Thursday, May 13, 2010

Pillowcases, pillowcases

I've decided to jump on the 1 Million Pillowcase bandwagon.
Rather late than never, right?
You can read about it over here but basically the American Patchwork & Quilting Magazine folks have issued a challenge to have 1 million pillowcases made and donated to charity by the end of 2010.
They have some wonderful buttons for your blog over here.
When you make and donate pillowcases you can update their list and add to the total.
They have some great pillowcase patterns over there, but when I was on retreat earlier this month I learned an AMAZING (and very easy) technique that results in a pillowcase with absolutely no seams showing.
Bonus: If you don't know how to make French seams, you will be able add that to your repertoire when you're done!

Magical Pillowcase (also known as "burrito" pillowcase) Tutorial
* My pillowcase (and the tutorial) uses three fabrics - a main fabric, a cuff/contrast fabric, and a trim fabric. You can of course make the pillowcase using only one or two fabrics if you'd like.
* I'm also assuming that you're using 44/45" wide fabric.
* The pillowcase pattern makes a standard pillowcase. If you'd like to make a Queen or King pillowcase, the measurements and fabric requirements are at the bottom of the PDF version of this tutorial.
* You will need a relatively large flat surface like a dining room or kitchen table.

For each (standard size) pillowcase you will need:
3/4 yd (27") main fabric
1/3 yd (12") contrast fabric
1/8 yd trim fabric

1. Cut a 1 1/2" wide strip of trim fabric, selvedge to selvedge. Fold the strip in half lengthwise, wrong sides together.  Press. (Note: this will result in a very narrow trim section as in my pillowcase above.  If you'd like your trim a little wider, just cut this strip a little wider.)

2. Cut the main fabric 27" long by 41" wide.

3. Place the contrast fabric (12" by the width of the fabric) right side up on the table.
4. Place the folded trim fabric on top, matching up the raw edges.
5. Place the main fabric right side down on top of the trim fabric, once again lining up the raw edges.
6. Pin. (Note that the main fabric is a little narrower than the trim and contrast fabrics. Don't worry about this right now.)
7. Roll up the main fabric ONLY, until about 3" of the contrast fabric is exposed.
8. Fold the exposed contrast fabric over the main fabric roll and line up its raw edge with the raw edge you pinned in step 6.
9. Re-pin, undoing the original pins as you go and making sure all the raw edges are lined up.
10. Stitch a 1/2" seam along the raw edge. Oops!  A little wonky.
11. Turn the pillowcase right side out by pulling the main fabric section out through the side opening of the "burrito".
12. Lay flat (WRONG sides together) folding the cuff exactly in half and lining up the trim seams. Press. You will now have a nice cuff with a little trim sticking out. How cool is that?
Trim off the excess cuff and trim fabric.
13. Now we're going to sew French seams. Line up all the raw edges. Note that you have the wrong sides of the pillowcase together and not the right sides like you will when sewing regular seams. Pin along both raw edges.
14. Stitch the side and end of the pillowcase, using a scant 1/4" seam.
15. Turn the pillowcase wrong side out. Use a chopstick or knitting needle to push out the corners. Be careful though. If you push too hard, you'll go straight through the seam. Press.

16. Stitch along the side and end of the pillowcase again, this time using a 3/8" seam. This will enclose the raw seam edge.
17. Turn the pillowcase right side out. Push out the corners again to sharpen them. Press.
Most very high end pillowcases do not look this good.

If you'd like to make some pillowcases for charity (or yourself for that matter), I've carefully selected some fabric combinations which will make very cute ones.
There are kits in the store and I'm working on more so keep checking in.
Kits are all sold out.

You can either
1. Donate your pillowcases to a charity of your choice (be sure to contact them first to see if they can use pillowcases)
2. Write "CHARITY" in the comment section of your kit order and I will include a SASE for you to send your pillowcase back to me. I will then donate it for you and update the challenge database.
(Unfortunately I can only do this for US orders. If you're an international customer you are certainly welcome to send me your pillowcases but regrettably I won't be able to cover the shipping costs.)

Let's see how many pillowcases we can contribute to this great cause!

(Edited to add: I am not accepting donations for the Million Pillowcase Challenge any more but please enjoy the tutorial for your own use.  Thanks!)

(I have created a PDF version of this tutorial which you can find over here. I'll also be announcing a pillowcase design contest within the next few days, so put on your thinking hats.)


  1. That was a great tutorial! I have that pattern in writing, but let me tell you...I can't understand it one bit! :D Thanks!

  2. I agree, awesome tutorial! I've seen directions for this on other sites and couldn't "get it". I'll be stitching some up this weekend! Thanks :)

  3. Great tutorial. The pictures really helped me understand it. I definitely need some new pillowcases for myself.

  4. Awesome tutorial! I haven't seen this burrito method before. Anything that avoids turning a hem is the best!

  5. Haven't seen this method yet either - very cool! Love the fabric combos and kits you put together. What a great idea to do kits, making it easy to make them for either gender.

  6. Wonderful job with the tutorial. I've been making these pillowcases for years but have never seen wonderful step by step instructions and pictures. Great job.

  7. What a great tutorial Anina - and such a great idea about the charity project!!

  8. Excellent tutorial, as everyone has said already. I too have seen these written instructions but they made no sense! I've donated 2 pillowcases to a guild who is collecting.

  9. This is a great tutorial! I've yet to make mine so thanks for the nudge:)

  10. This is so great. I guess I'd better get my sewing machine out!

  11. Ditto on the tutorial. We also had the printed pattern that came with a pillowcase kit from our LQS. It was very difficult to understand without pictures to follow.

    I like the fabric combination in the pillowcase pictured. The splash of blue is unexpected.

    We are helping sew a million through our LQS.

  12. thanks for posting an alternative pillowcase pattern. I appreciate it.

  13. Here are some photos of pillowcases I made from your pattern. I have another cut out that I just need to sew. Thanks again for sharing your directions.


  14. Great tutorial and pictures! I have these instructions typed out without pictures and couldn't figure them out... I love the resulting pillow case so am excited to find your tutorial! Thanks!!!

  15. I left your tutorial on the screen of my laptop while I ran back and forth to the sewing machine. I know I am gonna love it. So much better than the the pattern I now use! Thank u sew much!

  16. I was so thrilled to find your tutorial. I promised my 4 year old we could make one but the directions I had left me lost. This was wonderful. And I love the French seams. Beautiful! Thank you! Thank you!

  17. Finally a tutorial on how to make a pillowcase with a contrasting hem that I can follow!! Thanks!!

  18. the pictures ...they help so much! I am a watch and learn person.

  19. I just finished my first one! Thanks for the great tutorial. Other than trying to sew evenly along the bulk of the contrast fabric/accent fabric/main fabric It all went rather smooth! Thanks!

  20. LOVE this! I am SEW going to be making some of these for my grandchildren using fabrics with their favorite charactors!! Being military, we/they travel a lot. I taught my children to take along a pillow from home to help them sleep better-in the car, on the plane, in a hotel, at a relative's house, etc. This is PERFECT for those travel pillows!! Thank you for the tutorial!

  21. Thank you for this great tutorial. I have been sewing for 50 years and I can honestly say this tutorial is one of the best I've seen.

  22. Hi! Great tutorial! I worked for the better part of a day to figure out the written instructions! One thing I figured out on about the 12TH pillowcase, is that if you acordion- fold the main fabric, instead of rolling it, it is easier to pull through! Great Pictures!

  23. I just finished sewing 4 burrito style pillow cases for my son,heading to his first year at University. Sure wish I would have had your tutorial instead of the one I used because it is much better!! I have bits of fabric showing from my French Seams :-(

  24. Wow! Thank you so much for this tutorial, I've been making pillowcases for years, but never have they turned out this good this fast or cute! You are a genius!!

  25. Great tutorial!! lovely matching of fabric and the trim makes it more interesting too. I'm rather lazy, so I usually keep to sewing with cute fabrics - like these pillow cases I made for my little one =p

  26. Thank you so very much for this tutorial. I tried to follow a tutorial for this type of pillowcase with no pictures a few months ago. I just could not get it. Your tutorial was well written and had great pictures. My pillowcases just got a lot more finished looking! Thanks again :)

  27. Thank you so much for a very thorough, well written, well photographed tutorial. The other ones I came across were a bit difficult to follow, but yours made me actually want to try this method. Thank you very much!

  28. Does this method give you the flap on the inside of the pillowcase that folds over the end of your pillow?

    1. No, but you could probably add one easy enough.

    2. No. This method makes a standard pillowcase with the one open end.

    3. I was just trying to figure out where the flap was created in the pattern, but now I realise it doesn't have one.

  29. I love this tutorial!! Super easy. I am on my 6th-9th pillowcases using this tutorial! I have only been sewing for a few months too. The pics made it wonderfully easy. THANK YOU so much for sharing.

  30. Thank you for this fabulous tutorial - all the pix really help. I'm going to use up some of my stash by making some (several?) of these. :)

  31. I used my sewing machine embroidery feature to put my grandchild's name on the contrasting fabric.

  32. Awesome tutorial!! Thanks for the pictures! I would have never got it without the pics. Love this pillowcase and the fabrics you chose!! Gonna' get right on making some!! WOO HOO!!

  33. I'm addicted to making pillowcases from this tutorial. Had it on my Pintrest list forever to try and now I can't stop making these pillowcases. This is THE BEST tutorial out there and I keep coming back to it. Six years later and it's still and awesome post! Thank you so much for doing it.

  34. I make pillowcases every month to send to my daughter, who is on a mission for our church. In fact, I am making some today!! I am going to use this tutorial! Thank you!

  35. I made these for Christmas gifts using your pattern. Thank you so much, my Family loves them, made 22 pillowcases in all. The french seams are wonderful and so fun to put together!

  36. I loves this tutorial. I have sewed 55 of this type pillow cases to be donated to local Charity that I have gotten involved with in Shelbyville, TN. These children will loves these love pillow cases. I have many more pillow case to be sewed to bring a smile to a child face.
    Most of the children are raised by grandparents or other family.

  37. I love this tutorial. I have sewed 55 pillowcase of this type pillowcase to donated to a local charity that I have gotten involved with in Shelbyville, TN. All the pillow that I sewed will be hand delivered to children that are raised by grandparents or family members. These pillow cases will bring a smile to a child face. I have many more pillow cases to be sewed and delivered.

  38. Thanks for this! What a nice tutorial - worked out beautifully for me!!

  39. I have made close to 40 pillowcases using this method in the past 5 years. Every year they improve by adding machine embroidery names, etc. The GREATEST pattern I have ever seen. I just forwarded to a friend. Thank you!

  40. I just sewed pillowcases for my 2 year old twin grandchildren. Loved this method, instructions were very easy to follow. I used a smaller pillow that was 12"x 16". The main fabric was 17"x 27", the contrast fabric 6" wide and the trim was 2" wide. I used the same seam allowances as in the tutorial. The finished pillow case is roughly 13"x 18".

  41. Excellent. Thanks for all your work in creating/sharing so much new material with us!
    I'm looking forward to more.
    travel pillows