We searched online to see if anyone had ever done a sleep study comparing the prettiness of your pillowcases to the vividness of your dreams. Amazingly, not a one! If you decide to go ahead with this important research, we get a cut of your Genius Grant. Until then, we’re firmly convinced there is a connection, and suggest you make a new set of our romantic pillowcases for every bedroom to encourage blissful dreams all around.
This is a very fast and easy project, and a new pillowcase is a great way to freshen a set of bed linens. We originally used fabric from the Sugar Bloom collection by Verna Mosquera for FreeSpirit Fabrics. There were so many beautiful options in this collection, we had to go all out with our mixing and matching, selecting three different prints for each pillowcase. Even with such variety, they all still blend beautifully and can be used together or separately.
We found a good selection of Sugar Bloom still available at Fat Quarter Shop as well as at Fabric.com. And, each season brings a bouquet of new fabric options from which to choose. We found four pretty floral collections at Fat Quarter Shop: Anna by Studio RK for Robert Kaufman Fabrics, Antique Rose by Lecien Fabrics, Butterflies & Berries by The RBD Designers for Riley Blake Designs and Dainty Darling by The Cottage Mama for Riley Blake Designs. Click on the preceding links for the full collections or on the swatches below.
Don’t forget to prewash all your fabrics. Just because fabrics are from the same collection, they may not shrink uniformly so it’s always smart to prewash all the elements prior to starting. Then, iron the fabric before cutting to make sure all your measurements are accurately made on a flat piece.
Our design features a narrow fussy cut flange. It adds a great accent band between the pillowcase body and the pleated cuff, and it's super easy to do. We cut our own, but you could also use a Jelly Roll pre-cut to get a similar look. We show you how to mark for a perfect motif reveal.
Our pillowcases finish to fit a standard sized pillow insert: approximately 20" high x 26" wide with a 4" cuff.
If you like these pillowcases, we have lots of other options. Pillowcases are super quick, and you can make special ones for all kinds of occasions. They also make a wonderful gift. Browse our Project Index in the Pillow Shams and Cases category for more great ideas.
Sewing Tools You Need
Sewing Machine and standard presser foot
Fabric and Other Supplies
NOTE: Fabric amounts shown below are for ONE pillowcase.
- 1 - 1½ yards of 45"+ wide quilting weight cotton 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 45"+ wide coordinating quilting weight cotton fabric for the pleated pillowcase cuff
NOTE: The cut is exactly 9" deep so you could get away with ¼ yard, but your cuts would have to be super duper precise; you'll be safer with ⅓ yard
- Scrap or ¼ yard of 45"+ wide coordinating quilting weight cotton 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, 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"). We also like to take into account how best to match the design along all sides.
Option One: Using a yard, fussy cut ONE 41" wide x 27" deep rectangle. You would then fold the rectangle in half to seam one long side and the bottom end. This works best with random motifs since the direction of the cut rotates once folded. You could also get 1¼ yards and cut 27" wide x 41" deep. This would keep the motif direction intact, but leaves quite a bit of waste. However, you could use the extra fabric for cuffs and/or flanges if making multiple cases.
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 do 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 in half and seaming both long sides. This option would not work as well for a strong 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.
- From the fabric for the pillowcase cuff, cut ONE 9" high x 45" wide (WOF) piece.
NOTE: Remember to check your print direction prior to cutting if necessary.
- From the fabric for the flange accent, fussy cut ONE strip approximately 3" x 41".
NOTE: We had a very specific dot motif on the fabric we chose for the flanges on two of the cases. Because of this, we cut to the motif rather than to 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 dot sample, we made sure the tiny dots were centered between the larger dots.
- Fold the strip in half, wrong sides together, and press. Roll the fold slightly to the left or the right as necessary until the motif is even and centered as you’d like. 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, which meant our flange would be just a tiny bit narrower - not enough to cause any sleepless nights on this pillowcase!
- Write in your measurements to keep track of the folding and seaming. This is also helpful if making multiple cases to insure all the flanges look the same.
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 as it lays on the bed.
- Pin the raw-edged side(s) and across the bottom as needed. The top always 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.
- Pillowcases need to be able to stand up to frequent washing. 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 other options, take a look through our series on machine sewn finishes.
- Trim the corners.
- 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.
Attach the flange
- Find the length of flange.
- If it is not already folded from the fussy cutting steps above, fold in half now, wrong sides together, and press to set a center crease.
- 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, then test to see if this "flange circle" fits the pillowcase body by slipping the circle 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.
- With the pillowcase body still right side out, slip the flange circle over the open end of your pillowcase body, right sides together, 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 edge of your trim piece. Pin all around.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch the flange in place. Remember, if you are working with a fussy cut motif, make sure to keep your seam line extra precise and even all the way around so the final reveal is perfect.
Create and attach the cuff
- Find the 9" x 45" cuff.
- Press in half, wrong sides together, so it is now 4½" x 45”.
- As you did above with the flange circle, place 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 45" 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.
- Re-fold the cuff, wrong sides together, along the original center crease line.
- Find the center point along one side of the body. Mark this point with a pin.
- Slip the folded 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 and start pinning at this point, going around from one direction and then the other, meeting at the center pin point.
NOTE: In the photo below, we’ve pulled apart our folded cuff so you can see how we aligned the seams.
- At the center point, you should end up with about 4” of extra fabric. This extra will form into the pleat. Pinch the extra fabric up and away from the body of the case. The pinched pleat should be 2” along each side, which should allow the cuff to meet at the center pin point and lay flat against the body of the case.
- Press the pleat flat, making sure to keep it even to either side of the center pin point.
- Check the folded edge of the cuff to make sure the pleat is pretty and even all the way to the bottom.
- Pin the pleat portion in place. 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.
- As above, finish the raw edges of the seam allowance. We tried a different option on each of our four pillowcases.
- A machine overcast stitch. Press the finished seam allowance towards the body of the pillowcase.
- A serged edge. Press the finished seam allowance towards the body of the pillowcase.
- A pinked edged. Press the finished seam allowance towards the body of the pillowcase.
- And, a seam binding. Note that with the seam binding, although super pretty on the inside, it does add a wider visible seam line on the exterior of the case. And, because you are stitching from the inside of the case, it’s the bobbin thread that will show from the exterior so thread accordingly.
- For the three non-seam-binding options, topstitch ⅛" in from the seam, within the pillowcase body. This stitching secures the seam allowance in position and helps keep all the layers flat. Press well.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructions: Kathy Andrews, What Sew Ever