Pillowcase Trot-Out

comments: 86

Linens1 I cleaned out the linen cabinet. That felt good. It turns out that most sheets that "went" were not Royal Velvet 275s. The Royal Velvet 275s win the Paulson sheet-staying contest. They seem to be the only ones, over the years, that haven't pilled, shredded, or faded in a blotchy, weird way. Unfortunately, they are also discontinued. Sigh. I really hate buying sheets. I've said that before. I don't trust them.

Anyway, this post is not about sheets, but about pillowcases. Specifically, ones that I've embroidered over the years. I love embroidering pillowcases. I have more than I'll ever need, and with the stack of vintage cases growing and growing (there are still so many out there, and so inexpensive, considering the quality of the fabric is generally better than what you can buy new), we'll probably never need another pillowcase. Nevertheless, I find them to be satisfying to embroider in the most practical and charming way. They make great gifts, too. In chronological order, and with the gifts obviously absent, here are mine:

Linens4 This one was a printed vintage case, found thrifting, which I then embroidered in . . . 1992. Fifteen years ago, wow. I distinctly remember working on this in a Starbucks in Elmhurst, Illinois, the weekend that my friend Martha went to visit her grandma in the nursing home and we waited for Andy and John to meet us at the coffee shop. I was wearing a navy-blue polka dot dress with contrast serpentine trim around all the buttons (vintage, wore it 'til it fell apart, literally). I went through a serious blue phase. The blues in this case really clash. I find it kind of difficult to figure out where the shading really belongs. I always have, even when drawing. That whole "where's the light source?" thing throws me.

Pillowcase1_2 I did a bunch of them for friends and gave them away, and then we got married, and then I had my accident, and this was one I did in the months following that, with our married monogram. It's a million French knots, again with a clashing blue ribbon trim. But I love this one. I never finished the other one of the pair. I honestly don't know how I did this monogram without a computer, but maybe I had someone print it out for me, I can't remember.

Pillowcase6 I like monograms. I think they're very sweet. This is one of a pair that I did on a car trip to Montana in 2000. I actually did both of them, a miracle. I know this letter and the strawberries came from one of my books but I don't remember which one. I don't think I washed the cases before I embroidered them and you can see that it's pulling around the strawberry. A little stabilizer would've helped there, I think, but I don't really care. I like things rumply.

Pillowcase2 I did this one around the same time. It's silk-ribbon embroidery and a floss monogram from a book called 4,000 Monograms. I never did the second case. Notice how I always ungenerously do my own pillow first (facing right) just in case I poop out. I usually poop out. Naughty Mrs. Paulson.

Pillowcase4 These are shams, I actually made two. The fabric was from the Whole Nine Yards, and the buttons are covered with embroidered pieces of cotton denim, I think.

Pillowcase5 My favorite is the last set I made, from this post way back in December 2005.

Pillowcase It's a melange of images and letters pulled from different books and an Aunt Martha pattern. I did it before I had a blog, so I didn't really keep track. And I actually did two of these. I really like them. These are my favorites. I should've taken a new picture of them, but I think they're in the laundry because we use them all the time.


Oh the bluebirds are my faves too, but they all are beautiful! Lovely!!

I just got sublime stitching, and am going to start embroidering ~ everything!!!!!

Great job Alicia! :O)


I love embroidered pillowcases. Yours are beautiful.

You do lovely work! Thanks for sharing!

I love embroidering pillowcases too. And homemade cotton/linen teatowls. I only do the simplest of stitches, but the effect is so pretty and homey. My Mom taught me to embroider when I was nine. She is gone now, but I still have some of her pieces (getting a bit threadbare from use) and am passing on the skill to my daughter.

Those lovely bluebirds are my fave of the ones you posted.
We're in recuperation mode here and those pillowcases make me want to lie down and daydream about the future.

wow- they are all lovely and like you i think the bluebirds are my favorite. i'm also fond of the second to last with the buttons. i've embroidered a bunch of pillowcases as well. it's quite fun to add this decorative touch.
thanks for sharing them.

Loooove, love, love the pillowcases. I was just reading a great book on embroidery this morning and got all inspired to embroider some pillowcases for my daughters, and now I'm REALLY fired up!

SOOO gorgeous...I can't even find a favorite! Your work is excellent...what heirlooms for the future. Thanks for sharing....as always your posts are an inspiration :)

Your pillowcases are all pretty. I have a hard time figuring out the shading thing too. A nice organized linen closet. In my house thats an oxymoron. good for you!

i love the bluebirds (do you know the bluebird song? it's one of my favorites).

i just bought a hoop and some embroidery floss last week and tried my hand at embroidering a tea towel yesterday for the first time. i was so inspired by what i'd seen here and on some other blogs. it was great fun and i'm off to embroider another little watermelon.

it's great fun to see your collection of pillowcases.

ohh I envy your collection, even though I just have one favorite pillow case I have to wash and put back on in a day (it just feels right)

Hi Alicia - These blogs are strange in that I find so much joy and inspiration in them and yet I don't really "know" the author of them! IS that strange? Nonetheless, your weblog is my absolute favorite and I adore your work. I am the master of getting the ideas in my head and then not executing them -this time I WILL! Right? I promise! Life is too short to not take action. Thanks for the pictures! Laura in Naperville, IL

Pillow cases are the perfect gift. I love the bluebirds in the last photo best as well. They are darling and I adore bluebirds anyway. Looking at your blog is so inspiring.. it's wonderful how Alicia your home is because you have put your whole self into it. I love to visit peoples homes that are all them. If they do that, I don't really think they can go wrong unless they are mean or something bad. :)

I'm cleaning closets today, too, but I doubt mine will look as pretty. You should seriously have your own magazine.

I just love them all!! and I know the post was about pillowcases, but you want to come clean out our linen closet? I seriously have some Eddie Bauer way too rustic flannel sheets to get rid of (must think of good use, like quilt backing).
I have sooo much I want to do I just cannot add another thing to the "to do" list, but I should really do this for Emma. I already am in the process of embroidering horses onto her bookbag, so what's a few more? Aha! Miss Wee Wonderfuls Summer Stitchettes on a pillow case for Emma... there we go... oh great, thanks, now another thing to add to the "to do" list. See what you do, you make me want to be more crafty... you are just an inspiration to all!

tammy g. says: June 04, 2007 at 11:52 AM

I especially love your cherry shams & the bluebird cases. I have tons of old embroidery patterns just waiting for me to have the time...it is about the only thing that I seem to enjoy the most. I tried cross-stitch & was going bonkers with the tiny squares & counting! And, Crocheting is not made for lefties like me.

I also have several vintage embroidery cases from the flea market from several years ago - man, I should've gotten more 'cuz they are so pretty & SOFT. Now, the prices may be up higher...and, I've never seen them in the thrift stores.

Lovely, lovely pillowcases. The french knot one specifically drew my attention because I'm in the middle of a teenie french knot project myself at the moment and can appreciate the time it takes to make that many.

The green one! I am inspired to do some of those myself - though I have never really embroidered before - but I will buy that one any time you should decide to sell it. P works for me, too.

Thank you for sharing some of you collection with us. It was taking a trip down memory lane...like I was looking through my Grandmother's linen closet. I don't have many, but I cherish the ones I have because they were made with loving hands.

Amy in Tillamook says: June 04, 2007 at 12:23 PM

So prettiful! I'm ever grateful for your doses of visual beauty and wit.
P.S. Just got the July Country Living and your website is mentioned under Bloggers We Love on page 10!

I love to embroider....you seriously have got me in the mood to do granny squares and pillow cases now!! :) My mom has a lot of my grandmothers towels and pillow cases with embroider---I will have to ask to see them.....yours make me think of my grandmother. I never knew her...but I keep her quilt squares close to me---to just pretend like I knew her I guess.
Thanks for sharing-----Michelle

This has been a wonderful post to read as I love pillowcases. I have sewn old crochet edgings on alot of mine but you have given me the inspiration to do my own for gifts.
Thank you again for sharing this..xx

The pillowcases are beautiful! I love the birds best. Thanks!

You're making me want to pull out my embroiderly thread and a few pillow cases. Or run down to the sewing machine store and buy a really expensive embroidery machine, which I've resisted so far (I keep having these visions of embroidering my initials on all my blouses like Laverne of Laverne and Shirley--my family would put me and my embroidery machine out).

hurray for the pillowcases! I've been eagerly awaiting this post!

I have to say, I think the green is my favorite. I just love love love soft greens and the delicate flowers are so wonderful with their shifting colours and that monogram is *gorgeous* oh! I've never been terribly keen on silk ribbon embroidery, but I think you may have just changed my mind...

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at aliciapaulson.com