How to Sew Your Own Pillow Cases in 4 Different Sizes

pillows on a bed

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Overview
  • Working Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 30 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $8- $21

Sew your own pillowcase to create exactly the color, print, or size you want and save some money in the process. Consider making pillowcases as a gift. Kids and teens love having things with their favorite activities, animals, or even favorite movie or tv characters. Make your favorite college student a pillowcase that follows a theme of their course of study. Consider embroidering a name across the hem of the pillowcase for travel pillows and there will be no more arguing about who owns which pillow.

Many people like a satin pillowcase because it helps avoid messy 'bed head' hair. Finding an affordable satin pillowcase is not a problem when you are sewing your own!

Since sewing a pillowcase is all straight sewing, this is an excellent project for a beginner or for teaching someone to sew. Satin can be a bit trickier to sew than cotton, so that materials might be best for an advanced beginner, as well as making pillowcases sewn using French seams.

Sew a Simple Pillowcase
Debbie Colgrove. The Spruce Crafts, 2016.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Measuring and cutting tools that will help to keep your fabric square
  • Scissors (if not using a rotary cutter)
  • Pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Iron and ironing board/pressing surface

Materials

  • 3/4 to 1 1/2 yards 45"-wide fabric (see Fabric Requirements below for the amount needed for the size pillowcase you are making)
  • Matching thread

Instructions

  1. Cut Fabric

    Quilting cotton is a great fabric for pillowcases as it's available in a variety of colors and designs and washes well. Always preshrink fabric and press before measuring and cutting. If using a print fabric, consider the direction of the design before cutting your fabric. An allover design makes the most efficient use of fabric, as some one-way prints require more fabric than listed here.

    Cut your fabric to the size listed below for your pillow. A rotary cutter, ruler, and cutting mat are the easiest way to ensure square cuts, but you can also use a yardstick or measuring tape, a fabric marker, and scissors to mark and cut the rectangle needed.

    • Travel Size (12x16-inch): 3/4 yard, cut 1 rectangle 24" x 25"
    • Standard Size (20x26-inch): 1 1/4 yards, cut 1 rectangle 40" x 40"
    • Queen Size (20x30-inch): 1 1/4 yards, cut 1 rectangle 40" x 44"
    • King Size (20x36-inch): 1 1/2 yards, cut 1 rectangle 40" x 50" (Note: the 40" cut will be across the width of the fabric, and the 50" cut will run parallel to the selvage so if you are using a one-way design, you may need to make adjustments)
  2. Sew the Seams

    • Fold the cut fabric in half right sides together, aligning the longer edges.
    • Pin the long edge and one short end, matching the raw edges.
    • Using a 1/4-inch seam allowance, sew a seam on the pinned edges, pivoting at the corner.
    • Apply a seam finish to the seam allowance. 
    Sewing Side Seams on a Pillowcase
    Debbie Colgrove. The Spruce Crafts, 2016.
  3. Hem the Pillowcase

    • Press the seams.
    • Open up the pillowcase on an ironing board or pressing surface so you are just working with one layer. Press under 1/4" to the wrong side of the fabric all around the open edge. For beginners, it may help to first sew a line of stitching 1/4 inch from the raw edge. Then use the line of stitching as a pressing guide, turning the fabric on the line of stitching.
    • Optional: If you want to add embroidery or appliqué to the hem, do so before sewing the hem in place so that the wrong side of any stitching will be hidden inside the hem.
    • Turn the folded end under by 4 inches so the raw edge will be enclosed.
    • Sew the hem in place by stitching as close to the turned-under edge as possible. In the photo, the inside edge of the left edge of the presser foot is a guide, riding along the edge of the pressed edge and the needle position is at the farthest possible left setting, placing the stitches just on the edge of the fold.
    • Turn the pillowcase right side out and press.
    How to Sew a Nice Straight Hem on a Pillowcase
    Debbie Colgrove. The Spruce Crafts, 2016.
  4. Ideas for Embellishing a Pillowcase

    • Use embroidery. One side of a solid colored pillowcase can be embellished with a fun or decorative embroidery design. Consider a favorite quote, a line from a song, even a joke for friends with a good sense of humor.
    • Explore quilt stores for a wide array of fabric choices.
    • Buy sheets on clearance to make your pillowcases.
    • Before you assemble the pillowcase, find the center front and applique design on one side of the pillowcase. Leave the other side plain so it will be smooth against the face for sleeping.
    • Sew the hem in place using a decorative stitch that is built into your sewing machine. Many of us have all kinds of built-in options that we never use. This is a great time to use those decorative stitches.
    • If you're a little short on fabric, consider making a narrow or rolled hem and adding wide flat trim or purchased lace or ruffle trim on top of the hem.
    • Consider different types of fabric. A quality flannel makes cozy pillowcases and lightweight jersey knit will make a very soft pillowcase.
    • When you tire of just making pillowcases, you can learn how to sew your own fitted sheets.
    Ways to Embellish Pillowcases
    Debbie Colgrove. The Spruce Crafts, 2016.