Madeira Applique’ Hem Pillowcases


A pair of these pillowcases were stitched for my daughter’s birthday, which is this week. She loves pretty linens and monograms, just like her mother, so this pair of pillow slips should please her.

The “C” monogram is from Martha Pullen’s  2002 Embroidery Club  collection.  I chose this style  because of its angular lines, a nice contrast to all the swirls of the embroidery below.  Years ago, I attended a quilting workshop at which the instructor casually threw out this tip.  She mentioned that when piecing with geometric shapes, she likes to quilt with curves.  Conversely, she thought that curved pieces look best with rectolinear quilting.  I’ve never regretted following her advice for quilts and frequently have applied it to embroidery designs.

The embroidered bow and fil tire’ whatever—it looks just like the seed cones dropping off my Little Gem magnolia tree– are a single 4×4 design from Martha’s Vintage Collection I, Disc1,  copied,  pasted and mirror-imaged.  Nestled into the fil tire’ are two tiny R’s,  for my Rebecca and her husband.This is really a lovely design.  I especially like the light, fagoting style stitches that fill the ribbons.


The Madeira hem is pin stitched in place.  I learned a valuable lesson on this project.  I change my needles frequently, as recommended.  But somehow, I never put made that practice a habit when using wing needles.

First I noticed that the reach stitch was not picking up. I thought my Brother Duetta might need adjusting, so I moved to the Brother ULT 2003D.  On that machine the stitch picked up, but the dull wing chewed up the Madeira hem for quite a distance before I realized what was happening.

As it turned out, I was unhappy with my original thread choice and that first pillowcase was a reject.  After that, I examined all my wing needles and found several that were noticeably dull–like a ball point needle.

Rebecca loves pima cotton.  When she went off as a freshman to University of Florida  the dormitory room was furnished with non-standard size bunk beds (30″ x 80″).  Becca  declared that she could not possibly sleep on the commercially available polycotton bunk bedding available.  So I custom made 2 sets of fitted sheets with the pima cotton she had grown up sleeping on.  She was the veritable Princess and the Pea!

Ironically, 6 weeks later she moved into the sorority house, with standard twin mattresses.  But  a few years later a precious family friend whom we have known since before her birth, went off to Florida.  I had put the pima  sheets aside hoping that she would end up at Florida or at least another school with odd-sized  beds.  So the sheets were passed on to Anna Christine, another little Princess who loves pima cotton.


Rebecca loves bright colors, but she has already changed their bedroom color scheme twice in the 5 years they have been married. For that reason, she asked for neutral pillowcases.  These should work anywhere.

I couldn’t help recalling my first encounter with Madeira applique’, just before she was born.  In a neighboring town, a very upscale children’s shop was going out of business.  When I came across it, I rushed in and made several purchases, including a baby pillowcase with Madeira applique’d  blue birds and a scalloped pink hem, all stitched by hand.

At the time, my sewing experience was limited to cafe curtains for the kitchen, so I was intrigued  It’s no coincidence that I love Madeira applique’ and that my Nana nursery is themed with bluebirds.


It’s such a joy to stitch something special for my special, precious daughter.  Slumbering on these pillowcases, I know she will have sweet dreams.  And I hope they all continue to come true.  Happy birthday, Rebecca.

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