Sewing a pillowcase is a great way for a beginning sewer to get familiar with their machine and complete an attractive, useful project at the same time. This project is simple enough for even the youngest sewer, and it can be completed very quickly. Although you can use almost any fabric you choose for your pillows, we’re going to use cotton and fleece for these pillowcases. They’re sized fit a standard bed pillow.
How to Sew a Pillowcase with Cotton Fabric
Most cotton and cotton blend fabrics are 43-44 inches wide. That’s a perfect width for a standard pillowcase. You’ll need one yard of fabric for this project.
1. Lay the fabric out flat with the wrong side facing up on your ironing board.
2. On one 44-inch side, fold the fabric over 1/2-inch and iron.
3. On the same side, measure 4 inches down, fold and iron.
4. Unfold the ironed edges and fold the fabric with the wrong side facing outwards to create a piece that’s 22-inches wide and 36-inches long.
5. Make sure the folds and edges match. You can use a few pins to hold the top, middle and bottom in place, but you don’t need to go crazy on pinning this.
6. Using a half-inch seam, stitch the 36-inch side of your folded fabric. When you get to 1/2-inch from the bottom edge, leave your needle in the down position and rotate the fabric so you can sew the 22-inch side of the tube. Complete the seam across the bottom, backstitch a few stitches and cut the threads. Since you’re using the full width of the fabric, the selvage edges give the seam a finished edge. If you would like to finish the bottom edge, you can sew across it with a zigzag stitch.
7. Turn the pillowcase right side out.
8. Refold the previously ironed hem and pin it in place. Again, you just need a few pins to keep this in place.
9. Starting at the seam, make a few stitches, backstitch and then proceed to sew around the tube approximately 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch from the edge of the hem. At the end of the stitching, make a few backstitches to lock the thread and cut.
How to Sew a Pillowcase using Fleece Fabric
Fleece is available in a zillion different designs, and it’s a soft and warm fabric for cold-weather pillowcases. Fleece is generally 60-inches wide, and you’ll need 21-1/2-inches of the fabric.
Fleece is a stretch fabric. For this project, we’re going to use a zigzag stitch. This allows the fabric to stretch without breaking the thread. If you have a machine with a stretch stitch, you could use that instead of a zigzag.
While stitching the fleece fabric, do not pull or stretch the fabric. Stretching the fabric could make the seam wavy and not lay flat. Just allow it to feed naturally through the sewing machine as you sew. You can find more tips about working with fleece and other tricky fabrics here.
1. Cut off the selvage from both edges of the fabric.
2. Fold the fabric with the wrong side out. You’ll have a shape that’s 21-1/2-inches by approximately 29-inches.
3. Stitch both 29-inch seams with the zigzag stitch. Begin and end the seams with a few backstitches to lock the thread in place.
4. Turn the pillowcase right side out and fold the open end under 2-inches. Do not iron this, as fleece has a very low melting point. Use a few pins to hold the hem in place. Make sure to light up the seams and pin them first, then pin the rest of the hem in place.
5. The raw edge of your pillowcase won’t unravel. Just use a zigzag stitch near the edge to sew the hem, and your pillowcase is complete.
Add Your Own Custom Embellishments
With this basic design, you can spread your creative wings and decorate your pillowcase any number of ways. These pillowcases can be a great art project for the kids to make a special gift for grandparents, aunts and uncles while they learn new crafting skills.
Before sewing the hem of your pillowcase, you can add a touch of color with some embroidery. Using a washout fabric pen, you can draw a simple design or name on the hem area. Stitch the design with coordinated embroidery.
Hand embroidery is fun to learn and can give your projects a little something special!
You can add rows of lace, ruffles ribbon, rickrack or other trim to your pillowcase. Simply measure a straight line from the edge of the hem and pin the trim along that dimension. You can add a trim over the hem stitching, at the edge of the hem or as a band in the middle of the hem.
You can add color and design with colorfast fabric paints and markers. Complete your painting before sewing the hem, so the paint doesn’t bleed through both layers of fabric. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and recommendations for finishing the painting process. After that’s complete, finish sewing your pillowcase.
Add a charming appliqué motif to your pillowcase. You can use your sewing machine to stitch the fabric shapes in place, or you could fuse them to the pillowcase and do some decorative hand stitching around the edge of the appliqué form.
If you crochet, you can add a beautiful edge to your pillowcase. Use a coordinating color and the crochet pattern of your choice to create a special, handcrafted pillowcase.
You’ll never run out of new ideas for creating these simple pillowcases. They’re a go-to project for an economical and quick gift and they’re a great way to give new sewers some basic skills. If you’re looking for a fast and easy sewing idea for gifts, items to sell at your local fundraiser or to donate to charity, these pillowcases are inexpensive as well as attractive. It’s an easy way to freshen the look of a bedroom, and it seems that everyone appreciates having a few extra pillowcases in the linen closet.