Almost…Too Simple: Pillow cases!

I know, I know…pillow case projects are for beginners, right?  Wrong!  Experienced sewing folks also use pillows!!  And generally have bits & bobs of awesome fabric squirreled away–who better to make awesome custom pillow cases?!

We’ve been doing a bit of camping lately, what with summer and all, and decided that in lieu of bringing our nice, comfy, regular pillows on dirty muddy camping trips (because washing mud out of pillows is super fun, y’all!), we should pick up some dedicated camping pillows.  In addition to never having to wash mud out of my usual pillow again, camping pillows pack down into itty bitty pillow nuggets–perfect for travel!  (We went with the small version of therm-a-rest compressible pillows, if you’re curious.)

Given my aversion to washing pillows (though at 12″ by 18″, it’s decidedly easier to wash these than standard size pillows), I decided that pillow cases were in order.  I didn’t really follow a pattern, just winged it, but I think they turned out pretty awesome, so I’m recording what I did here so I can find it again if I need to!

The main, burning question was how big to make the case.  The pillows are 12″ x 18″ x 4″, so I knew I needed a little extra wiggle room, and I knew I wanted a contrasting cuff & band.  I also had some scraps of fabric I really wanted to use together, and with a little creativity, I was able to squeeze it all together!  And in the process I think I came up with a solid formula for pillowcase sizing!

Pillow measurements:

  • length (L) = 18″
  • width ( W) = 12″
  • height (H) = 4″

Cutting out the pieces:

  1. For the main piece: cut a rectangle measuring (L – 1) by [(W +1.5) * 2], which works out to 17″ by 27″.
  2. For the accent ribbon: cut a rectangle measuring 2″ by [(W +1.5) * 2], which works out to 2″ by 27″.  (Or use an actual 1″ wide ribbon and save some folding and pressing).
  3. For the cuff, cut a rectangle measuring 12″ by [(W +1.5) * 2], which works out to 12″ by 27″.

Once you have the pieces, fold both the accent ribbon piece and the cuff piece in half lengthwise and press.  (I was piecing fabric together for the cuffs, so I actually cut out two pieces that were 6″ by 27″ for one pillow and four pieces that were 6″ by 14″ for the other and sewed them together to make the 6″ by 27″ folded-over cuff instead.)


  1. Lay the cuff out on the table, unfolded, right side up.  Align the accent ribbon piece (still folded) along the top edge of the cuff.  Lay the main piece right side down, aligning the top edge with the cuff/ribbon edges.  Basically you sandwich the accent ribbon between cuff and main piece (which have right sides together).
  2. Roll the main piece of fabric up from the bottom, almost all the way to the top edge.
  3. Fold the bottom edge of the cuff over the rolled up main piece and align with the top edges where everything is sandwiched together, essentially encasing the main rolled up fabric like a sausage.
  4. Sew the lined up raw edges together.  Pull the en-sausaged main fabric out of the sewed up cuff to turn the cuff right side out and expose the main fabric and accent ribbon and hide all those raw edges where they all meet.  Press well and topstitch anything you want topstitched at this point.
  5. Sew the open side and bottom seams in one L-shaped sewing extravaganza (I used french seams to enclose the raw edges, but could use pinking shears or zigzag or serge to finish instead).

There!  Nice tidy seams, and super cute cases for the new camping pillows!

It was a really quick sew (took me longer to work out how to assemble everything neatly than it did to actually cut out and sew them up!).  And I really like how they turned out!  The cases are pretty snug, so for the next make I might add 2 inches to the width instead of 1.5 to give me a little more lee-way for my french seams, but otherwise I think I did pretty well!