A new week – a new wonderful designer. Today, we’re thrilled to introduce you to Pirouette by Verna Mosquera, her ninth collection for FreeSpirit Fabrics. You may recognize Verna from her very popular quilt pattern line under the name: The Vintage Spool. Her romantic designs combine yesterday’s inspiration with today’s fabrics. During our Happy Holidays series with FreeSpirit & Rowan, our goal is to take non-traditional fabrics and show you how beautiful they can be when incorporated into holiday projects. Pirouette is a perfect example. The warm creams, rich mochas and candy pinks remind us of a cut crystal dish spilling over with Christmas confections. Today’s special pillowcase design features ruffled borders and dainty bows, suggesting the look of a dancer’s billowing skirts. What a sweet way to freshen up a guest room – just in time for your holiday visitors!

During this busy time of year, we felt it would be best to create a slate of fast and easy, “do-it-in-a-day” projects. Simple yet classic creations executed in gorgeous fabrics – perfect for holiday giving and decorating, but with a beauty that will last year ’round. In honor of our theme, we asked Verna to share with us a favorite story of a memorable handmade holiday gift.  

“It would have to be something I made and gave away to my mom when I was a child. For years I had a memory of a card I’d made for my mother when I was very young. A teacher had shown me how to fold tissue paper to create a paper rose. I made one with extra special care and thought it was so beautiful. Of course the rose was pink (hmm… signs of things to come). I stuck the folded rose on the front of a paper card, and wrote a special message to my mom. For years I remembered this wonderful card, and I held it as a very fond, early artistic memory. A few years ago, I was rummaging through one of my mom’s drawers looking at old photos. Unbeknownst to me, under a box of photographs, was my handmade card, delicately wrapped in a piece of tissue! I was completely overwhelmed. I’d thought of it so many times, but never in a million years did I actually think my mom had saved it. But here it was… over 35 years later, lovingly preserved. I was so touched it meant as much to her as it had to me. I realized in that moment, I would forever cherish every handmade item my children would bestow on me.”

Our thanks to the great folks at FreeSpirit and Rowan Fabrics for sponsoring all this holiday happiness! Each week we bring you a new collection from a different designer. During our first week, you met Melissa White of Rowan Fabrics and her new Amelie’s Attic collection.  Last week we thank Ty Pennington Impressions for allowing us to feature Ty’s new Fall 2012 Collection. This week you’re surrounded by the sweet loveliness of Verna Mosquera‘s Pirouette. And later this month, we’ll take a look at Alchemy from Amy Butler for Rowan Fabrics. 

Pirouette will begin appearing next month, December 2012, at participating online and in-store retailers.

In addition, for all of the projects in our series, Westminster helped us put together a handy Where to Buy Retailer Locator, giving you a fast and easy way to source the fabrics we are featuring from both brick and mortar stores in your area (the page is broken out by state) as well as online options. 

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

Fabric amounts shown are for ONE pillowcase, which takes three coordinated fabrics as shown in the photo above, but we have listed all the fabrics we used for our four sample cases.

  • 1¼ yard of 44-45″ wide fabric for the pillowcase body: we used four fabrics from Verna Mosquera’s Pirouette collection:
    French Damask in the Flamingo colorway
    French Damask in the Mocha colorway
    Cabbage Rose in the Opal colorway
    Cabbage Rose in the Mocha colorway
  • 1 yard of of 44-45″ wide coordinating fabric for the pillowcase ruffle: we used two fabrics from Verna Mosquera’s Pirouette collection:
    Ticking in the Mocha colorway
    Tartan in the Flamingo colorway
  • ¼ yard of 44-45″ wide coordinating fabric for the pillowcase flange and bow accent: we used Tiny Roses in the Moss colorway
  • 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
  • Hand sewing needle
  • Tape measure

Getting Started

  1. From the fabric for the body of each pillowcase, cut ONE 41″ high x 27″ wide rectangle. 
    NOTE: We chose this cutting dimension to best fit the design motifs on the Pirouette fabrics. This large piece will be folded in half to create a finished case in the standard size for a regular pillow: 20″ high x 26″ long, excluding the ruffle.  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. Check out the links at the end of this article for projects showing these other configurations.
  2. From the fabric for the pillowcase ruffle, cut TWO 15″ high x 36″ wide rectangles. 
  3. From the fabric for the flange accent and bow, cut the following:
    ONE 3″ high x 41″ wide strip
    ONE 9″ x 3″ rectangle
    ONE 1½” x 3″ strip

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Creating/attaching the flange and creating the pillowcase body

  1. Press the flange strip in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, so it is now 1½” x 41″. 
  2. Place the pillow body piece right side up and flat on your work surface. Make sure it is correctly oriented; the top 41″ edge should really be at the top.
  3. Align the raw edges of the folded flange with the top raw edge of the pillowcase body. Pin in place. 
  4. Machine baste in place, running your seam approximately ⅛” to ¼” from the raw edges.
  5. With the flange in place, fold the pillow body in half, so it is now 20½” (across the top) x 27″.
  6. Pin the remaining raw-edged side (the raw 27″ side) and across the bottom. The top remains open. 
  7. 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. 
  8. 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 pinked our edges. For more information, see our article on machine sewn finishes
  9. 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.

Create and attach the ruffle

  1. Find the two 15″ x 36″ ruffle pieces. Pin the two pieces right sides together along both 15″ sides. Stitch along both sides, using a ½” seam allowance. Press the seams open. You now have a loop measuring 70″ x 15″.  
  2. Fold the loop in half, wrong sides together, aligning the raw edges, so it is now 7½” tall.  
  3. Mark both ruffle loop side seams with a pin (so you can find them later). Run one or two lines of basting stitching along the raw edges.
  4. Gather the ruffle loop to fit the top opening of the pillowcase body (from 70″ down to approximately 40″). If you are new to gathering, check out our recently updated tutorial on How To Gather by Machine
  5. Find the pillowcase body. It should still be right side out. 
  6. Slip the gathered loop over the top of the pillowcase body. Align the side seams of the ruffle loop (easy because you marked it with pins) with the side seam and folded side of the pillowcase body. Loosen or tighten the gathers as needed to fit the ruffle loop to the pillowcase body.
  7. Matching the raw edge of the pillowcase opening with the raw edges of your ruffle loop, pin all around.
  8. Using ½” seam allowance, stitch around the entire opening through all the layers. It’s best to sew with the gathers on top.
  9. Finish the raw edges with a zig zag or overcast stitch or with a serger
  10. Fold up the ruffle into place (ie. pull it away from the pillowcase body). Press the finished seam allowance down towards the body of the pillowcase. 
  11. Topstitch ¼” in from the seam, running the topstitching along the flange. This secures the seam allowance in position and helps keep all the layers flat. Press well.

Create and attach the accent bow

  1. Find the 9″ x 3″ bow body piece. Fold it in half, right sides together, aligning the two 3″ ends. 
  2. Stitch the ends together, using a ½” seam allowance. You now have a little loop. 
  3. Press the seam open and roll it to the center of the loop. 
  4. Pin across the top and bottom of the loop, leaving an approximate 1- 1½” opening and the center bottom (center below the seam) for turning. 
  5. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch across the top and bottom, remembering to lock your seam at either side of that 1- 1½” opening for turning. 
  6. Press the seams open and clip the corners.  
  7. Turn right side out. Push out the trimmed corners from the inside to make nice, square corners. Use your finger or a blunt edge tool, like a large knitting needle or a chopstick. Press well, pressing in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam.
  8. Thread the hand sewing needle. Slip stitch the opening closed. 
  9. Set aside.
  10. Find the 1½” x 3″ strip, which will become the bow knot.
  11. Fold the strip in half, right sides together, so it is now a ¾” x 3″ strip. Pin in place.
  12. Using ¼” seam allowance, stitch together. 
  13. Turn the tiny tube right side out. Roll the seam to the center back and press the tube flat. Fold the sewn tube in half, right sides together (meaning the seam is to the outside), aligning the raw ends. Pin in place.
  14. Using ¼” seam allowance, stitch across the ends.
  15. Turn raw edges to inside of knot. It’s like a tiny ring. 
  16. Find the body of the bow. Accordion fold one end so it will fit through the tiny knot loop. Slip the body of the bow through the loop. Adjust the knot and the bow until the knot is perfectly centered and the two ends of the body form the wing shapes of a traditional bow. 
  17. Hand stitch the knot in place from the back so the loop will not slide out of position.
  18. Find the center front of the pillowcase. It should be 10″ from each side. 
  19. Place the bow on the flange and hand stitch in place. 

Hints & Tips

If you like these pillowcases, check out our other variations below. All these pillowcase tutorials are so easy, it’s quick and fun to make special pillowcases for all kinds of special occasions.


Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Debbie Guild

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