A set of pillowcases is a fast and easy project anyone can do. It’s the special touches that make them stand out from store bought. These pretty pillowcases feature deep ruffled borders and dainty bows, suggesting the look of a ballet dancer’s billowing skirts. What a sweet way to freshen up a guest room, bringing some beautiful color and design to the bed linens.
As always, we have step-by-step instructions below for each element on the pillowcase. If you’re new to sewing, you might also want to check out our full tutorials on Gathering by Machine and Popular Seam Finishes. The more you know about the basics, the more frustration-free your sewing will be.
If you like these pillowcases, we have lots of great variations. They’re quick and fun to make for all kinds of special occasions. We’ve listed a few favorites below; for even more, browse our Project Index.
We originally used the Pirouette collection by Verna Mosquera for FreeSpirit Fabrics, an older collection that is no longer readily available, however, the key to the romantic look is a rich mixture of color and pattern. We love the original combination of warm creams, rich mochas and candy pinks, which reminds us of a cut crystal dish spilling over with decedent confections.
To create a similar look, we found the following fabric trios at Hawthorne Supply Co. Click the illustrations below to find out more.
The pillowcases are sized to fit a standard 20″ x 26″ bed pillow. The ruffles extend approximately 7″.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing Machine and standard presser foot
Fabric and Other Supplies
NOTE: Fabric amounts shown are for ONE pillowcase, which takes three coordinated fabrics as shown in the photo above.
- 1¼ yard of 44″+ wide quilting weight cotton for the pillowcase body
- 1 yard of of 44″+ wide coordinating quilting weight cotton for the pillowcase ruffle
- ¼ yard of 44″+ wide coordinating quilting weight cotton for the pillowcase flange and bow 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
- Hand sewing needle
- Tape measure
- 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 original Pirouette fabrics. This large piece will be folded in half to create a finished case in the traditional size for a standard bed pillow: 20″ high x 26″ long, excluding the 7″ 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 above for projects showing these and other configurations.
- From the fabric for the pillowcase ruffle, cut TWO 15″ high x 36″ wide rectangles.
- 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
- Press the flange strip in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, so it is now 1½” x 41″.
- 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.
- Align the raw edges of the folded flange with the top raw edge of the pillowcase body. Pin in place.
- Machine baste the flange in place, running your seam approximately ⅛” to ¼” from the raw edges.
- With the flange in place, fold the pillow body in half, so it is now 20½” (across the top) x 27″.
- Pin along the remaining raw-edged side (the raw 27″ side) and across the bottom. The top remains open.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch down the side and across the bottom, pivoting at the corner. Use a generous backstitch (back tack) 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 edges are less likely to fray. We pinked our edges. For more information, see our series 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 well.
Create and attach the ruffle
- 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″.
- Fold the loop in half, wrong sides together, aligning the raw edges, so it is now 7½” tall.
- Mark both ruffle loop side seams with a pin (so you can find them later). Run one or two lines of gathering stitches along the raw edges. Remember, do not lock the start of the finish of your gathering stitches.
- 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 on How To Gather by Machine.
- Find the pillowcase body. It should still be right side out.
- Slip the gathered loop over the top of the pillowcase body. Align the side seams of the ruffle loop (easy because you marked them 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. The ruffles should be adjusted so they are even all around.
- Matching the raw edge of the pillowcase opening with the raw edges of your ruffle loop, pin all around.
- Using ½” seam allowance, stitch around the entire opening through all the layers. It’s best to sew with the gathers on top.
- Finish the raw edges with a zig zag or overcast stitch or with a serger. We used a zig zag.
- 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. The flange should also be pressed down towards the body of the pillowcase.
- 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
- Find the 9″ x 3″ bow body piece. Fold it in half, right sides together, aligning the two 3″ ends.
- Stitch the ends together, using a ½” seam allowance. You now have a little loop.
- Press the seam allowance open and roll it to the center of the loop.
- Pin across the top and bottom of the loop, leaving an approximate 1- 1½” opening at the center bottom (center below the seam) for turning.
- 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.
- Press the seam allowances open and clip the corners.
- Turn right side out. Push out the trimmed corners from the inside to make nice, square corners. As above, you can use your finger or a blunt tool, like a large knitting needle, chopstick or point turner. Press well, pressing in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam.
- Thread the hand sewing needle. Slip stitch the opening closed.
- Set aside.
- Find the 1½” x 3″ strip, which will become the bow knot.
- Fold the strip in half, right sides together, so it is now a ¾” x 3″ strip. Pin in place.
- Using ¼” seam allowance, stitch together.
- 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.
- Using ¼” seam allowance, stitch across the ends.
- Turn the loop so the raw edges are now on the inside. It’s like a tiny ring.
- 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.
- Hand stitch the knot in place on the back so the loop will not slide out of position.
- Find the center front of the pillowcase. It should be 10″ from each side.
- Place the bow on the flange and hand stitch in place.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Debbie Guild