Pillowcase tops are fun and easy to make, but your average pillowcase does not fit your average woman. I have some lovely pillowcases embroidered by my mom and for the longest time I’ve been wanting to make blouses from them.
I finally figured out two new ways to make cute pillowcase tops that actually fit an average sized woman. One method requires two matching pillowcases sewn together sideways. The other method uses color blocking and one pillowcase. Both are very simple.
I have fond memories of my mother embroidering pillowcases. The whole process was fascinating to me. She would go through her collection of embroidery transfers and make her selection, usually a floral pattern, but sometimes birds or animals. She would iron the transfer onto the pillowcases and then she would choose colorful flosses from her vast collection. At night she would embroider while we all watched TV.
Her work was beautiful to me then and even moreso now that she’s gone. I’m thrilled to finally bring her fabulous collection of embroidered pillowcases out of the linen closet and onto my body, close to my heart.
Remove stains from pillowcases before sewing
Chances are your old pillowcases will have a few stains on them. The first thing to do is remove them by following these great instructions at OneGoodThingByJillee. I wasn’t sure how well it would work on my poly/cotton blend pillowcases, but it worked like a charm. It did take three days, however.
Note: I used ¼” seam allowance for all sewing
Method A: Two matching pillowcases sewn together sideways
This method has the embroidered design running down the center front to form a mirror image. Lay out the two matching pillowcases with the designs side by side to see if they look good that way.
- Sew front seam. Open all the seams and hems and lay pillowcases flat. For the front center seam, line up the motifs and sew right sides together. Add optional trim over center seam.
- Sew back seam. For the back seam, fold fabric in half right sides together along the front seam. Measure out the width you want and pin. Sew then cut off the excess.
- Cut armholes. For armholes, fold fabric so that front and back seams are lined up in the center. Then fold in half again. Mark the armhole by using a blouse or tank top as a guide. Cut out the armholes.
- Add casing. Make a casing for the drawstring from coordinating fabric. Measure the width of the fabric and cut two pieces that are 3½” wide. Sew casing to front and back.
- Sew armholes. Fold and press under ¼” and repeat. Then sew the armholes.
- Sew casing. Fold under ¼” seam allowance along the edge of casing then fold it in half and pin. From the top side, stitch in the ditch.
- Add drawstring. Cut the drawstring from the same coordinating fabric as long and wide as you want. Mine was about 2½” wide and only 30″ long because I didn’t want it to tie on the side (I stitched the ends together). Fold and sew rights sides together. Turn right side out and thread the drawstring through the casing. My favorite way of doing this is to put a safety pin on the end of the drawstring and feed it through the casing. This also works for turning straps right side out.
- Sew hem. Finish the bottom edge, fold under and sew. I serged mine and then folded it ¼”.
Variation of Method A
I made a different version with this beautiful pair of pillowcases. I love this pattern!
Instead of making a casing, I gathered the top edge, front and back, and stitched it to a colorful pink band. I sewed long straps to the band which crisscross in the back.
Method B: Color blocking with one pillowcase
This method has the embroidered design near the hem. Side panels are added in coordinating fabric to make the top wide enough.
- Cut out fabric. Open up the seams and hem of pillowcase. Cut two pieces the length you want which will include a self-casing at the top. Use different fabric for the side panels the same length as the top with the width that you need.
- Sew side panels. Stitch side panels to center panels.
Finish by following the instructions from Method A, steps 3, 5, 7 and 8.
Variation of Method B
The embroidered design of this pair of matching pillowcases didn’t create a nice mirrored image down the front, so I decided to use one across the bottom and one across the top. Here are the two pieces sewn together.
Then I added a piece of lace over the seam which hits just below the bust.
The top was finished following the directions for Method B above.
Another look at all four tops
I love wearing these!