Vintage Summer Nightgowns The Prudent Homemaker

I love a loose-fitting cotton nightgown for summer.

Winter wanted a summer nightgown, and so she set forth to make one using a pillow case we had. It was a hand-me-down from my mother (the sheets had worn out) and was rather long, being a king-sized pillow case.

It wasn’t a vintage-embroidered pillowcase, but she was able to give it an even older look by doing her own hand-embroidery.

She laid the pillowcase flat and cut a rounded neckline in front and back.

In the back, she gave it an additional slit down to allow it to open large enough to go over her head.

She undid the side seams just enough from the top down for armholes. When worn, it looks like a raglan sleeve.

Vintage Nightgown Front Detail The Prudent Homemaker

Around the raw edges that she cut at the neckline and armholes, she sewed a scalloped hem using the scalloped setting on the sewing machine. She trimmed around this with a pair of sharp scissors.

Vintage Nightgown Back Detail The Prudent Homemaker

She added hand-embroidery to the front and back of the nightgown.  For the back, she used an old pattern that you can get for free here.

To close the nightgown in back, she added an elastic loop on one side and a button from one of my button jars. I had a covered button that matched perfectly!

Nightgown Hem The Prudent Homemaker

One of her younger sisters wanted a nightgown like hers, so she chose a vintage pillow case (embroidered by my grandmother) and made one for her sister. She added some hand-embroidery to the top to match the embroidery colors and design on the bottom.

 Vintage Nightgowns Front Embroidery The Prudent Homemaker

Since I had everything on hand already, these cost me nothing additional out of pocket. Pillowcases often out last sheet sets and are a great source of fabric. Don’t have a pillow case but have a leftover top sheet after the bottom one has worn out? Cut out a pillow case length from it and sew it into one using an existing pillowcase for size, making the top hem your bottom hem, so that you have an already finished hem.

Looking for free embroidery designs that you can use on your projects? Check out my Embroidery board on Pinterest.


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  1. Winter is so talented and creative! These nightgowns are just lovely. My favorite part is that she made one for her little sister. A gift of love that her sister will always remember.

  2. What a great idea. They are beautiful and look so cool and comfortable. And I agree — so sweet that she made one for her little sister, too.

  3. Beautiful nightgowns!!! I bet if she made some and listed them on etsy, she’d have herself a nice little college fund real fast!!!

    Last week we didnt spend too much money. My sister and brother in law were here from NJ. We spent a lot of time eating at my mom & dads or eating on the run, that my dad paid for. Friday I was able to get out for a few hours and went to the food service outlet store. They had a deal on 10lb rolls of 80/20 ground beef. If I purchased a freezer italian item, I could get 10lbs of frozen ground beef for $10. I did 2 deals. I got 2 bags of rosarita meatballs. They were $6. I was NOT paying $6 for a small box of celentano raviolis. I defrosted one roll of ground beef and split that up into 6 packages. The other day I was making sloppy joes from scratch and I had too much liquid in it. I had brown rice already cooked in the fridge, so I threw that in and it made a really yummy sloppy joe casserole. My new tenants are tenants from hell too, but these people lack common sense.!! Since we are 900 miles away from the house, I have to pay someone $35 an hour for all these little occurrences. We listed the house for sale. Being a long distance landlord is for the birds. Especially when the expenses for repairs are more than any income we receive. Once we get a contract on it, that will be one less headache for us to worry about.

  4. I was just going to write to you to say that I really miss updates on the children and their activities. Thanks for this and congratulations to Winter on her hard work.

    Have you heard about Little Dresses for Africa. I think she would really get a kick out of the way they use pillowcases to clothe children.

  5. She learned well from her mom. I would be to lazy to embroider as I am a purely for function girl. :p It really does look nice with the embroidery. Was it a surprise for her sister?

  6. Those are darling, and that’s a good idea for a pillow case. My re-uses are functional, but not nearly as charming — I cover my flour mill and water distiller with old cases, and I split a pillow case to make two wraps for bread that is still cooling and which I don’t want to leave uncovered on the counter when I can’t be there to keep an eye on it.
    I have a pair of embroidered pillow cases that an elderly aunt made a long time ago, but she never finished the hemmed edge, which is in need of a piece of trim. I didn’t know what to do with the cases, because I didn’t want to sleep on them, and I don’t need two big decorative pillows on the bed. I won’t be able to wear them as a night gown, but now you have me thinking outside the box. I may come up with a good idea, yet.

  7. Absolutely beautiful work! She’s as clever and skilled as her mother! It’s really nice to see a new generation learn sewing and embroidery skills; sewing is such a useful and practical skill. Her sister must have been thrilled!

  8. Fabulous work from both of you! I taught myself needlework at a young age. There’s just something satisfying about playing with a needle and thread.

  9. I love Winter’s resourcefulness and creativity! She had a need/want and found a way to fulfill that for no cost, just some of her time and talent. Those skills and attitude will serve her well in the future. You are a great mom and have taught her well.

    Several months ago, probably in the middle of winter here in the PNW I found a really nice light-weight cotton night gown for a few dollars on clearance. I thought it looked comfortable so I purchased it and boy am I glad to have it this summer. Our house has no air conditioning and we have been having lots of warm, humid nights and this light-weight night gown is so comfortable.

    I too, enjoy hearing about your children’s activities and creations.

  10. Hi Carol from Australia
    love it, love it love it I am going to try one however I am in my 70’s so perhaps I could cut down a sheet Wren is a gem

  11. A few weeks ago I found two cotton gowns on clearance and was delighted as both of my cotton summer gowns were very old and nearly threadbare. It isn’t often that I wear things out, but nightgowns and underwear are the exception. Winter’s new gown is lovely in it’s simplicity. What an inspired use for an extra long pillowcase. The little gown turned out equally charming.

    It is such a pleasure to find a second posting for the week. I often come back to your website during the week because there are usually new comments to read and I find them very helpful and informative. Many people don’t take pride in their frugal accomplishments, but you have created a wonderful community of like minded individuals that support and encourage one another.

  12. Sandra,

    I took pictures this last week of two more sewing projects from Winter that I plan to share. I’m hoping to share one each week, and after that, I’m hoping to have finished something of my own to share!

    I have several other posts that I’m working on as well; if all goes well August should be full of posts!

  13. Really lovely! The embroidery is a really nice touch, quite beautiful to see. Thank you for posting.

  14. I along with so many others will look forward to seeing Winter’s sewing projects. Thanks again for sharing your life and your story.

  15. When cleaning my Mom’s house after she passed, my sisters and I found about half a dozen embroidered pillow cases, mostly barely used. My sisters were about to toss them because they were yellowed from sitting unused. I snatched them up and have been using them on our bed ever since. (I like extra pillows to watch Tv or read.) After a couple washings they looked much less yellowed, and if I just stuck them on the clothesline a bit, they would be totally white again. I love to use older, cherished things as much as possible! She went to all the trouble to embroider them when she was younger, so I will keep using them as long as they are good enough to use. I have one of the big skirted lady also. Only one matching pair in the half dozen, but who cares?
    I am happy that Winter found a good use for your pillow cases too. They are very sweet nightgowns.

  16. Brandy,
    More posts in August? Yippee! Your posts and reader’s comments are my balm of Gilead!

  17. They are so beautiful and delicate. Love the embroidery and scalloped edging. Gorgeous! Your daughter is very clever and talented.

  18. So very beautiful, so feminine and simple. Your daughter is learning some really wonderful skills that will add quality to her life in years to come. I just love it.

  19. So excited to hear this wonderful news, Brandy! I love when you share these sewing ideas. Not only are they inspirational to use what you have to fill your needs, they also make for great gift ideas, too! LOVE the nightgown that Winter made for both her and her sister. Thanks for sharing with us and looking forward to the future posts!!!!:D

  20. Winter did a lovely job! Thank you so much for Sharing her projects. I love to hear about your family projects, gifts, parties, etc.

  21. I try to wait a week before I read the weekly update since so many wise and encouraging comments are left. I don’t always make it a week since I absolutely love the encouragement from other wives and mama’s. It is like Christmas when there is a second post in a week!


  22. I heartily agree! I love the emphasis on simple, frugal living. Everything that you post Brandi is beautiful, thoughtful and encouraging. It is my favorite thing to red each week. Looking forward to extra posts, that will be something to really look forward to!

  23. Lovely work Winter, I hope they are cool in your heat!
    Marcia: Lucky you!! At 73 I decided to collect hand embroidered pillowcases, it was difficult to find them! Last weekend I attended a summer fair with a booth selling antique linens … I found four lovely pillowcases, hand done, like new, at $1. each, I was so excited and bought them all of course! Your own mother’s would be precious. Ann Lee S

  24. I’ve seen them as dresses, but never as nightgowns! And never all embroidered up and fancy! They are darling and I bet they are wonderfully cool and nice to sleep in. I’d love one of my own, but I’d have to wrestle a pillowcase away from King Kong first!!

    The youth at our church have made the pillowcase dresses and sent them to Haiti. They’ve made them for taller girls by opening the one end and adding about 1″ straps that tie together. A couple of them sewed on a decorative print to the bottom to make them even longer.

    I can’t to see what else you ladies are working on this summer!!

  25. My daughter has been buying pillowcase type sundresses for her girls. Winter could indeed make some money. The seem to be the very “in” here in the northeast.
    I love them they look so soft and comfortable.

  26. Oh, what a lovely idea! And I’m inspired to make myself a nightgown trimmed with some of the lace my mother knitted long ago. It was meant to trim a top sheet and pair of pillow cases as my wedding gift, and I never did sew it to the sheets. Now that she’s been gone over 10 years it would be a great reminder of her love around me every night I wore the nightgown.

  27. How beautiful!! And special because it came from your mom and your grandmother.

    I made a scarf from hankies that came from my grand mother. They were all in pinks and same size square sewed them together in a row on top of each other so no seams. Very nice memories of her when I wear it.:)

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