Custom Style

Sewing that's Retro, Geek, and Chic

Make Your Own Pillowcases

Fun bedding always makes me smile. As a kid, I loved my cute Sesame Street sheets – why do we have to give up the colorful and amusing things when we get older?

A couple years ago, a friend of a friend joined the Army and was sent to Iraq. Our mutual friend and I decided she needed cheering up, so we started to brainstorm ideas for what we could send her in a care package. The general idea was to give her a way to decorate her windowless room and make it feel more like a home than a depressing army bunker.

We included things like flameless candles, a curtain that could stick to the wall with a strip of Velcro, and a pack of four stick-on square wall mirrors to make the panes of a “window” for the curtain. We really crammed a huge amount of stuff into one flat-rate shipping box!

Of all the items we included in the box, her favorite thing was the handful of homemade pillowcases I made for her bed. It was such a simple & easy way to decorate her room. And it was great fun picking out cutesy cotton prints for the cases – we were able to fit 5 in the box (one was even for her roommate)!

Here are three of the pillowcases we sent in that first care package:

Little birdies and scooters

Yoga monkeys!

Currently, she is stationed in Alaska and has local shopping available to do her own decorating, but she misses her custom made pillowcases (the Army lost them when she moved). So I’ve made 3 more to send her.

Three more pillowcases ready to send to her.

I made my pattern by measuring some of my own store-bought pillowcases and choosing the fit I liked best – I was surprised how different some of the cases were! I guess there are no standards for standard size pillowcases (ironic, huh?).

My crudely drawn paper pattern.

I thought others might like to make some for themselves or to put in a care package for military or students. It is one of the easiest sewing projects and is prefect for beginners or kids who want to learn to sew!

Since I’ve already done the math, below are two versions of a downloadable .pdf file with basic instructions and measurements if you are interested in making your own. (I’m sure you can buy a pattern for a pillowcase but it is so simple that it should be free!)

Ideal for serged or zigged seam-allowance:


Ideal for French seam assembly:


It’s not precision sewing, so you can choose to make a pillowcase as simple or complex as you want to – plain with just a hem, a little trim, or a bunch of ruffles. And you can use that crazy print that you would never want to wear or otherwise decorate with. Just have fun with it! =)

Helpful hint: After cutting your fabric, attach any trim before you sew the pillowcase seams.

Trim attached first.

Of the 3 new ones I’ve just made, I have made a plain hemmed version, one simple version with one line of rick rack trim, and one slightly complex version that required a little problem solving (because I didn’t have quite enough yardage).

It was all about the detailed fabric print on this pillow,
so I didn’t add any trim.

I added a single line of rick rack because this cute (but slightly busy) monkey print needed to be broken up a little.

The fun thing about having to add a few inches with a horizontal coordinating stripe is that this pillow is sort of a 2-in-1 design just by turning it over. =)

As a final personal touch, I wrote her name inside the pillowcases using a Sharpie Rub-a-Dub laundry marker. Maybe it will keep the Army from losing them next time she moves. =)

Name written inside hemmed edge.

If you make any fun pillowcases of your own, I’d love to see them!


8 responses to “Make Your Own Pillowcases

  1. Home Seasons June 14, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    These are cute pillowcases!

  2. Cation Designs June 14, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    Sometimes you just need a quick and easy project in a fun and ridiculous print! I heartily second your statement about not giving up fun sheets just because we’re too old for Sesame Street.

    The very first sewing project that my husband did was a pillowcase, except he just made it as big as the available fabric. So when it was done, it didn’t fit any of our pillows and we ended up using it as a laundry bag…

    • Brooke June 15, 2012 at 9:00 pm

      Yep, every once in a while, I really enjoy a mindless sewing project. =)

      Pillowcases always make good laundry bags! Did your husband ever bother to sew anything after that or was he kind of over the whole sewing thing?

  3. Karen June 15, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    Thanks so much for the free pattern! I’ve got tons of fun fabric stashed away, just waiting for a project like this one of these days. Thanks for the inspiration!

  4. Athene June 16, 2012 at 3:59 am

    I like the dog print! You need to find me a turtle print. 🙂

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