Saturday, 25 January 2014

Making a Roll-up pillowcase...

Due to popular demand, I'll attempt to show how a 'roll up' pillowcase is made and showcase some of the Concerto by Benartex line that is in stock.  

The main part of the pillowcase is the part you lay your head on.  You will need 27 inches for a regular pillowcase.  (The demo one is actually made with a fat quarter as I needed a gift bag.)  In this case it it the dark orchestra fabric.  

Lots of warm rich tones of colour there- so I chose the off white with golden writing of the composers names as the pillowcase band.  This is cut at 9 inches for a regular pillowcase.

The golden fabric on top is a piece from the Florence Collection by Hoffman.  It is the accent colour and on a regular pillowcase is cut at 2 inches.  I have been cutting some of these bands at 2 & 1/2 inches and they are fine too.  This is great if you have some left over jelly roll strips.  

The above measurements are all width of fabric (WOF), so with the pieces still folded, salvages to salvages, I lay them on top of the 27 inch piece and take one cut to remove all the salvages together.  

Having cut the salvages off, now it's off to the ironing board.  The 9 inch pillowcase band and the 2 inch band are both pressed wrong sides together lengthways.  Giving these a nice sharp crease now helps give the finished pillowcase its sharp look.  The big 27 inch fabric can be pressed if you wish. There is no need to take the fold out of the fabric as that forms one edge of the pillowcase.  I use that fold to centre things up when laying the pieces out.

First, open up the 9 inch piece and lay it on a flat space, right side up.

Then comes the pillowcase body, also right side up, entered on top of the pillowcase band.  It doesn't feel right, looking at them right side up, but  it works. The small accent band is then placed on top of the pillowcase body, still folded and the raw edges are with the other raw edges.  

That long pillowcase body is then rolled up until the right side of the 9 inch pillowcase band is seen. ( the above picture). Now flip the 9inch band over until it meets the raw edges and pin in place.

I choose this picture, because usually, not everything will line up perfectly.  This is okay.  You will get another chance to trim later.  Making sure things are together and fairly straight,  pin the tube shut.  Now you see why they are called roll up, tube or sausage pillowcases.  

Sew the raw edges together.  I used a walking foot as I find the top tends to pucker a bit with the regular sewing machine foot.  If you do not have a walking foot- that's fine.  Sew slow and not over the pins.  If you start to get a pucker, you can keep smoothing it out until you get to the end of the sewing.  Do not fret until you finish sewing and see how it turned out.  This is a fun project and a small imperfection is not usually noticed.  Do the best you can and wait before getting the seam ripper out- normally it's not a big issue in the end.

I tried for 1/4 inch seam but it's usually a bit bigger at this stage, just in case my raw edges are not perfectly matched.

This weird thing above is the pillowcase!  Now grasp the innards and pull out.  It helps to turn the band back too.  

The magic is happening.  The raw edge of the seam stays inside the turned pillowcase band.  Once fully turned, press the back of the pillowcase along the seam and then turn over to press the right side.  End by putting the crisp edge back in the band with the iron.  

Once pressed, it's back to the cutting table to trim any excess edges.

Now for the rest of the pillowcase.  Fold wrong sides together and pin.  What!,  am I sure on this?   I didn't believe it either.  It is finished with a french seam.  I wasn't sure what this was at first. 

( I've trimmed a bit off the end of my 'gift' bag- do not do that for your pillow!)  When pinning, watch that the seam lines up and the top of the pillowcase should too.  This looks and feels wrong but this is how the edges are sewn.  Again, sew slow and not over the pins.  There is a bit of bulk at the seam area; no need to force your machine, let the feed dogs and regular pressure foot work.  Here, I do try to use a small or scant 1/4 inch seam.

Pivot at the bottom edge and stitch along there too. Turn the pillowcase inside out and make sure you poke your corners out with something dull but pointy.  I usually use a wooden spoon or a pen top. Press again.

...And back to the sewing machine.  This time we sew the pillowcase inside out and enclose the raw edge of the previous scant 1/4 inch seam, making the french seam.

As we turn the pillowcase, we see a finished seam inside...

And on the outside....

Sometimes, the scant 1/4 inch might show a few threads though to the outside, carefully trim any unwanted threads, give a final press and you have made a pillowcase!  

If giving the finished pillowcase as a gift, from all reports I have heard, people of all ages are very touched that you thought of them and picked fabric that is reflective of their personalities.  It's amazing what a simple yet thoughtful thing will do.  Kids love them. They are great for college students too.  They are not your average pillowcase- you made it.  It's spectacular! 

At Mrs Pugsley's Emporium, you can come in and pick the fabric you want for this project and we will cut it off the bolts or you can pick up a precut one to give or make.  All together it's takes about a metre of fabric.  


  1. Love this tutorial. Great job.

  2. I trim my scant 1/4 inch to make a really scant 1/4, and the thread problem disappears.