Ahhhhh, the sleepover. If there was ever an misnomer, this would be it, since the amount of sleeping that usually happens at such an event is minimal at best. The whole idea is to pile everyone together into one room and laugh until the wee hours. Our sleepover sack is a perfect choice for however much dozing gets done. We selected cozy flannel in two bright prints along with a coordinating cotton. Make a matching pillowcase to complete the sleepover set. We also added a cute, wraparound harness so the bag can be rolled and secured with a built-in handle to carry it to its destination and back again.
This is a big project, but just because something is big in size doesn't mean it's big in complexity! Our step-by-step instructions and photos take you through the project with ease.
By purchasing a little extra flannel (we give you the appropriate yardages below), you'll have plenty to make the matching pillowcase. Even if it’s not used for sleeping (see “misnomer" above), it will certainly come in handy during the requisite pillow fight.
The exact trio of fabrics we used for our sample set is no longer readily available, but we've selected four new combinations below to inspire you. All are currently available at Fabric Depot. Or, shop their full selection to create a personalized bag and pillowcase set for each guest on the sleepover list. Click the swatch images below to link to each of our alternatives.
Bunnies and big dots
Sweet Bunny Tales Flannel from Studio-e in Daily Life in White on the exterior, strap and pillowcase body with Dots in White in the inside of the sack. Pair with printed cotton Christmas Cheer Decoratif-Aqua from Patrick Lose Fabrics (this print has no holiday elements) on the exterior back and pillowcase trim for a year-round cozy nap sack. Add piping in a light orange or melon to maintain the pastel palette.
Friendly forest critters
Kids love these adorable forest critters in Babe in the Woods Too from Maywood Studio. Baby Animals in Teal on the exterior top, strap and pillowcase body with Leaves in Multi on the inside of the sack. Pair with printed cotton Evie the Tweetie Dot-Green from Susybee on the exterior back and pillowcase trim. Add piping in teal to tie it all together.
Who doesn't love polar bears!
The holidays bring lots of kids together who are super excited and would love Snow Bears from Northcott. Toss in Turquoise on the exterior, strap and pillowcase body with Stripe in Blue on the inside of the sack. Pair with printed cotton Essentials in Snowflake Toss in Blue from Wilmington on the exterior back and pillowcase trim. Add piping in medium blue as bold accent.
Robust plaid is trendy, retro, and traditional all the the same time; you can't go wrong with these picks. Mammoth Flannel Gingham in Medium Red on the exterior, strap and pillowcase body with Robert Kaufman Solid Flannels in Olive on the inside. Pair with printed cotton Burly Beavers in Wood Charcoal from Robert Kaufman on the exterior back and pillowcase trim. Add piping in black.
A layer of high-loft polyester batting provides the “cush.” This is great for young bones and backs that can find a comfortable position on just about any surface, but it may not be enough softness for everyone. You could certainly add an additional layer of batting, but you’d want to adhere these two layers with a quilt basting spray or similar and then cut back the additional batting from around the edge in order to allow the zipper installation to go together as described below.
We used zipper-by-the-yard for the long side opening, showing you how to stitch it flat, attaching the zipper pull later.
We usually recommend pre-washing your fabric prior to starting any project, but when working with flannel it is particularly important. Flannel will shrink, sometimes quite a bit. It also sheds a lot during laundering, so wash it separately and remember to clean out the lint trap when finished. The fabric amounts shown below allow extra for shrinkage.
The sleeping bag finishes at approximately 75" x 32" when laying flat and zipped shut. Fold it in half and roll into a tidy bundle about 16" wide x 24" in diameter. The pillowcase is sized for a standard bed pillow.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing Machine and standard presser foot
- Walking foot (the Janome Skyline S7 has the built-in AcuFeed Flex™ fabric-feeding system; if you do not have this option, use an Even Feed or Walking foot or similar)
- Zipper foot
Fabric and Other Supplies
Supplies shown are for one sleepover sack, one harness, and one pillow case.
- 4 yards of 44"+ wide 100% cotton printed flannel for bag front exterior, the harness, and the pillowcase body
- 3 yards of 44"+ wide coordinating 100% printed cotton for bag back exterior and the pillow case accent band
- 4½ yards of 44"+ wide 100% cotton printed flannel for bag lining
- ¼ yard of 45”+ wide mid-weight interfacing; we used Pellon Décor Bond
- 5 yards of coordinating piping; we used Wrights ½" Bias Tape Maxi Piping
- ¼ yard of 1½” wide Velcro® to best coordinate with your colors
- 2¼ yards of plastic zipper by the yard with at least one zipper slide (zipper by the yard often comes with multiple slides); we used Sullivan's Zipper by Yard in White
NOTE: The zipper must be the type with the plastic teeth. Metal zippers have a nub pointing in one direction only, while the plastic zippers are symmetrical and the slide can go either direction.
- ONE twin-size cut (72" x 90") of soft polyester batting; we used Quilter's Dream Poly Batting Delux in Twin
- Scrap of thin ribbon for zipper pull; shown in the photo above but optional; we decided not to use it on our sample
- All purpose thread to match fabric
- See-through ruler(s)
- Measuring tape
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Iron and ironing board
- Straight pins
- Hand sewing needle
- From the printed flannel for the bag front exterior and the harness (Geometric Stripe Flannel in our sample), cut the following:
ONE 33" wide x 76" high rectangle
FOUR 2½" x 30" strips (this is an estimate and will be trimmed down to final later)
TWO 2½" x 6" strips
- From the printed cotton (White Dot on Navy in our sample), cut ONE 33" wide x 76" high rectangle.
- From the printed flannel for the bag lining (Floral Flannel), cut TWO 33" wide x 76" high rectangles.
- From the interfacing, cut the following
FOUR 1½" x 29" strips (this is an estimate and will be trimmed down to final later)
TWO 1½" x 5" strips
- Leave the batting as one piece; it will be cut during assembly.
- From the Velcro®, cut TWO 3" lengths.
- From the piping, cut FOUR 30" lengths (this is an estimate and will be trimmed down to final later) and TWO 6" lengths.
- From the printed flannel (Geometric Stripe Flannel in our sample), cut TWO 26½" wide x 21" high rectangles.
- From the printed cotton (White Dot on Navy in our sample), cut TWO 21" wide x 9" high rectangles.
- From the piping, cut ONE 42" length.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Main exterior and lining panels
- Find the 33" x 76" panel of exterior flannel and the 33" x 76" panel of exterior cotton.
- Place the two panels right sides together. With the wrong side of the flannel facing up, orient the panels on your work surface so the directional print of the flannel (if any) is running from top to bottom.
- Make sure the raw edges of the two panels are flush all around. Pin along the 76" edge along the RIGHT side only.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch this side together.
- Press open the seam allowance.
- Set aside.
- Find the two 33" x 76" panels of printed lining flannel. Place the panels right sides together. Pin along ONE 76" side only.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch this side together.
- Press open the seam allowance. Set aside.
- On a large work space (this is a big project; the floor may be your best option - just make sure it is clean), open out the twin sized batting. Smooth and lightly steam if necessary to remove any wrinkles and fold lines.
- Place the exterior sewn panel (the printed flannel/printed cotton panel) right side up on the batting. Pin in place around all four sides.
- Trim away the excess batting so there is about 1" of fabric extending beyond the batting on all four sides.
- Thread the machine with thread to best match the fabric in the top and bobbin. Lengthen the stitch. Using a ⅛” - ¼” seam allowance (from the edge of the fabric not the edge of the batting), machine baste around all four sides.
NOTE: An Even Feed or Walking foot is recommended for this step. We used the built-in AcuFeed Flex™ system on our Janome Skyline S7.
- Trim the batting flush with the fabric panel.
- Find the zipper by the yard. At one end, write "top" on both sides of the zipper coil.
- Pull the zipper apart into two lengths.
- Find the large fabric/batting panel. Place it right side up and flat on your work surface.
- Place one of the zipper lengths along each long side of the fabric/batting panel. Make sure the end of each zipper length marked "top" is at the top of the panel. Position each zipper length so the writing is beyond the edge of the fabric; it will be trimmed away in later steps.
- Pin each zipper length in place. The edge of the zipper tape should be ¼" in from each long raw edge of the fabric/batting panel.
- On both sides, measure and mark (with a pin or with a clip into the seam allowance) ¾" down from the top edge of the panel.
- On both sides, measure and mark (with a pin or with a clip into the seam allowance) 3½" up from the bottom raw edge of the fabric/batting panel.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the zipper in the top and bobbin. Re-set the stitch length to normal.
- Sew each zipper length in place, running your seam approximately ¼" from the zipper teeth. We used our Janome AcuFeed Flex™ foot and positioned the needle all the way to the left. Start the stitching from the top ¾" mark and end the stitching at the bottom 3½" mark. Lock your seam at the beginning and end.
- At the top edge of each length, fold the zipper at a 90° angle. Pin in place.
- At the bottom edge, simply leave the excess zipper tape free. This will be the end where we add the zipper slide later in the construction process.
Assemble the layers
- Find the sewn bag lining (the Floral Flannel in our sample). Place it right side up and flat on your work surface. Place the bag exterior (the printed flannel/cotton with the batting) right side down on top on the lining. The two layers are right sides together with the zipper tape sandwhiched between the layers. Make sure the layers are flush on all four sides. Pin along both sides and across the top. The bottom edge is open.
- Re-thread the machine if necessary to best match the fabric. We continued to use our Janome AcuFeed Flex™ foot with the needle positioned to the left
- Start stitching on one side at the bottom 3½" mark. Run the seam right along the previous line of stitching (the zipper tape stitching line).
- Stitch up to the top pin point. Stop with your needle in the down position and pivot. Stitch across the top, stopping, again with the needle in the down position, at the opposite top pin mark. Pivot.
- Stitch down the opposite long side, again following along in the zipper tape seam line. Stop and lock the seam at the opposite 3½" mark.
- Trim the upper corners at a diagonal, taking care to NOT clip the zipper tape. You can trim away excess zipper tape that extends way beyond the seam allowance, but you want the zipper tape to be intact at the corner itself.
- Turn the sleeping bag right side out through the bottom opening. Smooth and steam the seams.
- Place the sleeping bag right side up (exterior printed flannel/cotton side) and flat on your large work space (probably the floor). Smooth away any wrinkles. Pin across the upper edge to keep this seam from rolling to the back.
- Measure 12½" down from the upper edge. Using your fabric pen or pencil, draw a horizontal line at this measurement across the entire width of the sleeping bag (from the printed flannel all the way across the printed cotton). You're covering a lot of ground here, which is why we recommended having a tape measure and yardstick on hand or at least two see-through rulers you can position together to form your own “T-square.”
- Continue marking parallel horizontal lines across the width of the sleeping bag, spacing them 12½" apart. The fifth and last line will be 13" up from the lower raw edge of the bag.
- Topstitch along each drawn line. This topstitching will be much easier with an Even Feed or Walking foot. Again, we continued to use the built-in AcuFeed Flex™ system on our Skyline S7. Lengthen the stitch (we used 3.0 mm). Remember to re-thread with matching thread colors in the top and bobbin if need be.
- Start and stop (and lock your seam) just before the zipper teeth.
- At the lower end of the sleeping bag, on both sides, clip into the seam allowance at the 3½" marking, taking care not to clip into the zipper tape.
- Fold the bag in half, matching the two halves of the zipper.
- Align the ends of the zipper. Find the zipper pull. Slip the zipper pull over the ends of the zipper coils. Make sure the pull is facing down so when you turn the bag right side out the pull will also be right side up.
NOTE: For this step, it's helpful to have a second pair of hands: one to pull the zipper slide and one to hold the ends of the zipper tape even.
- Slide the zipper pull up all the way to the top of the sleeping bag, closing the zipper as you go. The bag is now a tube with a finished upper edge and an open lower edge.
- Lift the excess zipper tape out of the way at the bottom and pin the remaining 3½" of fabric/batting panels together to complete the exterior side seam (you are pinning just the exterior panels, not the lining).
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch this short seam, starting as close to the zipper as possible.
- Pull the excess zipper tape back against seam and mark the point on the coil where the the upper and lower side seams join. Using a wide zig zag stitch (we used 5.0 mm width and 0.0 length) stitch across the zipper coil at this point to form a zipper stop.
- Trim excess length of the zipper tape about 1" below your sewn stop.
- Flip up the lining and place the remaining 3½" of it right sides together, just as you did with the exterior panels. Although in the case of the lining, it is easier to stitch from the bottom up to the zipper.
- Fold the lining out of the way again. Place the bottom edges of the exterior fabric/batting panels right sides together and pin in place.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch across the bottom edge.
- For the final steps to finish the lining, you need to do a bit of manipulation. First, smooth the lining down over the batting. Reach inside the lining and grab one corner. Gently pull the corner to turn one side of the lining inside out. Now that it's inside out, you can place the bottom edges right sides together. Working from the corner toward the center, pin together about 10-12" of the bottom edges of the lining.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch from the corner to the end of the 10-12" pinned segment.
- Clip the sewn corner, then push the corner back into place so the sewn seam in now right side out.
- Repeat to pull out the opposite side of the lining and stitch about 10-12" from that corner.
- There will be a portion of the seam left un-sewn at the center. Fold in the raw edges of this opening so they are flush with the sewn seam. Press.
- Place the folded edges together so the edges are flush and the opening is closed. Pin in place.
- Edgestitch the opening closed.
- Turn the sleeping bag right side out and smooth the lining down into place, pushing it all the way into the bottom corners.
- Unzip the bag slightly. Topstitch along the upper edge of the bag, approximately ¼" from the finished edge.
Sleepover bag harness
- Fold the sleeping bag in half, with the printed flannel right sides together. Roll up, starting at the lower edge, making a smooth, tight roll. If need be, you can tie a piece of ribbon or string around the bag to hold it in place.
- Wrap a tape measure around the rolled sleeping bag so it overlaps. Record this measurement, then add 5". For our sample, the rolled measurement was 24", so our total length for the harness strap was 29".
- Trim the four pre-cut 30" lengths of printed flannel and the four 30" lengths of piping to this final measurement.
- Trim the four pre-cut 29" lengths of interfacing to 1" less than the final measurement, 28" for our sample.
- Center a strip of interfacing on the wrong side of each 29" strip. Following the manufacturer's instructions, fuse the interfacing in place.
- Center a strip of interfacing on the wrong side of each 6" strip. Following the manufacturer's instructions, fuse the interfacing in place.
- Collect two of the long fabric strips and one of the short fabric strips along with the four long lengths of piping and the two short lengths of piping.
- On each length of piping, you will trim back the cord at the ends so it will more smoothly fit into the seams. To do this, place a marking pin ½” in from each corner on each fabric strip.
- Place a length of piping along each long raw edge of each strip. You are working on the right side of the fabric strips and the raw edge of the piping’s insertion tape is flush with the raw edge of the fabric strip. Pin each length of piping in place, starting and stopping at at corner pin marks.
- Using a seam ripper, open up the stitching on the piping back to the pin mark.
- Cut back the cord to the pin mark.
- On the short strip, simply allow the flatten ends of the piping to lay back down against the strip.
- On the long strips, fold back the piping fabric over the cut piping cord to create a finished edge.
- Pin in place, which means your piping will stop ½” in from each end on each long length.
- Using a Zipper foot, machine baste each length of piping in place.
- Find the two remaining long fabric strips and the one remaining short fabric strip. Place the plain strips right sides together with a corresponding piped strip.
- On the long strips, pin together across both ends and along both sides (of both strips).
- Leave a 3" opening at the exact center on one long side of each strip.
- Still using a Zipper foot, stitch together the layers of the two long strips.
- Remember to pivot at the corners and to lock your seam at either side of the one 3” center opening on each strip. Trim each corner on the diagonal.
- Turn the strip right side out. A knitting needle or chopstick helps the strip turn and allows you to gently push out the corners.
- Press flat. There should still be an opening at the center of each strip.
- Repeat to stitch together the layers of the short strip. The only difference is that you stitch just the long sides; the ends remain open.
- Turn the short strip right side out through one of the open ends and press flat.
- Edgestitch along both sides of the short strip as well as across both ends to keep the layers flat.
- Place a pin at the center point of each end of the finished short strip.
- Find the center of each opening that you left at the center of each long strip. Place a pin at each of these opening center points. Place the long strips on your work surface so the openings are facing each other.
- Insert one end of the short strip into each opening long strip, matching up the pins.
- Adjust the short strip as necessary so it is exactly horizontal and pin in place.
- Still using a Zipper foot, edgestitch all around both long strips, securing the short strip and closing the opening as you sew.
- Pull apart the two 3" lengths of Velcro®. Center a piece at the end of each strap, making sure both hook pieces are on one side and both loop pieces are on the other side. Pin in place.
- Edgestitch around all four sides of each Velcro® piece, re-threading the machine if need be to best match the Velcro® and the fabric. Use a slightly lengthened stitch.
- Wrap the harness around the sleeping bag, overlapping the Velcro® ends to secure.
- Find the two 26½" x 21" panels of printed flannel (the Geometric Stripe Flannel in our sample).
- Place the two printed flannel pieces right sides together, matching all edges. Pin along each long side.
- Attach a standard presser foot.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch each long side. Finish the seam allowance with a sewing machine or serger. When working with flannel, which loves to fray, finishing your seams is strongly recommended. Check out our four-part series on machine sewn finishes.
- With the pillowcase still wrong side out, flatten it so the seams are running evenly along each side. Align the raw edges of one short side. Fold back the very end of both side seams along the line of stitching and pin in place.
- Then pin across the rest of the short side. This will be the bottom end of the pillowcase. The remaining short side remains open; it will be the top end of the pillowcase.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch across the bottom end. Finish this seam allowance as above.
NOTE: This seaming technique for the bottom of the pillowcase makes nice corners without the need to clip. It also creates a stronger corner, resistant to fraying and so unlikely to get that little hole in the corner so common with store-bought pillowcases.
- Find the two 21" x 9" strips of printed cotton. Place the two strips right sides together and pin along each 9" end.
- Using a ½' seam allowance, stitch each end, creating a loop. Press open the seam allowances.
- Fold this accent band loop in half, wrong sides together, matching the raw edges. Press to set a crease.
- Unfold and press up one raw edge ½“ all around.
- Find the remaining length of piping and the pillowcase body. With the pillowcase body right side out, place the piping around the top edge. The piping should be positioned so its inside stitching (the stitching that holds the fabric around the cord) is ½" from the raw edge of the pillowcase.
- Cut back the ends of the piping cord as you did above for the harness in order to create a smooth joint.
- Overlap the ends and pin all around.
- Switch to a Zipper foot and baste the piping in place, staying as close to the cord as possible.
- Find the accent band. Unfold it and turn it wrong side out. Align the raw edge of the band with the top raw edge of the pillowcase. The folded edge of the band is facing down. The two pieces are right sides together with the piping sandwiched between the layers. Pin in place all around.
- Stitch the layers together, following along in the previous line of piping basting.
- Press the seam allowance up toward the accent band.
- Fold the accent band along the original crease, which brings the folded edge of the band to the inside of the pillowcase. The folded edge of the band should cover the seam you just made. Pin in place.
- Still using a Zipper foot, topstitch all around, staying approximately ⅛" from the piping within the accent band. This final seam secures all the layers.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild