pearl buttons from my thrift store stash. They’re perfect!

And at last, the Big Reveal!

finished dress on hanger

Ta da! She loves it! I do, too. It’s loooong and pretty roomy. I bet she’ll even be able to wear it next spring.

I’m told she wore it to preschool the next morning and jumped around telling everybody, “My grandma made me a dress! My grandma made me a dress! My grandma made me a dress!” Thanks, @adabea1! You helped make two people feel like a million bucks!

11 Comments on “How I made a four-year-old happy with vintage sheet scraps”

  1. luray says:

    “A cereal box from the recycle bin”–yes, you are your father’s daughter. 🙂 The dress is gorgeous and that hem is genius!

    • janeray says:

      I’ll have to label the cardboard and put it in a drawer for my kids to find in a couple decades. 😛

      • luray says:

        Ah yes, I forgot about that part! I still have the cardboard pattern Dad used to plan the angle for the legs of weaving bench he made me.

  2. Emmy says:

    Super talented!!!

  3. pamkirst2014 says:

    Beautiful! I love that rick rack finish!

  4. Gosh you would have made a 51 year old happy if you made it in my size! Super sweet.

    • janeray says:

      Thank you, Laurie! Check out for fabulous vintage sheet dresses in adult sizes. Drool worthy! She’s on IG, too.

  5. It’s so cute! Wish I could have seen it on Lucy!