How to Sew a Pillowcase: Two Simple Methods

I don’t know about anyone else, but I have an aversion to bed-in-a-bag sets. It’s too much match-y-ness for my taste. (Although, if coordinated fabrics make your heart sing, far be it from me to judge. Sing away, heart. Sing away.) Sewing your own pillowcases is a super fast and easy way to break up the prepackaged bedding sets and add a bit of personality.

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This tutorial will show you two ways to simply sew a pillowcase: one with a single piece of fabric, and the second with a (contrasting, optionally) cuff.

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Enjoy!

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Method 1: No-Frills Pillowcase

This is by far the easiest and most straightforward method of sewing a pillowcase. All in all, it will take you about 5 minutes. Ten if you give yourself a couple text breaks in the process. Start with a yard of regular old 45” cotton quilting fabric.

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Fold the fabric so the selvedge edges are aligned and right sides are touching each other. We’re going to identify the three non-folded edges here as Sides A, B, and C.

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Beginning at the folded corner on Side A, stitch a 1/2” seam toward the selvedge corner of Side A.

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When you get to the selvedge corner, turn the fabric and move your machine needle to sew a 1-1/2” seam along Side B. Technically, you could’ve trimmed this off before you began, but as I said before, this is a basic and very fast pillowcase sewing method. No need to trim it off. Plus, the selvedge edges won’t fray, so that’s an added bonus.

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You’ve now got two seams, each running along Sides A and B. Side C is, and will remain, open, although we’ll turn our focus to that side right now. You may choose to zig-zag stitch the very edge of Side C to avoid fraying at this point. This example didn’t do that, but it’s not a bad idea. I’d probably recommend it for long-term enjoyment of your pillowcase.

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Fold about 5” over from Side C. Make sure it’s an even 5” all the way around. Pin in place if you’re more comfortable with that.

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Sew an even seam to hold the 5” cuff in place, all the way around Side C.

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Then, if you’re feeling fancy, you can sew a very close second seam. This is optional, however. Mostly I did it because I was feeling guilty about not zig-zagging in the first place.

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With all your seams in place, you’re ready to flip your pillowcase.

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Go ahead and turn the pillowcase right sides out. You can press here if crisp, wrinkle-free bedding brings you joy.

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Here’s what the cuff looks like from the outside. And you’ve just completed your entire pillowcase. That was painless enough, wasn’t it?

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Looks great, nice job. If you want to sew a pillowcase with a piece of trim on the cuff or with a contrasting cuff, read on for Method #2: Burrito-style pillowcase method.

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Method 2: Burrito-Style Pillowcase

You’ll find out soon enough why this method is called burrito-style, but don’t let the name fool you. This method is easy enough, but it does require you to trust me that it’ll work out. This method is great for a pillowcase with coordinating/contrasting fabrics for the case and the cuff, or to add in an accent trim. This is actually a perfect method for kids’ pillowcases especially, with the opportunity for contrast fabric. Begin with 3/4 yard of regular cotton quilting fabric, 45” of trim (which could simply be a piece of fabric, 2” wide, and pressed in half lengthwise), and a 1/4 yard of cotton quilting fabric of the same or a different print.

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Lay out your 1/4 yard piece, unfolded, and right side facing up.

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Lay your 3/4 yard piece, right side up, on top of the 1/4 piece with the top raw edges aligned. That’s right. Both pieces are facing right-side up. I promise I’m not lying here. Just do it.

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Next, lay your trim piece aligned with the top two edges of the 1/4 and 3/4 pieces. The raw edge of the trim piece should align with the top aligned edges…

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…unless your trim piece is very thin, in which case aligning it with the top edge and sewing a 1/4″ seam would erase the trim completely. If this is the case, align your trim piece 1/4″ down from the aligned edges of the 1/4 and 3/4 pieces.

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Now roll up the 3/4 piece (only) until the roll reaches about halfway up the 1/4 piece.

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Looks kind of like a burrito, doesn’t it? Hence the name of this pillowcase-making style.

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Grab the corner and/or lower edge of your 1/4 piece…

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…and fold it upwards over the burrito to match up with the top aligned edges.

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Making sure you’ve got all the layers in place, pin this sandwich together. You should have, from bottom to top, the following edges included in your pinning: 1/4 top edge right side up, 3/4 top edge right side up, trim edge raw side out (toward raw edges), and 1/4 bottom edge right side down. Yes?

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Work all the way down the length of your pieces, pinning it all in place. Be sure you’re catching your trim piece exactly here, especially if it’s a thin trim piece that doesn’t align precisely with the raw edges.

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You should plan on a 1/4″ or 1/2″ seam, whichever is most comfortable for you. Whatever width you choose, though, be sure to stay consistent all the way down your now-loaded burrito.

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Sew your pinned line with a straight stitch.

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Go back and zig-zag all the raw edges now while you have the chance to help prevent fraying.

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Now you’re going to turn your burrito inside-out.

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Gently pull the inside (3/4 piece) burrito out of the outer layer. You may find it helpful to push the outer layer down as you pull the inner layer out, but you can figure out the system that works best for you.

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You’ll start to see your trim piece emerge. Keep going. (Note: You might be wondering about the trim pieces used in this tutorial – lace and pom-pom. I had just enough of each to be the trim piece for one pillow, but I wanted to do two pillowcases and have them match if necessary. So, I used the pom-pom for half the trim and the lace for the other half, stitching them together in the center. Confused? Yeah, that’s why I didn’t bring it up earlier. You hopefully aren’t dealing with this issue.)

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When it’s completely unrolled from its burrito form, lay your pillowcase fabric flat and right side up on the ground.

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Fold the pillowcase sideways so the cuff edges line up. Right sides should be touching.

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Align the top folded ends of your cuff edge together; this is more important to align than the trim, although your trim hopefully lines up well enough on its own.

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Starting at those top folded cuff ends, and keeping your selvedge edges aligned, sew a seam down what is now the side of your pillowcase.

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Turn your machine at the bottom corner, then sew across the now-bottom of your pillowcase.

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While you’re here, sew a zig-zag seam along the raw edges of your pillowcase to eliminate fraying. You could use a serger, if you have that option. Lucky you.

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Trim off any excess trim pieces.

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Turn your pillowcase right sides out. Voila! Done.

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Pull your new pillowcase onto a pillow, and throw it onto your bed.

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Making your own pillowcases is a wonderful way to mix patterns and colors on your bedding without using bed-in-a-bag. You can be a little more creative this way!

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This shows the place where the trim switches from pom-pom to lace, although you can’t tell because the connection is precisely on the fold. I actually like the versatility that two trim options offers.

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We hope you enjoy being able to create your own pillowcases and bedding mix-and-match options. You can read more about how to sew your own duvet cover, how to sew a bolster pillow, and ideas for how to make a bed.

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