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Ernest Hemingway once said, “I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?” Oh we know, Mr. Hemingway; we know! These pretty pillowcases are sure to invite the benefits of sleep to one and all. We originally used the adorable children’s collection, Riddles & Rhymes by Tina Givens for FreeSpirit Fabrics, which makes our pillow pair perfect to encourage sweet dreams for the little ones. But the design itself, with its pretty ruffled ends and decorative ribbons, would be gorgeous for a power-napper of any age.

As a Janome project, we brought out three great presser feet to make this easy project even easier. The main helper is the Janome Ribbon & Sequin foot. Insert thin ribbon or strung sequins through the guide on the foot, and they will feed through evenly as you sew. Besides affixing the ribbon, a wide ladder stitch can be used with narrow ribbon to make an easy and functional drawstring.

We also used a Janome Overedge foot to quickly finish some our seam allowances, and the precision of the Janome Quarter Inch Seam foot for the final topstitching.

For more about presser feet, check out our article on Using The Right Presser Foot for the Job.

If you like these pillowcases, we have lots of great variations. Check out our entire category. Pillowcases are so easy; it’s quick and fun to make special ones for all kinds of special occasions.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

NOTE: Fabric amounts shown are for ONE pillowcase.

  • 1- 1⅓ yards of 44″+ wide fabric for the pillowcase body
    NOTE: The amount needed is shown as a range because the minimum you need is one yard, but if you have a strong directional motif, you’ll want to add ¼ to ⅓ yard extra to allow for a good fussy cut. For example, on our samples, we used just 1 yard of the Sky Sail and 1⅓ yards of the Story Time.
  • 1 yard of a 44″+ wide coordinating fabric for the pillowcase ruffle
  • TWO yards of ¼” – ⅜” wide grosgrain ribbon
    NOTE: If you want to add ribbon to both sides of the pillowcase, get double the amount or 4 yards per case.
  • All purpose thread to match fabrics
  • Contrasting thread for the decorative stitching on the ribbon
  • 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

Getting Started

  1. From the fabric for the body of each pillowcase (Story Time and Sky Sale in our samples), fussy cut ONE 41″ high x 27″ wide rectangle.

    NOTE: We chose this cutting dimension to best fit the design motifs on the Riddles & Rhymes fabrics – when placed on a bed, the fabric’s main design will run horizontally along the 27″ width. 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. This is the best option for a very strong directional print, like the Story Time elephants, and is the method we chose to cut this case. Or, you could 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 vertically and seaming both sides. This option would not work well for a horizontal motif. 
  2. From the fabric for the pillowcase trim (Giraffe Fun in our samples), cut TWO 15″ high x 36″ wide rectangles.
    NOTE: Again, check your print direction if necessary. We made sure our cute giraffes weren’t upside down.
  3. Cut the ribbon into TWO 36″ lengths.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Creating the pillowcase body

  1. Fold the pillow body in half, so it is now 20½” high x 27″ wide (when viewed horizontally as it will lay on the bed).
  2. Pin the remaining raw-edged side (the remaining 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 pinked our edges. For more information, see our series on machine sewn finishes.

Create the ruffle with its ribbons

  1. Find one the two 15″ x 36″ ruffle pieces. Press it in half wrong sides together aligning the raw edges, which makes it now 7½” x 36″.
  2. With your clear ruler and a marking pencil, measure 1″  up from the folded edge and draw a horizontal line the entire width of the panel.
  3. Measure 2″ up from the folded edge and draw a second parallel horizontal line. These are the placement guides for the ribbon.
  4. Open up the ruffle piece with the lines on it and take it to your sewing machine.
  5. If possible, attach a Ribbon & Sequin presser foot. This foot allows you to accurately attach the ribbon along your guideline with a pretty decorative stitch without pinning.
  6. If you don’t have one of these cool feet, you can use a standard Satin Stitch foot or Zig Zag foot, but you will need to securely pin the ribbon in place or use a fusible seam tape or similar to hold the ribbon straight.
  7. Choose your decorative stitch and re-thread the machine with a contrasting thread in the top and bobbin. We used a yellow on one case and a brown on the other to contrast against our light green ribbon.
  8. Using our Ribbon & Sequin foot, we simply fed the ribbon through the foot’s slot from front to back. We then placed the single layer of ruffle fabric right side up under the presser foot, aligning the left edge of the ribbon with the drawn guide line. You gently guide the fabric and the foot feeds the ribbon.
  9. Repeat to add the second length of ribbon.
  10. If you want ribbon accents on both sides of your pillowcase, simply repeat all the steps with the remaining ruffle panel.
  11. With the ribbons stitched in place, find both 15″ x 36″ ruffle pieces. They should both be opened flat to their full 15″ height.
  12. Pin the two pieces right sides together along both 15″ sides.
  13. Stitch along both sides, using a ½” seam allowance. Press the seams open. You now have a loop measuring 70″ x 15″.
  14. Fold the loop in half, wrong sides together, aligning the raw edges, so it is now 7½” tall – as you did above to mark the ribbon lines.

Ruffle the loop and attach the loop to the body

  1. Mark both ruffle loop side seams with a pin (so you can find them later).
  2. Run one or two lines of basting stitching along the raw edges.
  3. Fold the loop in the opposite direction, aligning the side seams and place a pin at each outer fold – these are the ruffle’s front and back center points.
  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 tutorial, How To Gather by Machine.
  5. Mark the center and sides of the pillow case body to give yourself matching points to the ruffle loop.  With the seam on one side and the fold on the opposite side, place a pin in the fold to mark that side. Then match up the side pin and the seam and place a pin at each outer fold. You now have two side points and two center points, just like on the ruffle loop.
  6. With the pillowcase body right side out, slip the gathered loop over the top of the pillowcase body. Align the side pin points and the center pin points of both pieces. 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 a ½” seam allowance, stitch around the entire opening through all the layers. It’s best to sew with the gathers on top to make sure they don’t bunch.
  9. Go back around to finish the raw edges with a zig zag stitch, an overcast stitch or with a serger. We used our Janome Overedge foot.
  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” from the seam, running the topstitching along the body side not the ruffle side. We used out Janome Quarter Inch Seam foot. This secures the seam allowance in position and helps keep all the layers flat. Press well.


Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Debbie Guild

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