Friday, September 12, 2014

Bring out the Designer in You with Designer Pillowcases!!

The weatherman tells us we have a cold front moving in… temperatures will drop to the 60s.  Facebook pop-ups tell me I have only "X" number of Fridays until Christmas.  It’s difficult to think about Christmas when the humidity and temperatures feel like summer!  Days are getting shorter, however, and soon we will not have many daylight hours to enjoy.  People with jobs will be going to work in the dark and coming home in the dark.  I remember those days and didn’t like them much!  Even the heavens seem to object… grumbling thunder and flooding the earth with massive tears.  The cicadas continue to chirp their song, and the leaves and grass are still adorned in their green summer colors.  Fall has not yet made its appearance in Cincinnati, but Winter is Coming.

September is a month of birthdays in my family.  My father celebrated his 93rd birthday, my oldest son celebrates 53 years today, my youngest daughter will have a birthday next week (I will keep her age a secret!) and my granddaughter, Madelyn, just turned 16.   I wracked my brain trying to think of what to get her that would be a special gift from me for this very special young lady, and I decided to make her some pillowcases for her bed.  She just painted her bedroom a shade of orange, so I wanted to tie into that color.  I watched a couple of video tutorials on the internet: by Jenny Doan of Missouri Star Quilt Company and by The Crafty Gemini.  I didn’t make mine exactly like theirs, but I did make it in the “burrito” method, and made French seams so there are no exposed seams.  I have also made them using a serger for the seams in the past, and that is a bit faster method.  Here are Maddie's pillowcases, shown above. 
Choose three coordinating fabrics and cut all pieces the width of the fabric, which is usually 42" to 44".  The main body of the pillowcase was cut 27” long, the cuff was 10”, and the contrasting strip was cut 1-1/2” wide so that it looks more like piping.  Press all pieces to remove any wrinkles.  Fold the contrast strip in half, wrong sides together, and press.  You will have a piece that is ¾” wide when it is doubled. 
Lay the cuff out, right side up. 
Place the wrong side of the main part of the pillowcase against the right side of the cuff (right side will be facing you).
Place the folded strip on top of the main pillowcase fabric. 

 Pin all three pieces together, matching the cut edges.  
I put the pins in parallel to the edge, so it holds the layers firmly.

Fold up the main pillowcase fabric until it is all folded into a small tube. 
You will see the right side of the cuff showing beneath it.

Bring the cuff up to match the raw edges of the other layers.
Remove the pins, one at a time, and pin through all four layers. 
Again, I place them horizontally but remove them as I am sewing the seam.
Sew a ¼” seam through all layers, being careful not to catch your “pillowcase roll” in the seam and taking care not to sew over any pins.   I used a smaller stitch for sewing all of the pillowcase seams, a “2” on my machine, and used the needle down feature.
Pull the pillowcase roll out of one end of the tube.  The raw seam will be enclosed in the cuff.
Smooth the cuff from the wrong side first, making sure there is no fold or tucks in it.
Press from the right side.
Fold your pillowcase in half, wrong sides together, with the selvedge edges together. 
Cut the selvedges off using your rotary cutter to give a smooth edge.
Sew the pillowcase edges, wrong sides together, in a 1/8” seam.  You might want to place a pin where the cuff edges meet, to make sure they are even with each other.  When you come to the bottom of your pillowcase, swivel the fabric with the needle down and sew across the bottom edge.  Turn your pillowcase wrong side out.  Press the edges of the seams you just sewed.  Sew the seam again, right sides together, with a generous ¼” seam (probably closer to 3/8”) so that this seam encloses the seam you sewed on the right side, swiveling when you get to the bottom of the side and sewing across the bottom.  Because you trimmed your selvedges with a rotary cutter, there should not be a problem with threads peeking through the seam.  By sewing the edge and bottom in two steps, you have no raw edges in your pillowcase.  This method is called a French seam.  Turn your pillowcase right side out and press it well. 
This set of pillowcases is shown with a log cabin quilt that includes the same fabrics, from Robert Kaufman’s Luxe and Far East lines.  Think of the beautiful cases you can make to complement the quilts you fashion so lovingly. 
 You could do a patchwork cuff to match the quilt, or do an applique cuff covered with organza with decorative stitching through all layers to accent the design (I saw that demonstrated at Seams Sew Easy in March and it was gorgeous).  The possibilities are endless… you are the Designer with a capital D!  Incidentally, Miss Maddie loved her paisley pillowcases!  Her mother, my youngest daughter, wants a pair for her birthday, too.