How to make a pillowcase – Easy sewing project – step by step

Jumping straight in then, in this tutorial we will be showing you how to make a pillowcase in its most basic form. We will start simple, then once you know the basics, we’ll add a few ‘make a pillowcase’ tutorials with slightly more complicated designs.

Things you will need to make a pillowcase:

  • Fabric
  • Measuring tape
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Sewing Machine
  • Thread

Making a pillowcase in its basic form involves only two hems and two seams. You can’t get much more simple than that.

Step 1: Cutting your fabric to size.

To make a pillowcase we first need to measure and cut our fabric to size. In the UK, the standard pillowcase size is 29.5 inches x 19.5 inches (75cm x 50cm). This would be the finished size we are aiming for. When cutting our fabric we need to allow for hems and seams.

So, with our fabric on a flat surface, we cut a rectangular panel that measures 68 inches x 21 inches (173cm x 54cm). Now I do realize that the length does seem rather long but all will make sense as we progress to make a pillowcase.

Step 2: Sewing the hems.

Now that we have our fabric cut to the correct size, we need to sew the hems at each end. In this ‘make a pillowcase’ tutorial, I have given a hem allowance of 4 inches (10cm).

So now, with our fabric folded in half length ways, measure in 2 inches (5cm) form each end, and put in your marker pins.

Open out your fabric so it’s face down and at one end, fold your fabric back to form a crease level with the two marker pins.


Place a few pins along the crease to hold it (or iron it if you prefer). Now fold the cut edge down into the crease to form another crease and complete the hem. Pin (or iron) along the second crease and remove the pins (if used) from crease 1. Next, do the same again the other end.

Once both ends have been folded and pinned, we can stitch them in place removing any pins as we go.


Step 3: Sewing french seams.

While writing this guide on how to make a pillowcase, it dawned on me that very few, if any, of my readers would be likely to have an Overlocker (what’s that?). So I have decided to show you how to use french seams to make a pillowcase. Don’t panic if you don’t know what french seams are, just read on.

Now, although the way you make a pillowcase with french seams is different, it does eliminate the need for an overlocker. Anyway… enough waffle, let’s get on with the task at hand.

So, fabric folded length ways then, measure in 5 inches (13cm) from one end and put some marker pins in both layers. Your getting good at that now aren’t you! 🙂

Open your fabric out with the face down. Then, as we did with the hems, fold the end back to form a crease level with your marker pins. Pin or iron in to place.


Now, taking the hem at the other end, fold your fabric in half so that the edge of your hem is also level with your marker pins. Smooth out any wrinkles, pin along the cut edges and remove the marker pins.

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Next, sew along the cut edges you just pinned, sewing about half an inch in from the edge and removing the pins as you go. (If you’ve never made anything using french seams before, you may be thinking – “Hang on a minute… if I sew it like that, the cut edge will be on the out side.” – Well, Don’t worry… things will become clear in just a moment.)

After sewing along both edges, just have a quick double check that all pins have been removed. Then, with our ‘almost pillowcase’ laid out flat, trim off the cut edges on both sides, about a 1/8 of an inch (3mm) way from your stitches.


Taddaaa!!… (Oop’s sorry, we’re not ready for that yet.)

Now turn your ‘almost pillowcase’ completely inside out. Next we need to iron the seams on either side. Getting the seams pushed out nice and straight while ironing, can prove to be a bit tricky. Luckily though, I know a little tip that can help. Tip:  Take a piece of stiff card that’s not too thick and put it inside your ‘almost pillowcase’. Now, slide the card to the edge pushing the seam out straight and iron. Work your way along one side, then the other. Place a few pins along each side to hold everything still.

The finished result should look like this…


Next sew along each side about 1/4 of an inch (6 mm) in from the edge.


Now trim any straggly bits of thread, turn your pillowcase back right side out and iron.

Now we’re ready… TADDAAA!!! – Congratulations you now know how to make a pillowcase with french seams 🙂

Side Note about the use of french seams:

Believe it or not, it can be even easier to make a pillowcase. Yes… I know the process above is easy. But, using the french seam method to make a pillowcase, does make it a little more complicated.

Q: How could it be easier?…

A: In step 3, we folded the pillowcase in to shape and pinned the edges. Then we stitched down each side. Next we trimmed the edges, turned it inside out and ironed the seams. Then, we pinned and stitched the sides again. Finally we turned it in the right way again and ironed.

That’s a total of ten stages to step 3. However, If we we’re to use an overlocker, the number of stages would be reduced to just five. Let me go through them…

We would fold the pillowcase in to shape, but this time so that it’s inside out. Next we would pin the edges. Then we would stitch down each side with the overlocker. Finally, we would turn it in the right way and iron. That’s it!.. only five stages.

Now I’m not saying everyone should rush out and buy an overlocker. But, if you already do, or are intending to do a lot of sewing, I would highly recommend investing in one. See our guide – Overlockers Explained – for more info.


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