A Shirr Bet Pillowcase Dress / Save the Arts in SC!

The Final Explosion Dress
A Few Cool Things!

Hello friends!  Did you miss me?  :)  Well, push that separation anxiety aside!  I’m back!  Now…I’m not going to be blogging a new refashion EVERY DAY or anything (because only a crazy person would do such a thing), but rest assured…I still have many fun tricks up my refashioned sleeve to share with you!  :)

Where to begin?  I had a delightful week off!  :)  Lots of time to reflect and decompress!  I had a fun viewing party for my Rachael Ray appearance on Thursday night,  and slept in for most of Friday.   I was feeling pretty flippin’ awesome.  My big year-long project was done and I was just on a nationally syndicated TV show!  Life was looking pretty frackin sweet!  I was ready to get back to my day job, though! :)

That was until Friday afternoon, when I was awakened by a phone call from a coworker.  Our  governor, Nikki Haley, decided to veto the budget for the SC Arts Commission, thus laying off the entire staff and all operations EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY.

This means I have no job.

The hell?!??!???!!!

I take one week off and the agency where I’ve worked for 6 years ceases to exist?????  Honestly, I may never go on vacation again!  :/

This goes beyond me just being terrified of being out of work.  The South Carolina Arts Commission is important.  It brings the arts to people all over South Carolina, especially the poorer/underserved areas that wouldn’t have access otherwise.

It’s a grim day in South Carolina. :(

During the Second World War, Winston Churchill’s finance minister said Britain should cut arts funding to support the war effort. Churchill’s response: “Then what are we fighting for?”  Think about that.  Then, read this Open Letter to Nikki Haley if you feel like it.  Then, contact your legislators if you’re a SC resident who doesn’t want to lose the arts in your communities and schools.

There may be a light at the end of the tunnel, folks.  Her veto can be overridden.  SC legislators have decided to go into emergency session on July 17th to discuss this and other vetoes.  So…I may only be unemployed for a couple of weeks, and the SC Arts Commission’s good work may be able to continue.  Let’s hope.

So, what’s a girl to do?

I’m suddenly unemployed.

I could freak out, or I could frock out!   :)

I started with this pillowcase I scored from the $1 a pound Goodwill.

I dunno…maybe I should save it for carrying all my  belongings when I become a hobo…:/

I turned it inside-out and snipped out the side and top seams.


I folded the top seam over twice, pressed it, then stitched a new seam!

Making a new seam!

Now it’s time to try something new:  Shirring!!!!  :)  You’ve seen this before folks, in all of those dresses and shirts with the elastic-y gathered tops.  Did you know that you can do this yourself?  Did you know it’s pretty darn easy?  Did you know that if you can sew a straight stitch, you can shirr like a champ?

First, you’ll need some elastic thread.  I found a spool in a shoe box of vintage notions a friend gave me a few months ago.  You can find it any craft store.

FYI…It’ll probably cost more than 30 cents. ;)

Most people will tell you to hand-wind your bobbin with the elastic thread.  BUT…this might not work for your particular machine (It didn’t work for mine).  Go ahead and Google your machine make and model and the word “shirring” before you get started to see if there are any unique issues with your machine.  It could save you a few hours of cursing.  :)  Trust me.

Load the top thread with just your normal everyday thread, and the lower thread (bobbin) with the elastic thread.  Jack up both the upper and lower tensions to their highest settings and your stitch length to its longest setting.  Now you’re ready to shirr!

Just sew row upon row of straight stitches 1/4″-1/2″ apart from each other.

It’s a “Shirr” thing! :)

It may not look super-gathered right away, but after you sew a few rows, you should be able to see it.

Once you’re done with the number of rows you want, adjust the seam you left open to make your new dress as fitted as you please.

Now…a pillowcase isn’t very big, so unless you’re pretty scrawny, this won’t work as a dress for you.  Don’t fret!  Just turn your pillowcase the other way (lengthwise), make a new top and bottom seam, and you’ll have a top instead!  No biggie!  :)


Stitch that seam!

I decided to add a halter top to my new dress.  Whenever I’m at the $1 a pound Goodwill, I always find loads of sashes that have gotten separated from their original garments, and I scoop up as many as I can!  These work really well for straps and halter tops!

I took one such sash, and stitched it to the front of my new dress.


And just like that, I have a cute new sundress that cost me less than a buck!  :)

Unemployed, but still stylish! :)

Trying to drown my sorrows, but they sure can swim! ;)

As I really don’t have much to do this week, keep your eyes peeled for all sorts of subtle changes to this site that will make it easier to navigate/less clunky.  :)  I’m not much of a webmaster (or would that be webmistress?), so don’t be terrified if things look weird for a day or two!  :)

Don’t.  Panic.  :)




  1. Bloody hell! I can’t believe the news about your job. Keeping everything crossed that you get your job back.

  2. I am so sorry about your job. Hopefully, there will be a rescue put into effect there. Meanwhile, try to look at it as an extension of your vacation! Congrats on your TV appearance. I used to do a little TV back in my day….it was fun…hectic, but fun.
    Love the dress-you are crazy with all the things you make! xo Diana

  3. Oh no – but I know you will come up smiling whatever happens. And thanks for this great post, I have some elastic but didn´t know how to use it!

  4. Too cool! Sorry to hear about the budget cut, keep spreading the word though, you’ve got a great platform! It’s been handed to you for a reason!!!

  5. You’re back!!!! Hurray!!!
    Not so hurray about your job – what the?? :/
    What is life without atheistics?
    I hope & pray common sense prevails.
    Welcome back (did I say that already? ;) )

  6. Jillian – I’m so sorry to hear this! It’s disgusting how they’re cutting the arts funding (not to mention other services) all over the country – I hope the emergency funding comes through. Love what you did with the shirring. Keep your head up! :)

  7. I’ve never cared for Governor Haley, but now she’s really on my crap list. Veto 51 cut major funding for Rape Crisis Centers and I work as a Sexual Assault Victim Advocate in the Upstate. Grr. She super sucks.

    On a positive note it’s nice to meet another SC blogger! I have a link-up for Palmetto Bloggers we are planning a meet-up in Columbia this fall. Check us out, We’d love to have you! http://www.sweet-southern-girl.com/p/south-carolina-bloggers.html

    (Awesome blog by the way, you have killer sewing skills!)

  8. Love that you’re back….Hate the job issue…Praying they come to their senses…Love the cute dress and Thanks for the details on shirring!!!

  9. Hey Jillian,

    With every difficulty comes an opportunity. It sucks losing your job but you never know what might arise from it. Just saying. I am sure you will find the silver lining on this cloud too ! Cute dress too. A helpful hint about shirring: pass a bit of steam on your “shirs” after and they will shrink even more ! Keep smilin’ !

  10. Rachel Ray should just put you on the payroll and fly you in every other week to do a segment! Or HGTV should snatch you up as the hostess of a Re-Fashionista reality series… It could happen!

  11. I have only found your website a week ago and there’s a lot of catching up for me so I’ve been nervous to see if you are gonna continue the everyday refashion. I’m glad you’re not stopping altogether cos then I might just hate myself for not finding you sooner! I’m so sorry about your job and I hope it goes well.. but in the meantime, cheers to all the crafting/sewing time you get! :)

  12. Sorry to hear about your job! I watched the snippet video and you looked great! You had a presence and calm on tv that I would never be able to exhibit. On the unemployment issue, I’ve been looking for work in Albuquerque NM since the middle of October 2011! I hope things work out for you quickly. If I didn’t have sewing as an avocation, this would have been a very hard time; instead I have 30-40 garments that I love and wish I had an occasions to wear them to!

  13. yes! Don’t panic! <– large friendly letters. I love how you keep your spirits up in the face of disaster. Thank you for that! And thanks for the great blog!!

  14. I love your blog! I hate to hear about your situation…but I know that you will fight your way through it….stylishly at that! We appreciate your continued blogging despite whats going on…and I am sure that SOMETHING will open up for you and the Commission. Sending you blessings and smiles! Keep up that optimism…it works! :)

  15. So glad that you are back! Love reading you and seeing the inventive things you do. Your talent knows no bounds. Don’t worry! Good things are on the horizon.

  16. Leaving for vacation can be bad! Lol
    My hubby and I had the same thing happen to us!
    We came back from vacation to find out the staff decided we weren’t a good fit! Boo!
    But it turned out to be the best thing for us!
    I wish you lots of luck! Hopefully you’ll find a job soon! Your so talented!
    BTW I started following you bc of the Rachel Ray Show!

  17. Yay you’re back! Sorry to hear about the job and I do hope that it all works out for you. I am sure everything will be fine….

    I had a loooong dress yesterday that I didn’t know whether to keep or not and then I thought, “What would Jillian do” so I went downstairs and cut the hem on an angle a-la-post 331 and NOW I can wear it…

    So you see? What would we do without you!!!

    I have a vibe that things will work out and great things are ahead for ya. All will be well.


  18. I am so sorry to hear about your job. That really sucks, I’ve been unemployed before. You will be alright. Just make sure you check in every once in a while. You are such an inspiration!

  19. So sorry to hear about the job loss. I’m hoping you hear good results from the emergency session. Whatever happens, I think you’ll come out on top. You have an amazing skill set and I’ll bet your resume rocks! Besides, who wouldn’t love to hire you?? All the best, and I hope you won’t have to go on a job hunt.

  20. I just found your website last week and I spent a good portion of Friday reading through your past year of posts (when I should have been working!). I’ve only sewed a pillow and a failure pair of boxer shorts when I took a fashion design class in high school, but now I am totally inspired to try more things! I work for a similar arts council organization in Missouri (have been there for 5+ years) and we are fighting similar battles with our state funding. Luckily we are funded by many different sources, so we’re not in TOO much danger of shutting down, but we have had drastic budget/staff decreases over the past couple of years. It is such a terrible thing that people just don’t understand the importance of the arts.

  21. You most definitely will have a glorious future – the universe is making space for whats to come. I know it’s hard when it’s not you but you have so much to offer society and I will happily watch it unfold in the computerverse!!!!

  22. Wow! How cruel it would be to take away the arts… I love Churchill’s quote.
    I don’t know what all went into the decision to veto, but it makes me sad. I sure hope things get turned around at that emergency meeting!
    It’s so encouraging to see your positive attitude despite the situation at hand. And that’s one more reason you’re such an inspiration! Cute outfit! Great innovation!
    Good luck!

  23. Love your ideas on taking something and making something fashionable and wearable. You have inspired me to try it.

    M. Perez

  24. Jillian, I’ve been enjoying your blog for a month or so now & have gone back & read your posts from the beginning. I love your creativity & style, thanks for all the inspiration! I am in Charlotte & immediately thought of you when I read about Nikki Haley’s veto of the budget. I hope the veto will be overridden. You’ve got a lot of people pulling for you & the SC Arts Comission!

  25. When you take “ART” out of the EARTH you are just left with “EH”. So awful about your job. I hope for the best for you! Love love LOVE your blog. You are one amazing chica! Stay positive! (And thank you so much for all your posts that have kept me up for the past week and a half! I’ve finally read ALL of them! I’ve even taken some of your refashions and used them to help me make my kids some “cow” outfits for Friday using clothes we already had!) Keep posting! We’ll all be here reading! :)

  26. I saw you on Rachel Ray and love what you do. What a great, inspiring way to save $$$ and be creative. I wish I could look at something and have the vision you do. Keep doing what you do!

  27. Sorry about your job, but I think you’re talented enough to find work where there is none. Our arts here are pretty sad too, most of our programs in FL are LARGELY privately funded, otherwise we would have NOTHING. My 6-yr-old doesn’t even have art as a special, and they have music once every 2 weeks. It’s such a sad situation that our government can’t figure our ways to educate and enrich the lives of our future leaders- its all focused on “right now” and nothing else matters.

  28. That totally stinks about the gov taking down the arts and your job with it! Curse words! Let’s hope they see reason soon and restore the funding. If not, I think you should see if you could be the window stylist at Goodwill! That would rock!

    P.S. To cheer you up, here are two refashions – inspired by you – that my daughter and I have created in the last few weeks.
    Fourth of July: http://www.rosieblankenship.com/2012/07/fourth-of-july-redux-refashioned.html
    Tulip dress: http://www.rosieblankenship.com/2012/07/tulip-dress-makeover.html

    Thanks for helping me have the courage to do what’s been in my head for a long time!

  29. Hey Jillian,
    Found your blog a couple of weeks through Pinterest, and I’ve enjoyed catching up on your blog post. Sorry to hear about the job, I’ve been unemployed before as well, and it’s not fun. I’ve been an avid sewer for a long time, but haven’t much since I’ve had my twin girls 3 yrs ago. You’ve inspired me to go back. When I came upon your blog, I couldn’t help but smile. Coming from a family of 5 (4 girls, 1 boy) I often refashioned my old jeans to blue jean mini skirts for my 3 sisters (keep in mind, it was the 80’s early 90’s and this was all the rage). You probably already know, but those that sew must having a great pair of sewing scissors and one for cutting just paper. I work in the rug manufacturing industry (one of the few that still makes them by hand) and we use Mundial Cushion Pro scissors (slices through rug backing like it’s butter). They are pricey, but worth every penny. This company I get them from has the best price on them. http://www.southstarsupply.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=29&products_id=4839

  30. I discovered your blog last week and have spent my evenings this week reading every single post from your 365 challenge. I’ve always wanted to sew but never had the courage but you’ve really inspired me. I’ve just told my husband I want a sewing machine …. I might have to wait til Christmas but I’m really excited!!!!!!

  31. Man! Sucky news. If I had any contacts in your neck of the woods I’d sure try to hook you up with some leads or something. I looove your blog and I’m glad you’re back on! You are very inspiring, as soon as I have a free moment without my kiddos I’m heading to the goodwill to search out some muu muus or house dresses!

  32. I discovered your blog last weekend and have spent every evening this week reading every single blog entry from ur 365 project. You’ve inspired me! I’ve always wanted to sew but have never had the guts to try …. But I’ve just told my husband I want a sewing machine. I might have to wait til Christmas but I’m excited about it!

  33. I own a small alterations shop in Chicago – I’m a good editor, but not a creator. Your blog reminds me of wacky stuff I used to put together back in my hometown … odd pants I’d find, hand-sewn tanks from golden oldie thrift t-shirts … With your simple tutorials, you inspire me to do stuff with all the fabric and other crap I’ve collected over the years!
    BTW, it is horrifying losing your job without even a warning. Absorb it, experience it, and move forward. You’ll be fine.

  34. SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Glad you’re back!!!!! Kept looking every day to see if maybe you didn’t stay on vacation all week!!! But glad you got a much deserved break!!!! Sorry about the cut by the Governor!!! BOO HISS!!!! You were great on the RR show!!! So calm and confident! She should give you your own show or pull the strings to get that done!!!! Hope the job gets back on track.

  35. Love a good shirred dress in the summer. c: Hopefully I’ll be brave enough to try it someday!

    About your job-that’s friggen bs. Our country needs to focus more on the arts rather than making them more inaccessible. I’m sorry that’s happening, and I hope (for all of South Carolina’s sake) that it is remedied quickly. Good luck.

  36. I totally agree with the poster that mentioned a spot on HGTV! You should pitch it to them. I’m so sorry about the job situation, and hope it gets worked out. I hope your vacation was fab! Thanks for the shirring tip ;-) I’ve been wondering how to do that. I have a boney little 2 year old and that tip will help me make major cuteness for her.

  37. I just wanted to add that while you were gone I put my sewing machine and box of goodys away (it was on my dining room table because my little room has no air) to dust the table and now I wanna pull it all out and do some shirring! Woo hoo!!!

  38. So wish I still lived in SC so that my signature on a petition would count for something. It was a very sad day when that went in to effect and it affects so many people.

  39. That is ridiculous- anyone who does not understand the importance of the arts to society is NOT educated enough to be a political leader. I’m so sorry you’re having to deal with this, Jill…but I think with your creativity and innovative spirit, you will pull through this just fine! Hang in there and know that a random-blog-reader is lifting up prayers for you!

  40. I am so sorry to hear about your job. I Know how you feel. I took a long overdue vaca last year and my boss called to tell me he was let go due to job elimination. Last week I took a quick getaway to FL for the weekend. Came home to a text from my current boss that he was resigning. Seriously? Was it something I said? LoL Try to stay positive. Something better will come along! You have AMAZING talent! I wish that I had the first clue on how to sew let alone see the potential in something that has been discarded – another reason you will be very succesful! Good luck!

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