Pillowcases 101

Call me lazy, but sometimes I like to make things that don’t require me to be too exact.  Ok, often.  And don’t call me lazy.

Take pillowcases, for example.  In the end, you’re stuffing a very flexible pillow inside, which means you have some wiggle room as far as measuring and stitching goes.

 I have made MANY of these.   They are really quick to make, which makes me happy all by itself.

To start, you’ll need fabric.  Most cotton comes in 42 – 45 inch widths.  As long as it’s somewhere in that range, it will work.  You will probably want to use 100% cotton, since someone is going to be sleeping on it and polyester blends just aren’t that comfy.  Flannel and fleece are nice also, but can be sticky to work with so I wouldn’t recommend them for your first pillowcase.  You’ll need:

27″ (3/4 yard) for the body

12″ (1/3 yard) for the cuff

3″ (the smallest most places will sell is 1/8 yard – you’ll have extra) for the trim

If you do or plan to do much sewing, invest in a rotary cutter, cutting mat and ruler.  You can usually find a set similar to mine for around $50, and they are often on sale for less.  Completely worth it, unless you can consistently and quickly cut lots of straight lines freehand.  Nope, me either.

Cut the ends of each piece of fabric so they’re all square and straight. Cut off the selvages (the part that isn’t the cut edge, often white and stiff).  Cut trim piece down to 3 inches.  All three pieces will likely be slightly different widths.  Don’t worry about that yet.

Fold trim piece in half lengthwise, right side out.  Press with an iron.  If other pieces are very wrinkled, give them a quick press also.  Maybe they’ve been laying on a shelf somewhere for years, getting wrinkly, waiting to be part of some fantastic creation?   Just me?  Never mind then.

Lay cuff piece out flat on a table, right side up.  Lay folded trim piece on top, raw edges even and matched up at left side.  The right side probably won’t match up.  Ignore it and it will go away.  Not really, but we’ll fix it later.

Lay main fabric on top, wrong side up, matching raw edges.  I find it easiest to line up the left corner first, then move toward the right matching edges as I go.

After all edges are lined up and pieces are smoothed flat, roll the main fabric up from the bottom edge.  Make sure it’s more than halfway up the cuff, but not up so far it will get in the way of your seam.

Fold the cuff from the bottom up over all and match raw edges.  Pin in place through all layers.  Stitch a generous 1/4 inch seam down the raw edge where you’ve pinned.

Pull tube out of the end and proceed to turn the cuff right-side out.

Press trim toward the body and cuff out.  Cut all layers even with the shortest.  The shortest for me is usually the trim piece.

Fold pillowcase, wrong sides together.  Pin raw edges.

Sew across side and bottom with a 1/4 inch seam.  Clip corners.

Turn wrong side out.  Press seams, rolling the edge between your fingers to get the seam all the way out.  Moistening your fingers may help.  How you moisten them is between you and your fingers. 

Sew again with a 5/8 inch seam.  It’s a larger seam than is usually recommended, but I like to know I’m not going to find raw edges sticking out when I turn it. 

Turn right side out and press one more time.  And you’re done!

These make great get well gifts.  I mean, they’re laying on a pillow anyway, right?  They’re also good for teenagers.  Fill it with some candy, soda and popcorn and you’ve fulfilled two of their basic needs – sleeping and eating.  They can be personalized to fit anyone’s favorite color or, if you’re really feeling creative, a hobby or interest.  Time to go fabric shopping!

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8 thoughts on “Pillowcases 101

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      • Thanks! Like the color of the cutting mat. It seems Fiskars doesn’t have the same anymore… I’m a newbie. Do you think it’s wise to invest in a large mat (something like 18×24″) right away?

        Love your blog, by the way! I’m now a follower. :)

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        • Welcome! Hopefully you’ll find some good starter projects here! :-)

          I’m not too surprised they don’t have that mat anymore – I think it’s at least 15 years old! If you have the space a larger one is nice, but if it’s something you’ll have to move around much I’d go smaller. I recently replaced the one in the photo with something bigger, but it stays on my work table all the time. The only thing I don’t like about my new one is it’s black and I cut a lot of black fabric so it’s a little hard to see.

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