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How to Make Pillowcases – Fixing My Dirty Pillows

Learn how to make pillowcases in this photo tutorial designed for beginning sewers. Make beautiful pillow covers for throw pillows.

make pillowcases

Shall we talk about cleaning up and fixing some dirty pillows?  Get your mind out of the gutter; I mean actual pillows! Today I am teaching you how to make pillowcases for throw pillows. Like this old sorry couch pillow:

make pillowcases

They’re only about three years old, but what you can’t see in the photo is all the stains left by, um, well…let’s be honest – breastmilk.  If you’ve been to my house in the last three years and sat up against our couch pillows, you touched breastmilk stains.  Not gross to me, but I imagine some people find that icky.

My dilemma was that I didn’t want to shell out money for new pillows when these were just fine.  And I knew if I washed them, the batting inside would just ball up and look gross.  Ball up and dirty pillows?  I’m classy like that.  Also, I wasn’t seeing anything in the stores that tickled my fancy.

I found a very simple pattern on Sparkle Power.  And when I say simple, I mean “so simple that Sarah can make this”.  Do I need to bring up the fact that I spent 15 minutes trying to troubleshoot why my sister’s sewing machine wasn’t working, only to realize that I hadn’t turned it on?  So, yeah, they’re that simple.

Saying I am good at sewing is like Bill Murray strapping himself to the main sail and calling himself a sailor.

How to Make Pillowcases
1) Measure your pillows.  Cut your piece of fabric for the front of your pillow to the measurements, but add 1/2 inch allowance on each side.  So, if your pillow is 18×18 (like mine), the fabric should be 18.5 x 18.5.

Then cut two pieces of fabric for the back of your pillow.  The length will be the same (for example: 18.5 inches) but divide the height by 2 (while rounding for whole numbers), and then add 2 inches.  Clear as mud? See below.


If the height is 18.5 inches, half (while rounding for whole numbers) would be 9 inches.  Then add 2 inches.  So, you’ll have two pieces of fabric for the back of your pillow that are 18.5 inches by 11 inches.  Got it?

make pillowcases

2) Pin the pieces of fabric for the back on your pillow on the “long” side of the fabric with a 1/2 inch for a hem.  Sew a basic seam where you pinned.  Do this to both pieces of fabric for the back of your pillow.

make pillowcases
3) Put the piece of fabric for the front of the pillow, right side up.  The pretty side will be facing you.  Then, place one of the pieces for the back of the pillow, facedown on the front fabric. The right sides should be facing each other. Pin along the edges without the hem.

make pillowcasesThen pin the other piece of the back fabric, and overlap the other back piece you just pinned.

make pillowcases

4) Sew the front and the back together with a 1/4 inch seam around the outside.

make pillowcases

5) When you’ve sewn all four sides together, cut the corners at an angle.

make pillowcases6) Turn your pillow cover inside out.

7) Slip your old pillow into the cover.  Easy peasy! You’ve now totally mastered learning how to make pillowcases

make pillowcases

make pillowcases

The green fabric was purchased with 50% off Joann’s coupons and was $4.49 after the discount for the yard.  The bird fabric is their “snuggle flannel” line and was $2.79 on sale.  That brings it to a total of $3.64 per pillow; not too shabby!  Plus, I had leftovers from each kind of fabric to use towards future projects.
These pillow covers came together so quickly – we’re talking both completed in a nap time – that I have a feeling I’ll be making new covers quite often.  You know, to change it up for a cheap price!  No one wants dirty pillows in their livingroom…well except for the newest round of pervs who have found my blog through some questionable search terms.

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11 comments on “How to Make Pillowcases – Fixing My Dirty Pillows”

  1. Great tutorial! I have an aunt who is a seamstress and have sent fabric across the country and she mailed back pillow covers. Usually she makes the covers slightly smaller than the actual pillows so that the covers look more full.

  2. I bet the flannel is nice and cozy to snuggle up to!

    One thing I learned from making pillow covers is that for longevity of the cover it is nice to have a liner too. (Two layers of fabric but the inside layer can be something inexpensive like Muslim or plain white cotton) It helps so the fabric stays a bit stronger, doesn’t stretch etc.. also if you use pinking shears or a finishing stitch on the seams. If you don’t want any weird shrinkage after you’re made your pillow cover wash and dry your fabrics prior to sewing or all your work will get wonky, especially since different fabrics shrink differently when washed!

    Aaand… if you are looking for a washable good quality pillow form that is super inexpensive, check out ikeas down pillow inserts! They are around $5 for a 20″ x 20″ pillow!

  3. “except for the newest round of pervs who have found my blog through some questionable search terms” They must have been searching “jokes that would make a 12 year old boy laugh” on Google. That would do it.

    I love that you reference Bill Murray in WHAT ABOUT BOB! In an earlier life I was married to a schizophrenic, so I relate, not that I am without “issues” of my own…

    Those are easy pillow cases, easy enough for someone like me! Unfortunately/fortunately (it’s a mixed bag, as most things are), I come from a family of master seamstresses. My mother did everything from sewing fabulous drapes to reupholstering furniture, to quilting and hand work like cross stitch, crochet and embroidery, to making my two wedding dresses. Since I spent about ten years at 5’10 and 115 pounds (and Hoovered up everything in sight), she made most of my clothes. My sister got in line for those genes and she made her own wedding dress (she and my mother hand stitched about a billion pearls onto it together). So if I made those pillows and showed them to my mother, she’d smile and say, “Very nice, dear” as if I were in first grade. But I am pretty easy to please, so I’d be very happy with those pillow cases! I say YAY!- you brightened up your house. And that print is darling.

    • Sounds like you probably have some interesting stories to tell about your past. I’m sure those were some challenging years for you.

      I say you make yourself some pillows, and proudly display the “participation” trophy your mom gives you. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. Wow, I stumbled across this site looking for a pizza dough recipe to make from scratch, and have been inspired by sooo much more. Thanks Sarah!

  5. I know, I know, my mind is in the gutter with regards to your title. I can only think of the movie Carrie when I hear that phrase.

  6. Looks good! Remind me not to show you the pillows I made…they are hidden a closet.
    Connie can I get a cording lesson? I want to add a cushion to an old coffee table & turn it into a bench.

  7. Great job, Sarah!!! I love the fabric you chose! If you decide you like a tighter fit on your pillow form…cut out your front and back pieces to exactly match the dimension of your pillow…ie: 18 x 18″. Also, if you want to fancy up your next pillow, I can show you how to add cording? ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Took the words out of my mouth! My Mum always says make cushion covers super snug (i.e. no seam allowance) for an extra plumphy (Technical term. My story, and I’m sticking to it!) result ๐Ÿ™‚