Sunday, 27 July 2014

Pillowcases ~ how to make you own

Pillowcase-style covers are easy to make and are a simple way to cover both pillows and cushions. 

Today I made a cover for a slim cushion my mother likes to have in bed with her.  I was pleased to find I had material in my scrap bag which was a good match for her bedspread.  It just happened to be an old sheet which had worn out in the middle, but the edge parts still have plenty of wear in them!  The teal-coloured cushion shown here is the result of that work. 

I took the photos below as I worked as a visual guide to the method.  The photos are not to my usual standard, but the main thing seemed to be to record the process, so here they are...

(1)  The first step is to measure the cushion or pillow that the cover is for.  I always write anything like this down so that I can easily check what I am doing, and make the same thing again if I want to. The cover I made today was a second one for the same cushion, because like any bed linen these things need laundering and a fresh one is needed while the other is in the wash.

(2)  Work out the material needed: a single rectangle is the simplest style.  
  • The width will be the narrow dimension of the pillow or cushion, plus two seam allowances for each side, say, half an inch (or a centimetre) for each side.  Although New Zealand has officially used metric measurements for many years I still prefer to sew using inches as I find them easier to visualise and work with.
  • The length will be for each side of the pillow, plus enough for a generous flap to tuck inside, say eight or so inches, plus two seam allowances of about three quarters of an inch. 
  • The small pillow I made the cover for was 15 inches square so my rectangle measured 16 inches in width by 38 inches long.  I wanted it to fit snugly so the dimensions I used reflect that.

(3)  Fold one end over twice, and sew a seam along the edge.  Folding the material over twice means that the edge of the material is very neatly concealed and requires no further work.  This is the only stitching that can be seen once the cover is finished.  The turned over edge ends up on the inside of the cover.

(4)  Keeping the folded over edge facing uppermost fold the material back on itself to the width of the cushion or pillow, leaving the part that will be the flap free for the meantime.

(5)  Pin it in place. Theoretically the cushion or pillow would now fit within this folded part.

(6)  Neaten the edge of the flap with a zigzag stitch.  This seam could just as well be secured by turning it under twice as with the previous seam, but that would create one more thickness, and possibly a slight ridge, and I think this is the neater option:

(7)  Fold the edge back by half an inch, pin and press it:

(8) Stitch it flat with a simple straight stitch:

(9)  Keeping the position of the work as show above draw the flap snugly into place over the body of the pillowcase folding it down firmly over the uppermost edge of the first seam.  Line up the edges of the flap with the body of the pillowslip and pin the flap and side seams together:

(10)  Stitch the side seams:

(11)  This is a good time to reverse what you have achieved to check that all is as it should be:

(12)  Once you are confident that the construction is correct you can turn it inside out again and neaten the side seams with a zigzag stitch:

(13)  Turn it right side out again, and you will see that first seam only.  It's now time to get the iron out and give it that finishing touch by pressing it:

(14)  Put the cushion or pillow inside and you have achieved your goal!

The sheet I used for these covers came from an expensive set of bed linen I bought many years ago when I could afford such things.  They have been such favourites that I have used them relentlessly and naturally they have become fairly worn.  However I gave them a make-over a couple of years ago using the good parts of the worn out flat sheet to make a new border and pillow slips.  I wrote about them in the article linked to below:

I still have some good scraps left over from that project so haven't finished with them yet!  I may use some of it for cloth shopping bags, like the ones I show how to make in the article below, and yes, those ones were made from old sheets - they are still going strong:

Other articles about sewing and keeping house are listed on my page:

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