Closures of Pillowcases (2)

A traditional method is tying. I have found this method on many pillowcases, often more than 200 years old.

For this purpose, ribbons of sufficient length are attached in the same position at the lower edge of the front and back part of the pillow and tied in a bow.

The strips were usually made of the same fabric as the pillowcase. Bobbin lace ribbons were also used in some examples. These are thinner, usually smaller and therefore not as bulky. They also have an additional decorative effect.


Depending on the firmness of the cover fabric and ticking used, as well as the stability and width of the ribbons used, the bows under the put up cushion are more or less visible.

Closures of Pillowcases (1)

Closures of Pillowcases (1)

Cushions are easiest to obtain when the opening is at the bottom edge and across the entire width.

There are different ways to close these openings. The simplest version is sewing – preferably by whipstitching.

However, this type of closure is only recommended for covers that are rarely striped. Because often repeated unstitching and sewing damages the fabric over time.

In order for the closure edges to be clean and stable, it is advisable to provide them with a narrow hem.

One can proceed as follows:
After completion of the embroidery, the piece is washed to bring the fabric by shrinking to the final expansion. Then the linen is ironed and then cut to the required size.

The pillowcase should have a 2 cm wide hem. It is cut from a piece of linen and folded at the top edge. Before the sides are sewn together, the pillowcase is brought to the required height – here: 2 x (desired finished height + 1 cm fold + 2 cm inside hem width). Then two threads are withdrawn – one 1 cm, the second 5 cm from the lower edge, both on the front and the back.

Before closing the side seams, the withdrawn-thread lines of the front and the back are placed exactly on top of each other and held in place with pins.

One should check on the back whether the pins have also meet the withdrawn-thread lines there.

Also holding against the light facilitates the precise assembly.

Both layers of fabric are carefully basted in the seam area and then sewn together with the machine. After the seam has been applied, the following image appears from the right side of the fabric:

The fold is folded along the withdrawn-thread linel to the inside. Thread line is placed on thread line. The hem is pinned, basted in place and then fastened using Antique hem stitches. In the area of the side seam allowance, one has to check the run of the stitches on the outside with each stitch.

In this way, you get an all around clean hem.

Pillowcases prepared in this way can be closed in different ways. This one, as already mentioned, is to be sewn by hand with overwhelming stitches. Due to the hem, the lower edge remains stable; if the hand stitches are not too fine and not too invisible, the pillowcase can be unstitched, washed and sewn close again without any problems.

Design Transfer – Test 5

I liked the method with the blue paper transfer, only I found the somewhat jittery and shaky lines not optimal. So I tried a similar method using a prick needle.

My pricking needle has only a short tip that tapers off very strongly at the end. Placed on a relatively solid surface and then pierced,

the marks obtained with it appeared very weak. But even on a softer surface, the marking points were not clearer with this needle.

So I made another attempt, which I will now explain in more detail.

The linen marked on the horizontal and vertical center axis was placed on a non-slip surface – a tablecloth pad – and positioned so that the marking lines were really at right angles.

Sufficiently large blue paper for the desired pattern was laid over it and fixed with removable adhesive tape.

The pattern sheet was placed over it, matching the markings on the linen, and also attached

The paper was perforated along the lines with a slightly thicker tapestry needle.

The linen then had a clearly recognizable outline pattern,

which in my opinion turned out to be a bit more exact than the same pattern traced with a pen (here on different linen qualities).

However, the effort is more elaborate – it takes longer to prick all of the many points. Pricking is more relaxed for the hand, as you don’t have to press firmly and pull on at the same time. For the eyes, however, working with the prick needle is more strenuous.

Design Transfer – Test 4

In my 4th test I used a traditional method that is still used in some courses today: the transfer of patterns using blueprint paper.

For this I used blue carbon paper from the Kores company. Black paper is not suitable because the lines cannot be washed out.

Since I hadn’t used this method for a very long time and wasn’t sure whether the blue lines of today’s paper could be washed out, I first tried it without embroidery. Lines of various intensities were traced on a remnant of linen.

In the short laundery with lukewarm water, the weaker lines disappeared immediately. A very slight shimmer remained from the stronger lines, which is barely noticeable on the natural-coloured linen.

Encouraged by this, I made further attempts. The blueprint paper – large enough for the design area – was positioned on the linen marked with Running stitch lines, and attached with removable tape.

The sheet with the design – here 90 g tracing paper – was placed on top meeting the marking lines and also attached with removable tape.

For my first attempt – see below – I chose a medium-soft surface. Also, I didn’t press very hard when tracing the lines. This made the outlines appear rather weak. Nevertheless, I was able to recognize them until the end and to embroider along them. The pen did not drill its way through the design paper. If you use thinner paper with the design on it, you can prevent it from breaking through by putting a piece of a thin transparent folder over it.

In some places the outlines ran clearly next to the embroidery.

After a short hand-warm laundry with mild detergent and a little rubbing, the lines were only vaguely visible.

After drying, they were completely gone.

On my second attempt, I worked on a hard surface and pressed very hard. As a result, I felt the many small jumps again while recording, which were caused by the constant up and down of the pen tip when crossing the fabric threads. That had a disruptive effect on the lines, which in some places seem quite wobbly.

Overall, however, I was very satisfied with the result – the lines are fine and yet clearly visible.

To see if the lines smudge or fade over time, against all common practice, I almost completely finished the embroidery before working on the last branch.

The outlines had lost none of their clarity.

Before washing, one could clearly see the lines not covered by the embroidery in some places.

After a short hand-warm wash with mild detergent, the lines have disappeared without a trace.

The transfer of a design using blue carbon paper is therefore quite possible. However, I have only tested this method here on natural coloured, durable pressed linen. A test on white linen is still pending.

Design Transfer – Test 3

In the near future, I want to address the different ways in which embroidered pillowcases are made.

Old hand-woven linen is best for embroidering pillowcases because it is not susceptible to creasing. Now I have been looking for an alternative for the embroiderers in countries where one cannot fall back on “household linen”. At the weaving mill Übelhör I found what I was looking for with durable pressed natural coloured linen.

My preferred method of transferring patterns onto the linen is ironing them on with a DEKA iron-on transfer pen. However, it requires heat. The durable pressed linen, however, cannot withstand great heat. So I looked for other transfer solutions.

During my exhibition in September there was enough opportunity to exchange ideas about the different transfer methods used by the embroiderers. I’ll test some of them over time. Here is my experiment with a non-permanent pen from Staedtler. In contrast to the FriXion rollerball pen from Pilot, the colour can be completely washed out and does not reappear later.

Caution! I have just received a call from an embroiderer who has worked with the pen several times. She reports that the composition of the ink has been changed and the colour of the newer pens can no longer be washed out. So please check on a small test piece before embroidering whether the colour of your pen can be washed out or not.

With the help of a light pad, the pattern was transferred to the linen. The natural tone of the linen is swallowing light much more than white linen, and will not allow the design lines to show through without bright lightning.

The constant up and down of the pen point crossing the threads made my lines a little bit wobbly. This I found it disturbing.

The lines turned out fine and clear, the colour is strong and lasts until the end. The pen is available in many other colours – I just happened to have a green one on hand – and also in different widths. “F” should be the most suitable for the design transfer.

After embroidering, I put the motif in lukewarm water, and the colour immediately dissolved.

After a short time, the soap suds was coloured green.

Only a very short rubbing was necessary to wash the last remains of the ink from the linen.

The result was a clean fabric from which the outlines could be completely washed out in a very short time. If the wobbles weren’t created while tracing, this would be a perfect way to transfer designs.