At the last HeartStrings sew-in, Ethel taught us how to make a pillowcase (she makes them for Operation Support for Deployed Military).

Here are the first couple made on my own.

First I chose and cut 3 coordinating fabrics.

  • Cuff is cut 9.5 inches by width of fabric (WOF)
  • Narrow contrasting band is cut 2.5 inches by WOF
  • Body of the pillowcase is cut  27 inches by WOF

To make things quicker – I cut two pillowcases from the same fabric but switched them – so my print fabric is the cuff in one pillowcase and the body in another. I also chose not to use the contrasting band in the 2nd pillowcase.

With the wrong sides together, fold in half and iron the narrow contrasting band.


Lay the Cuff right side up and place the contracting band on top.


Now with the right side facing down,  line up edge of the body of the pillowcase at the top and fan fold the rest of it until you see the cuff at the bottom – keep these folds away from the top edge because that’s where you’ll be sewing the first seam.


Now, fold the bottom edge of the cuff up and pin.


When you’ve got it all pinned, sew using 1/4 inch seam.


Then, reach inside and pull the body of the pillowcase out.



Now iron the cuff, fold in half and trim the selvages edge leaving the side even.



This seems backwards but it leaves no raw edges so after trimming, with the RIGHT sides out (see above photo) sew the side and bottom closed using a 1/4 inch seam.

TURN the pillowcase inside out, press the seam – I use my fingers to pinch and work the seam flat and then press.


Now sew a generous 3/8th seam. This seam will *encase* the previous one and you won’t have any raw edges.



I used the line on my machine to sew the 3/8ths seam and had some stray threads to trim up – use a generous 3/8 seam or even a 1/2 inch seam to avoid this problem.


Turn the pillowcase right side out and give those seams a final press and here’s my finished pillowcase ! Liz emailed a suggestion to top stitching the accent band to keep it from getting all scrunched up during laundering so feel free to give that a try.


Here’s the 2nd one with the body and cuff fabrics reversed. It really is quicker to cut two at once but I didn’t want the pillowcases exactly the same since they’ll be donated. Also because there wasn’t as much contrast between my print and my narrow contrasting band, I left it out in this one. You can make these pillowcases with or without the contrasting band.


38 thoughts on “Pillowcases”

  1. Hi heard about you from Mrs. Judy where would I send my pillow cases for the deployed military. I am from a military background and know how much a little piece of home makes a huge difference ! and every night to lay your head down on a piece of home that was made by loving hands means the world to them. I am also going to make some for the Children’s Hospital in Boston Mass. when I was 6 I had open heart surgery there. now I am 48 and live back in Louisiana and want to send that special touch to sick kids. I know first hand how that would have made me feel and want to put a smile on their faces !

  2. I’ve made a ton of these pillow cases and have found that I like to use 12″ for the cuff instead of the 9″. It makes it so much easier to turn. I also think it is a bit more elegant, especially if I am making King Sized cases.

  3. Have been using this pillowcase pattern for a year or so. Sure is easier than some methods I have seen. I agree directions sound confusing but like one tutorial I read said to just follow the instructions exactly as written implying do not think and just do it.

  4. I started making these pillowcases and already have 6 sets made. So easy and each one is prettier than the last one!! Great instructions…

  5. So in the fifth picture, when you have pinned it all together, the layers caught in the pins, in order, are 1 layer of the cuff, the contrasting band, 1 (or 2?) layer(s) of the body fabric?, and then a second layer of the cuff. Omitting the middle fan-folded fabric of the body.
    Is this accurate?


  6. Thank you for your instructions. My son is a wounded warrior and needed something to occupy time. I sent him a sewing machine, fellow soldiers got involved in trying to make pillowcases. The instructions are easy to follow and the guys are having a blast sewing. Luckily one of the recreational therapist knows how to sew and they are also learning how to wind bobbins, change needles and thread the machine.

  7. I made this pillowcase about 4 years ago, but the pattern I got out of the file today didn’t make much sense to me and I knew that Kay would have some help for me. I’m looking forward to making a few for “humanitarian care” Thanks!

  8. I am a new to sewing and was wondering what width of fabric is to be used for these cases. Thanks. My daughter is making this as a 4H project.

  9. Hi Mary, I’m a newbie on your wonderful website. These “burrito” or “hotdog” pillowcase methods are pure genius for sewers! I’ve made 25 so far, 7 going to childrens’ hospitals for kids with cancer. I plan to do this every year. I find beautiful, cheerful fabric on Hancock-Paducah’s remnant table. It’s a great way to help those in need of a little cheer.

  10. Our church has made 68 pillowcases for Iraq but the contact person I had has not responded. Do you by any chance know and address that we can send them to?
    Thank you
    Sandy Cox

  11. I just finished my first pillowcase for my granddaughter. I have to thank you for a great pattern, and yes, it was easy. The directions sounded confusing but just go step by step and you’ve got a beautiful pillowcase. Thank you~~~

  12. I have seen these direction before and they were clear as mud. These I understand.
    Now, I wll make some as soon as I can move around the sewing room again. I broke my foot in 2 places this morning. So for now back to the knitting.

  13. Great tutorial — I’d been reading others and unable to follow what they were talking about when it came to that fold/roll technique, but your pictures and clear instruction made the difference!

  14. I have been trying to figure this thing out with other tutorials on the internet and yours is the first one that has made sense to me and that I have been able to use! Thank you so much for posting such a great, easily understood tutorial. Now, I am off to make more pillowcases! Michelle in Texas

  15. The quilting group I belong to: Sun City Quilters, Georgetown,Texas has been making quilts for wounded soldiers coming back from Iraq and Afganistan for the past 5 years. We have distrubited more than 500 quilts to these brave men and women at Brooks Army Medical Center, San Antonio, Darnall Army Medical Center and Warriors In Transition Unit, Ft. Hood,Killeen,Texas and the Womens Trauma Recovery Center, VA Hospital, Temple,Texas.
    We also make a pillow case to store the quilt in. The hot dog method of making them has been a lifesaver. We have workdays and form an asembly line, with cutters, and sewers using their sergers. On our last workday we made 40.
    I have to agree your tutortial is very user friendly.
    Thanks for providing it.

  16. i saw this pillowcase explained by janey donaldson a few years ago when she had her quilt show on tv. such a nice lady. there is also a university website with this pattern. i’ve made so many of these, and so easy. i use my serger for all steps. i recently saw this pattern called a “burrito” pillowcase ’cause of the way you enclose the body of the case. i have been making p. linus quilts since 2004…..i love the strip quilts…again, i use my serger and do the kaye wood idea of quilt as you go…..

    pat whitley

  17. Does anyone know who first came up with this pattern? I’ve been making these for a couple years now…everyone got pillowcases in their favorite prints a couple Christmas’s ago. I’d really like to give credit to who came up with this idea.

    Thanks for the step by stpe tutorial. It helps refresh my mind.


  18. Great tutorial as usual!! Thanks. Do you have dimensions for a king-size pillowcase? I’ve had a request for one. Thanks, Susy

  19. Thank you for the pillow case tutorial,I have to try this one and I also found a quilt on your web site that I am planning on making.Trish

  20. Hi Mary i want you to know how i like your pillowcase pattern i have used it for cancer kids and also with soilders and have lots of complements on the way you make it some people don’t make the french seam and leave the raw edge and i think it make a nicer finish and more durable one thanks i also have used other patterns to make some quilts for kids that they give to policeman fireman and hospitals the easy stripe quilt make a really nice quilt and easy to make thanks i really like your web site too marilyn

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