Here is an examples of pillow cases with decorative inserts. There are many ways to make fancy pillow cases; Embroidery, Paint, Crochet, Decorative stitching, Color blocking, and Pieced edging to name a few. In the next few weeks I will write about how to get started and give instructions on each of these techniques.
Making pillow cases was the first thing I learned in Home Economics class when I was in the 7th grade. However, the embroidering and crocheting I learned as a much younger child. My grandma used to talk about making things for a hope chest so when I grew up and either got married, or just moved out on my own, I would have things to help me get started.
I think young girls should be encouraged to do things like this. Completing a project gives a since of accomplishment and builds self-esteem. It also gives them something to do besides sitting around watching TV all the time. The sewing techniques learned on pillow cases can be applied to all manor of sewing, so get a couple yards of fabric (100%cotton) and go with me on this journey.
One more thing I wanted to mention is the embroidery designs. Most of the time I just draw my own designs (like the one in the picture) but if you need to, Aunt Martha's transfers can be purchased from Wal-Mart or other fabric and craft type stores for a very small price. They have a wide variety of designs to choose from. For beginners, don't pick a design that is too elaborate. Simpler is better to start with.