DIY Home: Pillowcases

This week, I sewed my first pillowcases. I was a bit intimidated at first, but thought, “How difficult can it be? It’s just a rectangle.” And if I can figure it out, ANYONE can figure it out. Here’s how to make your own pillowcases.

I had some 100% cotton fabric leftover from when I made valances for my son’s bedroom and playroom. He loves Richard Scarry characters (Huckle Cat, Lowly Worm, Hilda Hippo, etc.), and I was actually able to find fabrics featuring those characters. I had enough fabric to make two pillowcases: one with dark blue as the main fabric with an accent of light blue, and the other vice versa.

I began by searching online to find standard sizes for pillowcases. Here’s what I came up with. Standard: 20″ × 26″, Queen: 20″ × 30″, King: 20″ × 36″. Then, I realized that I just could have gone into my son’s room and taken his current pillowcases off and measured them. (Duh!) That’s probably a better way to do it, because if your current pillowcases are a bit too small or too large for your particular pillow, you can tweak the measurements.

Basically, for each pillowcase, we’re going to sew a big rectangle and a small rectangle together to make one huge rectangle, twice. Then, we’re going to set those two huge rectangles together, flip it right side out, and we’re done! Easy peasey. This is even easier if you have fabric that’s uniform (without a pattern running in one direction)–mine was not uniform, so it was a little more difficult, but it’s doable. These instructions assume a queen pillowcase and 1/2″ seam allowance, but you can adjust for whichever size you have.


  1. Cut two rectangles for your main fabric, 21″ x 26″. If your fabric has a pattern, make sure it’s running wide across the cut. Cut two more rectangles for your accent fabric, 21″ x 8″. Make sure your fabric is running properly, up or down before you cut.
  2. Iron all individual pieces. Pin one large and one small rectangle together along one of the 21″ sides, right sides together. Sew together, making sure to reverse stitch at the ends to secure everything.
  3. Repeat Step 2 with your other rectangles.
  4. Now we’ll put a hem on the accent fabric. I used a 2.5″ hem. Fold the accent fabric back 2.5″ and iron a crease. Sew your hem into place. I like to sew with the wrong side of the fabric facing up so that I can see the hemline I’m trying to follow.
  5. You should now have a rectangle that’s 21″ x 30.5″.
  6. I recommend re-ironing everything at this point. I also like to open the seam between the main and accent fabric and iron flat while I’m ironing the rest of the fabric. I don’t think this step is necessary, but it makes the fabric lay flatter. If you’re feeling really industrious, you can actually sew again along each side of the seam you just ironed flat, which would make your seam very strong.
  7. Now pin your huge rectangles, right sides together, accent fabric along the same side, and sew around three sides, making sure to back stitch at the beginning and the end. Leave the short side with the hem open for inserting the pillow.
  8. Trim loose thread, flip pillowcase inside out, and iron. You’re done with one pillowcase!
  9. If you’re making another and your fabric has a uniform pattern, you can just repeat the above instructions. If you’re fabric runs a particular way, here’s my warning (and I messed this up during my trial run). Remember that you’ll probably put the pillows on the bed with both open ends facing either out or in. That means you can’t repeat exactly what you did before. You’ll need to attach your accent fabric to your main fabric on the main fabric’s opposite 21″ side as your first pillowcase so that everything is facing the right way. Fortunately, I caught my error in the pinning stage rather than after I’d sewed something together.

Good luck! I’d love to see some pictures if you try this idea. Please email to


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