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How to sew a pillowcase


Pile of four pink, golden brown and purple cushions.

A handmade pillowcase is a wonderful gift, either as a DIY Mother’s Day gift, or as a housewarming present, for example. If you’re wondering how to sew a pillowcase, you’re in the right place. We’ll show you how to sew a pillowcase step-by-step. Let’s get right into making a DIY pillowcase so you can wow your friends with this cute handmade present!

Sew a pillow cover – step by step

We’ll cover how to make an envelope pillowcase in this guide. There are different techniques, but this is a good one to get to grips with as a basic foundation for making a DIY pillowcase – if you’re a total beginner this is the best way to get your foot on the sewing-ladder, but even if you’ve dabbled in sewing and are used to hemming jeans, this guide is good for learning how to sew a pillowcase. Let’s get started!

  1. Choose your fabric. You’ve probably already got the fabric you want in mind – or maybe you’ve already bought it! After you’re certain that you want to use the fabric, you’ve picked out, make sure you preshrink the fabric. This way, you won’t have any nasty surprises once you wash your pillowcase after use.
  2. Cut the fabric to size. If you have the old pillow cover for your pillow, you can measure out the size of this to match your new pillowcase to the old pillow. You can, however, also use the pillow insert to measure out how much fabric you’d need for the pillowcase. For an 18” pillow, you’d need a fabric that has the dimensions: 18” and 40”.
  3. Mark your fabric. Using a marking tool, put a pin where you want to mark your fabric for sewing. Using the example of an 18” pillow, you’d need to mark your fabric 11” away from the short ends of your fabric. Measure out your fabric before pinning it because otherwise you might end up with lots of pin holes in your material!
  4. Hem the ends of your fabric. For the short ends of your fabric, fold ¼” of fabric under another ¼” of fabric to create your hem and hide the raw edges. Hem both of the shorter edges and the fold your fabric on the markings you made on the long edges. Don’t worry if there is an overlap on the back of the DIY pillowcase - that is supposed to be there! That’s why it is called an envelope pillowcase. Pin this fold.
  5. Final sew! On these folded sides, sew the seams to prevent the edges from fraying. You can determine the seam allowance, but ½ an inch is a good rule of thumb. That’s all the sewing done!
  6. Fill the pillow. Turn the pillow so the right side is out and fill it with the pillow or filling that you want to use. Done!
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Sew a pillowcase: DIY ideas

Pillowcases can be so many different shapes and sizes, so let’s take a look at some hand-sewn DIY pillowcase ideas now we’ve seen the basic instructions. 

  • Envelope DIY Pillowcase: This is the kind of pillowcase we’ve shown you how to make. You can pick a plain fabric or choose a bold pattern for something more eye-catching. 
  • Beaded Pillowcase: You can choose to sew beads onto your pillowcase after you have sewn the basic envelope pillowcase. This works well if you want to make a decorative pillowcase. 
  • Seasonal pillowcases: It’s fun to change up your interior design depending on the seasons, and so you could sew a pillow for each season to match your Christmas decorations, or DIY spring décor, too!
  • Photo DIY pillowcase: If you get a photo printed on some fabric, you can use this as the fabric for your pillowcase. That way, you can see your loved ones always on your sofa, even if they’re not physically there. Alternatively, you can pick one of your favourite landscape shots and have it decorate your space via the soft-furnishings!
  • Tassels: You can sew tassels onto corners, which maybe don’t look as good as intended, to disguise their form! Simple!

We hope you’ve enjoyed making a DIY pillowcase, and if you want some more tips, check out our articles on what to do with old socks and how to compost tea bags.