Monday, March 9, 2015

Pillowcase Tutorial

The weekend before last I made a couple new pillowcases for my bed, I thought today I would try to explain how I made them. 

I know pillowcases seems like a silly thing to bother making when they really aren't all that expensive to buy, but they are also dirt cheap to make (especially with coupons), and are gratifyingly quick. I made two in about 40 minutes, and that was while stopping to try and take pictures. 

Pillowcases take about a yard of fabric each. I got two yards of white quilters cotton at Jo-Anne's for about $8. You can use just about any fabric you want and you can come up with all kinds of fun color combos, but I like white, so that's what I went with. 

Step one, cut your fabric. I actually tore mine, rather than cut it, so I knew that it would be straight on grain. I didn't care if the edges were a little fuzzy because I knew they would all be fully enclosed. 

I wanted each case to be 20"x30" when finished. For each pillow case, you will need two rectangles. The large rectangle will be 41"x 26" and the smaller will be 41"x11." These dimensions will give you a half inch seam allowance. 

Because pillowcases are meant to be washed often I wanted all of my seams fully finished. My original plan was actually to use my serger, but by the time I got around to sewing the cases I actually forgot that was the plan, so I used french seams instead. 

So, once you have your rectangles cut it's time to start sewing. Begin by sewing the smaller rectangle to the long rectangle along the long side. 
Press your seam closed towards your smaller rectangle. Then press down your seam allowance on the other side of the rectangle. Now you are going to fold your smaller rectangle in half. From the right side, line your folded seam allowance up with your seam and top stitch as shown in the picture below. This will fold your seam inside of the smaller rectangle, thus making it so you have no raw edges. I tried to use a contrasting thread so you would see what I was doing in the picture. You could pin the seam in place before sewing if you choose. I almost never pin anything, which is why there are no pins showing here.

Once the smaller rectangle is secured to the larger one you are going to sew your edges. Remember we are doing french seams, so you are going to fold the case so that your right sides are out, and your wrong sides are together. Even though I've done them dozens of times I still find french seams rather counter-intuitive and I have to remind myself WRONG sides together. Now sew your seam at 1/4." When you get to the corner drop your needle and rotate the piece. 

At this point you should have something that looks like a pillowcase, but with raw edges on the right side. Trim those seam allowances down to 1/8" and turn your pillowcase inside out. Press your seams. Now sew your seams again, using a 1/4" seam allowance again. 

 It turns out that if you want to take a picture of what the pillowcase now looks like you should use a contrasting thread to make it clear. I tried. If you zoom in really close you can almost see it.

My bad pictures aside, you can now turn those suckers inside out, put them on your pillows and plop them on your bed. 


I hope my tutorial made a little bit of sense. It was harder to write than I thought it would be, especially seeing as my pictures are not that good. I have now learned that if I want to write a how-to I need to use contrasting thread, and maybe not white fabric. Hopefully, you have learned how to make a fully finished pillowcase without a serger. 

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