pillowcases 101

Pillowcases make great gifts for people, I think. You can personalize them very easily, and even the most conservative dresser would probably not object to a whimsical pillowcase. Also, everyone sleeps! Yay pillowcases!
So here’s what to do: you need a mere yard of fabric to make a standard size pillowcase (29.5″ wide by 19.5″ tall). IF, however, the fabric has a design that goes in one direction, you will need 1 1/4 yard of fabric. For example, the fabric I used here has a unidirectional design. See?
pillowcase1 pieces.JPG
The bowlers are all going in the same direction. There are no upside-down bowlers here.
Henceforth I will put directions for unidirectional design fabrics in brackets, okay? Okay. The pillowcase will be made from one piece of fabric. It will be folded on one long side, so you only have to sew along one long edge and one short edge to make the case. Got it? So cut a piece of fabric that is 33 5/8″” wide by 20 1/4″ tall. This allows for 5/8″ seams. [Unidirectional design: you will cut two pieces of fabric so your design will go in the same direction. Cut two pieces, 33 5/8″ wide by 20 5/8″ tall].
Now I will explain how to sew French seams, which are very neat and pretty and will leave no unsightly raw edges on the inside of your pillowcase. (You can, of course, just sew a regular old 5/8″ seam and leave the edges fraying and doing their own thing if you wish.) Pin the WRONG SIDES together along one short edge and the one long edge [unidirectional design peeps will pin along both long edges and one short edge, wrong sides together]. Sew a 1/4″ seam along the pinned edges then trim, cutting in at the corners:
pillowcase2 trim seams.JPG
Press the seam open if you can, as this makes it easier to have nice, crisp seams:
pillowcase3 press seams.JPG
Now turn the case inside out so that the RIGHT SIDES are together. Pin the sewn edges together, making sure the seam is flat and neat. Sew a 3/8″ seam along those edges:
pillowcase4 french seams.JPG
And you get a lovely French seam!
pillowcase5 french seams completed.JPG
Press the French seam to one side (doesn’t really matter which side).
Now it’s time to sew down the cuff. Fold in 1/2″ on the cuff and press. Then fold in 3″ and press:
pillowcase6 cuff.JPG
Pin the cuff carefully then sew, using an 1/8″ seam like I do here, or you can use a 1/4″ seam, too.
pillowcase7 sewing cuff.JPG
Press the pillowcase and voila! It’s complete! Easy as pie!
pillowcase8 complete.JPG

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22 Responses to pillowcases 101

  1. gracie says:

    great tutorial!! pillowcases are favorite things to sew!!

  2. Mary says:

    Imade a quilt a while back and sewed a pillowcase to match. I used the blocks for the main part of the case, and used the border fabric for the cuff. It was the easiest and most fun part of the whole project!

  3. molly says:

    as a two-time pillowcase reciever, i have to agree that they make a great gift. i like your bowling fabric and am very impressed with the action shots!

  4. alison says:

    This is great, Mariko! I used to sew pillowcases, too — my favourite pair have a print of Archie characters. Oh, yippee! They’re in storage and I’ll see them again in September!
    Love the bowling fabric. Didn’t you buy that for Peter’s dad at one point?

  5. Elaine says:

    I like to make pillowcases too. I’ve never done french seams though. but for gifts, that’s a nice touch.

  6. mary says:

    Thanks for the pillowcase 101. I am old enough to be your grandmother, maybe) and have been sewing forever. I have never made a pillowcase before. Can’t wait to get started on one.

  7. Em/Michelle says:

    Gol durn it, I want a sewing machine!!

  8. Christine says:

    Yes! Finally, a crafty sewing project that even I could complete!

  9. Allison says:

    Oh! So wonderful! Thank you!!!

  10. MJ says:

    This (and your bag tutorial) is great! Never thought of pillowcases, but of course, everyone sleeps. Are these for your father-in-law? I’m about 4″ with Grace’s left side. What yarn are you planning on using?

  11. Sandee says:

    Time to bust out the sewing machine again! :)
    Saw this lady profiled on the Food Network show “Unwrapped” and thought about you and your love of peeps…here’s the link in case you haven’t already seen it!
    http://www.jenniferkellogg.com/

  12. kerrie says:

    OK – now this was super useful and at the right time. I have a million yards of fabric and I’m just about to make duvet covers and pillowcases for Brooke’s “princess” room in our new house. Now at least I’ll know what I’m doing with the pillowcase side of things..

  13. bethanie says:

    I suck at sewing! I still don’t understand how to make a French seam….whaaaaaa

  14. claudia says:

    Hmmm. Who do I know that sews, so I can scam a nice pillowcase…..

  15. Lynette says:

    All the more reason I need to sign up for a class at Joann’s Fabric. What a great idea!

  16. Julia says:

    Thanks for sharing the sewing expertise. I think pillows are a great gift, and a great way to change the look in a room pretty easily…

  17. Rachael says:

    You rock. Pillowcases for Xmas, here I come. I’ve been wanting to make some for myself, and now I can, thanks to you! Yay!

  18. JStrizzy says:

    Fantabulous (especially your use of the phrase “unidirectional design peeps”)! The French seam was especially interesting, as I love all the finishing techniques that really make handmade things look professional (in knitting too).
    Now, do you have an apron tutorial…?

  19. Melissa says:

    I can handle this. Thanks Mariko.

  20. Carrie B. says:

    First your wonderful tote bag tutorial, and now this great one too. My Christmas presents are going to kick butt this year! ;) Thanks, Mariko!

  21. froggy says:

    even i can do this with directions this clear! thanks so much!

  22. Jennifer says:

    I have a question. Regarding this part:
    “So cut a piece of fabric that is 33 5/8″” wide by 20 1/4″ tall. This allows for 5/8″ seams. [Unidirectional design: you will cut two pieces of fabric so your design will go in the same direction. Cut two pieces, 33 5/8″ wide by 20 5/8″ tall]”
    But if I am using the one-piece-of-fabric pattern, I’ll need to cut a piece twice as tall in order for the case to have a front and back, made out of one piece of fabric, right? According to these directions, the cutting dimensions are the same for the single piece pattern and the two-piece (unidirectional) pattern…only that the unidirectional pattern calls for TWO pieces (logically). Am I missing something here from the one-piece pattern? If I fold the fabric and sew those two sides shut, I’ll have a very skinny pillow case. Thanks….maybe I’m just having a case of pregnant brain. :-)

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