Pillowcases are the #1 project for beginning sewers. We’ve designed a coordinated set of shams and cases, both of which are sized to fit standard bed pillows (20” x 26”). This article includes the steps for the pillowcases with their bold floral fabric, and featuring pretty bow closures and peek-a-boo facings in gingham to match the shams.
New pillowcases are a wonderful way to quickly freshen bed linens, and a bundle of cases (especially with this set’s matching shams) makes a great gift idea. Create a Soft Slumbers gift basket by adding in one of our Soothing Eye Pillows and a couple of sweet scented candles.With slip-on cases, the traditional sizing extends 4-5” beyond the pillow itself, but with these bowtie cases, the ends are designed to close right along the edge of the bed pillow for a smooth, snug fit.
We used the same gingham fabric featured on the coordinating shams for the ties as well as for the wide facing. The ends of the case are visible between the bows, so this construction technique creates a beautiful finish and the happy gingham fabric peeks out for an extra pop of color.
The pillowcases are completed with French Seams along both sides, adding a lovely look to the inside and strengthening the seam – important for bed linens that need to stand up to lots of laundering.
Our cases finish to fit a standard sized pillow insert (20” x 26”). It’s easy to re-size for your pillow form because only the length changes, the finished height of 20” remains consistent. Queen pillows are traditionally 20” x 30”; increase the main panel cut to 21” x 61. King pillows are normally 20" x 36”; increase the main panel cut to 21” x 73”.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing machine and standard presser foot
Fabric and Other Supplies
NOTE: Fabric amounts and cuts shown below are for TWO standard pillowcases.
- 1¾ yards of 44"+ wide quilting weight cotton fabric for the pillowcase body; we used Bouquet in Pink from the Julia’s Garden collection by Northcott Fabrics
- ⅝ yard of 44"+ wide quilting weight cotton fabric for the pillowcase facing and ties; we used Gingham in Turquoise from the Julia’s Garden collection by Northcott Fabrics
- 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 the pillowcase, cut TWO 21” wide x 53” high rectangles.
NOTE: With 44”+ wide fabric, this means you can cut the rectangles side by side across the WOF (width of fabric), but if working with a large and/or directional motif, take the time to fussy cut the two panels to match so they look good sitting side by side on a bed.
- From the fabric for the pillowcase facing and ties, cut the following:
FOUR 21” wide x 6” high rectangles for the facings
EIGHT 13” x 2” strips for the ties
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Create the ties
- Find the 2” strips for the ties.
- Fold each in half, right sides together, and pin together across one end and down the side,
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch across one end and down the side, pivoting at the corner,
- Turn each tie right side out through the open end. We used a chopstick to help with the turn. If you struggle with turning, check out our tutorial on Turning and Pressing Skinny Straps & Ties.
- Press each of the ties flat.
Create the facings
- Find the four 21” x 6” panels, two for each pillowcase. Along one 21” edge of each, create a ½” double-turn hem. To do this, turn under the raw edge ½” and press well. Turn under another ½” and press well again.
- Stitch in place along the inner fold.
Place the facings and ties
- Find the two main panels. Place one panel right side up and flat on your work surface.
- Pin two ties in place along each 21” end. The outer edge of each tie should sit 5¾” in from the raw side edge of the panel. Pin or machine baste each tie in place.
- Find two of the facing panels. Align the 21” raw edge of the each facing panel with each 21” raw edge of the main panel, sandwiching the ties between the layers. Pin in place.
- Using a ½” seam allowance stitch across each 21” edge through all the layers, securing the ties.
- Grade the seam allowance back to approximately ¼”.
- Fold each facing to the wrong side of the panel so the facings and the panel are wrong sides together. Pull the ties out into position. The seam should be nice and straight along the edge. Press well.
Final seams to finish
- The pillowcase is finished with a French Seam. To do this, fold the case in half WRONG sides together (yes… right sides out). Pin along both sides. Make sure the two sets of ties align.
- Make sure the facings match up perfectly as well.
- Using a ¼" seam allowance, stitch along both sides.
- Turn the pillowcase wrong side out (so it is now right sides together) through the open top. Push out the corners so they are square and press the case flat once again. Pin lightly.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch again along the sides.
- This new seam encases the seam allowance of the first, narrower seam, forming a clean finish. Remember, when you stitch across the facing, it will be right side up.
NOTE: For more about the French Seam and other machine sewn finishes, check out our four-part series.
- Turn the pillowcase right side out again and press. Your case is complete with finished seams all around.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructions: Leah Wand