Sewing doesn’t have to be scary and easy projects like a standard pillow case can be fun as well as boost your confidence at your machine. With just a bit of measuring and some simple stitches you can create something useful that you can be proud of.
Having recently moved, my bedroom/office/studio space is still somewhat in transition. I am working bit by bit to make it a functional and cozy space, and when I found this cute arrow print fabric at Hobby Lobby last week, I thought, why not start with some new pillow cases?
I didn’t have a pattern so I decided to K.I.S.S it = Keep It Simple Sweetie. Rather than search on google for an hour trying to find the best pattern for a standard pillow cover, I pulled out the measuring tape and wrote down the dimensions of my current pillow cases, did a bit of sewing math and came up with the measurements below. Not being a super math whiz I was pretty pleased with myself when they fit perfectly. 😁
The fabric I chose is cotton which I love, and is the easiest fabric for beginners to work with. It creates nice flat surfaces to work with after you iron it and doesn’t try to slip away from you while sewing the way other fabrics can. If you’re confident with sewing, you could use a polyester blend, satin or any fabric that seems fun and comfy for sleeping on.
What you’ll Need
- 2 pieces of 20″ x 34 1/2″ fabric of your choice (you’ll need 1 yard; makes 1 casing)
- matching thread
- sewing machine
- fabric scissors or rotary cutter
- ironing board or mat
Tips for stress free sewing
- Always wash and dry your fabric before cutting and sewing it to allow for possible shrinkage. Also, it’s just nicer to work with a clean fabric in my opinion.
- Iron your fabric as smooth as possible before cutting. This helps ensure more even measurements, and is easier to work with.
- Iron between sewing seams and other steps when needed, to keep your lines and measurements clean.
- Take your time! It’s not a race, just enjoy the process. Speed comes with experience.
- Have fun!
After washing, drying and ironing your fabric, lay it out on a flat surface to measure and cut 2, 20″ x 34 1/2″ pieces. This will make one case. Using a cutting mat, straight edge and rotary cutters produce the cleanest cuts, but you can also get the results you need with fabric scissors. Just take your time! The lines don’t have to be perfect (they will be hidden inside the pillows anyway) but your measurements need to be good.
Lay one 20″x 34 1/2″ piece of fabric print side down on your table. On the short side (the 20″ edge) fold over and iron about 1/2″ of fabric. Sew a simple straight edge stitch to seal this edge with your machine. (Remember to use a back stitch at the beginning and end of your seams.)
Return the fabric to your table print side down, and this time, using the edge you just finished, fold down 4″ of fabric and iron smooth. Return to your machine and sew another straight edge. (If you’re using cotton you may not need to pin the edges down to keep your fabric in place, but if you feel more comfortable doing so, or if you’re using a more slippery fabric, definitely do.)
Repeat for the second piece of 20″ x 34 1/2″ piece of fabric.
Once both pieces of fabric are ready, place one down on your table with the print facing up this time. Lay your second piece of fabric on top of this one with the print side facing down. If your fabric has developed crinkles or folds, run the iron over it to smooth it back out.
Pin the edges in place. Don’t be afraid to use several pins here because you don’t want the fabric to scootch around while you’re sewing.
Return to your machine and sew a straight seam down three sides of your case. Keep about 1/2″ seam allowance. Start at the top already sewn edge, and work your way down one side. Remove your pins as you go. Don’t forget your back stitches.
When you reach the corners of your case, keep the needle down, lift the presser foot, and gently turn the fabric and straighten for your next seam. I like to back stitch at the corners too.
Once you’ve reached the top of your case, snip your threads and you could be finished!
I don’t have a serger, and I’m a Virgo (bit of a perfectionist), so I always add a zig zag stitch along the edges of my pillow cases just for a bit of added security. If you do this too, just start at the top and work your way around the three sides the same way you did the straight stitch.
Turn your pillow case inside out and voila! you’re all done. Tuck your pillow inside, and since the fabric’s already been washed, place it on your bed and have a little rest.
If you use this little DIY instructional, I’d love to see the pillow cases you made! Share your photos in the comments below, or if you share them on Instagram, tag BohoJouel and I will check them out. Thanks!