There is nothing simpler to make than a pillowcase.
It is a wonderful "first project" for you to do with your child. There are endless possibilities when it
comes to making your cases uniquely your own. Add applique, lace, ribbon, embroidery, fabric paints or other embellishment of your choice. After making our basic pillowcase, try our other patterns for pillows and pillowcases. Add skills with each new project.
We teach you how to make a pillowcase correctly. This means the hem is nicely finished. Poorly made cases have seam edges that run all the way to the outer edge. See photos at the bottom of the page.
Use our free embroidery pattern (bottom of page) to hand embroider a heart vine across the hem.
Standard Case: 21" x 32"*
Queen: 21" x 36"*;
King Case: 21" x 42"*
* The finished width depends on the width of your fabric. See note about pillow size and fabric size below.
These will cover pillows nicely, with plenty of room. We are assuming the following pillow measurements:
Standard: 20" x 26"; Queen: 20" x 30"; King: 20" x 36"
NOTE ABOUT PILLOW SIZE & FABRIC WIDTH As you can see, we make the finished size 1" wider
than the pillow and 6" longer, plus we add 4" to the length for the hem.
For this project, my pillow width of 20". So, we cut the fabric
45" wide and 10" longer than the pillow. Measure your pillow to be sure of the size needed.
Many fabrics now come 43" to 44" wide. Finished standard pillow cases are usually 19" to 20" wide so this set of instructions would still work, even when considering fabric shrinkage. If your fabric is not wide enough, use double the length of fabric (4 yards for a standard pair of cases, rather than 2 yards) and stitch two sides together, rather than folding over one piece of fabric.
2 yards of 44" fabric (for 1 pair of Standard Cases)
2.25 yards of 44" fabric (for one pair of Queen Cases)
2.5 yards of 44" fabric (for 1 pair of King Cases)
NOTE: You will need the full amounts, so buy slightly more and pre-shrink it.
hint: quilting pins are easier to use than regular pins; a tupperware box works well as a supply box.
Note: all seams are 1/4 inch. Always iron between steps.
Safety Reminders For Little Helpers
A. Always have an adult do all the ironing!
B. Never run with scissors. Carry them pointed end down.
C. Never use a sewing machine without adult supervision.
D. Always let an adult use the seam ripper for you.
Now you are ready to start!
Please Note: These diagrams are not exactly to scale, but pattern pieces do fit as shown.
Pattern Pieces First, cut out your pattern pieces. I use butcher paper, bought on a roll at Costco.
Standard Case: Cut 2 pieces 44" x 36".
Queen Case: Cut 2 pieces 44" x 40".
King Case: Cut 2 pieces 44" x 46"
Now, lay out pattern pieces as shown on the right. Cut out fabric pieces. Remember that your fabric, after shrinking, may no longer be the full 44" wide. That is ok as long as it is still 1" larger than the circumference of your pillow (measures 1" more than twice the width of your pillow).
1. Prewash Fabric
This is important - otherwise your pillowcase will shrink when it is first washed and might not fit your pillow. This is one of the bonuses of sewing items yourself - no worry about shrinking.
2. Fold Right Sides Together
Fold fabric lengthwise, right sides together. Pin down the long, open side, and across one short end.
The photo on the right, below, shows my fabric folded lengthwise, right sides together.
3. Stitch Sides And End
Stitch across the pinned short end and the pinned long side.
* If your fabric was not wide enough to fold, stitch two pieces right sides together. Instead of one folded edge and one seamed edge, both side edges will be seamed.
The photo on the right shows my pillowcase after stitching. I stitched my seam, then ran around it again using my serger to finish off the seam edges. I could have used the serger only, but added the extra line of stitching so that my seam thread would be black (this way I didn't have to change serger thread).
4. Prepare Hem
With pillowcase still wrong side out, turn the hem under ½". Press. Turn hem under 4". Press and pin. Use a ruler to make sure the hem is an even 4" all the way around.
The photo on the right shows the hem pressed under. Notice that I lined up the hem side seam with the side seam of the pillowcase. This ensures that the hem lines up straight. After I was sure my hem was straight, and 4", I pinned it into place all the way around.
5. Stitch Hem
Stitch hem in place using a straight stitch (this is called top stitching). I stitch on the wrong side, close to the edge of the hem. This is best because if you stitch on the right side, you cannot see the edge of the hem. If you have a free arm machine, stitching will be easier. If you do not have a free arm, take care to not stitch through both layers of your pillowcase.
At this point, you can sew a satin ribbon or lace over the hem stitch line.
Applique or embroidery adds a nice touch, as well.
Benefit Of Sewing
One of the benefits of sewing is quality. I find many improperly constructed pillowcases. They look ok at first glance, from the outside, but if you look inside the hem area you will see a seam that runs all the way to the outer edge of the hem. The reason is that it is much quicker to construct that way. Time is money in the retail business. Good quality pillowcases are contructed properly, but they are much more expensive. Check out pillowcases you have purchased. Are they constructed properly?
The pillowcase on the above right is poorly constructed. The one on the above left is a photo of my pillowcase. Notice the difference.
The seam allowance of the hem is INSIDE the hem where it cannot be seen.