Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Two Tone Silk Pillow Case Tutorial and a Happy Bichon Frisé

After searching for a couple of years now I finally found a doona cover / pillowcase set that I loved and that would go with the gold sari silk bed-head and bed-skirt I made awhile back. (Amazing what you can do with a nice piece of fabric, a bit of foam and a staple gun!) This set is called 'Love Bug' by Morgan & Finch. I laid it on the bed to test if it matched before washing and when I came back with the camera this is what I found:

Note the small fluffy thing that had made herself extremely comfortable. Very glad they matched the bed head and I didn't want to return them!

I wanted to make a couple of to match. The metallic green vine and embroidered bugs are cute but all the white was a little too stark for me. I have very fine hair and usually sleep on a satin pillowcase (a tip a very smart hairdresser gave me to help grow my hair long - apparently silk and satin cases stop hair breaking so much). So I rummaged through my stash and found a couple of nice silk fabrics and used the pinky one on the back with the envelope closure and the shot mauve colour on the front. Put them on the bed, went to get the camera and found this:

I thought i'd try again this morning so made the bed, came back with the camera and.....
well let's just say I don't like my chance of getting a dog free photo in the next century, and at least in the first two she didn't mush everything about. Sigh....

Here's how I made them (NB. this may not be the best way to make pillowcases, and I'm not known for functional sewing but it was quick, easy and worked!).

 Two-tone silk pillowcase tutorial: 

1. Iron both colours of silk fabric. I used a shot one for the top piece to get a decorative selvedge.

2. Lay the backing fabric out folded (so you can cut two at once cutting off folds as you go). Butt a pre-existing light coloured pillow case up to the selvedge edge and mark the width of the envelop flap (a light colour means you can see the where the flap ends through the fabric). For marking I used a ceramic fabric marker but you could use a water soluble marker or even go old school and use tailors chalk :)

3. Move the pillow case over the width of the envelope flap and trace around the entire case. I used a quilting ruler to help get the lines square and straight.

4. Add seam allowance (I used 1cm) and cut with a rotary cutter and quilting ruler. The selvedge on the envelope flap end means you don't need any that end... plus you get out of hemming. My sort of sewing! Take these 2 backs to the ironing board and iron the folded flap down firmly to crease.

5. Lay out the folded front fabric and place one of the cut backs on top of this to use it as a cutting template. Align the fold on the edge of the backs with the selvedge of the front fabric to avoid hemming. Additionally as I used a shot piece of silk (one direction of weave is blue, the other fuchsia)  the selvedge is a contrasting pinky red colour which makes for a nice decorative edge. Use the roller cutter and ruler again and cutting is done for 2 pillowcases!

6. Match right sides together and made sure the selvedge of the front piece is even to the fold line of the envelope closure on the other. I don't use pins, I always finish up pricking myself and bleeding over whatever I'm making :) If you're not confident the fabric won't slip either pin or use a water soluble glue to hold them even.

7. Overlock (serge if your in the US) using a standard 4 thread stitch. This way there's no need to straight stitch on the sewing machine first. I did this from open edge down and then flipped and did the other side. I trimmed off about 1/4" when I did this to get rid of any fraying. Doing each side from the open end allowed me to ensure the opening edges were perfectly alligned.

8. Overlock the bottom edge. 

9. Lastly I used a very fine needle to pull through the overlocker tails under a couple of the existing stitches, that way there's no chance of it unravelling. You could use a dot of fray stop or reoverlock instead.

10. Lastly I put them on the bed and tried to convince dog they weren't for her.  That failed, but the pillowcases were done!

I am lucky enough to have a Babylock overlocker which means I never have to do any tension changes and it just sews perfectly on any thickness of fabric. It was this and the air threading - meaning I could rethread my machine with colours that matched the silk in about 2 minutes (including changing needles) that made me want to spend the extra money. So far I'm really glad I did. I think with an ordinary one I'd be tempted to just use the sewing machine instead and have the overlocker languish in the cupboard.

Let me know if you have any questions and leave any other pillowcase ideas in the comments section below.



  1. Neroli I can relate to a little fluff ball taking over the bed, mine is a little orange fluffy pom who allows me to sleep on a third of the queen size bed, but she actually prefers a flannette sheet folded up so she can mess it up. She also loves to take up residence ON my pillow... grrr just love orange fluff over everything, not!

  2. Lovely, I think I will be investing in one of these silk pillows & Silk Quilts;;|