Make Your Own Linen Pillowcases

Linen pillowcases
Linen pillowcases

Linen pillowcases are luxurious and expensive and way beyond the budget of most of us. But with minimal sewing skills, you can make your own linen pillowcases for a reasonable cost.

Linen has been around for thousands of years. It is strong, durable, and becomes softer with use and laundering. Linen keeps your skin cool and dries quickly. Studies have shown that sleeping on linen can reduce depression and anxiety. The fabric of the Pharaohs is antimicrobial and antifungal. It can also be expensive. Linen pillowcases show up in high end catalogs for $80.00 - $120.00 a pair. And you can see what is called Belgian or Irish linen on a product made in China. Belgian or Irish linen may just mean that the flax was grown in Europe.

I have made linen pillowcases from material purchased at a fabric store and out of used skirts and dresses picked up at thrift stores. This is a simple project that requires minimal sewing skills. I will show you how to make these cases out of both. Just make sure that the fabric is 100% linen.



Linen Pillowcase Made Out of a Skirt

You can see that the skirt's hem is already so pretty and makes a nice edge for the pillowcase.
You can see that the skirt's hem is already so pretty and makes a nice edge for the pillowcase. | Source
Use an old pillowcase as a pattern or template for cutting the skirt to the right size.
Use an old pillowcase as a pattern or template for cutting the skirt to the right size. | Source

Make a Linen Pillowcase Out of an Old Skirt or Dress

Making a pillowcase out of an old skirt or dress is easy and inexpensive. I have used garments that I purchased for as little as $5.50 from a thrift store. Check the label to make sure that the garment is 100% linen. A full length maxi skirt or dress in a large size provides ample material.

Measure the width. It should be at least 21 inches wide on each side, and 30 inches long. The garment is already hemmed. If you don't have a tape measure, just fetch a pillowcase from the bed linens section of the store and use that to measure. Of course you must allow an inch extra width for seams.

Look for decorative elements on the garment. A pretty embellishment along the hemline works well for this project and will give you an attractive edging. However, embroidery, extra seams, or other decorations on the main body of the garment will just get in the way of a comfortable sleep. Who wants to lay their head down on lumpy fabric even if it is pretty?

Use a pillow case that you have on hand as a template.

  • Darts can be opened quite easily with a ripper or just a good jerk of the fabric.
  • Wash and dry the skirt. Use your dryer.
  • Steam iron on hot setting.
  • Look inside the garment. If the seams are neat and finished and it's a straight skirt, you're good to go. If it's an A line or part of the skirt is too wide, cut up the sides of the skirt and sew seams as instructed below, as you would with fabric off the bolt.
  • Trim off the waistline. Sew that end closed, first on the outside. Then turn the case inside out and sew over the first seam. This will give you nice, enclosed seams with no ragged edges. Linen can fray and this makes your project neat and tidy.
  • You may not have to bother hemming the case as it has already been hemmed. If the skirt hem is decorated, so much the better!

French Seams or Enclosed Seams

For this project, I made French seams or enclosed seams. This creates a fine finished look. There are no rough edges or loose threads. Take a look at the video below and see how simple this is.

The inside seam is closed, nice and neat

Here is  the inside of a double seam. See how neat it is!
Here is the inside of a double seam. See how neat it is! | Source
Source

Making a Linen Pillowcase

Shop for linen by keeping an eye on sales and coupons. While $18.00 a yard may sound pricey, a 50% off sale or coupon will give you a $9.00 linen pillowcase.

Check the label to ensure the fabric is 100% linen. Many fabrics resemble linen or have a similar weave. Fabric stores like Joanne's have labels printed on the end of the bolt. Decorator fabrics are usually labeled just inside the cardboard tube. Do not take anyone's opinion for granted. Check those labels.

  • Buy one yard for each standard pillowcase.
  • Wash and dry the linen in the dryer.
  • Trim off ragged edges.
  • Iron on hot setting using steam.
  • Cut 2 pieces for 1 pillowcase; 4 pieces for 2 pillowcases. I don't really measure but use an old pillowcase as a template. Cut the fabric 1 1/2 inches wider than the pillowcase for seam allowance.
  • If the fabric is printed, sew the first seam with the outside facing out. That's right, it sounds odd but this will create a nice double seam. Most linen fabric has no outside or inside but looks the same on both sides.
  • Sew a small 1/4" seam on 3 sides. (If you cut out the fabric on the fold, you will only need to sew 2 sides. Iron.
  • Trim the fabric as close to the stitching as possible.
  • Turn the case inside out. Sew another seam, enclosing the original seam. The second seam should be 1/2 inch wide. This creates a nice piece with no ragged edges. Linen can really fray.
  • Iron again.
  • Hem the pillowcase. Fold a tiny 1/4 to 1/2 inch hem and press with a hot steam iron.
  • Then fold a larger 3 or 4 inch hem and press again. Sew.

If you wish to add embroidery do that before the final hem. That way, the backside of the embroidery will be hidden. You can add a row of lacy edging, or create tiny pleats along the hem for a decorative element. Many people love the simple purity of linen so a very plain pillowcase is just perfect.

Make Gifts!


This project makes for an excellent gift. This past Christmas, I made several and wrapped them in handmade paper that was made from flax (the same plant material that is used to create linen). Instead of ribbon, I used string. I love the authentic look of this simple package.

Linen Pillowcase Giftwrapped in Handmade Paper

Though you can see through this thin, handmade paper, I think it makes for a pretty gift.
Though you can see through this thin, handmade paper, I think it makes for a pretty gift. | Source

© 2015 Dolores Monet

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9 comments

Suzanne Day profile image

Suzanne Day 19 months ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

As a pillowcase bra bag maker, I am fascinated by this! Do you have any tips about where to find linen? I certainly would love to save some money and have the finest pillowcases to sleep on! Voted interesting and up!


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 19 months ago from East Coast, United States Author

Susanne Day - Hi Suzanne, look for fabric sales. A local chain store (joanne's) sometimes offers coupons for 50% off. That can make a big difference! I also make mismatched cases out of used skirts I find at thrift stores. If it feels like linen, check the inner tag that tells you the fabric contents.


Jean 3 months ago

Hi Dolores,

Thank you for sharing.

What part of the linen plant did you use to make the paper with?

The actual plant or parts of the plant left over from the process of

making flax into linen? Thank you, Jean


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 3 months ago from East Coast, United States Author

Hi Jean - I did not make the paper, someone else did. I do not know what they made the paper out of. But wowie wow is that a good idea! I have made paper in the past but it sure didn't look like what is pictured here! I have some flax drying out back - maybe I'll try to make paper out of it!


Jean 3 months ago

I grew flax this year... but, got it in the ground too late in the year. It was also a dry year. Needless to say... it did not do very well. I am thinking of letting itself reseed. Definitely shows that the soil is more depleted then I had thought.

Was going to go to a flax workshop this summer but had to cancel.

(I was very disappointed not being able to go!)

I am hoping to teach a very young lady to sew. Hoping to start with making pillowcases. I have a vintage pair of linen pillowcases and it looks almost like the seams were french seams that were sewn down.

Need a powerful magnifying glass to see up close. They could be felled seams, I am not sure at this point.

re: paper: go for it!


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 3 months ago from East Coast, United States Author

Jean - looking around the web, I found several blogs and articles that showed how people grew small patches of flax with hopes of weaving small pieces of linen. Though it sounds complicated, it also seems like a lot of fun. But first you have to go through all the steps prepare the fiber, including spinning it.

There are different types of flax grown for either seed production or for fiber making.

Love the old linen! And as for paper, the last time I made it, it was nowhere near as fine as the one pictured here. Good luck with your projects!


Jean 3 months ago

Yes, it is quite a process.

Yes, I grew the linen kind of flax (plant)

but planted too late. (had to wait for seed to come)

Flax needs "springtime" moisture.

I have looked into making paper so many times now that I cant

remember if I actually tried it myself or not! That sounds funny...

I remember doing it, but, I dont remember when and where I did it!

Save your white and natural threads scraps for paper making!


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 2 months ago from East Coast, United States Author

Jean - for paper making I recall that we used a lot of plant materials as well as lint from the dryer. You have to soak the plant material and it gets quite stinky, just like when you soak the flax for the linen! Stinky fiber messes - so much fun!


Jean 2 months ago

I have been saving all my "light" colored dryer lint for some time now.

:-) ps. we are both on the east coast. :-)

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