Pillowcases are relatively easy items to sew and are a good project for a beginner who hasn’t done a lot of sewing or hasn’t even used a sewing machine before. Sewing pillowcases will help you to learn how to use a sewing machine and gain basic sewing skills. You will be using simple stitches which will be a good introduction to sewing and it isn’t too difficult to produce a whole set of pillows in half a day. In this article, we will be telling you how to sew a simple pillowcase and also one with a flap. Cushions often don’t have flaps, but most pillowcases in the bedroom do so it is a good idea to learn this technique.  

How to Sew a Pillowcase

The standard size of a pillowcase is 30 inches by 20 inches, but it can be that your pillowcases are a little different. If you want to make sure about the size, measure a pillowcase that you are already using. You can use this as a guide and it will ensure that you will sew the right size for your pillows.


  • 1 yard of 100% cotton fabric at least 42 inches wide. You can cut a little more if you want as the pillowcase can shrink.
  • Sewing machine
  • Sewing gauge or ruler
  • Thread
  • Pins
  • Sewing scissors or a rotary cutter
  • Prepare Your Sewing Machine

To sew a pillowcase, you will need to have an all-purpose presser foot on your sewing machine. Once you have fixed this onto the machine, wind the thread around a bobbin, insert it onto the sewing machine and pull the thread through. You need to set the machine on a straight medium length stitch with a width of 0 inches and a length of 2 – 3 inches. Once you have done this, the sewing machine is ready for you to make your first pillowcase.

Prepare the Material

It is a good idea to wash and dry the fabric first just in case it shrinks. If you are left with tangles in the raw edges snip them off, but be careful not to go too far down as this could shorten the amount of material you have to play with for the seams.

Once you have washed and dried the material, look to see if the fabric has ended up wrinkled. Cotton usually doesn’t get too wrinkled, but if it is press it with a warm iron. Make sure that the iron isn’t too hot otherwise you might scorch the material.

The next step is to lay the fabric flat on a table before cutting as you don’t want it to twist. Then cut out a 36 inch by 41inch rectangle for a standard-size pillowcase. You might have slightly different measurements if your pillowcases are a different size.

Sewing the Pillowcase

Now comes the most important bit; the sewing of the pillowcase. With the material still flat on the table make sure that the wrong side is facing up. Measure 1 inch onto the wrong side of the fabric and iron this so that it stays in place. 

Then turn the edge another 4 inches to the wrong side. Press this as well. You can also pin the hem if you want to be sure that the material remains flat and that the hem is the same width all the way along. Use the left edge of the presser foot and a straight stitch to sew the edge along the hem.

Turn the pillowcase onto the right side and line up the edges on both the side and bottom. Pin into place. When you start sewing, backstitch a couple of stitches at the beginning and end to make sure that the seam will be secure. You will need a 5/8th inch seam allowance. As this is such a small amount, you are best off measuring with a sewing gauge.  

When you get to 5/8th inch from the corner, pivot the fabric on the needle. By lifting the presser foot you should be able to turn the corner and sew along the bottom of the fabric. Again remember to backstitch when you get to the end to make sure that the stitches are reinforced. 

If you have sewn over pins, now is the time to remove them carefully so as not to remove the stitches. Then turn the pillowcase inside out and check the corner. You may need to cut off the point, but be careful again that you don’t cut through any stitches.

The next step is to sew a seam around the hole at the top of the pillowcase as you will want it to be tidy with no raw edges. Again use a 5/8th seam allowance. Make sure that you backstitch so that the seam remains secure.

Now is the time to turn your pillowcase the right side out and put it on your pillow. It will look perfect and will hopefully make you want to either sew more pillowcases or even move onto something a little more complicated.

How to Sew a Pillowcase with a Flap

A lot of pillowcases come with flaps, so we have to tell you here how to make them. It’s really not that difficult and is quite similar to making a pillowcase without a flap.


  • 1 yard at least of cotton fabric or a little more depending on your measurements
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
  • Ruler or sewing gauge
  • Fabric markers
  • Pins 
  • Scissors or a rotary cutter

Prepare the Fabric

Once again it is a good idea to measure the size of a pillowcase you already have so that it is a guide for the size of pillowcase you want to make. Remember to include extra material for the flap so one side of the fabric has to be longer than the other.

Cut the fabric into two pieces. One piece of material should measure the length plus two inches and the width should also be plus two inches. For the other piece of material, the length should be an extra seven inches and the width times two. If you are feeling adventurous, why not materials of different colors for each side. Perhaps use a patterned fabric for the top and a plain color for the bottom.

Prepare the Sewing Machine

The next step is to prepare your machine for sewing. As with a pillowcase without a flap, you will need an all-purpose presser foot and you will need to sew with a straight stitch of 0 inches wide and a length of 2 – 3 inches.

Start Sewing

The next step is to put the wrong sides facing upwards. The short side needs to be on top and then fold the fabric ½ inch all the way around and iron. Then fold another ½ inch and press again. You will need to do the same thing on the other piece of fabric. A sewing gauge is again useful when you have such short hems. On the longer side of the fabric fold again another five inches on one of the shorter sides. This will be your flap. When you have done this, press.. Sew the ½ inch folds together. 

Put the wrong sides up on both pieces of fabric so that you have the front and the back of the pillowcase together. Pin them into place. Then sew up one long side, the bottom, and the other long side using a ½ inch seam allowance. Then trim the seam allowance to 1/8th of an inch and cut the corners so that they look neat. Push the seams and corners out. 

You should now have a flap and you need to turn it over to the right side. This will enclose the opening at the top. Pin this into place with a ½ inch seam allowance and sew. Turn the flap over so as to show the pillowcase opening. Then turn the pillowcase to the right side and you are ready to put the pillowcase onto your pillow. 


As you have seen, it’s not too difficult to sew a pillowcase either with or without a flap. A pillowcase could only take you half an hour to make, perhaps a little longer for one with a flap. It’s a good project for a beginner and it would be easy to produce sets of pillowcases for the whole household in no time at all. Many people like to have pillows on their couches and extra pillows on their beds so you could create beautiful decorations for your home. Mix and match colors and patterns, sizes, and even shapes, although different shapes is a subject for another article. All you need to produce a simple pillow is a basic reasonably priced sewing machine. You don’t need anything too fancy that can produce numerous stitches. Then it’s just pins, thread, a sewing gauge, and scissors. Happy sewing.