08 Feb 2014
February 8, 2014

Pillowcase Fun


Pillowcases are possibly the most fun you can have with a yard of fabric. They make wonderful gifts; after all, everyone has a pillow, right?


While a yard of 45″-wide quilting cotton is just the right size for making a standard pillowcase, there’s so much more fun to be had by embellishing the pillowcase with a bit of patchwork or appliqué. As part of their 1 Million Pillowcase Challenge , the inventive minds at American Patchwork & Quilting offer lots of free patterns to spark your creativity.


Fabric: Jane Sassman Wild Child

Fabric: Jane Sassman Wild Child

The main body of a pillowcase is big enough to feature even large-scale prints, like this stunner from Jane Sassaman’s Wild Child collection. The pillowcase pattern is APQ’s Chevron Band. Because the large-scale print is directional, I started with 1 1/4 yards and cut the body rectangle with its longest dimension on the lengthwise grain. If you’re making a pair of pillowcases, you may want to plan the fabric placement to create left- and right-handed versions of the pillowcase pattern.


Fabric: Kathy Davis Paw Prints

Fabric: Kathy Davis Paw Prints

It’s a good idea to consider the directionality of prints in the patchwork band, too. While using the Paw Prints collection from Kathy Davis . I fussy cut the large triangles to feature a design element or keep the wording upright. A little extra thought while sewing positioned the fish to swim in rows across the Flying Geese Band .

Fabric: Nel Whatmore, Memory Lane

Fabric: Nel Whatmore, Memory Lane

A fabric printed with an uneven stripe – especially one with a floral pattern and lots of color variation – can be used to great advantage in a simple quarter-square-triangle block. This stripe was designed Nel Whatmore Memory Lane.  Strategic cutting positions the colors to create Uneven Hourglass blocks from a single fabric.

tanya whelan

Fabric: Tanya Whelen Rosey Collection

Sometimes a fabric print suggests which pillowcase pattern to use. For Tanya Whelan’s Rosey collection , I chose a pattern with an appliquéd band that echoes the leaves and stems of a rosebush. I used a variegated Machine Embroidery thread for the appliqué stitches to complement all the colors in the fabrics.


Fabric: Denyse Schmidt Ansonia

Fabric: Denyse Schmidt Ansonia

Fabric collections often include a print in several different color ways. Piecing this Friendship Star Block Band  from the same print in two colors fits right into the “Low Volume” trend in modern quilting, relying on the variation in color rather than a value contrast (light vs. dark) to define the stars. The fabrics are from Ansonia by Denyse Schmidt .


Fabric: Joel Dewberry Botanique

Fabric: Joel Dewberry Botanique

If you want to include a lot of fabrics in your pillowcase, a pattern like APQ’s Quilt-As-You-Go Band  is ideal. This version features fabrics from Joel Dewberry’s Botanique .

erin Mcmorris

Fabric: Erin McMorris Forest Hill

Of course, a simple patchwork band can look fabulous, too. The alternating squares of APQ’s Checkerboard Band pillowcase  make a good counterpoint to the chevron fabric from Erin McMorris’ Forest Hill .


Next time you fall in love with a beautiful fabric, why not pick up a yard or two and stitch some pillowcases? Sweet dreams!


Making a Million

pillowcase boxPillowcases are fun to make, whatever the reason. American Patchwork & Quilting has organized the 1 Million Pillowcase Challenge to spread the cheer by encouraging stitchers to make and donate pillowcases locally, wherever that may be.

Last fall, a group of creative friends celebrated their twentieth anniversary of sewing and fun on the Oregon Coast by setting themselves a challenge: could each seamstress stitch twenty pillowcases to donate to a nearby shelter?

If you’re stitching alone, twenty pillowcases seems, well, a pile of work. But the friends set up an assembly line, provided refreshments, and laughed their way through a morning of fabric fun. The result was a stack of 307 pillowcases in all the colors of the rainbow, which went on to brighten the lives of the shelter’s clients and contributed to American Patchwork & Quilting’s ultimate goal of 1,000,000 pillowcases.


About the Author

Lynn is Director of Consumer Services with Coats & Clark.

2 Responses to Pillowcase Fun
  1. Wow! These are so beautiful!! How creative. I love the variations and color themes.

  2. I made two pillow cases for all the holidays and gave them as gifts. They are a lot of fun, and look
    lovely on the bed.


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