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Mother's Day with Pleated Pillowcases

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What does every mother want for Mother's Day? A nap. In the rush-around-worlds of most moms, sleep often falls by the wayside. Make those precious few hours of shut-eye as beautiful as possible with our amazing pleated pillowcase pair, the second great idea in our Mother's Day week with Originally, we planned to make two identical cases, but then Alicia said, "Why not mix it up a little?" Why not indeed - it certainly makes things more fun and lets Mom put her fave out in front, depending on how she feels: an elegant damask day or a frivolous polka dot day... or both. Most days are both!

The end of each case is made like a kicky pleated skirt. It's a unique and pretty look for bed linens. Plus, the panel is short enough so all those wonderful pleats easily stay put... even through some midnight tossin' and turnin'. 

Our thanks to for sponsoring our Mother's Day projects and providing all the wonderful fabric. For today's project, we used two fabrics from Riley Blake Designs and added their matching rick rack. Remember, US shipping is always free for orders of $35 or more, and always adds an extra inch to their cuts to insure they are accurate and you are never short.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

Fabric amounts shown are for TWO pillowcases as shown with the body fabric and pleated fabric flipped to create an interesting coordinated pair.

NOTE: Inventory shifts constantly, and some prints may not be in-stock when you first visit. However, there are other color options as well as re-stock dates listed for each fabric.

Getting Started

  1. For two pillowcases, from EACH fabric, cut the following:
    ONE 41" wide x 27" high rectangle
    THREE 42" wide x 13" high rectangles 
    NOTE: We chose this cutting dimension to best fit the design motifs on our fabrics and best use the available yardage. The main body piece will be folded in half to create a finished case in the standard size for a regular pillow: 20" high x 26" long, excluding the pleated panel. 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 at the end of this article for projects showing these other configurations.
  2. Cut the rick rack into TWO 43" lengths.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Create the pleated ends

  1. Find the three 42" x 13" pieces. Place them right sides together, end to end, and pin in place to create one long strip.
  2. Stitch both seams, using a ½" seam allowance. Press the seam allowances open. You'll join the ends after pleating to create the final loop.
  3. Fold the strip in half, wrong sides together, and press so it now is 6½" wide x 124" long.
  4. Create 1" knife pleats across the folded strip. If you are new to pleating, take a look at our step-by-step tutorial on knife pleats.
  5. Measure and mark a vertical line every inch the entire length of the fabric.  
  6. Starting 2½" from one end, pleat the entire length. 
  7. We pinned the pleats in place at both the top and at the bottom to hold them tight. 
  8. When you get to the opposite end, leave 4½" free. 
  9. When the pleating is complete. Place the remaining raw ends right sides together and pin in place.
  10. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch together. Press the seam allowance open.
  11. Pleat the remaining marks, leaving just the very last pleat un-done to allow for any final adjustments that might be needed to fit the pleated ring to the main pillowcase body. 
  12. With the pins still in place, press the pleats flat.

Create the pillowcase body

  1. Fold the pillow body in half, so it is now 20½" x 27".
  2. Pin along the raw-edged side (the 27" side) and across the bottom. The top remains open. 
  3. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch down the side and across the bottom, pivoting at the corner. Use a generous backstitch (backtack) to lock your seam at the beginning and end. 
  4. Zig zag, overcast, pink or serge the raw edges of all the seam allowances so when the pillowcase is laundered these do not fray. We zig-zagged our edges. For more information, see our article on popular machine sewn finishes
  5. 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 or a chopstick. Press well. 

Add the rick rack

  1. Lay the pleated loop next to the pillowcase body and make sure they are the same width around. This is your chance to adjust a pleat or two if need be. Ours came out exactly even... yay! 
  2. Find a length of rick rack. Place it on top of the pleated panel ¼" from the raw edge.
  3. Zig zag the rick rack to the pleated section, which means you are only catching the top waves in your stitching. Leave approximately 2" of the rick rack free at the beginning and the end.
  4. Pull the ends of the rick rack away and stitch the ends together, right sides together.
  5. Place the rick rack back into position against the pleated panel. You can put one or two pins in to hold this last little bit in place during the final seam. 

Attach the pleated panel to the pillowcase body

  1. Find the pillowcase body. It should be wrong side out. Find the pleated loop. It should be right side out.
  2. Slip the pleated loop into pillowcase body so the two are now right sides together. Align the raw edge of the pillowcase opening with the raw edges of your pleated loop. Pin all around.
  3. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch around the entire opening through all the layers. 
  4. As above, finish raw edges of the seam allowance with a zig zag or overcast stitch or serge. 
  5. Fold the pleated panel into place (ie. pull it away from the pillowcase body). 
  6. Press the finished seam allowance towards the body of the pillowcase, at the same time making sure the rick rack is pressed down towards the pleats.
  7. Topstitch ¼" in from the seam, on the pillowcase body. We used our Janome Quarter Inch Seam foot to keep a nice straight line. This stitching secures the seam allowance in position and helps keep all the layers flat. Press well.
  8. Repeat to create your second pillowcase.

Hints & Tips

If you like these pillowcases, check out our other variations below. It's quick and fun to make special pillowcases for all kinds of special occasions.

Pillowcases with Deep Ruffled Ends

Lil' Rascals Storybook Bedroom Sleepytime Pillowcases

Tuxedo Pillowcases

Fresh Linens: Restful Rose-Banded Pillowcases with Honey Bun Accents

Mother's Day: Charmeuse Satin Pillowcases with Velvet & Lace Trim

Visions of Sugarplums Christmas Pillowcases

Visions of Sugarplums Christmas Pillowcases for Kids


Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Debbie Guild



Comments (2)

Jane Coombs said:
Jane Coombs's picture

What I love about Sew4Home is that the always take it to the next level!

carriep said:
carriep's picture

Oh, these pillowcases are gorgeous! thanks for the tutorial.

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