French-Seamed Pillowcase Pattern

  • 01 of 08

    What You Need

    Sofa pillows
    Silke Zander / Getty Images

    This pattern shows you how to make a pillowcase from any fabric to coordinate with your quilts or otherwise match your decor. Follow these techniques and you'll find they're a cinch to sew. An added elegant touch used here is a French seam that covers raw edges along the sides and bottom edge inside the pillowcase. The pillowcase's cuff is sewn using a somewhat different technique, but it serves the same seam-hiding purpose as French seams.

    Customize the Size of Your Pillowcase

    This pattern is for a standard-size pillowcase, but it's easy to alter the dimensions to suit your needs by making the accent strip wider or altering the length and/or depth of the fabric panels.

    Fabrics for One Standard Pillowcase

    All fabrics are cut across the fabric's crosswise grain—from selvage to selvage. Use fabrics that are 42" to 44" wide. Slight differences in widths of individual fabrics aren't a problem because you'll trim everything to match later.

    Each pillowcase has three parts: a body, an accent strip, and a cuff. Choose a fabric for each.

    See How to cut fabric strips if the technique is new to you. Rotary cutting is helpful, but not required.

    • Pillowcase body: 1 (28"-wide) strip cut from selvage to selvage
    • Pillowcase cuff: 1 (10"-wide) strip cut from selvage to selvage
    • Pillowcase accent:1 (1 1/2"-wide) strip cut from selvage to selvage
    Continue to 2 of 8 below.
  • 02 of 08

    How to Sew the Easy Pillowcase

    How to Make a Pillowcase
    Janet Wickell

    Everyone makes pillowcases a bit differently. If you've tried another pillowcase pattern, you might notice that the following instructions include an extra (but very simple) step.

    If possible, work on a table that's wide enough to lay out fabrics to their full selvage-to-selvage widths.

    1. Fold the pillowcase body panel in half—just as it came off of the bolt—placing the panel vertically in front of you (selvage edges don't always match exactly and are sometimes skewed a bit).
    2. Remove the selvages from the two short ends. Use your rotary equipment to keep the ends of the panel squared up at a 90-degree angle to each other.
    3. Remove selvages from the cuff and accent strips.
    4. Press the 1 1/2" accent strip in half all along its length, wrong sides together.
    5. Place the 10"-wide cuff fabric on the table right side up, with what was originally its selvage edges to the left and right. Fabric should be its full width, even though only part of the width is shown in the photo.
    6. Place the folded accent strip along the top edge of the cuff fabric, raw edges matched.
    7. Place the body fabric on top of the cuff, right side down, matching its raw edge with the other aligned edges (photo shows the body fabric rolled up, with cuff fabric beneath it).
    8. Pin the matched raw edges together and sew along the entire width (about 41 to 42") with a 1/4" seam allowance.
    9. Open up the sewn unit and press to set the seam.
    10. Press the accent seam toward the pillow body.
    Continue to 3 of 8 below.
  • 03 of 08

    Continue Sewing the Pillowcase

    How to Make a Pillowcase
    Janet Wickell

    Place the pillowcase back on the table in the same configuration it was in before you pressed the accent seam:

    • Bottom: cuff right side up
    • Middle: accent strip
    • Top: body right side down

    Then proceed as follows:

    1. Starting at its bottom, snugly roll up the long body fabric until the roll is above the bottom edge of the face-up cuff fabric.
    2. Bring the cuff fabric upward and over the roll, matching the cuff's remaining raw edge to the raw edge above the original seam line. Pin in place to create a tube.
    3. Sew another seam along the top of the tube, placing it just to the left of your original seam.
    Continue to 4 of 8 below.
  • 04 of 08

    Unroll the Sewn Pillowcase Tube

    Easy Pillowcase Pattern
    Janet Wickell

    Pull on the pillowcase body that lies inside the tube. Keep pulling until the pillowcase emerges.

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Press the New Pillowcase Panel

    Pillowcase Pattern
    Janet Wickell

    Now that the pillowcase body has been pulled out of the tube, you should have a wide panel with a finished cuff and encased seams on one end. The accent strip should be below the cuff.

    Press the panel. You needn't secure the accent strip. If you prefer to secure it, do that now by sewing along its folded edge with matching thread.

    Continue to 6 of 8 below.
  • 06 of 08

    Preparing the Seams for Finishing

    How to Sew a Pillowcase with French Seams
    Janet Wickell

    The first seams used to connect the panel sides are sewn on the right side of the fabric. Backstitch at the beginning and end of seams to prevent unraveling.

    1. Place the pillowcase in front of you and fold it in half, wrong sides together. Make sure cuff edges are aligned and that accent strips are matched, too.
    2. Use your rotary equipment to square up the sides just a bit if necessary. Trim loose threads.
    3. Sew a 3/8"-wide seam along the side of the pillowcase, stopping 3/8" from the bottom edge. Backstitch. You'll notice more bulk in the cuff and accent strip areas. If you like, use a walking foot to help keep bulky seams aligned.
    4. Remove from the machine and use your rotary cutting equipment to clean up the seam, trimming it back to 1/4".
    5. Press the seam allowance open.
    Continue to 7 of 8 below.
  • 07 of 08

    Finishing the Pillowcase

    ​The seam on the outside of your pillowcase looks just like a normal, finished seam, but its raw edges (underneath) have been encased in fabric for a finished look and to help protect them from fraying.

    1. Sew another seam along the bottom of the pillowcase (again beginning with a 3/8"-wide seam sewn on the right side of fabric). Begin the seam a few stitches above and to the outside of the spot where the side seam ended. Backstitch at the beginning and end of the seam.
    2. Trim the seam back to 1/4".
    3. Press the seam open as best you can. Turn the pillowcase around as before and sew from the wrong sides of the case, encasing the raw edges.
    4. Turn the pillowcase right side out and press. If necessary, use a blunt object to push the case's bottom corners out.
    Continue to 8 of 8 below.
  • 08 of 08

    Sew French Seams Along the Side of the Pillowcase

    Make a Pillowcase with French Seams
    Janet Wickell
    1. Turn the pillowcase so that it is wrong side out.
    2. Fold the side with your fingers or by pressing with an iron. The pressed-open seam allowance underneath should lie neatly along each side of the fold. (This is easier to do than to describe. Think of it as squishing the first seam evenly between your fingers.)
    3. Sew another 3/8" seam along the same edge (this time you are working on the wrong side of the case), backstitching at the beginning and end of the seam. The objective here is to encase the raw edges underneath (they were trimmed back to 1/4") within the new 3/8" seam.
    4. Remove the pillowcase from the sewing machine. Your new seam should resemble the seam shown in the photo.
    5. Turn the pillowcase right sides out.
    6. Insert a pillow and enjoy!