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Essential steps for sewing elegant French seam pillowcases

by Christine Baker

Yesterday on QUILTsocial I showed you some great tips for sewing borders with setting triangles and we finished up the top of my bed runner. It turned out SO lovely and those Artisan Spirit – Euphoria fabrics are just beautiful!! I don’t have quite enough of any one fabric to do the backing and binding, so I’m going to go back and quilt it at a later time. But I DO have enough fabric to make a set of pillowcases to match my bed runner, so I’m going to share my favorite pattern and tips for sewing French seam pillowcases.

The pillowcase pattern

The pillowcase pattern. Download PDF here

The pillowcase pattern. Download PDF here

Sewing the cuff and trim

After you’ve cut out your fabrics as outlined in the pattern, you need to fold the strip of fabric for the cuff in half and sew the two ends together. This will make a circle of fabric. Repeat this process with the trim fabric strip.

This photo shows the two strips of fabric that will be used for the pillowcase cuff and trim the cuff and trim strips folded in half and sewn at the ends.

The cuff and trim strips are folded in half and then the ends are sewn together

This seam is then pressed OPEN for both the cuff and the trim.

The seams of the cuff and the trim for the pillowcase are then pressed open.

The seams are pressed open

Now both of these are folded in half lengthwise with the right sides out (wrong sides together). The trim (the narrower one) is folded so that the raw edges of the fabric are even but the cuff is folded so that one side is about ½” wider than the other.

These two photos show how the two strips are pressed differently. The trim strip is pressed so that the raw edges match, while the cuff strip is pressed with one side ½” wider than the other side.

The trim strip is pressed so that the raw edges match, while the cuff strip is pressed with one side ½” wider than the other side

Sewing the pillowcase body

Next the pillowcase body is folded in half and is sewn together along the long side and one of the shorter sides BUT we’re sewing this so that the RIGHT side is out and we’re only using a ⅛” seam.

The pillowcase body is show with a ⅛” seam sewn along both edges.

The pillowcase body is sewn with wrong sides together using a ⅛” seam

The next step is to turn the pillowcase inside out and press those two sewn seams. Now we’re going to sew along those same edges with a ⅜” seam to encase the raw edges and create the French seam. Leave the pillowcase inside out as this will make the next step easier.

The pillowcase is turned inside out and sewn along those same edges with a ⅜” seam to encase the raw edges and create the French seam.

The pillowcase is turned inside out and a ⅜” seam is used to make the French seam

Putting it all together

Now, here’s the tricky part. First we need to pin the trim and the cuff together, so that the raw edges of the trim line up with the lower raw edge of the cuff.

These now need to be pinned together with the body of the pillowcase. Take the cuff/trim and put in inside of the pillowcase so that the trim fabric is sandwiched between the cuff and the body of the pillowcase. Pin them all together lining up the raw edge of the pillowcase with the raw edge of the trim. This will result in the one cuff edge extending ½” past the other fabrics – this is correct!

The three sections are pinned together so that the raw edges of the pillowcase body are aligned with the raw edges of the trim

Pin the three sections together

Now, stitch through all of these layers with a ¼” seam.

After the three sections of the pillowcase are pinned together they are sewn togther using a quarter inch seam

The three sections are sewn togther using a quarter inch seam

The extra cuff fabric can now be folded over those raw edges and pinned.

On the inside of the pillowcase, the extra cuff fabric that extends past this seam is folded over the raw edges and pinned in place.

The extra cuff fabric that extends past this seam is folded over the raw edges and pinned in place

Now all we do is topstitch along the top edge of the pillowcase body – this will secure the folded over edge of the cuff fabric so that there are NO raw edges on the inside of our pillowcase!!

The pillowcase is topstitched along the top of the pillowcase body ¼” away from the seam. This secures the folded over fabric on the inside of the pillowcase.

The pillowcase is topstitched ¼” away from the seam

Christmas is coming – hint, hint!

Our pillowcases are now complete and I have to say that I lOVE them! I certainly know which one of them will be mine (too bad I didn’t have enough of the Butterfly Euphoria print to make them both exactly the same). Once you make your own pillowcases with Northcott fabrics you’ll never want to use bought pillowcases again. And once you get the hang of it, this pattern is pretty fast and simple! It’s great for making Christmas presents and pillowcases that co-ordinate with a handmade quilt.

Northcott’s Euphoria fabrics have been a dream to work with, but Northcott fabrics generally are! I hope you’ve learned a few new things this week and please remember that the pillowcase pattern is for your personal use only – if you would like to use it for any other reason please just send me an email.

Have fun making your own bed runner and I hope you’ll use these tips for sewing matching French seam pillowcases to make yourself (or a friend) a special treat!

Completed pillowcases using elegant French seams and trim, along with the Log Cabin pattern bed runner top using Northcott Euphoria Fabrics

Completed pillowcases using elegant French seams and trim, along with the Log Cabin pattern bed runner top. Can you tell I’m a quilter?

This is part 5 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 4:  Essential steps for sewing borders with setting triangles

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13 comments

Margaret Graczyk November 18, 2016 - 12:44 am

This article caught my eye as I’ve heard of french seams but wasn’t sure how they were done. This was a good tutorial because it not only showed how to do a french seam but also how to economize the material going into it.

Reply
Lori Morton October 27, 2016 - 11:30 pm

Thank you for sharing this Tutorial!! Love the idea for Christmas gifts!! 🙂

Reply
Diane McLauchlan October 27, 2016 - 3:43 pm

I know about french seams but this was most helpful in how to use them on pillow cases – which I have been making lately.
Diane in Wyoming

Reply
Claudia W October 15, 2016 - 12:36 pm

Thank you for this tutorial! I just saw a woman with the cutest fabrics and I asked what she was making…pillow cases! I immediately thought of my niece and nephews for Christmas gifts. This tutorial will help me immensely!

Reply
HEATHER PORRITT October 12, 2016 - 4:09 pm

LOVE this tutorial I have made a few pillow cases before but “seeing” this explains a few things i should be doing Thanks for this….

Reply
Lorelei Stinson October 11, 2016 - 11:51 am

What a great tutorial. French seams are a great way to make professional looking gift items. Loved this!

Reply
carol n October 10, 2016 - 12:56 pm

Well done tutorial, I like making pillowcases- we do them for Guild. We give them to disadvantaged young people attending camp at Youth Alternatives, with a new pillow.

Reply
Marie McDermott October 9, 2016 - 10:11 am

Thanks for the tutorial on French seams. I love the franch seam method and refer to you tutorial when ever I have a need to do french seams

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Barbara Woods October 8, 2016 - 8:29 pm

Great pillowcases

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Valerie Preston October 8, 2016 - 12:23 am

Can’t wait to make some of these

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Chris October 8, 2016 - 12:05 am

Great tutorial. Thanks.

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Beth B October 7, 2016 - 12:54 pm

I make pillowcases and usually with a French seam. I like your method better than the one I’ve been using. It is a beautiful finish, Thanks for sharing!

Reply
Roseanne October 7, 2016 - 1:05 am

Thanks so much for the tutorial on how to make French seams. I’ve wanted to learn this and now I can finally go make some fun pillow cases!

Reply

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