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Pillowcases with Deep Pleated Ends

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In our rush-around worlds, what is one the thing we want most? A nap! With work and home committments, sleep often falls by the wayside. Make those precious few hours of shut-eye as beautiful as possible with our lovely pleated pillowcase pair. Originally, we planned to make two identical cases, but then thought, "Why not mix it up a little?" Why not indeed - it certainly makes things more fun and lets you put your fave out in front. Arrange the cases for how you feel: an elegant damask day or a frivolous polka dot day... or both. Most days are both!

The end of each case is made like a kicky pleated skirt. It's a unique and pretty look for bed linens. Plus, the panel is short enough so all those wonderful pleats easily stay put... even through some midnight tossin' and turnin'. 

This pillowcase pair would make a great gift for anyone you know who deserves to be a beautiful dreamer. 

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

Fabric amounts shown are for TWO pillowcases as shown with the body fabric and pleated fabric flipped to create an interesting coordinated pair.

Getting Started

  1. For two pillowcases, from EACH fabric, cut the following:
    ONE 41" wide x 27" high rectangle
    THREE 42" wide x 13" high rectangles 
    NOTE: We chose this cutting dimension to best fit the design motifs on our fabrics and best use the available yardage. The main body piece will be folded in half to create a finished case, with two main seams, in the standard size for a regular pillow: 20" x 26", excluding the pleated panel. You could also cut two 21" x 27" pieces and seam around all three sides. Or, we often make a pair of cases using 1½ yards by cutting the body pieces side by side at 21" x 53" each. 
  2. Cut the rick rack into TWO 43" lengths.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Create the pleated ends

  1. Find the three 42" x 13" pieces. Place them right sides together, end to end, and pin in place to create one long strip.
  2. Stitch both seams, using a ½" seam allowance. Press the seam allowances open. You'll join the ends after pleating to create the final loop.
  3. Fold the strip in half, wrong sides together, and press so it now is 6½" wide x 124" long.
  4. Create 1" knife pleats across the entire folded strip. If you are new to pleating, take a look at our step-by-step tutorial on knife pleats.
  5. Measure and mark a vertical line every inch the entire length of the fabric.  
  6. Starting 2½" from one end, pleat the entire length. 
  7. We pinned the pleats in place at both the top and at the bottom to hold them tight. 
  8. When you get to the opposite end, leave 4½" free. 
  9. When the pleating is complete. Place the remaining raw ends right sides together and pin in place. You are carefully unfolding and placig the full 13" raw sides together.
  10. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch together. Press the seam allowance open. Re-fold in half.
  11. Pleat the remaining marks, leaving just the very last pleat un-done to allow for any final adjustments that might be needed to fit the pleated ring to the main pillowcase body. 
  12. With the pins still in place, press the pleats flat. You have one finished (folded edge) to your pleat loop andone raw edge.

Create the pillowcase body

  1. Fold the pillow body in half, so it is now 20½" x 27".
  2. Pin along the raw-edged side (the 27" side) and across the bottom. The top remains open. 
  3. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch down the side and across the bottom, pivoting at the corner. Use a generous backstitch (backtack) to lock your seam at the beginning and end. 
  4. Zig zag, overcast, pink or serge the raw edges of all the seam allowances so when the pillowcase is laundered these do not fray. We zig-zagged our edges. For more information, see our article on popular machine sewn finishes
  5. Clip the corners
  6. Turn the pillowcase right side out. Push out the trimmed corners from the inside to make nice, square corners on the outside. Use your finger or a blunt edge tool, like a large knitting needle or a chopstick. Press well. 

Add the rick rack

  1. Lay the pleated loop next to the pillowcase body and make sure they are the same width around. This is your chance to adjust a pleat or two if need be. Ours came out exactly even... yay! 
  2. Find a length of rick rack. Place it on top of the pleated panel ¼" from the raw edge.
  3. Zig zag the rick rack to the pleated section, which means you are only catching the top waves in your stitching. Leave approximately 2" of the rick rack free at the beginning and the end.
  4. Pull the ends of the rick rack away and stitch the ends, right sides together.
  5. Place the rick rack back into position against the pleated panel. You can put one or two pins in to hold this last little bit in place during the final seam. 

Attach the pleated panel to the pillowcase body

  1. Find the pillowcase body. It should be wrong side out. Find the pleated loop. It should be right side out.
  2. Slip the pleated loop into pillowcase body so the two are now right sides together. Align the raw edge of the pillowcase opening with the raw edges of your pleated loop. Pin all around.
  3. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch around the entire opening through all the layers. If your machine has a free arm, now is a good time to use it. 
  4. As above, finish raw edges of the seam allowance with a zig zag or overcast stitch or serge. 
  5. Fold the pleated panel into place (ie. pull it down and away from the pillowcase body). 
  6. Press the finished seam allowance towards the body of the pillowcase, at the same time making sure the rick rack is pressed down towards the pleats.
  7. Topstitch ¼" in from the seam, within the pillowcase body. We used our Janome Quarter Inch Seam foot to keep a nice straight line. This stitching secures the seam allowance in position and helps keep all the layers flat. Press well.
  8. Repeat to create your second pillowcase.


Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Debbie Guild


Comments (11)

Cheri Gee said:
Cheri Gee's picture

Love love love! Your choice of fabric is perfect. I'm ready for my nap. Thank for a beautiful project.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Cheri - Thank you so much! Damask and polka dots are always winners .

Lindsay K. said:
Lindsay K.'s picture

Hi, this is such a lovely project. I noticed it said to cut three 42 by 13 rectangles from each fabric. I had TONS left over.  Shouldn't it be two 42 by 13 rectangles? Thanks.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@Lindsay - Thanks! Do you mean you had tons leftover after your pleating? There are 40 pleats (20 across the front and 20 across the back). Each one uses up abouat 3": 1" to either side of the pleat and an additional 1" as it folds over. So that's 120" of the 124" (after the three 42" lengths are seamed together). The balance is taken up in bulk and the final joining, so you definitely shouldn't have tons left over. Check that you are pleating as we show in the picture. To form, working with your 1" markings, bring mark 1 and 3 together so mark 2 is at the fold - this gives you 1" to each side, then fold to one side so the fold, mark 2, aligns with mark 4. Then, what was mark 4 becomes mark 1 for the next pleat. Make sense? If not, feel free to contact us at and we'll try to help further.  

Chrystye said:
Chrystye 's picture

hello,i love your site,. Can you please translate inch into cm because I'm french. Thank you 

dustydog202 said:
dustydog202's picture

I love the ric rac.  Just taking the time to add ric rac, lace or piping adds a touch of elegance to any project.  I can't wait to make a set of these for my bed in burgundy and black.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@dustydog202 - Thanks! You're right, adding pretty trims can make a real difference.

Cathy C. said:
Cathy C.'s picture

Very cute but when you launder it do you have to iron the pleats back in?

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@Cathy - These pretty cases are meant to be special occasion cases or for the guest room not necessarily everday items that would need heavy laundering. The pleats are shorter than a traditional pleated skirt, and so are less likely to fall out in the wash. We would suggest washing in a net bag on the gentle cycle then hanging to dry prior to a light pressing. Another trick that works for all pleats is to quickly tack the pleats in place (hand baste or even machine baste) prior to laundering to keep the pleats still. Even then, the best approach is stll the gentle cycle and hanging to dry with a light pressing. Sometimes extra pretty means a bit o' extra work

joogie said:
joogie's picture


Try ironing with vinegar in your steam.  This helps to permanently set your pleats.