Learn How to Make a Fitted Sheet
A fitted sheet, or "bottom sheet" as it's often called, may be incredibly difficult to fold, but it is easy to sew. This simple tutorial for making your own fitted sheets provides you with lots of bedding options.
When you sew your own fitted sheets, you can repurpose flat sheets or duvet covers in a larger size, or buy fabric to customize bedding to match your decor. And since mattresses come in different depths, making your own gives you control over the fit. The process is as simple as sewing a few boxed corners (similar to darts used in garment construction) and then adding elastic to hold the sheets in place.
Equipment / Tools
- Flexible measuring tape (an extra-long one is helpful)
- Rotary cutter, ruler, and mat
- Sewing machine
- Ballpoint or stretch sewing machine needle for attaching elastic
- 6 to 9 yards 45"-wide fabric, such as quilting cotton (or 2 - 3 1/4 yards of 108" cotton for quilt backs)
- 6 1/2 to 9 yards 1/4"-wide flat elastic (or only 1 1/4 yards if only using elastic at corners)
Other wide fabric options:
- Flat sheets (use a larger size than the sheet you're making)
- Fitted sheets that are too large for the mattress
- Duvet covers
Measure the Mattress
For the best fit possible, measure your mattress before you start. Mattress sizes may have standard guidelines, but they do vary, especially when it comes to depth. Fitted sheets often come extra-deep to accommodate different mattress depths. You can do the same thing when making your sheets if you like, which is helpful if you plan on using them for different mattresses.
Measure the width, length, and depth of the mattress.
Multiply the depth by two, add the width, and then add 6", which allows 3" to tuck under the mattress on each side.
Multiply the depth by two, add the length, and then add 6" to tuck under the head and foot of the mattress.
Cut Out the Corners
Cut the fabric to the dimensions you need for your sheet. Use a rotary cutter, ruler, and mat for accurate cutting. If you are using standard 45"-wide fabric, cut pieces to the length needed, then sew together along the length. You may want to add pieces to each side of one center piece to avoid having a center seam. Make sure to finish the seams so they won't fray and open up with repeated washing.
Add the depth of the mattress to the 3" allowed for tucking under each side. Cut a square this size from each corner of the fabric.
Sew the Sheet Corners
With right sides together, pin and sew the two edges together at the corners. This is called a boxed corner.
Finish the seam with a zig-zag stitch or a serger. Alternately, you can sew a french seam for a beautiful finish.
Press the Edges
Prepare to hem the edges of the sheet by turning and pressing 1/4" to the wrong side and then 1/4" again.
If you plan to add elastic only the corners, then stitch the hem all around the sheet. However, if you will be adding elastic around the entire sheet, it isn't necessary to pre-sew the hem.
Sew the Elastic to the Sheet
Insert a ballpoint or stretch needle in your sewing machine if you have one. It will help keep the stitches from skipping when sewing through elastic.
Use a zig-zag stitch to attach the elastic to the edge of the sheet, overlapping the inside fold of the hem. Be sure to backstitch at the beginning, then stretch the elastic as you sew.
Make your way around the entire sheet. When you reach the starting point, overlap the elastic and backstitch again. Trim the excess elastic.
If you prefer to only have elastic at the corners of the sheet, cut 4 pieces of elastic 10" long.
Center each piece of elastic at the bottom of each boxed corner on the wrong side of the sheet. Stretch each end of elastic as far as it will go along the edge of the sheet. Use a zig-zag stitch to attach the elastic to the corners of the sheet, keeping the elastic stretched so that it will pull in the sides. Repeat on all four corners.
Tip: Pulling the elastic can put stress on the needle and thread. If you find that the thread is breaking, make sure you have a large enough needle without any spurs and that you're using good quality thread.
Finish Your Fitted Sheet
When the elastic is attached to the edge of the sheet and it's no longer stretched, it should have a gather to it like you see here. Having this all around the sheet helps hold things in place nicely.
Cover Your Mattress With Your New Fitted Sheet
Now that your sheet is finished, make your bed with your new homemade fitted sheet.
Need a flat sheet to match? Cut your fabric in the same size rectangle as you cut for the fitted sheet and just hem all 4 sides.