This pretty project originally ran during the lazy days of summer, the traditional season for seersucker. But we think the fabric's crisp, clean look is a perfect choice to freshen your bed linens for the New Year! Seersucker accents turn a plain purchased sheet set into a designer combo, and you can easily complete this project in an afternoon. For our sample, we upscaled one queen sheet set. We found our 325 thread count, 100% Organic Cotton set at Target for just $37. It looked like a $130 set from Pottery Barn when we got done with it! You can buy new as we did, or upscale an existing sheet set to give it new life... the top sheet bands and pillowcase cuffs are usually the first to fray or to look dingy. Cut them away and add something fresh and pretty.
NOTE: When ironing seersucker, you want to press down, but don't rub the iron back and forth too much. You don't want to iron out the puckers - just the wrinkles and fold lines.
If you like this sheet set, you might also want to check out the matching pillow shams.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Any Sewing Machine (we recommend the Janome HD3000)
Fabric and Other Supplies
Fabric and supplies listed are for one queen sheet set.
- 1 yard of 58" wide seersucker; we used Kaufman's Classic Seersucker Stripe – a real woven, heirloom quality seersucker from Fabric.com in Navy & White
- 1 queen flat sheet and two standard pillowcases; we used white, which is really the best color to go with seersucker
- 5 yards of 1" - 1½" wide rick rack; we used a bulk 1" rick rack we had on hand, however, you can use Riley Blake's 1½" Jumbo Ric Rac in white from Fabric.com
- All purpose thread to match fabrics
- Slightly contrasting thread to wind one bobbin; we used ivory
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Iron and ironing board
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Straight pins
- From the seersucker, cut FOUR 9" strips across the width of the fabric (WOF). In other words, FOUR 9" x 58" strips. This will use up the full yard of fabric (9" x 4 = 36").
- Trim off the fabric selvedges if necessary.
- Measure the pillowcase's existing cuff. Make sure you measure all the way around the opening. If it is a standard pillowcase, it should be about 40". Add 1" to this measurement to account for the seam allowance. Cut two of the seersucker WOF strips down to 41".
- Measure the top band of the existing flat sheet. If it is a standard queen top sheet, it should be about 94". This means it will take TWO strips to get enough length, however, you don't want the seam to be in the center of the sheet; it won't look pretty! Instead, find the two remaining WOF strips. Leave one strip full (ours was 57" after the selvedges were trimmed). Cut the other strip in half.
- Cut the rick rack into two 42" lengths (confirm and match your own pillow measurement) and one 95" length (confirm and match your own sheet measurement).
- Remove the existing pillowcase cuffs and the existing top band on the sheet. You can do this one of two ways: 1) pick out the stitches with a seam ripper or 2) cut off the cuff/band right below the seam. Either method is totally fine, just remember that cutting off the cuff/band will make your finished sheet and your finished pillowcases just a little bit shorter than they were. We chose to pick out the stitches with a seam ripper.
- Once the cuffs and band are removed, press the pillowcases and sheet.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
- If you picked out the stitches of the cuffs, it is likely the side seam of the pillowcase opened up a little. This is okay. In fact, it makes it easier to attach the rick rack. So, if you decide to cut off the cuffs, consider using your seam ripper to open up the side seam about 2".
- Place a length of rick rack along the raw edge on the right side of one pillowcase. Start and end at the pillowcase's existing side seam.
NOTE: We like to start with a slightly longer piece of rick rack, lightly pinning it to start. This way, we can slide the rick rack one way or the other in order to get the rick rack "waves" to match up nicely at the seam. Once you've made any adjustments, simply trim off the excess so the ends are flush with the pillowcase, then add more pins to secure the rick rack in place.
- Our rick rack was 1" wide, which meant we placed it on the fabric with the "crest of the waves" flush with the raw edge of the fabric. Our ½" seam allowance then went down the exact center of the rick rack. If your rick rack is a different size, adjust it accordingly in order to insure an even reveal from the ½" seam line.
- Machine baste the rick rack in place.
NOTE: We used a slightly different color thread (an ivory) in the bobbin. Later, this will allow us to better see this original seam line and re-stitch along it with our cuff seam.
- Close the pillowcase side seams, catching the ends of the rick rack in the seam.
- Repeat to attach the second length of rick rack to the second pillowcase.
- Find the two 9" x 41" seersucker strips.
- Lightly press each strip in half (4½" x 41") wrong sides together to create a center crease.
- Unfold one strip. Place the 9" ends right sides together. Pin in place.
- Stitch together with a ½" seam allowance to create a loop. Press the seam allowance flat and open.
- Refold the loop wrong sides together, using the center crease as a guide, to create the pillowcase cuff.
- Repeat to create the second cuff.
- With the pillowcase right side out (so you can see the rick rack), slip one cuff over the open end of the pillowcase. The two pieces are right sides together. Align the raw edges and match up the side seams. Pin all around.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch all around through all the layers. We placed the pillowcase under the needle so the inside was facing up and we could see our original line of rick rack basting. We ran our new seam right on top of this previous line of stitching. Because we used a slightly different color for the bobbin thread (remember... it was the ivory we used above), it was very easy to follow the seam.
- Finish the raw edges of the seam allowance with your serger, a narrow zig zag stitch or with seam binding. We used a serger.
- Fold the cuff up into position. Press the rick rack towards the cuff and the seam allowances toward the body of the pillowcase.
- Repeat to finish the second pillowcase.
Top sheet band
- Find the raw-edged top sheet. Make sure the sheet's existing side hems are in place all the way up to the top raw edge. Refold them into position near the top if need be and pin in place. If they have come undone more than about ½" from the top raw edge, re-stitch the hem in place.
- Find the 95" length of rick rack. Place it along the top raw edge of the sheet. The positioning and stitching of the rick rack should be the same as on the pillowcases. Also as above, stitching the rick rack in place with a slightly different colored thread in the bobbin will make the final band attachment easier.
- The only difference in the rick rack application is to fold back each end of the rick rack ½". This folded end should be flush with the side hem of the sheet.
- Find the three remaining seersucker strip pieces: the one full width strip and the two half-width strips.
- Pin one half strip to each end of the full strip. You have extra length to play with, so carefully match the stripes of the seersucker without worrying about the seam allowance being too wide. Match the stripes, pin in place, then trim back the seam allowance if necessary.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch both 9" seams. You should now have one super long strip, 9" x approximately 113". Press the seam allowances open.
- Fold the entire strip in half, wrong sides together (so it is now 4½" x apx. 113"). Lightly press.
- Fold this band in half to find the exact center. To mark, make a small snip at the center point on the raw-edged side of the band (do not cut the folded side!).
- Find the exact center of top sheet, make a small snip at this point to mark it.
- Place the the folded band along the top edge of right side of the sheet. Align the center marks of the two pieces and pin together, then continue pinning from the center out to either side.
- You will have excess fabric beyond the sheet. Measure ½" from each hemmed edge of the sheet, and trim away the excess band.
- It might help to draw at a couple points at this ½" measurement then draw a cut line to follow.
- Unpin the band from the sheet about 8" on either side.
- Turn one end of the band inside out so the raw edges of the band are now right sides together. Pin in place.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch this short seam.
- Trim the seam allowance back to approximately ¼"
- Turn the band right side out again. Its finished seamed end should now be flush with the hemmed edge of the sheet. Re-pin the band to the top of the sheet.
- Repeat to finish the opposite end of the band.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch through all the layers. As above, stitch with the "wrong" side facing up, so you can see the original basting line of the rick rack. Your new seam should follow this previous line of stitching exactly.
- Also as above, finish the seam allowance with a serger, a narrow zig zag or seam binding.
- Bring the band up into position. Press the rick rack toward the band and the finished seam allowance down toward the body of the sheet.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Kathy Andrews, What Sew Ever