Holiday Pillow Cases!!!

A few years into marriage my mother-in-law, Jean (who was basically the QUEEN of all things Christmas) started a tradition of making her kids (my husband, sister-in-law, and myself) all a goofy Christmas pillow case that we would be gifted on Christmas Eve. As any great Christmas Queen would be, she was prepared for the year by July so even the year that she passed we still received Jean’s hand made Christmas Eve pillow cases. I Know. I KNOW!

The following year I picked up the mantle and added pillow cases to my annual Christmas todo list to carry on her fun tradition. This year I decided to move it up a bit and have a beginning-of-the-season family event and gift pillow cases early so that we can enjoy them all season long.

I am SO glad that Jean started our family pillow case tradition… it’s super special and fun to us but pillow cases are also really fun and fast to make! There are a million ways to make a “magic pillow case” or “burrito pillowcase” but here is the rundown of how I made these.

You’ll need…

  • 2/3 yard (27″ x WOF) Main Pillow Case Fabric for a STANDARD sized or closer to 1 yard for a KING pillowcase (I cut my king cases at 34” WOF last year, but leaving them at 1 yard is aok too)
  • 1/4 yard (9″ x WOF) Main Trim Fabric
  • 1.5″ x WOF Strip for narrow trim

Lay out your picks and admire your handiwork!

Lay It All Out!
Lay out your pieces

Layout the pieces for each case

Press it
Fold your Skinny Trim in half and press

Similar to making binding, take your skinny trim piece, fold in half (wrong sides facing) along the length and press

Stack It!
Stack your main trim, feature fabric, and skinny trim one on top of the other

Stack everything up… lay down your 9” strip right side up, place your feature pillow case fabric (right side up) on top of it, and your skinny trim on top of that, lining up all of the raw edges at the top.

Stacked on on top of the other, lined up at the raw edges

Line them all up even on the raw edges and start to pin

Start Pinning!
Start pinning across the width

Pin the layers (4 layers… trim, main, and two layers of skinny trim) across the top width

I like to pin across these three stacked first….

Sometimes at this step I will go ahead and sew a basting stitch about 1/8” or scant 1/4” so that I can ditch the pins faster.  Your call 🙂

Roll it up!
Roll/fold your feature fabric over and over until you find the other side of your main trim fabric

Once pinned (or after you’ve sewn your basting stitch) roll up your main fabric until you find the 9” trim panel underneath.

Fold it up
Fold your main trim piece up to match it’s raw edges 

Flip your 9” trim piece up now your right sides will be facing, match the raw edges and either finish pinning across the top or if you went ahead and made a basting stitch in the last step you could even just hold it in line as you sew the next seam along that edge (1/4” or maybe 3/8”, just make sure you’ve captured all layers and that if you made a basting stitch you’ve moved past it)

Move your pins
Then I go back and move my pins! 


How things look
Peek at how things look at this point!

Now you should have all your layers lined up, sew yourself a nice seam if you haven’t done that already!  This is how everything looks rolled up in there.  Very strange and magical, I know!

After you’ve sewn a seam you can flip your burrito inside out!

You’re the proud owner of a pillow tube… flip it inside out!  Grab some of the inside roll-up and just start working it’s way to the outside until it’s totally flipped and then give it a nice press.

Fold your wide panel in half (right side out, wrong sides facing) and line up all your edges, right sides are out to start for making a french seam to enclose the raw edges.  Sew a 1/4” seam down the side and across the bottom.


Right sides out you now have a seam… next give it a little trim.  I trim down to about 1/8”

It was about here that I stopped remembering to take photos, SO… Now, flip your pillowcase inside out and give it a press.  Then sew another SECOND seam, generous 1/4” (or 3/8” ish) down the side and across the bottom to encapsulate your original seam allowance.  This is called a FRENCH SEAM.  When you flip it back right side out, you should have no seam allowance still sticking out.  If you do, ITS OKAY… flip it inside out again and sew yourself another seam farther in until you’ve captured all that pesky seam allowance.

Flip it right side out!  Press it!  Put a pillow in it!  Congratulate yourself!  Make MORE PILLOWCASES!!!  Here are a few of my favorites from what I’ve made so far this year.  some years I make things I like to look at and some years I make super goofy ones… they don’t have to be photogenic.  Mix it up, do whats right for your family!  I think last year I made Christmas Pokemon cases and this year I helped a friend make some out of an amazingly kitschy Christmas Cowboy fabric they found at our local re-use shop!  You can’t go wrong and they’re super fun.


  1. Thank you for the tutorial! Now I feel ready to make some for my girls. Quick question, is it important to prewash the fabric before sewing?


    1. Pre-washing is one of those personal sewing decisions… I almost never pre-wash and didn’t do it this time either. I’m too impatient 🙂 So I’d say No… it isn’t Important, but it won’t hurt anything either!


  2. I adore this tradition and love that you took it over – how very special! GOOD IDEA!! Plus the ones you’ve made are darling.


    1. You’ll stack your 9” trim, and main fabric right sides up and then have the folded skinny trim on top of that. When you finally fold the 9” trim up it’ll now be wrong side out. Did that make sense??


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