Simple Sewing Project- Pillow Cases!

I love making Pillow Cases- They are quick, simple projects that you can make for a very small amount of money, and they really can tie together a room.

I tend to buy plain colored sheets for the kid’s beds. Then I make pillow cases with colors or characters they like. In the past I’ve made Batman pillow cases and Thomas the Tank Engine pillow cases for Henry, and floral print and eyelet lace trim for Margaret. Most of our blankets are either down comforters in plain colored duvets or handmade quits.

I found a bunch of 1 yard pieces of fabric this morning, so I decided that today for art for 100 days of art, I was going to make a pillow case or two. I’m doing 100 days of art and chronicling it on Instagram. I’ve done some pretty cool projects so far!

You only need a yard of 45 inch wide 100% cotton fabric, matching thread and about a half hour of time. Oh, and a sewing machine. If you are looking for a good, basic sewing machine, I like this one-  It’s similar to the one I use.

Pre-wash your fabric in hot water and dry on high. This gets all the sizing out of the fabric. There will be no further shrinkage.

IMG_8710Lay fabric out, right side facing up.

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Fold fabric in half so selvedges (the finished edges)are together.

IMG_8711.jpgUsing a straight stitch on your sewing machine and a 5/8 inch seam allowance around one skinny end, turn the corner and sew up the side with the selvedge. IMG_8713

My sewing machine has measured out and notated hash marks on the throat plate (that’s the silver part in this photo).

I use a 5/8 inch seam allowance. It’s what most commercial patterns use as well.

 

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Trim off any stray strings. Set your machine to zigzag stitch, and stitch over the free edge of the fabric. I recommend using matching thread, I used a contrasting thread, so you could see my stitches.

 

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Fold the open edge over twice, pin or press down. Stitch down the folded edge. Take care to open the pillow case and slip the arm (the part of the machine with the bobbin in it) into the pillow case so you don’t end up sewing your pillow case together.

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Clip off any stray threads, and turn the pillow case right side out. Pop your pillow inside the case and you are all set!

This is a great 1st sewing project for kids and adults. You can make your pillowcase a little fancy by adding lace or ribbon around the hem of the open side.

I’d love to see what kind of pillow cases you make!

When DIY meets frugality….

About 6 months ago, I scored 6 new pillows for less than $10 at Sears, using Sears Shop Your Way Rewards, coupons, and a BOGO sale.

When you get new pillows, you need new pillow covers. I headed over to our local AmVets Thrift Store when all of the linens were on sale and picked up 9 pillow covers for .25/each.  What I didn’t realize is that 3 of them were smaller than a standard pillow, and they didn’t fit. I set them aside, thinking I would find something else to do with them.

Fast forward to this morning. I am pulling the sheets, blankets and pillowcases off the bed, and I notice the pillow cases look gross. Like, we’ve had them since before we were married and they just don’t come clean anymore… That kind of gross. I’ve washed them with Oxyclean, borax, you name it, I’ve tried it to get them clean. Enough. I figure 8 years of rotation means they’ve served a good life.

I rifle through the linen closet to discover that about 90% of our pillow cases need to get pitched. Then, I discover the 3 small pillow covers, and I am struck with inspiration.

warposterSee, My motto for for remaining the frugal steward of our family is, “Use it up, wear it out, make do”. That means, basically: USE WHAT YOU HAVE.

I remembered that I also had a few yards of Eyelet lace in my sewing box. BUT, it’s offwhite. The pillow covers were white. But, wait… We have a box of awful tea in the cabinet. I mean it tastes like burnt rubber and camp fire smoke- blergh. But, it’s perfect for tea dying! Ever notice when you spill tea or coffee on your white clothes, it never comes all the way out? Imagine if you took light colored fabric and soaked it in boiling tea or coffee for about an hour and then washed it?  That’s tea dying.

I pull out the sewing machine and some supplies and set to work. I trim the zippers off the pillow covers, measure the lace, and sew it onto the open end of the pillow case. This serves a few purposes:

  1. Lengthens the pillow case about 31/2 inches. Now it will fit a standard pillow case
  2. Makes the pillow case look nice
  3. I am using up what we have in the house, and now I don’t have to go out and buy new pillow cases.

While I was in the closet with my fabric, I also found a piece of unbleached muslin that I cut into a pillow case. I had enough lace, so why not. If you’d like to make a pillow case, here is a pretty easy tutorial to follow.

I boiled my icky tea, wet the pillow cases, and tossed them into the stockpot. I covered the pot with a heavy plate to weight the fabric down so that it will take the dye evenly.

After about 30 minutes, I turned the stove off, and left the mixture until it cooled… Next, I rang out the pillow cases and tossed them into the washing machine to get out any extra tea (and the gross smell).  And now… Ta Da!  Three refurbished pillow cases and a brand new pillow case!

  • Total out of pocket: Zero Dollars
  • Time: about 2 hours (most of it was waiting for the dye pot to cool)

Now if you want to make your own pillow cases, the tutorial I linked to above is pretty easy to follow, and it’s a great way to use up scraps of cotton fabric that you may have hanging around the house.  Since pillow cases and fitted sheets tend to wear out first, you could also cut up orphaned flat sheets too.