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Pillowcase Tutorial

How to sew a pillowcase

This project is a great way to quickly revamp your bedroom, it takes less than an hour to make yourself a new pillowcase. If you wanted to make them more decorative instead of doing a single panel for each side you could make 1/3 of the panel a contrasting colour from the rest of the pillowcase. However I didn’t want to be lying on a seam so I keep mine as a single piece of fabric.  It works great for fabrics like this cat one which has a picture spread over the length of the fabric. It really showcases the print well.


1 metre of fabric per pillowcase. I used the brilliant Cats in the Library fabric by Timeless Treasures. 

Co-ordinating thread

TIP – Being as they will be washed a lot you may want to pre-wash your fabric first to get more accurate sizing taking in account the shrinkage that may occur on the first wash.

DIY pillowcase project

We are going to use an exisiting pillowcase as the template. Take the pre-made pillow case and lay it down on top of the fabric. Cut around the exisiting pillowcase adding a ¼ inch extra to both long sides and one of the short sides.  Add 1.5 inches to the other short side for the hem.

For the other side of your pillowcase lay the pre-made pillowcase on top of the fabric again. Add ¼ inch on the same three sides as above, then add 8.5 inches to the short side (to hem and made a flap.) If making two at a time like I did you can fold the fabric in half and cut 2 panels of each size at the same time.

If using a directional fabric like I did place the fabrics wrong sides together and lift up a corner checking the front and back to make sure the print is the right way up on both sides. You are going to put the opening of the pillowcase to the right so remember which end of each piece needs to be hemmed.

Using a Clover hot hemmer

Turn in a half inch hem on that end of each piece of fabric, press. Fold it in another inch and press again. Stitch into place. I’ve got a handy Clover hemming tool (shown in the picture above) which makes it easier to get a consistent hem. There’s a free downloadable one here.

How to make a pillowcase with a flap

Place the larger piece of fabric right side up onto your cutting table. Put the smaller piece on top wrong side up (so the right sides of the fabric are touching). Line up the long sides and unhemmed ends. This will show you how much fabric you need to fold back on the larger piece to make the flap. See the image below. 

Things to sew for the bedroom

Fold it back and pin into place. Now both pieces should be the same size and line up exactly. If they don’t then trim off any excess so they do. Pin or Wonder clip around the 3 raw edges to hold the 2 layers together.

How to overlock using your sewing machine

Change the stitch on your machine to overlock stitch (this normally looks like a zigzag stitch with a line across the bottom) you will normally need to change the foot too.  Test on some scrap fabric first to get your stitch to the size and width you prefer. Then overlock stitch around all 3 raw edges of the pillowcase. Make sure you catch the edges of the flap in the stitching too. If you have an overlocker you can use it for this stage.  

How to sew a standard pillowcase

Now turn through and put your pillowcases onto your pillows.  They are ready to use.

TIP – I’ve used organic fabric to make these pillowcases before and they tend to need 4-5 washes before they soften up enough to sleep on them. Because they aren’t treated with the same chemicals as other fabric they can take a while to soften.