Saturday, November 14, 2009

Easy Schmeasy Pillowcase Tutorial

Remember when I mentioned that one of the women at our latest Sew Fest showed us a much easier way to make pillowcases? Well, I thought that I'd share a tutorial. Pillowcases are not only fun to make, but they also require just a small amount of fabric, and they make great Christmas gifts (especially Christmas-themed pillowcases for children to use Christmas Eve). So here goes

For a standard pillowcase, I cut the main pillowcase body fabric (shown in the gold fabric) 25"- 27" long (Width of Fabric – WOF). The piping strip (shown in the red) is 1.75" WOF. The outer edge (shown in the print) is 12" - 13" WOF.

Start by pressing your piping strip in half length-wise.

Lay your outer edge fabric flat and right side up. Then lay your pressed piping strip aligning raw edges with outer edge fabric as shown.

Next, lay your main body fabric, right side down facing the outer edge fabric, and aligning raw edge with others. Pin, pin, pin – you need to be sure none of the layers shift while you sew them together. Baste layers together using ¼" seam allowance or less.  Some people skip the basting and just roll up the body fabric as in the next step, pin and sew all the layers together in one step, but I prefer to baste here and then proceed as it lessens the chance of a layer slipping out of place while you're sewing. 

Lay the fabric out with the outer edge at the bottom (like it was when you started). Fold the main body fabric almost in half making sure the free edge stays clear of the sewn edge by a couple of inches. Roll the main body fabric up to the point where you can pull the outer edge fabric up and over the rolled main body fabric. It will be right side down and the raw edge aligned with the other raw edges that were basted together.

Pin, pin, pin again to keep everything aligned while sewing.

It will look like this if you peek into the end of the pillowcase at this point.
Stitch using a slightly larger seam allowance. Since I used ¼" to baste the layers together, I am using 3/8" to stitch. You need to stitch, not baste here. In the picture below, I am sewing two pillowcases in assembly line fashion. You can see what the pillowcase that has already been sewn looks like as I hold the end open.

Now turn the pillowcase out through one of the ends.

Both sides of the outer edge are neatly sewn together and the raw edges are nicely enclosed. No need to turn under 1/2" and trying to blindly sew the outer edge to the inside of the pillowcase like some patterns have you do.


Now you can do any topstitching or decorative stitching. I usually at least top stitch the piping so it doesn't curl. As you can see, I am a fan of using a zipper foot for topstitching because Lord knows I can't sew a straight line and the zipper foot sits up against the seam perfectly J

Once you have done all the top stitching/decorative stitching you would like to do, you can trim off the selvages.

Now you are ready to sew the bottom and side seams using a French seam.
VERY IMPORTANT!!!! Make sure you sew your first seams with the fabric RIGHT sides facing OUT (wrong sides together). This runs contrary to years and years of sewing seam right sides together I know. I can't tell you how many times I have had to rip seams out because I do this incorrectly.
Make sure you pin really, really well where the outer edges and piping meet so everything lines up nicely.

I use ¼" seam for this step and take a few back stitches at all the corners. Trim the corners so they won't be bulky.

Now turn the pillowcase so right sides are together and wrong sides are out. Stitch the seams again using a larger seam allowance. I use a 5/8" seam allowance because you need a good amount of clearance for getting around all the bulk where all the seams meet between the main body fabric and the outer edge. Also, at this point, if you use a fine needle in your sewing machine you might want to switch to a heavier needle – you are going to be sewing over a LOT of layers of fabric!
Turn the pillow case out and…



  1. Great tutorial - thank you! The pillowcases look awesome with that quilt!

  2. Love the quilt! great pillow case tut too!