Easy Pillowcases

Sewing room in our old house
Sewing space was a consideration when looking at new boats. I absolutely loved having my own sewing room when we lived in our house. I could escape up there with a project and it was my own space for storing all of the items that were absolutely neccessary for a successfully crafty life.

Our current boat has a drop-down table that is wide and long enough for both my sewing machine and rotary cutter board. I also have a small side table that works perfectly for setting up my roll-up ironing pad. 

One of my recent projects was a pillowcase fashioned from a t-shirt. I volunteer with my local Hospice House, and one of our clients wanted to do something special with two of her late husband's t-shirts. T-shirt pillowcases were the perfect (and quick) option. (I like the easy steps from the Southern Institute.)

I forgot to take pictures of the t-shirt pillows before I delivered them; but, the Southern Institute provides great pictures of how these pillows end up looking. It's a great project to keep around beloved shirts that one cannot or has grown away from wearing. A t-shirt quilt is another great project, but more time consuming and expensive.

With t-shirts, it's best to use fusible web so that the t-shirt fabric doesn't stretch much when sewing. Stretching will make for incorrect measurements, and a sloppy finished project (in my opinion). I buy fusible web (when I am planning for multiple t-shirt quilts or pillows) by the bolt, and that's a good bargain. Also, it's easy to store, up and away on a shelf, behind my sewing bin.

To ready a t-shirt or other clothing for sewing, here is my process (with an 18-inch project), with 1/4 inch allowance.

1. I cut the t-shirt apart into its pieces: front, back, sleeves. There should be four separate pieces of t-shirt. For the t-shirt pillowcase, you'll use the front and back t-shirt pieces..

2. I would cut a 19.5-inch piece of fusible web for the front of the shirt. (The Pellon fusible web, that I use, is usually at a width of 20-inches, so even 20 x 20 would work.) These pieces should be bigger because you'll iron them onto the t-shirt pieces before cutting the pieces to size. Once the t-shirt is fused, it will make for a cleaner and more accurate cut.

3. Iron on the fusible web to the back of the t-shirt's front side (or the back side, if that is where the main graphic is - the graphic that will be used for the front of the pillow.)

4. Cut big piece of fusible web to cover the entire other side of the t-shirt. I cut the lenght of the fusible web right at the beginning of the shirt's hem at the bottom. That is ironed on, as well, and gives you a big piece of fabric to use for the back of the pillow.

5. With the fabric fused, you can now cut it as you would regular fabric. For a 18-inch pillow, the front piece should be cut to 18.5 inches square, with the graphic nicely centered in the middle. (I take a lot of time centering up the graphic with ruler and rotary cutting board.)

6. For the back pieces, I start with the side with the hem and cut a piece that is 18.5 x 12.5 inches (I subtract 6 inches less than the pillow size). Then, I hem the end of the other piece, and cut a piece that is 18.5 x 14.5 (4 inches less than the pillow size).

7. Now, all pieces are ready to be sewn together using the Southern Insitute's process. I sew with an 1/4 inch seam allowance. Once the pieces are sewn together, remember to cut the corners so you will be able to push the fabric outward to make pointy corners. Make-it Love-it does a great job of showing you why you should clip corners, and how to do it.

Using the same process as the t-shirt pillowcases (minus ironing-on the fusible web), it's easy to recover a dated pillow or make new pillows. I like this process because it allows for an opening in the back of the pillowcase for easy removing of the pillow, so the pillowcase can be washed. If you are similar to me, dogs and husbands like to lay on them and they are destined to get dirty. Being able to do a quick wash is great. My plan is to make a few pillowcases from the fabric that I chose for our boat curtains (that project, TBD), and my husband kindly reminded me that I needed to get started on those curtains soon - so, look for updates on those : )

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