Bring a pop of color to your home with this simple pillowcase tutorial and free pattern. Learn how to make a beautiful cushion cover with French stitching and a clever envelope closure. Making a pillowcase is the perfect project to start with!
If you're a beginner, the best way to take your sewing skills to the next level is to apply your sewing skills to simple, fun projects like this. I've done my best to share all the tips and tricks you might need to successfully make this tricolor pillowcase.
Here's what we're looking at here:
- zero raw edges – all seam allowances are hidden
- a pillowcase that looks beautiful inside out
- a smart envelope closure
- neat look and perfect fit
- easy to sew, even for beginners
- complete step by step tutorial with lots of photos
- instructions for adjusting the pattern to any pillow size
I made this pillowcase tutorial because, in my opinion, all other tutorials are rather complicated and difficult for a beginner to understand.
As I am, I need to know at a glance WHY and HOW you did the things you did. Why cut the pattern pieces exactly this size but not bigger or smaller? Once you understand how the pattern works, the rest (cutting, sewing, ironing, garnishing, etc.) is so much easier!
I take great pleasure in simple things, so here is my attempt at a better sewing tutorial for beginners.
You might also like these sewing project ideas: Mini zipped pouch (free pattern) / How to make fitted sheets in the size of your choice
Measure your pillow from seam to seam – my pillow measures 19 x 23 inches.
I made this pillowcase from 2 large pieces of fabric like this: a front piece made up of three panels (main fabric, contrast fabric, border fabric – see photo below) and a back piece. back fabric.
The front piece is larger because it includes an overlap for the envelope closure.
We won't discuss the size of the main fabric, contrast and trim pattern pieces yet – we'll get to that in a moment!
How This Envelope Pillowcase Pattern Works
For now, I want to quickly explain my thought process for creating this pattern so you can adjust these measurements for any size pillowcase you want.
Both pieces of fabric (front and back) should be 1.5 inches larger than the pillow insert to account for seam allowance and hem.
The finished cushion cover is approximately the same size as the pillow itself. This ensures a snug fit (which I prefer over a loose fit).
To determine back size, simply add 1.5″ to the length and width of the pillow.
The front piece includes a flap to hide the pillow – which means you will need to add 1.5″ to the length and 8.5″ to the width of the pillow (1.5″ for seam allowance + 7 ″ for the flap). Use these measurements if you want to make your pillowcase with just one main fabric.
The inside flap can be between 5 and 7 inches. My finished flap closure is about 6″ long and that’s enough to nicely cover the end of the pillow insert.
Now let's talk about the design of this pillow.
How to Style Your DIY Pillowcase
With the right color combination and balance, your cushion cover will surely look stunning. Be sure to choose a set of 3 colors that go well together to create a pillowcase that adds style and beauty to your bedroom.
Since I don't have an eye for design, I usually use websites that generate color schemes for inspiration.
Easy envelope cushion cover – free sewing pattern
For the back I used one continuous piece of fabric to keep things simple. I added 1.5″ to the length and width of my pillow insert.
For the facade, I tried my best to create something visually pleasing and harmonious. In artistic composition, there is something called “”the golden rule» and this means that the average ratio of the two sides in paintings is generally 1 to 1.62.
For my pillowcase, I opted for a ratio of 3 to 5 (or approximately 1 to 1.66). This means that I will divide the total width of my front piece of fabric by 8 (because our set will have 8 parts). Then I cut the contrast piece 3 times this measurement and the main fabric piece 5 times this measurement.
Quick note: The front piece is made of three different parts – main fabric, contrast fabric, and accent trim fabric. Both contrast and main fabric piece will lose approx. 3/8” after being stitched together in Step 2, and that’s been accounted for.
The length is the same for all pattern pieces – (pillow length + 1.5″).
So here's what apply the golden rule of proportions means for my 19″ x 23″ pillowcase. My finished front, right after sewing all the pieces together, should measure 20.5″ x 24.5″.
As mentioned previously, I will divide 24.5 by 8, which is 3.06 – this measurement is part of the whole. To determine the size of the contrasting piece of fabric (yellow, in my case) I will multiply this number by 3 like this, 3.06 x 3 = 9.2. Therefore, my piece of yellow fabric measures 9.2″ x 20.5″.
To determine the size of my main fabric pattern piece, I need to multiply this number by 5, like this 3.06 x 5 = 15.3″. Therefore, my main fabric piece measures 15.3″ x 20, 5″.
Now let's stop for a second. We must also include an interior flap – it can be added either to the contrast or to the main fabric. I chose to add my envelope flap to the contrasting piece – so it will measure 16.2″ x 20.5″ (I added 7″ to the width measurement).
The decorative trim will always be the same for all pillowcases, regardless of size – 2.5″ by (pillow length + 1″). In my case, the trim piece measures 2.5″ x 20.5″.
I chose a solid gray color for the back. My back measures 24.5″ by 20.5″.
This is what my finished pillowcase looks like on the inside:
Cutting instructions for different pillow sizes (king, queen or standard pillow)
Free DIY pillowcase pattern – sewing supplies
Step 1 – cut your fabric pieces
You will need a main front piece, a contrasting front piece, a decorative border, and a back piece. Pre-wash your fabric before sewing.
For my pillowcase, I cut out these pattern pieces:
Step 2 – build the front piece
Press the trim piece in half lengthwise, wrong sides together.
Note: Use a fabric marking pencil to draw a parallel line 1” from the folded edge. If you’re a beginner, you’re going to need all the help you can get, so just take it. :) Although this part looks unassuming, properly attaching the trim fabric is somewhat tricky, but I’m here to help you.
Now place the main piece of fabric and the contrasting piece wrong sides together. Next, place the folded filling on top and line up the raw edges.
Sew through all the layers along the line you drew earlier – make sure to backstitch at the beginning and end.
There are no raw edges inside – pretty nifty, right?
Press the seam, then turn the trim over to cover the raw edges on the right side of your fabric piece.
Use pins to hold the trim in place (sewing pins are mandatory at this stage as pressing is not enough to stabilize the layers). Now sew close to the folded edge of the trim.
You can choose to sew two rows – the sewing distance is usually 1/8 inch, or 3 mm, from each edge. These points are both reinforcing and decorative.
Tip: You can’t edgestitch well and fast too. Also, don’t edgestitch while you’re hungry or tired! Otherwise, this is just a straight line, nothing special, but if you’re a beginner, it might cause some stress. Focus on the built-in guide of your presser foot instead of watching the needle, to feed the fabric as evenly as possible. Use lots of pins and go slowly.
And There you go! The front is finished. Now let's move on to the next step.
Step 3 – hem the back and front
In this step, you need to hem the short edge of the back and front fabric pieces. Lay your pieces upside down.
Fold the short edge over 3/8 inch and iron, then fold over again 5/8 inch and pin. Sew in place to create a double hem. Backstitch at the beginning and end of your stitches!
The other short edges of the back and front should be left unhemmed.
Step 4 – fold the flap
Place the front right side down and fold the inside flap until the front is the same size as the back.
Then, lay the back on the front, wrong sides together (see photo below).
Pin along both sides and bottom, then sew using a 3/8″ seam allowance.
After that, trim the seam allowance on all sewn sides down to about 1/4″.
Now turn the pillowcase inside out. Push the corners with a pencil or chopstick.
At this point you don't need the iron, just use your hands. Push up the outer edge of the pillowcase by rolling up the seams between your fingers (watch this short clip to see what I mean).
This will smooth things out and make it easier to sew nice French seams – otherwise the raw edge of the first seam might show through the second seam.
Sew around three sides of the pillowcase using a 3/8″ seam allowance, but stop just below the inside flap. Backstitch.
Step 5 – finish your pillowcase
Now flip the envelope flap to the other side, then pin and stitch along the sides until you meet the previous stitching lines.
On the edges of the envelope flap, backstitch to reinforce the stitches.
Of course, this could have been done in one fell swoop in the previous step, but I for one still don't remember when and how to flip the envelope flap. That's why I wanted to fix this task in my mind and finish it at the very end. I hope this little tip will be useful to all sewing beginners.
Now turn the envelope flap over again (figure 3, pictured above) and admire your work! It's beautiful, isn't it? You can now turn the pillowcase right side out and slide your pillow insert inside.
Did you find this simple pillowcase tutorial and free pattern helpful? I would love to know what you think! And I would love to see photos if you try this project.