Home > Bed + Bath > Pillowcases + Sheets > Playful Pillowcases
Everyone loves a fast and easy project, and these pretty pillowcases fit the bill! A new pillowcase is a great way to freshen a set of bed linens. Kids are especially happy to rest their sleepy heads on pillows covered in fun fabric. We originally used the Playful collection by Melody Miller for Cotton + Steel Fabrics, which has a sweetly nostalgic theme. How many of you out there still remember how to play pick-up-sticks or jacks? These classic games require absolutely no button pushing or candy crushing. Just good, clean fun – kind of like making a set of pillowcases.
Although the Playful collection is no longer in print, there are always lots of new prints from which to choose. Let your pillowcase recipient pick a favorite cartoon character, sports team or hobby. Maybe he/she loves animals, flowers or spaceships.
Today’s quality cottons come in a such a great variety of styles, there truly is something for everyone. With its horizontal format, the large body of the pillowcase is like a mini-billboard. It’s a great way to feature big, bold designs, which can be hard to work with in other project situations.
Our design also features a fussy cut flange. It adds a pretty accent band between the pillowcase body and cuff, and is super easy to do. We cut our own strips, but you could also use a Jelly Roll pre-cut to get a similar look.
Our pillowcases finish to fit a standard sized pillow insert: approximately 20″ high x 26″ wide with a 4½” cuff.
If you like these pillowcases, we have lots of great variations. Pillowcases are so easy; it’s quick and fun to make special ones for all kinds of special occasions. Browse our Bed Linens category for more great ideas.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing Machine and standard presser foot
- Quarter Inch Seam foot; optional)
Fabric and Other Supplies
Fabric amounts shown are for ONE pillowcase.
- 1 – 1½ yards of 44-45″ wide fabric for the pillowcase body
NOTE: See the cutting options listed below in the Getting Started section to best determine yardage.
- ⅓ yard of of 44-45″ wide coordinating fabric for the pillowcase trim
NOTE: The cut is exactly 9″ wide so you could get away with ¼ yard, but your cuts would have to be super precise; you’ll be safer with ⅓ yard
- Scrap or ¼ yard of 44-45″ wide coordinating fabric for the pillowcase flange accent
- All purpose thread to match fabrics
- See-through ruler
- Iron and ironing board
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Straight pins
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Tape measure
- From the fabric for the body of each pillowcase (Viewfinders and Backgammonish in our samples), you have THREE options for cutting. When placed on a bed, the fabric’s main design will run horizontally along the 27″ width. To create a finished case in the standard size for a regular pillow (20″ high x 26″ long), choose your favorite method based on the direction of your fabric’s motif and how many cases you are making (remember, we are talking about the BODY of the case; the decorative cuffs extend beyond the pillow by about 4″ – 4½”). We also like to take into account how best to match the design along all sides. For our sample, we fussy cut the Viewfinders as ONE 41″ high x 27″ wide rectangle, and the Backgammonish as TWO 21″ high x 27″ wide rectangles.
Option One: fussy cut ONE 41″ x 27″ rectangle. If your motif is more vertical, you will need 1¼ yards; if horizontal, you can use 1 yard. You would fold the rectangle horizontally and seam one long side and the bottom end.
Option Two: fussy cut TWO 21″ x 27″ rectangles. With this option, you need just 1 yard for either a horizontal or vertical print, but you then need to seam both long sides and the bottom end.
Option Three: you can make a matching pair of cases from the same fabric, using 1½ yards and cutting the body pieces side by side at 21″ x 53″ each, folding, and seaming both long sides. This option would not work well for a horizontal motif. Also, it is a very tight cut. If you are worried about your accuracy in cutting or if the fabric is likely to shrink when pre-washing, get 1⅝ yards. If you choose this option, you will also need to double the fabric requirements for the cuff and flange.
- From the fabric for the pillowcase cuff (Jacks and Bowling Alley in our sample), cut ONE 9″ high x 41″ wide piece.
NOTE: Remember to check your print direction prior to cutting if necessary.
- From the fabric for the flange accent (Word Find on both pillows in our sample set), fussy cut ONE strip approximately 3″ x 41″.
NOTE: We had a very specific lettering motif on the fabric we chose for our flanges. Because of this, we cut to the motif rather than the exact size. If your motif is more random, simply stay with the recommended 3″. To fussy cut, follow the next steps.
- Printed motifs are rarely perfectly straight. To accommodate this, start by cutting a width of fabric (WOF) strip at about 3½”, following the pattern as best you can. In our sample, we made sure the blank space between two lines of letters was at the center of our strip.
- Fold the strip in half, wrong sides together, and press. Roll the fold slightly to the left and/or the right as necessary until one line of type is clear and even along the folded edge. Press flat.
- Measuring from the folded edge, use a clear ruler and rotary cutter to create a clean, even line along the raw edges. You want your measurement (from the fold) to be as close as possible to 1½”. For our fussy cut, we ended up just a bit smaller than this.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Create the pillowcase body
- Depending on whether you have one piece or two, either fold the pillow body in half, right sides together, or place the two individual pieces right sides together. The finished shape should be as it will finish when viewed horizontally on a bed.
- Pin the raw-edged side(s) and across the bottom as needed. The top remains open.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch the side(s) and across the bottom, pivoting at the corner(s). Use a generous backstitch to lock your seam at the beginning and end.
- 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 serged our edges. For more information on alternatives, see our article on machine sewn finishes.
- 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, chopstick or point turner. Press flat.
Create and attach the flange
- Find the length of flange.
- Unfold it so the center crease line is visible.
- Align the ends, right sides together, to create a loop. Pin the ends in place securely at a ½” seam allowance, and test to see if this “flange circle” fits the pillowcase body by slipping it over the open end of the pillowcase. The open edge of the pillowcase body and the flange circle need to be a perfect match. If the flange circle seems a bit too big or too small, adjust your seam allowance accordingly.
- Once confirmed, stitch the ends together. Press the seam allowance open and flat.
- Re-fold the flange wrong sides together and re-press so it is nice and flat.
- With the pillowcase body still right side out, slip the flange circle back over the open end of your pillowcase body, matching raw edges and aligning the flange’s seam with one of the pillowcase body’s side seams. You are matching the raw edge of the pillowcase opening with the raw edges of the flange. Pin all around.
- Using a ¼” seam allowance, machine baste the flange in place.
Create and attach the cuff
- Find the 9″ x 41″ cuff.
- Press in half, wrong sides together, so it is now 4½” x 41″.
- As you did above with the flange circle, pin the ends together to form a loop, pinning securely at the ½” seam allowance line. Then test to see if this loop fits around the pillowcase body and lays flat. Make a note of any adjustments needed (if any) to the standard ½” seam allowance.
- Unpin and unfold the cuff so you once again have a 9″ x 41″ length. Place the 9″ ends right sides together. Pin in place.
- Sew together, using a ½” seam allowance – or adjusting the seam allowance smaller or larger based on your test above.
- Press the seam allowance open. Fold up ½” along one raw edge of the loop.
- Slip the cuff circle back over the open end of your pillowcase body, right sides together, sandwiching the flange between the layers and matching the raw edges. Align the cuff’s seam with one of the pillowcase body’s side seams. Pin all around.
- Stitch all around the pillowcase opening, using a ½” seam allowance.
- Press the seam up towards the pillowcase cuff. Re-fold the cuff along the original center crease line. This will bring the folded edge of the cuff around to the inside of the pillowcase. The folded hem of the cuff should neatly overlap the inside pillowcase/cuff seam. Adjust the fold as necessary to insure a clean overlap of the seam allowance all around.
- Pin in place. We pinned first from the inside to insure a good overlap of the seam allowance. Then we checked from the right side to make sure everything was straight and the flange was evenly exposed, and finally, we carefully moved the pins from back to front. The photo below shows a view from both sides.
- Topstitch ¼” in from the seam – on the right side, to secure the cuff’s hem in place. Press well.
- Below is a close-up view of the finished cuff from the front and from the inside.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructions: Kathy Andrews, What Sew Ever
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