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.