DIY Secret Message Pillowcase Tutorial {Glows in the dark!}

Last summer my kids went to sleep away camp for the first time. I was a bit nervous leaving them for an entire week, since they were 6 and 9 years old, so – being a sewist mom – I decided to make them a project.

Each of my girls received a personalized pillowcase with a glow-in-the-dark secret message. Every night when they went to sleep, the glowing message would say goodnight and that mom and dad love them. Made me feel much better!

diy pillowcase, secret message, glow in the dark, glow-in-the-dark, handmade, pillowcase

diy pillowcase, secret message, glow in the dark, glow-in-the-dark, handmade, pillowcase

diy pillowcase, secret message, glow in the dark, glow-in-the-dark, handmade, pillowcase

diy pillowcase, secret message, glow in the dark, glow-in-the-dark, handmade, pillowcase

diy pillowcase, secret message, glow in the dark, glow-in-the-dark, handmade, pillowcase

diy pillowcase, secret message, glow in the dark, glow-in-the-dark, handmade, pillowcase

This post is sponsored by Janome Canada. I am a Janome Artisan and have been loaned a Janome Skyline S9 sewing and embroidery combination machine as part of this program.

Today’s tutorial shows you how to incorporate a glow-in-the-dark message using a sewing machine with an alphabet function. (P.S. If you don’t have one, consider using the glowing thread to hand-embroider a message instead!) I added some embroidery as well since the Janome Skyline S9 can do that too!

There are so many uses for these pillowcases. Make one for….

  • a unique gift for your grandkids
  • a child in the hospital
  • your hubby while you are away traveling on business
  • a child who is scared of the dark
  • a fun surprise!

My lovely blog sponsor, Country Clothesline, provided the fabrics for this pillowcase. They have a gorgeous selection of fresh and pretty fabrics in her shop – think picnics and country gardens. My kids are debating who gets to use this pillowcase first as we speak! (Find links to the fabrics at the bottom of this post.)

Make your own DIY Secret Message Pillowcase

You will need:

  • A good burrito pillowcase tutorial – try this link from Janome Life.
  • Glow-in-the-dark Embroidery thread
  • Materials as per your tutorial
  • Optional: Embroidery machine and supplies


Cutting Instructions:

It is best to follow your chosen tutorial, but, as a gauge – here are the measurements I used to cut fabric for my pillowcase. Each of these is cut across the width of the fabric from selvage to selvage – generally, this is about 42″-44″.

  • 11″ band
  • 2″ wide accent strip (will be folded in half)
  • 27″ main fabric


STEP 1: Make the Accent Strip with Your Secret Message

diy pillowcase, secret message, glow in the dark, glow-in-the-dark, handmade, pillowcase

Fold the accent strip in half and press. Add a 1″ wide piece of stabilizer to one half of it. This will be where you will place your glow-in-the-dark message.

diy pillowcase, secret message, glow in the dark, glow-in-the-dark, handmade, pillowcase

Program the message into your machine. The Skyline S9 allows you to check your work, do it if you can to make sure there aren’t any spelling mistakes.

diy pillowcase, secret message, glow in the dark, glow-in-the-dark, handmade, pillowcase

Measure the height of your text and draw a baseline with a removable marking device. Check which way the text will face as you stitch and align the baseline so the text is right side up above the fold of the accent strip. If you are centering the text on the strip, allow for a 1/4″ seam allowance at the top of the accent strip.

IMPORTANT: Press your accent strip well before you embroider on it! You CAN NOT press the glow-in-the-dark embroidery thread with the same heat you use to press the cotton fabric because it will melt. (Don’t ask me how I know, blergh.)

diy pillowcase, secret message, glow in the dark, glow-in-the-dark, handmade, pillowcase

Use the baseline as a guide and stitch the message, starting about 1″ into the strip to allow for the pillowcase seam allowance. Continue repeating your message until you reach about 1″ from the other end of the strip.

diy pillowcase, secret message, glow in the dark, glow-in-the-dark, handmade, pillowcase

Remove the spacing threads between the letters if desired.

Re-fold the strip. (Do not press on high heat! Test your “synthetic” setting and use a press cloth if you really want to iron it.)

STEP 2: Embroider the Pillowcase

diy pillowcase, secret message, glow in the dark, glow-in-the-dark, handmade, pillowcase

When centering embroidery, make sure to take seam allowances and folds into account. Embroidery centered on the top front band will appear on 1/4 of the band fabric. (see photo)

diy pillowcase, secret message, glow in the dark, glow-in-the-dark, handmade, pillowcase

Place stabilizer underneath and hoop your project.

diy pillowcase, secret message, glow in the dark, glow-in-the-dark, handmade, pillowcase

I used two rose designs included with the Janome AcuDesign app and changed the colours to use similar colours to the fabric so I could envision the final product.

diy pillowcase, secret message, glow in the dark, glow-in-the-dark, handmade, pillowcase

diy pillowcase, secret message, glow in the dark, glow-in-the-dark, handmade, pillowcase

The AcuSetter app allowed me to send the design placements over WIFI to the Skyline S9, so the rose and the two vine sections would match up.

Janome Skyline S9 Embroidery machine

Embroidered Pillowcase

Embroider the pillowcase band as desired.

Step 3: Finish Making the Pillowcase

Follow your desired tutorial to finish the pillowcase. Insert the accent strip between the main and band fabric with the lettering facing the band fabric when sewing them together.

I used a french seam to enclose the raw edges of the pillowcase so they won’t fray.


Thanks for reading Thread Riding Hood. Don’t miss a post – come #alongforthreadride!


Woven Fabric: All fabrics are from Country Clothesline Rambling Rose by Tanya Whelan for FreeSpirit, Happy Dots Pinhead (white on blue dot) from Michael Miller Fabrics, Basically Hugs (blue on white dot) by Helen Stubbings for P&B Textiles

Glow-In-The-Dark thread: Coats & Clark, 100% Polyester

Sewing Machine: Janome Skyline S9 (on loan from Janome Canada as part of their Artisan program)

Quick and Happy Mother’s Day Gift

Last year my kids and I made Mother’s and Father’s day gifts for my parents. The youngest chose to make this pincushion for my mom and I thought it would be fun to show it to you.

Simple Hoop Pincushion, DIY, no sew

Simple Hoop Pincushion, DIY, no sew

Simple, Hoop Pincushion, DIY, no sew

Simple Hoop Pincushion DIY no sew

My idea came from the Sewing Rabbit’s Embroidery Hoop Pin Cushion tutorial. There are a few other tutorials out there, but I like this one because it has a cork backing to stab your pins into. Plus it’s a no-sew project!

This one is a less “clean” looking than the original tutorial – and that’s because my daughter decided we HAD to leave the frilly fabric around the edges. I love that she puts her spin on our crafts, even if it’s hard for me to leave it alone and not say anything!

She picked some of my long-hoarded fabric, something my friend Cynthia Frenette designed and sent to me a while ago – appropriate for my mom who loves to sew. We also added a little tag with a tiny grommet. As a bit of an aside – gromments are amazing and look fantastic in many places that I usually don’t think to put them. And they are easy to install.

I love adding special messages, so my daughter prettied up the cardstock cover on the back with a message and we sent it off to Grandma. Grandma happens to live in Texas, so we also like that it was small and lightweight enough to put in the mail!

P.S. It was well received. 🙂

Red and Green Undercover Maker Mat

I have a huge thanks to give out to my mom today. She loves to sew and that’s how I got hooked – hooray! It also gives me a good excuse to make anything that happens to relate to sewing – since I can’t possibly use them all myself, lol!

Sewing Machine Mat, Sewing Machine Cover, Thread Catcher, Batiks

Sewing Machine Mat, Sewing Machine Cover, Thread Catcher, Batiks

Sewing Machine Mat, Sewing Machine Cover, Thread Catcher, Batiks

Sewing Machine Mat, Sewing Machine Cover, Thread Catcher, Batiks

This sewing machine mat is so cute. It’s the free Undercover Maker Mat tutorial from lillyella. Good looking and (hopefully) useful all in one! I say hopefully because I haven’t used one myself – it was a gift for my mom a couple of years ago. I also say hopefully, because it seems a bit tricky to take the mat out from under your machine – with potentially full pockets – and tie it on as a machine cover.

That said – I had a lot of fun making it and using some fun stitches and my paper piecing skills to make it special. The batik fabric was chosen by my mom a few years before, and it matches the wonky star table runner I made her that year. I added a cardinal button for the removable thread catcher, since she and my dad love to bird-watch.

Sewing Machine Mat, Sewing Machine Cover, Thread Catcher, Batiks

Sewing Machine Mat, Sewing Machine Cover, Thread Catcher, Batiks

One thing I had not done before was use a fancy stitch as a quilting stitch. The decorative flower stitch on the natural background fabric is number 28 on my Janome Skyline S9. And the stars look so cute as an embellishment to sew down the binding that hides your raw edges. I also used a shiny machine embroidery thread that I picked up on sale for some of the decorative stitches. It makes them look special!

Sewing Machine Mat, Sewing Machine Cover, Thread Catcher, Batiks

Sewing Machine Mat, Sewing Machine Cover, Thread Catcher, Batiks

I’ve been knee deep in Christmas sewing, jury duty and regular life for the past month. But I’m excited that the sewn gifts are looking almost finished, early even! Amazing!

I hope you have a lovely holiday, and thank you so much for continuing to come back and read my thoughts. We’ll be meeting up with family and enjoying the season, slower than usual I hope! Taking time out for the “little things” has become a lot more important this year. See you again soon!

Sewing Machine Mat, Sewing Machine Cover, Thread Catcher, Batiks

Fold-N-Go Pocket Placemats {a tutorial}

Picnics spark all kinds of good summer memories. And what better to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday than with a whole look book of picnic ideas – including a brand new Fold-N-Go Placemat tutorial I wrote for the project!

Disclaimer: I am a Canadian Janome Artisan. Janome provided the materials for this look book project and the Skyline S9 on-loan machine I am currently using. Michael Miller Fabrics also provided the Cotton Couture solids. As with all the products I write about – I always tell you my own honest opinion. Thanks for reading! (P.S. Working with Janome is a dream-come-true for me, it never gets old! Plus, they are amazing and fun to work with, and I love their machines, which doesn’t hurt either!)

Earlier this year, Janome asked their artisans to contribute picnic-related projects for their latest look book – Cross Country Picnic – and the result is chock-full of great ideas, tutorials, and patterns. (You can read the previous look book full of projects too!)

These Fold-N-Go Placemats combine my love of impromptu picnics with the desire for a cute (and clean!) space to have them on – plus a little Maple Leaf Canadian pride.

Our set is going to live in our car so we can grab it and picnic whenever we want! This quilted project includes a matching napkin and divided utensil section. Plus it folds and buttons to keep everything tidy. I used vintage leather buttons and added a customizable leather (or vinyl) label to give it a more professional look.

Materials: (makes 1 placemat with included napkin)

  • Placemat: 2 pieces pre-washed 12″ x 18″ Essex Linen in Flax (Found at my sponsor Fabric Spark)
  • Napkin: 1 piece pre-washed 16″ x 16″ piece of linen or linen blend
  • Binding/Applique/Pocket: 1/2 yard/metre pre-washed Michael Miller Cotton Couture (I used Violet, Raspberry, Cornflower and Lime)
  • Quilt Batting: 1 piece 12″x18″
  • Fusible Web: 1 piece 8 1/2″ x 11″ (I love Steam-A-Seam 2!)
  • Matching Thread
  • One Button
  • Scrap of Vinyl or Leather for the Optional Label
  • Basting Spray or Pins
  • Removable Fabric Marker
  • Janome Skyline S9 sewing machine with these included machine feet/accessories: ZigZag Foot A, Satin Stitch Foot F, Quilting Guide Bar, AcuFeed Dual Feed Holder and Foot AD (quilting), Automatic Buttonhole Foot R and Stabilizer plate, Knee Lifter


Before you begin:

  • Print out the free pattern pieces (link in the materials list above) on letter size (8.5″ x 11″) or A4 paper. Important: Do not select “fit to page” when printing, make sure you print at the original size.
  • Once you have printed the first page, measure the 1″ test square to ensure the pattern is the correct size.
  • Cut the pattern pieces on the outer gray lines and tape them together if needed, matching the letters in the gray half-circles.

Cutting the Binding/Applique/Pocket:

Important: These pieces are carefully placed to fit in 1/2 yard/meter of fabric. Please follow the cutting layout carefully! 

  • Applique: Use the Applique pattern piece to cut 1 Maple Leaf in the solid accent colour. Be sure to place it as indicated in the layout above. Also cut 1 Maple Leaf from the Fusible Web.
  • Pocket: Cut 2 Pocket pieces, mirrored and placed as indicated in the layout above.
  • Binding: Cut 3 full 2 1/2″ strips along the width of the fabric and one 1/2 strip as indicated in the layout above.


1) Thread your machine. The Janome Skyline S9 includes Large and Small Spool holders to fit the size of your thread spool.

2) Binding: Sew the 2 1/2″ strips together to create a 147″ length (approx.) of binding using your preferred method. This will be used for the napkin and placemat.

3) Pocket:

  1. Place Pocket pieces right-sides-together matching diagonal raw edge. Pin and stitch the diagonal edge with a 1/4″ seam. 
  2. Press seam allowance open. Fold pocket wrong-sides-together along the seam, matching remaining raw edges. Press.
  3. Match and baste all raw edges with a scant 1/4″ seam. I used the Auto Basting setting on my Skyline S9.  Top-stitch the finished edge.
  4. Press the pocket in half width-wise, matching the two side edges.
  5. To create utensil pocket divisions: With the short diagonal pocket facing up (See Pic), mark the binding area with a 3/8″ seam allowance along the left and bottom raw edges. Mark another line 1 5/8″ from the left binding mark (not the raw edge), and another from the right fold. The center section will be about 1 3/4″ wide. Pin and stitch along each marked dividing line (but not the binding markings) to finish the pocket.

Let’s Sew!

1) Match the maple leaf shape to the right side of the placemat, 3/4″ up from the bottom edge. Fuse according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

2) Switch to the Satin Stitch foot F and choose an Applique stitch. I used stitch #6 with a width and length of 3. Stitch carefully around your applique to secure the edges.


3) Sandwich the front and back of your placemat wrong sides together with the batting between them and baste using basting spray or pins.

4) Switch to your AcuFeed Dual Feed Holder and Foot AD (or walking foot) and choose a straight stitch to prepare to quilt the placemat. I used the automatic Quilt Setting Straight Stitch option. (Note: If you do not have a machine with automatic or computerized tension, test your stitches on a scrap quilt “sandwich” before quilting.)

5) Stitch around the applique 1/4″ from the edge. Use the clear inside edge of the Dual Feed foot as a guide.

6) Mark your remaining quilt lines with a removable marker. I stitched 2 rows of 1″ wide and 4 rows of 2″ wide straight lines, following the leaf outline. Alternatively, use the Quilting Guide Bar to evenly stitch the around your applique.

7) Quilt along each marked line. Attach the Knee Lifter to easily lift and replace the presser foot. (Side note: It was so nice not to use my hands to pivot at each corner!) My favorite Thread Cutter button made trimming the threads at each edge quick and easy.

8) Place the pocket in the bottom left-hand corner of the placemat matching the raw edges. Pin and baste with a scant 1/4″ seam allowance.

9) Bind the placemat. I like to use Cluck Cluck Sew’s machine binding tutorial and the AcuFeed Dual Feed system. ** Don’t forget to insert your leather label! See the Janome Cross Canada Picnic look book for instructions. Place it along the back edge of the binding about 3 1/2″ up from the bottom as you sew.

10) Choose and set up your machine to make a buttonhole that will fit your button. The Skyline S9 has an automatic buttonhole system with lots of options. The buttonhole should be centered on the back edge of the placemat (sSee pics for reference). Mark a 2″ center point 1/2″ away from the binding, make a test buttonhole and mark its beginning and end points on the placemat.

11) Attach the Automatic Buttonhole foot R and included Stabilizer Plate. Sandwich your project between the Buttonhole foot and Stabilizer Plate to secure it and hold it in place. Stitch and finish your buttonhole.

12) Fold the placemat in thirds; left side first, then the appliqued side with the buttonhole. Mark your button placemat using the buttonhole as a guide. Stitch your button on securely at the marked point.

Matching Napkin:

  • Machine bind the 4 raw edges of the napkin as you did for the placemat. I used a decorative applique stitch to further secure the longer edge of the binding. Fold the napkin in quarters and then in half again to fit it into the pocket.

Insert your utensils and napkin and Fold-N-Go. Enjoy your picnic!

I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial. Please email or message me anytime with questions or leave a comment below.


I’d love to see your project! You can share your placemats on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram (links below) using the hashtags #alongforthreadride and/or #threadridinghood. Be sure to tag me @sherrisylvester so I can see it! Thank you!

Flamingo Throw Pillow

I love the precision of paper piecing, once I remember how to do it again. (Every Time!) It allows for crazy things to be pieced, like the eye on this flamingo – that is only 3 or 4 stitches across each side. I have so much respect for quilters who “regular-piece” mini things!

This pillow started with the backing fabric a couple of years ago. I found it while on vacation in Florida at Byrd’s Nest Quilt Shop. My parents’ saw some flamingos on their honeymoon (I think!) and it has become “their animal”. Since their 40th wedding anniversary was this January I decided they needed a flamingo throw pillow.

The pattern is from Quiet Play – my go-to for paper piecing as she has made so many patterns, and lots of them are free! I picked this one up as part of a monthly zoo animal block blog post. She was giving away one free block per month and I happened to get in for the Flamingo. (If you want to get it now you can purchase her Zoo Animal Bundle. Or you could purchase this Geometric Flamingo on its own.)

To get the flamingos to face each other, I printed the pattern once correctly and a second time using the mirror-image setting on my printer. Then, I made them and sewed them together down the center.

The front is pieced from my solids stash, most of which is from my sponsor Sew Sister’s Quilt Shop, purchased while I was part of their Kona and Colour Wheel Club. The quilting is simple, straight lines in blue. I took my time deciding the quilting colour and I think it turned out ok! Though I should not have quilted right through the black of the eye. Next time I’ll plan differently.

As I sew more of them,  I am realizing that throw pillows are super fast, good scrap destashers and fun to sew. They make great gifts, especially for kids’ birthdays. They can be personalized to someone’s favorite colour and even include their initial. Plus it’s a fun “quilty-break” between other projects. My pillow forms are from IKEA, pretty inexpensively, which works out to an “almost free” project most times!

Hope your summer is sew-ing well. 🙂

See you next time! Sherri

Your Selfish Sewing List for Valentine’s Day!

It’s almost February’s “Day of Love” and Valentine’s Day can kinda get a bit of a bad rep sometimes… This year, take matters into your own hands and treat yourself!

Around here, Selfish Sewing can often get put on the back burner. Well, to be honest, the back of the sewing table – or in project piles in the closet, for longer than I’d like. Everyone else (and the laundry) seems to take priority!

Here’s a little help to stop the cycle, click over to my latest Craftsy post to find 10 inspirational sewing patterns you can make to treat yourself this year. There are options for everyone, whether you are getting ready for date night or staying in!

Take the night off, grab a cup of tea and some fresh flowers floral  fabric and sew!

 10 Patterns to sew for YOU this Valentine’s Day!