Unfussy Instructions for Sewing a Standard Pillowcase

My easy instructions for making pillowcases means you can have a lot of different designs to choose from every time you change sheets. It’s fun for everyone, especially kiddos.

One of my favorite things is having fun pillowcases to choose from every time I change the sheets. I recently made pillowcases for my older kiddos for Christmas (yes, I had to get started this early). Because they’re easy to make, why not have a lot of different patterns or give in to your kids’ 6-month obsession with whatever television character?

I’m not fussy about my home décor and how I make my standard pillowcases is equally unfussy. Admittedly, I inherited my “lots of fun pillowcases” philosophy from my quilter-sewist mom. (She started my collection.) So, I had a sense of how to make one myself since I’ve watched her make them before. But, the instructions I’m providing are my own—made from simply measuring whatever pillow was on my bed at the time, measuring one of her pillowcases, and doing my best with limited space for cutting large swaths of fabric!

First and foremost, per Google, a standard pillow measures 26”L x 20”H. The pillowcase should be a wee bit higher and a wee bit longer. A Google search shows that a standard pillowcase is 30”L x 20”H. But, remember we are working with pillows. Pillows are squishy. Standard pillows are for sleeping, not for decoration (like a throw pillow). So, if your pillowcase ends up a bit too small, you can just squish the pillow in. If they pillowcase is a bit too big, well, it’ll just be a bit loose on the pillow.

To start, select 2 coordinating cotton woven fabrics about 45” wide. One will be for the main part of the pillowcase (Fabric A) and one for the accent (Fabric B). Fabric A needs ¾ yard. Fabric B needs 1/3 yard. Honestly, just get 1 yard of Fabric A and ½ yard of Fabric B. Any extras you can just toss into your scrap pile or add to your stash—who doesn’t want extra fabric to play with? Plus, while 25” + 11” = 36”, a yard, you must remember that a yard is not a yard of fabric. One of the reasons I prewash is that it helps to show just how un-square the cut is. Washing fabric will shrink it, even slightly. Once you fold the fabric straight, you’ll see that the cut edges are not square and that once you square the fabric, you’re most definitely not left with whatever length you asked for. You’ll lose a few inches.

Cut Fabric A 25” by the width of the fabric (WOF). Cut Fabric B 11” by the WOF. Trim off the selvedge.

Fold Fabric B in half with wrong sides together (so the right side is showing) and press.

Pin and stitch Fabric A and B together along the WOF, right sides together, raw edges together. Finish the seam with a zigzag stitch or a French seam. (See below for YouTube French seam tutorial video.)

Here’s where the unfussy comes in: if there are any differences in the lengths between Fabric A and B, just square it up and trim off the extra fabric after they’re stitched together. This is where you’ll get your little bit too small or little bit too big measurements. It’s okay! Trust me! Perfection is overrated anyway.

What the length difference looks like in real life. Notice the pink leaf fabric is longer than the accent fabric.

Next, fold the fabric in half with the right sides together and then stitch the long sides together and finish that seam (zigzag stitch, French seam).

Finally, stitch the short sides together with the right sides together and finish that seam. Turn it right side out and you’re done!

You have my permission to put it on your pillow immediately and just take a short little snooze to test it out.

Here is the French seam tutorial I watched to learn how to do them. It’s a nifty technique that’s great to have in your sewing repertoire.

Update! August’s Goal: Sew Pillowcases

Finished pillowcases.

It’s time to give an update on August’s One Monthly Goal Link-Up by Elm Street Quilts, because I did it! The pillowcases are done!

Here is how I broke down this project:

  • cut the main and accent pieces–DONE
  • fold and iron the accent/end pieces in half–DONE
  • pin and stitch the accent pieces to the main pieces–DONE
  • pin and stitch the long ends together–DONE
  • pin and stitch the short sides together–DONE!!!
Fresh French seams!

Honestly, I thought it would take me a lot longer than it did. Alas, having my sewing machine set up 24/7 really helped because it meant I DID NOT need a big chunk of time to work on the pillowcases. I took advantage of my kids’ quiet time and a smidgen of time after the kiddos were in bed.

This pattern is my own, based on just measuring a standard pillow and pillowcase. There are a few unfussy tricks I use to make it super easy to stitch together. I’m going to write a tutorial post soon, so stay tuned.

Pillowcase I made for myself. Love it!

August’s Goal: Sew Pillowcases

Fabric for pillowcases. All washed and ironed, ready to start!

It’s time for August’s One Monthly Goal Link-Up by Elm Street Quilts!

This month, I want to sew pillowcases for my 2 older kiddos and myself. I like making them pillowcases for Christmas (young kids are easy-to-please and pillowcases are easy-to-make!) and, yes, I need to start this early on them.

This year, I bought fabric online, which is no easy feat if you’re looking to coordinate colors and prints (I discovered a few tricks for shopping online, though). I’m also making a couple for myself, because who doesn’t like having fun or interesting pillowcases? A pillowcase, to me, is one of those inconsequential home items that are easy to make and customize, so why not do it and have lots of fun ones to choose from each time you change the sheets?

I have the fabric and I’ve already washed it and ironed it. Here’s what else I need to do:

  • cut the main and accent pieces
  • fold and iron the accent/end pieces in half
  • pin and stitch the accent pieces to the main pieces
  • pin and stitch the long ends together
  • pin and stitch the short sides together

I’ll be doing French seams, which gives a clean finish, but it requires twice the sewing since each seam needs to be stitched twice. (It’s worth it, though!)

I’m lucky to have my sewing machine set up 24/7. While it’s not in an ideal location, it allows me to make use of the 15-30 minutes of free time I have for sewing each day!

Stay tuned! I’ll give an update at the end of the month.

3 Reasons Why I Choose to Tie a Quilt

I love tying quilts. Tying a quilt is easy and quick, creates texture, and lends to the overall aesthetic of the quilt.

Crisscross tie on the front of my Welcome Blanket Quilt.

Just because it’s a quilt doesn’t mean it has to be quilted! You can tie a quilt. That is, you can use thread or yarn to make ties all throughout a quilt to keep the quilt sandwich (quilt top/front, batting, and backing) together. And, just like every other choice you make when creating a quilt, there are a few good reasons to tie a quilt: ease/speed, texture, and aesthetics.

Back of the crisscross tie on my Welcome Blanket Quilt.

For me, the first reason I opt for tying is the ease and speed compared to machine or hand quilting. I have a beginner sewing machine. The throat space isn’t that generous, so it’s hard maneuvering a good-size quilt around the walking foot. Paying to have a quilt longarm-quilted can be, well, out of budget. Tying is easy. And, it’s super-quick compared to hand quilting, even though tying is done by hand, too. Getting a quilt done already is a good enough reason to choose the quick and easy route to completion!

Back of my Dazzling Pineapple Patch Quilt.

Whether you’re quilting a quilt or tying it, this step creates texture. Depending on what kind of batting you use and the pattern and placement of quilting stitches or ties, you create texture. Play around with the loft of batting and spacing of ties and see what kind of texture you can create. Let the quilt top pattern dictate the choice to tie.

Beads and sequins tied onto my Dazzling Pineapple Mini Quilt.

Finally, the result of any choice in the quilt-making process is an overall aesthetic. Tying can significantly impact the style and artistic impression a quilt makes. I personally think tying lends a homespun look to a quilt. You can play with it by thoughtfully selecting a particular type of thread, how long you cut the ties, placement, and so much more. Make a statement by choosing to tie your quilt.

Here are some things you can try with your next tied quilt. Some I’ve done and others I’ve got on my idea list!

+ Different threads or yarn. I’ve used cotton embroidery floss and a metallic floss, but I’d love to try a thick wool yarn.

+ Tie on the back. This is so fun when you create a crisscross on the front. I did this on my Welcome Blanket Quilt. Check it out here.

+ Tie with a bead or embellishment. Do it! I’ve used sequins and beads for a shimmery effect and I want to use buttons in the future. My Dazzling Pineapple Mini Quilt features sequins, glass beads, and metallic thread. See it here.

+ Length of tie ends. My favorite length is from my fingertip to the first joint on my middle finger. (Using this type of measurement reduces the number of tools you need!) Depending on thread, I can see going shorter or longer. 

+ Spacing of ties. First, you should make sure you have enough ties to hold your quilt sandwich together, but putting in a lot of ties close together could create an interesting style. 

+ Mix ties and quilting (hand or machine). Did it and I loved it! My favorite quilt has ties and hand quilting. Deciding to tie or quilt isn’t an either-or decision. You get to make up the rules! Originally I intended to machine quilt my Dazzling Pineapple Patch Quilt, but I ended up tying it and hand quilting it. Read more about how it came together here.

So, tell me, have you ever tied a quilt? Do you like it? Did you use any unusual tricks?

My Dazzling Pineapple Patch Quilt has crisscrosses tied on the back and handquilting.

Here are the quilts I’ve tied (more to come!):

Welcome Blanket Quilt

Dazzling Pineapple Mini Quilt

Dazzling Pineapple Patch Quilt

Baby Bibs from Repurposed Button-Up Shirts

I made quick and easy baby bibs with fabric from repurposed button-up shirts and snaps from outgrown, stained baby bodysuits.

Baby bib from upcycled shirts.

I just had my third baby in November. So, he just started eating solids a little over a month ago. Now, being my third, I have some tired bibs leftover from my older two. But the hook-and-loop closures are worn and don’t stick very well, and they’re very vinyl-plastic-y feeling, which I don’t like.

In my fabric stash I have a few button-up shirts from my husband that he no longer can wear because of holes in the elbows. Usually, I would be all about mending, but we’re not at the point where a mended elbow is considered a professional look in the workplace. And, yes, those things do matter. Alas, I did the best I could and stashed the shirts in my fabric bins until the perfect project came along. Enter my need for several bibs for a new human sloppily learning to eat.

The only new thing I used was thread. There’s no interfacing in these bibs! The snap closures came from outgrown baby bodysuits that were stained just enough to bypass the donation bin and went straight to the rag bin (after I snipped off the snaps, of course).

First, I took one of the old bibs I had and made a pattern. I simply folded the bib in half and traced it on some paper, marking the side where the fold goes. I added a ¼” seam allowance line freehand. Hey, these are bibs, not something that needs to fit just right!

Old bib.
New bib pattern.

Next, I cut up the shirts to have a decent amount of fabric. Each bib needs two of the pattern piece cut out of fabric. With some creative folding, I was able to get two bibs out of one shirt: one out of the back and one out of both sleeves.

The back and two sleeves of a shirt cut into flat pieces.

Then, I pinned the two sides together. Here’s the great thing about using woven plaid shirts: I didn’t have to worry so much about wrong and right sides of the fabric. Obviously, if you’re using fabric that has a wrong and right side, pin the right sides together. I stitched around the perimeter of the bib, leaving a space at the bottom for it to be turned right side out.

Before flipping the bib out, I made some clips on the seam allowance around the curves. This helps with getting the seam to lay flat.

After flipping the bib, I gave it a quick press under the iron and then topstitched around the perimeter.

Nothing fancy. Just topstitching in all-purpose thread.

Next up, I trimmed my upcycled snaps. I left just enough fabric on each side so that there would be room to stitch them down. I stitched each snap piece three times on either side of the snap, going back and forth to create a sturdy hold. Eyeballing where the snaps went on the bib ends worked fine. Again, these bibs are going to get messy; there’s no need to be fussy about the construction!

Snaps saved from a baby bodysuit.

A NOTE ABOUT CLOSURES: THESE BIBS, AND ANY BIBS, GO AROUND A BABY’S NECK. EXERCISE CAUTION! USE A BREAKAWAY CLOSURE. WATCH YOUR BABY WHEN THEY’RE WEARING THE BIB. MAKE SURE THEY DON’T GET THE BIB SNAGGED ON ANYTHING AND CAN’T GET FREE. KEEP YOUR BABIES SAFE! SAFETY FIRST, CLEANLINESS SECOND. Goodness, I don’t want any babies to get hurt!

It’s not pretty or precious, but it works!

Okay, so the stitching on the snaps isn’t pretty. Alright, so bibs made out of old business casual shirts aren’t necessarily cute. But, that’s the beauty of having a third baby! I value function over form! Most of these bibs (I made seven total) are 100% cotton. So, they wash up like a dream! They’re soft, pliable, and so far, have caught the slop.

When I put it on my baby, it looks like he’s about to head to office. Ha!