Sunday, June 15, 2014

Sweet Dreams are Made of This: A Pillowcase Adventure

A very wonderful  teenager is graduating from high school this month, and we were thrilled and honored to be invited to her graduation party. She had overcome serious health obstacles, which made the celebration especially meaningful. She also has many passionate interests, one of which is Star Wars.

Oh happy day! Not just for her - for me!  Licensed character fabric purchase excuse! Normally I try to buy fabric from my LQS*, but they generally don't carry non-top-quality licensed fabric. So off I went to The Local Chain.

But first I asked her mom if she thought her daughter would prefer a Star Wars tote bag or a pillowcase - mom picked the latter.

They had several different Star Wars print. The best one was a comic book theme:
This was my very first pillowcase, and gee whiz, it came together a whole lot faster than a quilt or a tote bag. I used the fairly simple instructions in this one-page PDF from Quiltmaker magazine.

Because it's all squeezed into one page, this pattern is light on explanation, and the drawings are enigmatic, but the main conceptual challenge for quilters is that the two strips of trim - a narrow band and the wider end band - should be pressed in half the long way, wrong sides together. Then you stitch them, right sides together, to the main panel. Clothing and handbag makers, I know you are guffawing that this was a conceptual challenge for me. Once I grokked it, the rest came together very quickly.

There's something else the pattern didn't warn me about. I discovered I had made a slightly vast miscalculation, and instead of buying a yard-and-a-third , I bought 3/4 of a yard, thinking it was plenty. It would have been plenty, if the fabric hadn't been a directional print running the long way.  Back home, studying the pattern and the fabric together, I realized that that meant my print had to run sideways. We can only hope this does not give the sleeping giftee a kink in her neck. Here's the finished pillowcase.

I prefer to look at it this way:
 There's a one inch trim strip with gold stars on a navy sky, and then a navy-and-white Darth Vader-intensive print along the open edge. Sweet dreams?
Come to think of it, this orientation would be perfect for a carrier of some sort. Maybe I should just add some rope and declare it a laundry bag?

Not being a perfectionist, I pressed forward. For the presentation, I folded it up, stuffed it in a Yoda mug, added a huge ribbon loop attached by a butterfly pin.
(It's sitting on my leftover quarter-yard from the trim. What to do with it? ) I wrapped the whole thing in Chanukah cellophane (e.g. clear cellophane with big 6-pointed blue stars, which I took artistic license to redefine as non-denominational intergalactic stars). I hope she likes it!

There are a lot of good causes and children's charities that need pillowcases- they're a fast and rewarding way to use up all your leftover juvenile fabric from years of making childrens' quilts.  Find charities in the middle of this page, part of  American Patchwork & Quilting's 'Million Pillowcase' project. There's also a brainstorming list at the top of the page.

APQ also offers a slew of  free pillowcase patterns - some more advanced than the one I used, with a  pieced trim strip; some simpler, especially for youngsters and beginners to stitch - here,

Now if only someone would manufacture licensed Pride and Prejudice/Colin Firth fabric....or Sherlock/Benedict Cumberbatch fabric...or Dr. Who fabric (any doctor)....I really need some new pillowcases.....

*LQS = Local Quilt Shop

UPDATE: My correspondent Robin Levenberg told me about another wonderful charity for whom she and 5 friends have made 800 pillowcases so far - which, she says, barely scratches the surface of the need:

There is a organization in Philadelphia, Conkerr Cancer, as well as chapters around the world that make and donate pillowcases to children's hospitals.  When kids come in for treatment, they can choose a fun, happy pillowcase.
This organization depends on donations from sewers like us, to fill the demand.  Just in the Philadelphia area (3 hospitals) they need 1100 cases/ month!  Directions for making pillowcases are on their website,
They are easy to make, and use 1yd. of fabric.  These cases are so appreciated by the kids and their families.  Sometimes, it is the only bright spot in their day.
Thanks, Robin, for the addition!


  1. She likes it! It's wonderful! You are wonderful!

  2. It's terrific! I love it and the presentation!

  3. It's terrific! I love it and the presentation!


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