Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Embroidered Pillowcases: Opposite Faces


Well, here’s the finished embroidery project that I was working on. It’s a pair of “opposite” pillowcases, hand-embroidered in regular DMC stranded cotton.

I started embroidering the pillow cases about 3 weeks ago, then ran into a snag and wasn’t able to stitch for about a week. They were for a contest, so I figured I’d just scratch the idea. But yesterday, I decided to at least try to see how far I could get, as I didn’t want to waste the effort. Besides, if I hadn’t pushed myself to finish for the deadline, I would probably have never finished the stitching!

They lack a couple finished details: jumbo ric-rac (black on the white and white on the black), and some text. I was going to split the following line of poetry and put the appropriate half on the appropriate pillow case. But oh well. I’ll definitely add the ric-rac, since I think I’ll give these away as a Christmas present.

This is the line:

Golden slumbers kiss your eyes, Smiles awake you when you rise.
–Thomas Dekker

So here are some photos of the project:

Embroidered Pillow Cases

When I was in college, one summer I designed and copyrighted a line of notecards and stationery called “A Few Good Laughs,” which I sold to make money for school. I drew the circles by tracing pennies, and filled in the circles with caricatures of laughing faces. For the pillow cases, I traced the lid of a vitamin bottle and free handed the faces.

Embroidered Pillow Cases

The white pillow cases are the “awake” ones. I should’ve gotten a better shot of the individual pillow cases! Darn.

Embroidered Pillow Cases

And here are some close-ups on faces. I embroidered the black pillow case first, and the kid with the ball cap has an “A” on the cap on the black one. So I put a “Z” on this one…

Embroidered Pillow Cases

A little long-and-short stitch bow on this chubby baby…

Embroidered Pillow Cases

A little flower girl here. She’s a bit fuzzy around the chin. I had part of a small skein of black DMC when I started this… so I was running short by the end! I had to make my threads last a bit longer than usual. I learned a lot on this about fabric: I don’t like working on blends! And passing through two layers is hard on thread. I should have bought the cotton and made my own pillowcases! Also, I could’ve waxed my threads to alleviate some of the wear, but it would’ve taken too much time. Ah well. Next time! (?? Next time???)

Embroidered Pillow Cases

Aargh, matey!

Embroidered Pillow Cases

The white background necessitated a snowman…

Embroidered Pillow Cases

And Santa… and a clown.

So that’s white one close up – I’ll follow with the black one (“asleep”) tomorrow!

Between the pair of pillow cases, there are 19 different embroidery stitches used, and 46 faces altogether.

What do you think? Could I start a face-ish pillowcase trend?


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(20) Comments

  1. OMG! This is just too adorable. I’m so glad you completed the pillowcases and THANK YOU for posting the pictures. They would definitely make a great gift for young kids or even teenagers. I loved every face you made. Mary, you mentioned that you had difficulty with the blended fabric so what fabric would you recommend to make these pillowcases?

    Many thanks,

  2. Thanks so much for the comments, everyone! I had problems posting them yesterday – but all seems to be fixed now!

    Meeta, I’ll cover the fabric question in the next post!

    Kim – I used a pencil here and there on many of the faces! I found that freehanding some of the eyes with embroidery lead to crooked eyes!

    A sheet or quilt or whole set of bedding like this would be fun to do, but holy cow! It would take so much time!!

  3. The pillow cases with the faces are wonderful. A sheet to match the pillow cases will be nice. I am tempted to do this but I cant think how I can do the faces in free style.

  4. Usha, would you like a pattern? Perhaps I could work up one in the next few days! It would be fun to draw it out “electronically” – I’ll see what I can do!

  5. Although I have started on pillowcases just like how you’ve made, but I’m thinking a throw pillow (square or rectangle) with these smiley faces would accent any bed or chair too. Just a thought…

  6. Hey Mary

    Im a college student that recently picked up embroidery and have fallen in love with it. I want to make bunches and bunches of gifts for people. Yet that can be expensive. So i had a question…. can i use floss on a regular average pillow case or would that be impossible to do? For the projects i have been working on i use regular sewing thread and was trying to move on to floss for a better look. i use regular pillow cases cause fabric from what i have seen is very expensive, especially since i am a novice at what i am doing.

  7. Hi, Jules –

    Of course you can use floss on average pillow cases!! That’s what these are in the photos above!

    If you’re fairly good at sewing, you can even take the cuff apart on the edge of the pillow case, embroider your design, then sew the cuff back up, hiding the back of the stitching. But even if you can’t manage that, you can still use regular, store-bought pillow cases. You can stitch through both layers if there’s a turn-over on the edge…

    Good luck!


  8. Mary, I am WILD about the pillowcases. Reading some of the comments, I noticed you considered trying to make a “pattern” to offer us. Did you ever do that? I have shared your site with so many people, you are an inspiration.

  9. Mary that looks like a lot of fun ! I love to see it on my pillows and I am sure every night I will go to sleep with a smile on my lips forgetting the tensions and frustrations of the day.Thankyou.

  10. I just now saw this and love your work! These were for Craftster, right? I would have voted for yours had you entered – I love them!

  11. I love these pillow cases – they are so cute. In fact I love your whole site ! I’ve been on here for hours watching all the tutorial videos and I am just totally enthralled by all your lovely projects. So much for my early night !

  12. Hi Mary, I realise that this request is just a few years too later, but can I bother you to draw up a pattern please? this is too cute to pass by without wanting to try it out 🙂

    I do understand that you’re very busy, but if you could find some time for this, i would be most grateful! 🙂 Thank you!

  13. Wow, Mary, I spend loads of time at you website since I discovered it earlier this year but these faces are just so amazing!! Fun to look at and very imaginative! Would you consider drawing a pattern out if them?
    Thank you so much for your work!

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