What does GQ suggest for the best-dressed bed linens this season? Formal flannel! Looking for the perfect gift for a special guy on your holiday gift list: our “well-suited” pillowcases in soft, garment style flannels might be just the thing. They’re a clever way to wake up the snappy dresser in your life. Follow our suggestions listed below or put together your own wardrobe.
We traditionally recommend pre-washing your fabric prior to starting any project, but when working with flannel, it is particularly important. Flannel will shrink, sometimes quite a bit. It also sheds a lot during laundering, so wash it separately. Make sure to also pre-wash the fabric you use for the tuxedo placket. And, since the completed pillowcases themselves will be laundered often, we recommend finishing all the seams with your sewing machine, or with a serger if you have one.
To get a similar fashion-forward look to your pillowcases, look for flannels with subtle patterns, such as small plaids, herringbone, windowpane, or tiny check motifs. The exact flannels we used are not all readily available, but we found three great new combinations using fabric from the Woolies Flannel collection by Maywood, the Mammoth Flannel collection by Robert Kaufman, and the Oxford Plaids collection by Timeless Treasures.
Shown left to right, pillow body, flange and cuff. Click on a swatch for more detail.
The three buttons on our trim accent are super tiny doll buttons. They really add to the “shirt front” feel of the pillowcase design, and since they are on the outer trim, they are unlikely to cause a problem with comfort. However, they are certainly optional; you could simply use the pleated panel on its own.
We love the idea of creating a set of several cases that all blend together. Wrap up a stack with a plaid flannel scarf for a cute themed gift bundle.
If you are loving these pillowcases, we have lots of other options. Pillowcases are super quick, and you can make special ones for all kinds of occasions. They always make a wonderful gift. Browse our Project Index in the Pillow Shams and Cases category for more great ideas, such as our Romantic Floral Pillowcase with Decorative Pleated Cuff, Burrito Style Pillowcase, or our Bow Tied Floral Pillowcases.
Our pillowcases finish to fit a standard sized pillow insert: approximately 20″ high x 26″ wide with a 4″ cuff.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing Machine and standard presser foot
Fabric and Other Supplies
NOTE: Amounts shown below on for ONE pillowcase.
- 1 yard of 44″+ wide flannel fabric for the pillowcase body
NOTE: Our prints ran vertically so we could get away with one yard; if your print is horizontal get a bit extra, maybe 1¼ yards, to make it all work.
- ⅓ yard of of 44″+ wide coordinating flannel fabric for the pillowcase trim
NOTE: The cut is 9″ wide so you could get away with ¼ yard, but your cuts would have to be exact; you’ll be safer at ⅓ yard
- Scrap or ⅛ yard of 44″+ wide coordinating fabric for the pillowcase flange accent
- ⅓ yard of 44″+ wide white cotton fabric for tuxedo shirt accent panel
- Three ¼” micro-mini doll buttons
- All purpose thread to match fabrics
- See-through ruler
- Iron and ironing board
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Tape measure
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Straight pins
- From the fabric for the body of the pillowcase cut TWO 21″ x 27″ pieces.
- From the fabric for the pillowcase trim cut ONE 9″ x 41″ piece.
- From the fabric for the flange accent cut TWO strips 2″ x 21″.
- From the tuxedo shirt fabric cut ONE 9″ x 16″ strip.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Create the tuxedo placket
- Find the 9″ x 16″ panel of “shirt” fabric. Place it right side down on your work surface. Orient it so it sits as 16″ wide x 9″ deep. Measure in 4″ from the right raw edge. Place a pin or make a mark with your fabric pen at this point at both the top and bottom of the panel.
- Fold the panel to the right at this point (in other words, you are folding the 12″ end over the 4″ end at the fold point. Press well.
NOTE: In the photos below, we substituted a plain white woven fabric to best show the folding.
- Measure from the fold to the right 1″. Place a pin or make a mark with your fabric pen at this point at both the top and bottom of the panel.
- Fold the strip to the left at this marked point, creating a “Z” fold. Press well.
- With the long end of the panel still extending to the left, measure from the edge of the fold you just made to the left ½”. Place a pin or make a mark with your fabric pen at this point at both the top and bottom of the panel.
- Fold the strip to the right at this marked point. You are continuing the “Z” or accordion fold. Press well.
- With the long end of the panel now extending to the right, measure from the edge of the fold you just made to the right 1″. Place a pin or make a mark with your fabric pen at this point at both the top and bottom of the panel.
- Fold the panel to the left at this marked point. Press well. You’re probably starting to see the pattern, right?
- With the long end of the panel now extending to the left, measure from the edge of the fold you just made to the left ½”. Place a pin or make a mark with your fabric pen at this point at both the top and bottom of the panel.
- Fold the strip to the right at this marked point. Press well. You should now have three little pleats, each ½”.
- Flip the half-pleated strip over, and open out the original 4″ fold so it is out of the way and you can pleat the other side.
- Lift up the inner rightmost pleat so you can see its crease line. Measure from this crease line 3″ to the left and place a pin or make a mark with your fabric pen at this point at both the top and bottom of the panel.
- Fold the strip over to the right at this marked point. Press well.
- With the long end of the strip now extending to the right, measure from the edge of the fold you just made to the right ½”. Place a pin or make a mark with your fabric pen at this point at both the top and bottom of the panel.
- Fold the strip back to the left at this marked point. Press well.
- With the long-ish (it is getting shorter!) end of the strip now extending to the left, measure from the edge of the fold you just made to the left 1″. Place a pin or make a mark with your fabric pen at this point at both the top and bottom of the panel.
- Fold the strip to the right at this marked point. Press well.
- With the end of the strip now extending to the right, measure from the edge of the fold you just made to the right ½”. Place a pin or make a mark with your fabric pen at this point at both the top and bottom of the panel.
- Fold the strip to the left at this marked point. Press well. Your pleating is all done.
- Fold the original 4″ ‘wing’ back over to the left. If you measured correctly, it should cover up all the pleats and extend beyond the edge of the final fold you made by 1″. Press in place.
- Fold in the remaining left ‘wing’. The fold should be exactly along the raw edge of what is now our 4″ wide panel. This final wing will overlap and extend about 1½” beyond center. Press well.
- Flip over the finished piece over to reveal a 2″ flat center with two ½” pleats to each side of it.
- Fold the finished placket in half and mark the position for the three optional shirt buttons as shown.
NOTE: We’re back to the real fabric in our photos now
- Hand sew the three tiny buttons in place
- Set aside the finished placket.
Attaching the flange and creating the pillowcase body
- Press the two flange strips in half lengthwise, wrong sides together. Once pressed, each strip is now 1″ wide.
- Align the raw edges of a folded flange with the raw edge of each pillowcase body piece, right sides together.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch a flange to each pillowcase body.
- Place the two pillowcase body pieces (with the flanges sewn in place) right sides together, sandwiching the flanges between the layers.
- Pin along both sides and across the bottom.
- Stitch both sides and across the bottom, using a ½” seam allowance.
- Zig zag, overcast or serge or otherwise finish the raw edges of all the seam allowances.
- 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.
- Press a wide double-fold hem along one long edge of the trim panel. To do this, turn up the edge ½” and press, then turn up another 4″ and press again.
NOTE: As an option, you can first finish the raw edge with an overcast stitch, zig zag stitch or serger. We chose not to because we had thoroughly pre-washed our flannel and, with the hem in place, felt we had secured all the raw edges.
- Unfold the pressed hem so the crease lines are visible.
- Fold the 9″ x 41″ trim piece in half, right sides together, aligning the 9″ sides, so it is now: 9″ x 20½”.
- Pin in place securely along a ½” seam allowance line.
- Test to see if this ‘trim circle’ fits the pillowcase body by slipping the trim circle over the open end of the pillowcase. The open edge of the pillowcase body and the trim circle need to be a perfect match. If the trim circle seems a bit too big or too small, adjust your seam allowance accordingly.
- Using the appropriate seam allowance you tested above, stitch along the 9″ raw edge. Press the seam allowance open.
- Turn the trim loop right side out.
- Find the pleated placket. Center it over the seam of the trim piece. Pin in place.
- Take the trim loop, with the placket pinned in place, to your sewing machine. Re-thread with white thread in the top and bobbin to best match the placket.
- Lift up the first pleat to either side of the buttons and run a seam along each side to secure the placket to the trim.
- Lay the pleats back down into place and run a line of topstitching ¼” in from each folded edge — just to either side of the buttons.
- Re-fold the ½” first fold of the bottom hem. Re-press and pin in place.
- Re-thread with thread to best match the flannel in the top and bobbin. Edgestitch this part of the hem in place. It will become the finished edge inside your pillowcase.
Finish the pillowcase
- Slip the trim circle over the open end of your pillowcase body once again, right sides together, matching the raw edge of the pillowcase opening with the raw edge of your trim piece. Pin all around.
NOTE: This is another point at which you can test your seam allowance. Place a few pins horizontally along the ½” seam line. Then, check from the right side to see if the flange reveal is exactly how you want it to be.
- Once you’ve tested and insured you have the proper seam allowance to give you the correct flange reveal, stitch all around the pillowcase opening, using a ½” seam allowance (or your adjusted seam allowance).
- Press the seam, and the flange, up towards the pillowcase trim.
- Trim back the seam allowance to ¼”. Again, as an option, you can finish this edge with an overcast stitch, zig zag stitch or serger. We chose not to.
- Re-fold the remaining 4″ of the trim’s hem along the original crease line. This will bring the folded edge of the trim around to the inside of the pillowcase. (This is shown in the photo above and in the diagrams below.)
- The folded/edgestitched hem of the trim should neatly overlap the inside pillowcase/trim seam.
- Pin in place.
NOTE: We pinned in place from the inside to insure we fully covered the the inside seam all around. Then, we turned the pillowcase right side out, re-pinned from the front, and removed the pins from the inside.
- As you look at your pillowcase from the front, you should have 4″ of trim showing from seam to folded edge.
- Topstitch ¼” from the seam, within the main body of the pillowcase, to secure the trim’s hem in place, re-threading if necessary with thread to best match the fabric.
- Press well.
If you like these pillowcases, check out a few of our other variations:
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Kathy Andrews, What Sew Ever