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Burrito Style Pillowcase

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Pillowcases are fast and fun, and they make a great beginner project. We have lots of easy options in the Sew4Home Project Index, several of which we've linked to below, but we've also gotten a number of requests to demonstrate a construction technique known as "burrito style." It creates nicely finished seams inside and out with an easy roll-and-turn method. This project is another great topic we pulled from our You Asked 4 It list. We always welcome your emails with future suggestions. 

A new pillowcase or two is a great way to freshen bed linens. It's also a good incentive for nap time cooperation. 

We feature three coodinating fabrics for each pillowcase here: one for the body, one for the contrasting cuff, and a third for the accent flange. The flange is optional, but adds a nice pop of color between the two main fabrics. 

Our samples are in a set of delightful character-themed fabrics. There are so many lovely options out there these days that conincide wtih the most popular books and movies. A set of pillowcases makes a unique gift. Add a matching book or stuffed toy for a fan-favorite birthday bundle. 

Of course, this style of pillowcase isn't only for kids! Choose your favorite colors and patterns to freshen up any bedroom in the house. 

Our pillowcase finishes to fit a standard sized pillow insert: approximately 20" high x 30", including the 4½" cuff and 1" flange. 

If you like these pillowcases, try some of our other pillowcase projects listed below. They are made with the more traditional construction technique, but could certainly be adapted to use this burrito technique. For even more, browse our Project Index

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies


Fabric amounts shown are for ONE pillowcase

  • 1 yard of 44"+ wide quilting weight cotton fabric for the pillowcase body
  • ⅓ yard of 44"+ wide quilting weight cotton fabric for the pillowcase cuff
  • Scrap or ⅛ yard of 44"+ wide quilting weight cotton fabric for the pillowcase flange accent
  • All purpose thread to match fabrics
  • See-through ruler
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Straight pins
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Tape measure

Getting Started

  1. From the fabric for the body of the pillowcase, cut ONE 27" high x 41" wide rectangle. 
    NOTE: Take the time to make sure your rectangle cut is straight and your corners are true 90˚ angles; this will insure the finished case lays nice and flat over the pillow.
  2. From the fabric for the pillowcase cuff, cut ONE 10" high x 41" wide rectangle. 
  3. From the fabric for the flange accent, cut ONE 3" high x 41" wide strip.
    NOTE: If using a directional print, remember to check that your motif is running right side up prior to cutting.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

  1. Fold the cuff wrong sides together (so it is now 5" x 41") and press to set a center crease. Set aside.
  2. Fold the flange wrong sides together (so it is now 1½" x 41") and press to set a center crease. Set aside.
  3. Place the pillowcase body right side up and flat on your work surface. 
  4. Place the folded flange along the top 41" raw edge of the pillowcase body. The raw edges of the folded flange should be flush with the raw edge of the body panel. If your fabric is directional, make sure you are working with the top edge of the body panel. 
    NOTE: We simply pinned the flange in place. If you are worried about shifting, you could machine baste in place for added security. 
  5. Unfold the cuff and place it right sides together along the top edge, sandwiching the flange between the layers. As above, if using a directional print, you at pinning the very bottom edge of the cuff against the top edge of the pillowcase body.
  6. Starting at the bottom edge of the pillowcase body, begin rolling the body up towards the cuff/flange at the top of the pillowcase. Keep the roll fairly tight, about 3" in diameter; it needs to fit within the cuff. In the photo below, we folded the cuff up and away to reveal the flange underneath so you can see about how close we are getting with our rolled fabric.
  7. When you've rolled almost all the way up to the top, flip over the whole thing. Now the fabric roll is wrong side up. The cuff is right side up and flat so its original center crease line is visible. 
  8. Now comes the "burrito" part. Wrap the cuff around the fabric roll. The cuff is now right sides together, its top raw edges are aligned, and the fabric roll is between the layers of the cuff... like the filling of a burrito! Pin along the top raw edges. Remember, the flange is sandwiched between the layers as well, so you are pinning through all five layers: two cuff layers, two flange layers, and one body layer.
  9. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch across the full 41" width. 
  10. You now have a full burrito.
  11. Turn the case right side out through one end of the burrito.
  12. From the right side, press the flange down towards the body of the pillowcase and re-press the cuff along its center crease line, which should now be the top edge of the case.
  13. The pillowcase is finished with a French Seam. To do this, fold the case in half WRONG sides together. Pin along the side and across the bottom. Make sure the flange ends are flush with one another along the side.
  14. Using a ¼" seam allowance, stitch along the side...
  15. ... and across the bottom, pivoting at the corner. We used our Janome Quarter Inch Seam foot to keep a precise seam. 
  16. Clip the sewn corner at a diagonal, making sure to not cut into the seam.
  17. Turn the pillowcase wrong side out through the open top. Push out the corners so they are square and press the case flat. 
  18. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch again along the side and across the bottom, again pivoting at the corner. We switched back to our Satin Stitch foot for this seam. This new seam encases the seam allowance of the first, narrower seam, forming a clean finish. 

    For more about the French Seam and other machine sewn finishes, check out our four-part series.
  19. Turn the pillowcase right side out again and press. Your case is complete with finished seams all around. 


Project Design: Alicia Thommas  
Sample Creation and Instructions: Debbie Guild


Comments (10)

Suzanne Newsom said:
Suzanne Newsom's picture

I use this type of style to sew pillow cases for my Amanda Cases of love.  We sew up pillow cases and donate them to local charity .  Our family goal is 500 tivew sewed up and donated.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@Suzanne - Wow! What a great project. Good luck with that incredible 500 goal!

Carol Jack said:
Carol Jack's picture

I've made several pillowcases using this method. I think it is easier to start with the cuff first right side up and layer the body of the case and the flange on top of it...cuff, body, flange. Then roll up the body and wrap the cuff over it. No flipping anything over this way.

Another Katie said:
Another Katie's picture

The burrito method is such an easy way to make pillowcases - if you can sew in a straight line, you can do it!  The French seam makes them hold up better to laundering, too, which makes them good for charity items. 

Character and holiday pillowcases are fun for the kids (I've made several Disney movies' worth for our kids), but with a novelty print selected to suit a person's hobbies or interests they make great gifts for adults, too.  My brother's in the military and when he's out at sea a pillowcase is a fun way to personalize his personal space on the boat- his Christmas gift this year is going to be a half dozen burrito-style pillowcases in crazy prints. 

annoymous said:
annoymous's picture

This is a fun way to make pillowcases!  Our small Quilt Group have used this methold to make pillowcases for charity.  (Good for Shelters for abused families.)  We recently donated about 30 pillowcases to a local organization here.

Elaine Haggenbottom, Self-Made Crafter said:
Elaine Haggenbottom, Self-Made Crafter's picture

I had heard of this method before, but never tried it, looks very interesting... 

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@Elaine - it's a great technique and hopefully our steps make it easy to give it a try!

Coastal Sewist said:
Coastal Sewist's picture

They are a blast to make and honestly, quite addictive! No harm done though, they make great gifts (including for oneself) and great for donations. Thank you for featuring this style :-) 

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@Coastal Sewist - Thank you - It was definitely something we'd gotten a number of requests for -- it's so easy and fun.