Tutorial ~ Turn A Vintage Pillow Case Into a Window Shade

by Destri on July 1, 2010

I am not too proud to tell you how excited I am about this project, nope not one bit.  You guys, I am so excited!  It’s a pillowcase turned window shade. Now how’s that for repurposing? I have an abundance of vintage pillowcases, and this is a fun way to give them new life and showcase them.  We’ll call it granny chic :).  It is so easy, and you only need a few things to make it, before you know it you will be doing a happy dance in front of your window, promise.

This is what it looks like pulled down, letting in the perfect amount of diffused light.  For this window it could have been a little wider, but this shade is finding a new home on a slightly smaller window.  I will explain how you can make it wider later in the tutorial.

This is it half pulled up, keeping the blinding sun out of my eyes, but letting in some great light.  Before this shade I had curtains that pulled to the side and had to wait till afternoon to open them, because every time I would walk by the sun would leave me seeing stars.  See why I am so excited?

And my favorite part is that it was made from a $6 vintage pillowcase I bought at an antique store.  It has all the fun embroidery and crochet trim I love, without all the work.

I think it is perfect for that little window that you never quite know what to do with.  Roman shades often look too heavy, the curtains I had were just not as useful.  Perfect for a vintage eclectic look I say.  Ready for the tut?  Let’s get started:


  • all your sewing stuff
  • pillow case
  • double fold biased tape (I used extra wide for this, but I think the one that is even wider would be great for bigger windows, or you may have to make trim for wider windows)
  • ribbon, cord
  • two safety pins
  • curtain rod, if you don’t already have one


You will need to measure the length and width of your window.

Fabric Cuts:

First you will cut up both sides of the pillowcase making it one long sheet.  Your next cut will be the length you want the shade to be plus a half an inch.  You will cut off the top of the sheet at this length.

Now take the top piece and cut it to be the length you want the valance, plus a half an inch.

Make sure that the length of the valance covers the seam on the pillow case.  Mine came in at about 10 inches.

If your window is wider than the pillow case you can make tape to trim the edge by just making two long strips the length of the valance and shade in matching fabric.  Decide how wide you will need each side trim to be, then double that and add an inch.  Iron the edge of both sides over a half inch then press both in half length wise.  You will use this instead of biased tape.


You are going to sew the valance to the shade first.  Lay your shade right side down, and then your valance right side down on top of that (so the valances right side will be laying on the shades wrong side), lining up the cuts at the top.  Sew the two together with a straight stitch and a 1/2 inch seam allowance.  Now you should have one long sheet.

Next you will sew the biased tape to the full length of both sides of the sheet.  Make sure that the edge of the sheet is taking up no more than half the biased tape.  Does that make sense?  Basically you will need to leave room for your ribbon so you only want the biased tape to be just along the side of the sheet, about a 1/4 inch.

Make sure you enclose the crochet trim if your case had one.

Now flip your valance right side up over the shade, keeping the seam where you sewed the two together at the top.  You will now sew the casing for you curtain rod, so make sure it is the big enough to slide over the rod.

Now cut four pieces of ribbon or whatever trim you decide to use, the length of the shade plus three inches.  Take two and attach a safety pin to the ends as shown.

Now feed it through the biased tape, right up to the seam where you made your casing.

Now sew a vertical stitch to enclose the safety pin in the bias tape as shown.  Repeat on the other side.  You’re done!

Now slide it over the curtain rod and hang.

With the shade pulled down you will have a few inches of the ribbon exposed.

To gather just slide the shade up while holding the ends of the ribbon.  It gathers and lays great just like a roman, without all the bulk.

If you make one of these send me pictures, or leave a link.  I will be making one a little wider, so I will post pictures when I do.


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