How to Make a Pillow Case

Spring time is when I love to do a bedding refresh!  Pillow cases are a wonderful way to spruce up a space and make something unique.

A pillow case was one of the first things I ever made.  If you can sew a straight line—you can make these pillow cases.

What I love about using this “burrito” method of making a pillow case is that it creates a lovely finish and the use of French seams means there are no raw seams to fray when you wash them.

I like to use Art Gallery fabrics quilting cotton for my pillowcases.  It is so smooth and is a top quality fabric.  

For the pillow featured above, I used Moon Glow Glisten from the Art Gallery Fabrics Trouvaille collection for the main fabric, Pure Solids Very Berry for the flange and Hyacinth Denim for the cuff.  Talk about some sweet dreams!

But you can use any fabric you like—even a flannel would be so cozy for winter!

This tutorial is to make one (1) standard size pillowcase, measuring 20” x 26”. 

Please note: If you plan to make a matching set, I would recommend non-directional fabrics.

The burrito method of making a pillowcase can seem counterintuitive, but once you get the hang of it, you will love making these pillowcases. 

Just follow the steps closely and you will be fine!  I’ve used bold text to highlight important details and there is a video tutorial for step 5 so you can easily see how to make the “burrito.”

Fabric requirements:

3/4 yard of the main fabric (where you rest your head)

1/8 yard of the flange fabric (the decorative piece between the cuff and the main fabric) OPTIONAL

1/3 yard of the cuff fabric (the end of the pillowcase) 

Cutting instructions:

From the main fabric, cut one 23” x 41” piece.

From the flange fabric, cut one 2” x 41” piece. 

From the cuff fabric, cut one 9” x 41” piece.


1.  Start by taking your flange piece (if using) and fold it  and press it in half lengthwise.  Line up the raw edges and press so you have a 1” x 41” piece.  Set aside for now.

2.  Grab your pins or wonder clips and clear a space to lay out your fabric pieces.  You are going to be pinning all your layers together by lining them up along the 41” wide edge.

There is a diagram below for visual reference.


Lay down your main fabric right side up as shown in this diagram.

Next, take the flange piece and line up the raw edges with the top of the main fabric.

Lastly, lay the cuff fabric on top, WRONG SIDE UP. 

You are creating a little sandwich so the main fabric and cuff fabric should be right sides together.

3.  Pin or clip all along the top edge (41" edge) of your fabrics.

4.  Sew a ¼” seam allowance all along the top, backstitching at the beginning and end.

5.  Take your fabrics back to the table and set it down with the cuff side down.  Carefully begin rolling up the main fabric until it fits inside the cuff piece.

Grab the bottom of the cuff fabric and line up the raw edges of the cuff.  Your main fabric should be rolled up inside. 

(See Video Tutorial here if you need help).

6.  Sew another seam along the edge using a ½” seam allowance.

The hardest part is done!

7.  Reaching into the middle of the roll you just created, pull out the main fabric.  It will be wrinkly, so you will need to press it again before moving on.  Press your pillowcase and be sure to press toward the cuff.

 8.  Fold your pillowcase in half (it should start to look like a pillowcase now!) and this is the most important part—fold with right sides out.

This is counterintuitive to most sewists since we normally sew right sides together.  But in order to create a French seam, you need to sew an initial seam with the right sides facing out.

Make sure to pin your cuff and flange so they line up on both sides.  Pin all along the edges as shown below.

9.  Take the case to the your sewing machine and sew a ¼” seam along the sides as shown below, backstitching at the beginning and end.



10.  Take your case to the table and trim off 1/8” of the seam, leaving only a 1/8” seam allowance.

Press your seam as flat as you can and then turn the pillowcase wrong sides out

You will be sewing your final seam and it will enclose the raw seam inside (aka French seams!)

11.  Take your pillowcase back to the sewing machine and sew ¼” seam, backstitching at the end and beginning.

Turn your pillowcase right side out and give it a final press. 

Congratulations on making a pillowcase!  Warning:  You will now want to make pillowcases all the time, but that's ok because they are perfect for yourself or as gifts for others.

Bonus points if you make Christmas themed pillow cases for the kids this year!  What's better than dreaming of Santa on your new pillow case?

 I would love to see your pillowcases so don’t forget to tag me @midlife_quilter on Instagram so I can share your work in my stories!

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