Roisin’s perfect pillowcase tutorial

Making your own pillowcases is such a fun way to liven up your room, whether it’s a bright colour or a fun print, so I was thrilled when Roisin offered to do a tutorial for The Daily Stitch! She chose Nani Iro Painting Check in D for her sample – an amazingly soft brushed cotton/flannel that is absolutely decadent on a pillow. I highly recommend this substrate for the cosiest pillows of your life! Read on for the tutorial, and shop our flannel selection here. Thanks, Roisin!

The fabric I chose for this project is Nano Iro’s Painting Check (108w) in brushed cotton. To make a pair of pillowcases, you will need a little less than 2m. Sometimes it is nice to have a pattern but the paper pattern piece required here would be very large so it’s easiest to just measure directly on to the fabric.

If you’re a fabric recycler, this pillowcase project is an ideal way to recycle the good parts of old sheets that are a bit threadbare. I have a habit of buying 1m of fabric if I see something I like but don’t yet have an idea what I’d like to make. My fabric stash has lots of 1m lengths of fabric. For this project, I started off with 0.8m which meant I cut the width in half and had to sew the two bits together to make the fabric longer. The finished pillowcase has an unseemly seam on one side, however, it’s nice to know this project does work from 1m of fabric! These instructions would be more complicated if I worried about where to position that seam and it’s nicer for a pillowcase to be made from one long length of fabric. So let’s work with a 2m or so length of fabric and meanwhile I can live with the seam on the underside of my pillow!


[1] Measure an existing pillowcase (or cushion cover etc)
– Right side (pretty side) out, as it would be facing on the bed
– Without a pillow inside

Mine measures 68cm in length and 48cm in width

[2a] We need to write a formula for the correct measurements for cutting the fabric. You can skip this figuring-out step and jump on to the next step, simply using assumptions made on your behalf – but I just know there are some like-minded mathematical heads out there who will appreciate this additional step!

Decide on your hem allowance (h.a.) and seam allowance (s.a.) measurements, and on the overlap (r). The overlap is the fabric at the pillowcase opening which conceals the pillow, put another way the pillow will tuck into this extra fabric. I had been allowing a quarter of the pillow-length but realise that this overlap/tuck is also providing ease and room for the puffiness of the pillow so I am now working with an overlap of one third of the end length, however it doesn’t end up like that when sewn up! In rewriting the formula, you can play with this and experiment depending on the fluffiness of your pillows and your own preferences.

Untitled5My h.a. is 3cm and s.a. is 1.5cm. The overlap is one third so r=3. Remember the length is cut on the fold. Don’t worry, this stuff melts my brain too!

[2] Using these formulas, and replacing L and W with the measurements you took, calculate the size for cutting the fabric on the fold:

Untitled6In my example, I will be cutting 83x51cm

Untitled7[3] Fold the fabric. Measure the length away from the folded edge and the width along the folded edge. Cut.

Untitled8[4a] Overlock the long edges of the fabric, single thickness -This step is optional
[4] Hem the two short ends of the cut fabric. Hem allowance is 3cm (unless you calculated a different formula)

Iron a crease along that line. Fold under the fabric edge and iron again

Then sew, backstitching at start and finish

[5] You will now be folding the fabric, right sides together – measure from one of the hemmed edges the length of the finished pillowcase and fold at that point

In my example, I’m measuring 68cm
[6] Fold the extra piece over, lining it up closely with the edge so that it too measures the finished desired length. (This is the overlap or tuck discussed in the calculation explanation above.)

i.e. 68cm

[7] Sew along the long sides, backstitching at start and end with a seam allowance of 1.5cm (unless you calculated a different s.a. in your own formula).

[8] Turn right-side-out

[9] Insert pillow!


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