Free Design of the Month: Embroidered Pillowcase with Ribbon Trim

May 1, 2020By Joanne BankoEmbroidery, Free Design of the Month, Projects 15 Comments Opinion by Paid Consultant

For the month of May we are featuring a classic style embroidery design for the Brother Free Design download. It’s the type of design you can use for many different items, stitched in a variety of color options to match your personal taste. Since pillowcases are always a popular gift, I thought it would be fun to dress up a plain one using this design stitched in some soft heirloom colors. The icing on the cake is the satin ribbon trim attached with a light and airy feather stitch. You’ll see a couple practical uses for different accessory feet in this project too. Are you ready? Let’s go sew!

Materials and Supplies

  • Brother sewing and embroidery machine. Note: Machine featured in this project is the Brother NS 1750D
  • Brother Embroidery Threads, Bobbin Thread, and size 11 embroidery needle for embroidering.
  • Brother Adhesive backed stabilizer, SA5906 or SA5815
  • SA133 Brother Adjustable Blind Stitch Foot for ease in attaching upper ribbon trim.
  • SA198 Brother Adjustable Binder Foot for ease in attaching lower ribbon trim.
  • Brother 4-inch embroidery hoop
  • Ready-made pillowcase
  • Satin ribbon for trimming upper and lower edge, 7/8-inch ribbon for upper edge and 1 ½-inch wide ribbon for lower edge. For yardage, measure circumference of pillowcase and add a couple extra inches to finish ends.
  • Basic sewing notions, including sewing thread to match ribbon, super fine sharp pins, and a removable marker.
  • Wash out fabric stabilizing spray or starch for stiffening fabric. Note: follow manufacturer’s instructions for using stabilizing spray.
  • Brother FREE Design of the Month: Classic Motif1.pes
  • See Figure #1 below:
Figure #1

Steps to Create Embroidered Pillowcase

1. Download Free Design and transfer to your machine. Decide on thread colors, gather supplies, and hoop adhesive backed stabilizer in the 4-inch hoop.
2. I used one of my favorite heirloom combinations, a soft pink, light brown and creamy linen. See modified colors in Figure #2.

Figure #2

3. Prepare pillowcase band for embroidery by stiffening the center band area. Since you’re working with two layers of fabric, I recommend basting the layers of this section together before you embroider or use the basting feature on your machine if it’s available. Mark the center point for your design with a cross hair, marking center on both right and wrong side of the band.
4. Get ready to embroider design by centering pillowcase band on stabilizer. For an easy way to center band on the adhesive stabilizer, try this trick:
Mark a bold cross hair on a piece of paper. See Figure #3.

Figure #3

Place hoop on top and line up center markings of hoop with cross hairs. See Figure #4.

Figure #4

Fold back fabric so you can see the cross hairs and then match up the center markings with the cross hairs on the paper. See Figure #5. Take care that you don’t slide the hoop while you’re positioning the fabric. Unfold fabric, making sure it is straight and level in the hoop. You can unstick and re-adjust if necessary.

Figure #5

Place hoop on machine. Use edit function to center the design more accurately if you need to. See Figure #6.

Figure #6

5. Embroider design. Remove stabilizer and markings. See Figure #7.

Figure #7

6. Stiffen ribbon and press the wider piece in half with wrong sides together. See Figure #8.

Figure #8
Note: Disclaimer: Terial Magic™ stabilizing fabric spray is a product of Terial Arts. Brother International Corporation makes no representations or warranties regarding this product.

7. Set up the machine for sewing with the adjustable blind hem foot. Select the feather stitch, changing width to 3.5 and length to 5.0. See Figure #9a and #9b.

Figure #9a
Figure #9b

8. Pin 7/8-inch wide ribbon to pillowcase, folding under raw end at the side seam. Note: My pillowcase had a pretty hemstitch at the top of the band, so I positioned the ribbon above this area of the pillowcase. Stitch ribbon along each edge, adjusting guide on foot so guide runs along the edge of the ribbon and the feather stitch catches the edge. Tip: It’s a good idea to practice this technique on a scrap before sewing ribbon to the pillowcase. See Figure #10a and #10b. Tack down ribbon where it overlaps.

Figure #10a
Figure #10b

9. To trim the lower edge of the pillowcase with the folded ribbon, I used the adjustable binding foot and the same feather stitch. Here are a few tips for using this foot to sew the ribbon:
Before snapping the foot on the machine, turn the screw at the front of the foot, opening it until the ribbon fits snug. Next, insert ribbon so each edge is inside curved slots on the foot. Slip the edge of the pillowcase into the center opening. You can see these areas clearly when you examine the foot without any fabric inside. Observe how ribbon is inserted and positioned in Figure #11a and Figure #11b.

Figure #11a
Figure #11b

Snap the foot on the machine and adjust the screw at the back of the foot as needed until it’s aligned so the stitch catches the edge of the ribbon. See Figure #12.

Tip: Sewing with the free arm of the machine makes this ribbon sewing easier.
Figure #12

10. You are finished! See closeup of ribbon and embroidery below:

Free Design of the Month_ Embroidered Pillowcase with Ribbon Trim – Stitching Sewcial


  • This is as beautiful!!! Thank you so much. What a wonderful escape from all the virus stuff which I feel as though I have been brain washed with. I love making pillow cases!!!

    • Hi Brenda!

      Thanks for your kind comments! Sewing is the perfect escape from the cares of the day. I hope you get the chance to make a beautiful pillowcase for yourself, then rest your head on it and have sweet dreams 🙂

  • JoAnne,
    I enjoy your emails so much, you are so positive and you do inspire me. I love to watch you on
    Its so easy.
    I enjoyed your recent post above sewing the mask. I to got burned out and I did take a break from
    it, I must admit I felt a little guilty. But it is true doing this time of lock down you do need to get
    away from this for away. And that means sewing some fun things.
    Love your projects.

    • Hello Barbara!

      It was so nice to read you note here! I’m happy to know you are planning to sew some fun things. It really is important to step away from all the serious stuff and have a happy break. I appreciate your comments and all your kind words. Happy sewing my friend!

  • Just gorgeous and so timely. One of my favorite pillowcase sets got so thin the fabric just tore. Time to make new ones and it will be nice to have a set that is not all matchy matchy! I too am having trouble getting started on some of my own projects just for me, so Thank You Joanne.

    • Hi Sandra!

      I’m glad you liked the pillowcase. You can complete a project like pretty quickly and then experience a long-lasting good feeling afterwards. Nice to know this was good timing for you too. I hope that soon you’ll having sweet dreams on your new pretty pillowcase. Happy Sewing my friend!

  • I LIKE YOUR DESIGNS AND SEWING LESSONS. I have a Husqvarna machine.
    I cannot use any of your free designs. Can you make them available in other formats eg. VP3?
    I get your emails all the time.
    Sheila Edwards

  • I am going to make these for gifts for my sisters for Mother’s Day! Thank you for the very clear directions and especially the pictures. I sure did need something to “clean the pallet” after a month of making masks! (I am still making them!)

    • Your sisters are in for a treat Nancy! How sweet of you to do this for them. I hope you have a lot of fun sewing these. I’m sure you deserve a break!!!

  • My experience embroidering on purchased pillowcases was not happy. They were so tightly woven that the design pulled in and puckered. I will purchase fabric to do this project and make the pillowcase after. They are really easy to make and pretty expensive to buy. Love the design and project. Thank you!

    • Hi Joan!

      I truly appreciate your input here! It is great to know that you liked the design and the project. I know what you mean about many of the ready-made pillowcases. For this project I purchased high quality 525 thread count pillowcases by mail order from a local department store. They are silky, cotton sateen and I was fortunate to find them on sale. In this project you’ll also see that I used a fabric stiffening spray. This can work wonders when embroidering on cotton fabric in particular. You might want to give it a try some time.

      However, making your own is a wonderful option! Perhaps you have your own favroite method but if you take a look at the Stitching Sewcial Free Design of the Month project for February, you’ll find instructions for making a pillowcase using the roll up method for a neat finish inside and out. Here is the link:

      Embroidering on the band fabric gives you extra opportunities to prep the fabric beforehand and having a choice of fabric makes you the designer in the driver’s seat 🙂

      Thanks again for writing Joan! Keep in touch and let us know how your pillowcase embellishment adventure turns out. Happy Sewing!

  • I am just getting my embroidery machine back out after a few years absence. I have forgotten where toMary find the free designs of the month in Ibroidery. Can someone help me?

    • Hi Mary!

      Glad to hear you are getting back into sewing! The Brother Free Design of the month is posted on the Brother design download center, each month. The design changes right around the first of each month when a new one comes out. They are not archived on the iBroidery site. However, all of the past posts with a link to monthly Brother Free Design of the month are included in the projects are available on this site, You can use the search menu to find these or you can click on the tag that says Free Design of the Month. Please let us know if you need any more help.

  • The pillowcases turned out beautifully – thank you. I made them for my neighbor for Christmas. However, after seeing them, my daughter-in-law and sister-in-law want a set! Happy to oblige.

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