Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Pillow Week: Samster Mommy & Ruffles

The lovely Natasha from Samster Mommy is here today to lavish us with ruffles!! We are so giddy about having her here today. Enjoy her tutorial!


When the lovely girls here at Mamma Tortilla asked me if I wanted to participate in their super cute pillow tutorial week, they enclosed a few pics of some pillow ideas. As soon as I saw this one I knew I had to have it...But do you know what makes that ruffly goodness even better? Making it for free with nothing more than my sewing machine & an old bedsheet. Sigh. Makes a girl feel good.
Want to make one too? Good! Here's how I did it...

I chose to make mine from a bedsheet because a.) I had one & b.) whenever you're creating long lengths of ruffles it requires a lot of fabric & then it can get pricey quick. You'll also need a pillow insert & a sewing machine.

The measurements are going to be based on the size of the pillow insert you're using (mine is 18"x18", I'll include my measurements throughout in parenthesis) so instead of just giving you numbers I'm going to show you how to figure out your own. It requires a bit of math but don't worry, I seriously suck at math & was able to handle this pretty well.

First you'll need to cut out the basic pillowcase pieces. One big square for the front (19" x 19") & two rectangles that will make the envelope opening in the back. The length of these rectangles is going to be the same as the length of the pillow + 1" for seam allowance (19"), for the width you'll want to take 1/2 of your width + 4" so the pieces will overlap. (13"). Also I was sure to line up my fabric so that the "envelope" seam was already part of the sheet's finished hem, if you're not using a sheet now would be a good time to hem that side of the rectangleSet these aside, now it's time for tedious part, cutting & creating the ruffled strips. Get your good scissors/rotary cutter along with a ruler & a calculator if you're me. A good basic rule of thumb for creating ruffles is that you'll want to use a piece of fabric that is twice the length of what you want the finished ruffle to be. When I measure the total length of what I want my biggest square ruffle row to be it's 72", that means I'll need a strip of fabric to be 144" to make the ruffle. (See why a bedsheet sounded like a good idea??) Even with the twin sheet I didn't have 144" to make one long strip but that's ok, I could make two 72" strips.
So first ruffle step, cut out two 1"x72" strips.Now we have to finish the edge of the strips so they won't go fray crazy on us. I used my serger to create a sort of rolled edge but on a regular sewing machine you could either do a type of overlock stitch that wraps the edge or you could just do a small zig-zag stitch as close to the edge as possible & let the fabric fray up to that stitch line. I think this could actually look really cool, kind of a shabby chic look. So go ahead & finish your edges. This is gonna take you a minute so have a sweet treat to get you through.
Mmmm...jelly belly's...

Ready? Good! Take your beautifully seamed strips & start ruffling. There are a few ways to do this...
One, you could set your machine to your longest stitch setting & stitch down the center. After, hold onto your bobbin thread with one hand & pull your fabric up along your top thread with the other. Then pin & stitch the ruffle to your piece. Pros of this method- you can adjust the gathers to get them perfect. Cons- after you stitch the ruffle on you'll have to go back & pull out the ruffling thread. I hate extra steps.

Two, I've read lots of tutorials where people set their tension to the tightest setting & their width to the longest. Then when they stitch down the center of the strip it automatically gathers the ruffle as you go. After you would pin & stitch the ruffle to your piece like the previous method. Pros- your machine does the ruffling for you. Cons- I hate touching my tension, it makes me nervous. Also you'll still have to get rid of that extra thread.

Three- this is how I ruffle because I'm impatient. I gather the fabric under the needle as I go. Pro- saves you the extra step of having to pin & stitch your ruffled strip as well as no pulling out the extra stitch. Con- you kind of just have to wing it, there's no pinning & seeing how it looks before you stitch it to the piece. Here's a pic of what it looks like as I'm doing it...
(EW! Please pardon the dirty nails, we spent the day at the zoo & no matter how many times I wash them they still look dirty. Yick!)

Whichever method you use you'll want to place your ruffle 1" down & 1" in from the edge of your pillow top piece. I figure this will give me a 1/4" seam allowance & will put the ruffle 3/4" in from the seam once the pillow is all done. Start attaching your ruffle by folding the short edge in on itself, this is also how you'll want to connect pieces if your ruffle runs out. By starting on a fold it disguises the ends so they look like part of a ruffle...
When you get to a corner just leave your needle down in the ruffle, lift your foot & turn your fabric so you're heading in the new direction. Put the foot back down & keep on stitchin'!
Whew, one row done!Now that you have your 1st square row of ruffles done you can take new measurements for the length of the next inner row of ruffles. Just remember, the strip needs to be twice that length. If you need to make that out of several strips, no biggie. Repeat the entire process for as many rows of ruffles as you'd like. Or like in my case for as long as the naptime lasts. (:

Once your ruffled front piece is finished you're ready for the last step, attaching the front square to the back rectangles. Pin the 3 pieces right sides together with the 2 back rectangles overlapping several inches.Finally stitch around the entire outside of the pillow using a 1/2" seam allowance. Turn the piece right side out (a chopstick is a great tool for pushing out the corners) & stuff your pillow! Sit back & admire your mad skillz.

Thanks so much Leslie & Melissa for letting me join your fun pillow party! And thanks readers for letting me share a long but fun project with you, I hope you'll come see me at Samster Mommy for other tutorials!


Thank you so much Natasha for stopping by our blog and doing an amazing tutorial. Go visit her and let her know Mamma T sent you. She's got tutorials, naptime crafts and yummy recipes!


  1. So pretty!! I love the way the tiny ruffles create texture and frame the center portion of the pillow! I linked to your tutorial on Craft Gossip Sewing:


  2. Oh I really love it! I think I may have to make one. Thanks for the idea!

  3. Oooh, this is sooooooo cute. I'm gonna use my ruffler attachment cause I love ruffles but totally hate making em by hand.

  4. This is cute and your tutorial seem easy... I will try it. thank you

  5. How Cute!! Oh I just LOVE ruffles!! Will have to put this one on my list of things to make. Thanks for the tutorial. =)

  6. Wouldn't this be the perfect thing to frame a copied onto fabric vintage photo? Too cute, I'm gonna try ruffles now! Thank you:)

  7. I really Love this cute and easy pillow case ... Thank You SOOO MUCH " Mamma Tortilla " ! :)


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