Pillowcase How-To

Refashioning Your Old Pillows

An easy way to add some spice to your space is just to change something superficial, like a pillow. If you’re disinclined to go out and buy new pillows, it’s easy enough to just cover up the old ones. Instead of covering my pillow completely, I’m going to make an envelope style pillowcase so I can take it off to wash occasionally.

My mom covered this pillow for me when I was in high school. I recently opened it up and realized that the original pillow is a Minnie Mouse pillow that I loved when I was 7. I’m no longer into either of these patterns, though they were perfect at the time. So it’s time for something new. After digging through my fabric stash, I found the perfect fabric to fit my life now. (Alternately, you can use old curtains, a moomoo from the thrift store, sheets, etc just find something you like.)

What you’ll need:
A pillow to cover
Fabric (a large enough piece to cover your pillow and then some)
Measuring Tape (I used a measuring tape, a yard stick, and a hem gauge)
Sewing Machine (or you could sew it by hand)
Matching or Contrasting Thread
Tailors Chalk

Step 1

Measure your pillow. Mine is approximately 18 inches square, measured from seam to seam.

If you want a nice and snug fitting pillowcase, don’t give yourself a seam allowance when you measure out your front piece. My pillow is a little flat, so I’m going to make one large square of 18 x 18 inches for the front panel.

For the back panels, I’m cutting out 2 rectangles, each 18 inches long. One is 11 inches wide and the other is 13 inches wide. The back panels will need a seam allowance on the overlapping edges of 1 inch each, plus they need to overlap by at least 1 inch. I like a lot of overlap so that they stay firmly in place.

Use this to check what your overlap will be: Overlap = (Width 1 + Width 2) – 2” seam allowance – height of pillow.

Mine is: 11 + 13 – 2 – 18 = 4 inches of overlap (this might be a little bit of an overkill).

After you’ve figured out what size each panel should be, draw directly onto the wrong side of your fabric and cut out your panels.

As you can see, my back panels are a different fabric than the front. No rhyme or reason there, just felt like it.

Step 2

Using a measuring device (I used my hem gauge), fold over 1 inch of one of the 18-inch sides of each back panel, then pin and iron. Then tuck half of that under itself, so the hem is only half an inch, like shown, ironing and pinning again.

Using your sewing machine, sew each hem in place, taking out the pins as you come to them. I chose to use a thread color that matches the front and contrasts with the back panels.

Step 3

If you wish to embellish the front, now would be a good time to do so, however you’d like. I chose to let the pattern on the front speak for itself.

Now pin the pieces together with the right sides facing inside.

Overlap the top and bottom back panels, pinning well, so that together the two back panels match the front panel.

I like to have the top back panel on top when all finished, so I pin it underneath the bottom panel, so it switches when I turn it right side out.

You can choose to have right and left back panels instead of top and bottom. That’s especially nice if you have a longer rectangular pillow, instead of a square one.

Step 4

Sew it all together!

One seam around taking out the pins as you go works fine, I keep a ¼ inch seam allowance. And do backstitch both the beginning and the end, which are in exactly the same place.

Snip the corners off, careful not to cut the seam.

Step 5

Turn it right side out. I like to use a chopstick to get the corners all pointy. A pencil or your finger can work fine too.

And now stuff it with your pillow.

Et voila!

By Karen