This is the first project in the I Can Sew series here on the blog, and it is an easy one! If you are confident sewing those straight lines and you know how to use your iron, The Basic of all Basic Pillowcases is your best beginner project. Everything is done on a larger scale so you have time to really nail the steps.
For me, the hardest part about sewing is cutting into pretty fabric. I just like looking at it! With this project, enough fabric is used that I feel like I haven’t really cut into it at all, and I get to enjoy it in its near-wholeness. I’m a nerd like that.
For this project, you will need 1 1/8 yard of 45” wide cotton fabric. Pre-wash your fabric before beginning. I will refer to “wrong side” and “right side” of the fabric: the right side is the pretty, bright, printed side and the wrong side isn’t! Some cottons, like solid colors, don’t have a right or wrong side so pick one to be your right and stick to it.
You will be using a 1/2” seam allowance for this pillowcase project; look at the grooves on your plate and if they are not already marked, use a ruler or measuring tape to find out which one is 1/2”. Use masking tape if you like to help mark your seam allowance on your machine while you sew to help keep the seam straight.
Does your fabric have a print? Does that print have a direction, meaning an up and a down? That can change how you want to cut and orient your fabric, so pay attention to that if it is something you want to be particular about. You will cut your fabric 37” x 20.5”, and the 37” side will be where the pillow is eventually inserted. Keep that in mind!
Let’s begin! How about we start with some graphics:
This part is a good time to use your adjustable measuring guide! Or any ruler will do. Just try to be as precise as you can.
Here is a tip on how I sew along folded edges with a regular presser foot: The little “skis” feet help guide me as I sew along, and the fabric fold rests in the inside of the left ski. It is acting like a seam allowance guide instead of the needle plate.
When you are folding the pillowcase in half, if your folds and stitches were even and constant, your stitches will line up. Mine were off just a hair, but not enough to really bother me! If yours don’t match, don’t panic. Just make sure the folded edge is lined up, and start pinning around the case from there, and then trim any excess if you need to and continue sewing. If it is too far off, consider unpicking and starting again! It is just a part of the process.
Another sewing tip: for beautiful square corners, follow these steps-
- Mark with a needle or pen your seam allowance distance away from the edge of your fabric where you want to make your nice corner. Slowly approach the needle.
- When you get to your needle or marking, remove the pin and make sure your needle is down in your fabric. Use the wheel on your machine if you need to adjust your needle position. Lift up your presser foot with the needle still down in the fabric.
- Turn your fabric under your presser foot so the edge of the fabric is aligned with your seam allowance guide again.
- Put your presser foot down, and continue sewing as normal. There should be a nice sewn corner left behind!
By clipping that little corner where you sewed your beautiful corner turn, you eliminate bulkiness in the pillowcase right there. It will turn better too! Also, I like to finish my edges with my serger, but it isn’t necessary!
That’s all! You are done! Your pillowcase should fit your nice fluffy pillow wonderfully… and it fits my daughter’s sad, smooshy pillow with a little room to spare.
This also makes a great gift! Fold it up, roll it up, wrap it up pretty and give it to someone you love before they head off to summer camp, their first year of college, or as a holiday gift.
You survived your very first project, and had something great to show for it! Yay! Now, onward and upward. More to come! Until next time…