Prairie Points and Pillowcase tutorial

Moda Fabrics is a sponsor of the Million Pillowcase Challenge with American Patchwork & QuiltingI asked Jennifer Keltner, Senior Editor of American Patchwork & Quilting, what her inspiration was for such a big project. Here is Jennifer’s reply.
 The inspiration for the project came from wanting to launch something that everyone could participate in—no matter what your skill level. With a pillowcase, it is fun and easy to make, doesn’t take a lot of time, and is certainly a way to showcase great fabrics you might not otherwise work with (don’t fit your usual style, color, etc.) It’s also a great way to practice a new-to-you technique such as prairie points, foundation piecing, diagonal block seams, etc. By incorporating that technique in a pieced pillowcase band, you can experiment first before making a commitment to a big quilt project.

On a very personal level, I was touched by two stories which made me think about the power of pillowcases making a difference. One was from a guild member who knew that in her area foster children had all their possessions tossed into a trash bag when they were moved from place to place. She vowed to have her guild donate pillowcases so every foster kid in the county could tuck their few possessions into a handmade case and have a soft place to rest their heads during trying times. The second was a story of a mother who made pillowcases for her son who was in a cancer ward—she was desperate to brighten up his room and his day. She did, and after he passed away, she had the courage to keep on creating them for the other people’s kids in the same tough spot. She and her husband eventually formed the ConKerr Cancer Foundation to make a difference for kids with cancer around the country by making pillowcases. Turning their grief into an ongoing effort for good really spoke to my heart.

I’m so touched by the hundreds of stories and emails I’ve read about where and how people are donating cases. The ultimate story of how the Million Pillowcase Challenge is an outreach to others came to my attention last week. Check out this girl learning to quilt with her mom, very inspiring girl (you’ll know what I mean when you check out her blog). Scroll down to the Tuesday, February 23 posting and make sure to click on the link to her friend Kristen’s blog to see how touched her friend was to receive the pillowcase. If this story doesn’t give you goosebumps….whoa! The power of quilting and motherhood and pillowcases and big hearts all rolled into one!

Thank you Jennifer

The staff here at moda fabrics have been feverishly making pillowcases. We are addicted! Jennifer also told me that they have a goal of 1000 pillowcases to be made by their staff. I will have to let the Moda crew know about that goal. The following pillowcase is a tutorial of the pillowcase I sent to APQ.


The following is actually 2 tutorials, Prairie Points and Pillowcases.

Determine the size of Prairie Point you need. (I used a pattern from APQ  that required 3″ prairie points.)
I doubled that size and cut a strip, 6″ wide x 45″ long.

Fold the strip in half length wise and press to determine the middle. Start on one end of the strip and cut every 3″ stopping at the middle fold. From the other side of the strip make your first cut at 1 1/2″ then start cutting every 3″ being sure to stop at the middle fold. Your strip will look like the one below.
6″ strip cut every 3″ alternating on each side so it it staggered

Lay the strip on your ironing board and press all the squares in the same direction. Leave the 1 1/2″ strip
loose. You will get rid of it later.


Then continue pressing all the triangles back onto themsleves in the opposite direction.


 The strip of “Points” will fold together to create your strip of prairie points.


By pressing the points in the same direction you can “nest” each of the points into each other as shown in the picture shown below.


The points all line up nicely and rest inside each other. This step if reminds me of a caterpillar. To hold the “caterpillar” in place you can now top stitch this down to hold them in place.

A couple of other notes before moving on to how I used it in my pillowcase.
If you want a strip longer than approx 41″ of points just make another strip and nest it into the last point on your strip. This is the perfect size  for making prairie point border on a baby quilt or throw.
The length of the prairie point strip will always be the length of the fabric. The only thing that varies is how many points and how far apart they are.
For example, cut an 8″ strip for 4″ prairie points and you will have fewer but bigger points. The strip will still be approx 41″/42″ long.
Cut a smaller strip 4″ for 2″ points and you will have a bunch of cute little tiny points. The strip will still be approx 41″/42″ long.
 NOTE TO SELF: Love the 2″ point idea. Go make some tonight.

The instructions listed below are almost like doing a magic trick. Everytime we finsh one we say Ta Da!!
However it is very hard to illustrate it in pictures. So my word of advice is to make a sloppy copy pillowcase just in case you mess up. And I also want to say TRUST ME! you will love this method. It is two seams! remember Magic! TA DA!


Pattern used is one of the free downloads from APQ.
Fabric featured  is Whimsy by Fig Tree & Co.
Casing- Cut 9″ x 45″
Body of pillow 28″ x 45″
You choice of small flange, ric rac etc.
In the instructions below I have used the prairie points from above.
 Lay CASING piece right sides up. Pin the points or trim of your choicealong the edge.
With me so far?


Lay Pillowcase fabric right side down towards casing fabric.  Lightly roll the pillowcase fabric until you can see the casing fabric below. This will seem odd but it does work.

 Taking the exposed casing fabric and roll it up to the top enclosing the entire pillowcase fabric. Pin  together. Now you may think that you are making fabric sausages, but you’re not. This is also where you have to really trust me.


SEAM 1: Sew the tube together. I know it seems odd, but this IS where the magic happens.


Once you have done this step, literally grab a section from inside the tube and start pulling. (Love my great picture?This is where I needed the video.) Keep pulling until you have turned the entre thing right side out.
TIP: You must say TA! DA! as you pull so that the magic happens!


This is what it looks like when it comes out of the tube. The casing is completely sewn without doing any handwork!


Fold the Pillowcase right sides together.
SEAM 2: Sew down the side and across the bottom.


You now have a finished pillowcase. Serge or Zig Zag the edges if you choose.


Sleep tight!


  1. Kimberly says:

    I love the Prairie Points!

    My boys, ages 15 and 11, and I have been participating in the Million Pillowcase challenge. So far, we've made 17 pillowcases, and the boys are having such a great time they want to keep going! They do the stitching on the machine (really!) and I do the cutting and pressing. We've got quite an assembly line going. At first, they dragged their feet about doign it, but once they got started and we began talking about the different people and kids who might receive them, they really got into the spirit of wanting to help. Now, each evening when homework is done, they ask if we can go "make a few more…." On another note, it has been a great stash buster for me!
    Thanks for sharing, Lissa!

  2. These are beautiful. The prairie points are a great touch.

    I love being a part of this quilt community that takes care of and nurtures others in need. Quilts are just plain good for the soul!

  3. lovetostitch says:

    great tute!! That's how I do it too, however, if you make a french seam…. all is enclosed and no need to zig zag or serge. What an awesome story!! I have made some of the million also.

  4. Libby says:

    I have not done prairie points as of yet, but I am going to do some soon. Thank's for the pattern. First time on this site. I will be back…

  5. Jo says:

    I have always wanted to do a prairie point quilt but have never gotten that ambitious. This might be just enough to get me feet wet.

  6. Hello Miss Lissa. My little group here in Colby, Kansas recently made pillowcases for this challenge. I think the 8 or so of us made 75 in one day. We donated them to our local hospice and foster kids. I'm glad Moda is sponsoring too. Great cause. Thanks for the Prairie Points tutorial. One of these days I'm going to make those.

  7. Joyce says:

    This is Sarah's mom. I just stumbled upon this post and all I can say is I am humbled. To be recognized on your blog is just one more highlight in this incredible journey. A small piece that you probably don't know yet is Sarah and I will be opening our own quilt shop in Cleveland in August, the grand opening on Sarah's 21st birthday. It will incorporate other young women with Down syndrome as employees and sample makers. Sarah will be writing about it on her blog next week. May we link to this post as we are describing how this all came about?

  8. Lisa says:

    Lissa, I can't wait to try this and post photos of my completed pillowcases (made with Moda fabric, of course) on my site! Is it okay for me to post a link to this page on my site (and Facebook Fans page) for my customers as well? Thank you very much!

  9. owlosaurus says:

    TA DA!!! It is magic and fun too. I made 4 pillowcases this afternoon using this method for the first time. Two with Prairie Points and two with less pointy trim. They look great! Thank you!

  10. I can't wait to try to prairie points. My quilt club decided that each of us would bring a pillowcase to quilt club each month to participate in the million pillowcase project. We have a couple of ideas as to where to donate them.

  11. JJC says:

    I make pillowcases often and use this method, however, when sewing the side and bottoms seams, I do French seams by placing wrong sides together first and sew down the side and bottom with an 1/4" seam and turn wrong side out, press and then with right sides together, sew a 3/8". Turn right side out and press and you have a beautiful pillowcases with no raw seams and is more durable for a better wear.

  12. JJC says:

    PS. I forgot to include in my above comment that I love your tutorial for the prairie points. I too have done prairie points on the pillowcases that I've made.

  13. Elettaria says:

    I'm currently designing a dinosaur baby quilt for a friend, which will have a big stegosaurus in the centre panel. Stegosauruses had two rows of plates along their back, which I'm representing by triangles. I had hoped to make the front row as prairie points. However, the biggest triangle will be 4" high. Can that be done as a prairie point, or would it fall over when the quilt was upright? Since I'm thinking of exhibiting this before it gets sent off to its new owner, looking decent while hanging upright is relevant.

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