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Pillowcase with Closed Overlap Ends: You Asked 4 It

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You may have seen these type of pillowcases in luxury hotels or fancy spas. Rather than an open end, the pillow itself is enclosed in an overlap. Many of you have asked how to do create this type of finish in order to keep the stark white pillow from showing along the end of a pretty pillowcase. An envelope style closure also helps keep the pillow from slipping out the end. “Make it stay and hide it away.” Sew4Home’s got you… and your pillow covered. 

This easy fold-and-tuck trick allows you to hide the end of the pillow inside a hemmed pocket. It’s an extra-tidy technique you can use on any pillowcase.

The pillowcase finishes at approximately 20" x 27”, which is just right to fully enclose a standard 20” x 26” bed pillow. The extra inch in length makes it easier to wrap the end without stretching, and possible breaking, seams.

Our design adds a decorative end panel with a pretty accent flange, allowing you to mix three fabrics. We love the autumn color combination of the fabrics we chose from the Chestnut Street collection by Joanna Figueroa of Fig Tree Quilts for Moda Fabrics.

Working with three fabrics is, of course, optional. The flange can be eliminated if desired. And, if you’d prefer to use a single fabric, you’d need to cut one panel at 21” x 36” and the second panel at 21” x 32”. The rest of the assembly would remain the same.

This type of enclosed end is especially nice when working with darker colors, such as the lovely chocolate browns in our sample. A white pillow seems especially stark against dark colors when viewed along an open end, but the overlap hides it away. 

If you have restless sleepers in your house, this enclosed end also helps keep the pillow in place so it doesn’t shift out of the case with all the tossing and turning. 

We also used this style of finish on our Mr. Bones Body Pillow Cover. Check out that full tutorial here.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

NOTE: Fabric amounts shown are for a fabric with a random motif. If you choose a fabric with a strong directional motif, you may need additional fabric: 1¼ yards of the main fabric will allow a horizontal cut, and ⅝ yard of the accent fabric and/or the flange fabric will allow a vertical cut.

Getting Started

  1. From the fabric for the main front and back panels, cut TWO 21” x 24” rectangles; 
    NOTE: As mentioned above, we cut our rectangles 21” wide x 24” high, which worked great for our random motif. If you have a horizontally directional motif, cut 24” wide x 21” high, for which you need 1¼ yards.
  2. From the fabric for the end panels, cut the following:
    ONE 21” x 13” rectangle for bottom A
    ONE 21” x 9” rectangle for bottom B
    NOTE: We cut our rectangles 21” wide x 13” high and 21” wide x 9” high, which worked great for our random motif. If you have a vertically directional motif, cut 13” wide x 21” high and 9” wide x 21” high, for which you need ⅝ yards.
  3. From the fabric for the accent flange, cut TWO 2” x 21” strips.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Hem the bottom accent panels

  1. Find the two bottom accent panels: one at 21” x 13” and one at 21” x 9”.
  2. On the 21” x 9” panel, create a 4½” double fold hem. To do this, fold back one 21” raw edge ½” and press. 
  3. Then, fold back an additional 4” and press again. This will bring the hem to within ½” of the opposite 21” raw edge. Pin in place. 
  4. Stitch in place close to the inner fold. 
  5. On the 21” x 13” panel, create a ½” double fold hem. To do this, fold back one 21” raw edge ¼” and press. 
  6. Then, fold back an additional ¼” and press again. 
  7. Stitch in place close to the inner fold. 
  8. Set aside the two hemmed bottom panels. 

Create and place the flange

  1. Find the two flange strips. Fold each in half, wrong sides together, so they are now 1” x 21”.
  2. Place one folded flange along one 21” edge of each main panel, aligning the raw edges. Pin in place.
  3. Machine baste the flange in place on each panel.
  4. Keep the basting within the standard ½” seam allowance.

Stitch the end panels to the main panels

  1. Place an end panel right sides together with the top of each main panel, sandwiching the flange between the layers. 
  2. Remember, one end panel is longer than the other. The longer end panel will become the bottom overlap, so if you have a specific front and back to your main panels, pin the longer end panel to the back main panel and the shorter end panel to the front main panel. 
    NOTE: If you are working with a directional print, make sure you are pinning together the top of the main panel with the bottom of the end panel. 
  3. Pin in place across the 21” width of the panel. 
  4. On the shorter panel, there will be just a narrow raw edge. This is correct.
  5. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch together. 
  6. On the shorter end panel, you will be stitching right along, but not on, the wide hem.
  7. Finish each seam allowance with your favorite method. 
  8. We used a simple zig zag. 
  9. Press each seam allowance down towards the main panel and each flange up towards the end panel.
    NOTE: We have a great four-part series on machine sewn seam finishes if you are new to this technique. 

Layer to create the end panel overlap

  1. Place the longer panel right side up and flat on your work surface. Orient the panel so the end panel is positioned at the top of your work surface. This makes it easier to fold and pin. 
  2. Place the shorter panel right side down on top of the longer panel. In other words, the two panels are now right sides together. 
  3. Align the raw side edges of the panels as well as raw bottom edges. Pin along both sides and across the bottom.
  4. Make sure you align the horizontal end panel seams/flanges along both sides. 
  5. When pinned, the hemmed edged of the longer panel should extend beyond the hemmed edge of the shorter panel by approximately 8”. This is correct and is what allows for the envelope-style closure. 
  6. Fold the longer panel down over the shorter panel. You are folding along the top hemmed edge of the shorter panel. 
  7. We nested the end panel seam allowances and flanges for the flattest finish. 
  8. Pin the fold in place along each side.    
  9. This overlap fold creates the envelope-style opening. 
  10. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch both sides and across the bottom. Remember to pivot at each corner. 
  11. At the top, you are stitching both sides up to the folded edge; do not stitch horizontally across the fold. The top end is simply a fold.
  12. Finish the seam allowance with your favorite method.
  13. Turn the pillowcase right side out through the bottom opening. Gently push out the corners so they are nice and sharp. A long blunt tool, such as a knitting needle or chopstick works well for this. Press well. 
  14. Position the cover so what was the longer panel (the folded over panel with the narrow hem) is on the bottom. Insert the pillow into the cover. 
  15. Pull open the “overlap” – it’s like a little pocket. Slip the overlap over the end of the pillow. 
  16. Adjust so this overlap sits flat against the pillow.
  17. Let the top panel (the panel with the wider hem) fall down into place. 


Project Design: Alicia Thommas  
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild


Comments (17)

2BlackCats said:

My friend bought me a rather large remnant bolt of satin fabric (it's 60 inches wide x who knows how many yards! I think it's dressmakers fabric) in my favorite color. I've been wanting to make satin pillowcases for us and some other friends, as satin pillowcases are excellent to protect hair from damage caused by it catching on and actually being depleted of moisture that happens when using regular cotton pillowcases. So far I haven't made the pillowcases because I've been waiting for a pattern like this to come across my path; pillows slide out of satin cases very easily, and I knew I wanted the closed-ended type. So, long way of saying **thank you so much** for this pattern!

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

@ @BlackCats - Wow -- a whole bolt, there are a lot of pretty pillowcases in your future. Have fun - and we're glad to have helped with our pattern.

Anonymous said:
Anonymous's picture

Aussie pillowcases are like this also. Love them.

Coffee And Cream said:
Coffee And Cream's picture

Great tutorial - thank you!

In the UK, pillowcases overlap like this as standard.  I think you'd be hard pushed to find one with open ends!  Perhaps we're a nation of wriggly sleepers who need to make sure our pillowcases stay put!

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

@Coffee and Cream - Thank you so much! That's interesting that this is the common style in the UK. Maybe you're more tidy 

Anonymous said:
Anonymous's picture

Awesome tutorial, very clear. Your reply to Steph k question was very helpful too.  Love this and pinned it. 

Thanks so much Val.

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

@Val - thanks for sharing with your Pinterest followers!

Steph K said:
Steph K's picture

Love it!  Any chance you might know what the cuts would be for a King and Queen sized pillow?  I would be so very grateful!

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

@Steph - It's fun to do the math... and helps you understand the project. The length of overlap pieces would be the same - just adjust the width to fit the width of your king or queen pillow (a standard is 20" so we added 1" to account for the seam allowance. Then, compare both the width and the height of your king or queen pillow to the standard pillow (20 x 26) and increase the main cuts proportionately.

Barbara L. said:
Barbara L.'s picture

Thank you for this tutorial! I've been seeing these pillowcases (always white) in hotels recently and wondered how this was done! 

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

@Barbara - You are so welcome - it's a fun solution and really easyto do.

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

@NanaL - Thank you! We're lucky to have you as a visitor. 

Marsha Fitzgerald said:
Marsha Fitzgerald's picture

I made my daughter in law some satin pillowcases ( from your tutorials ) but they tend to slip off the pillows. This will solve that problem. I love your site. Thanks.

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

@Marsha - Thank you! Yes, this solution to the end would be perfect for a satin pillowcase. Let us know how yours turn out!

Sally M. said:
Sally M.'s picture

Thank you for this tutuorial, very easy to understand.  I've always thought the folded over edge gave pillows, whether they were just decorative pillows on a couch or chair, and bed pillows, a very sophisticated and professionally finished look.  

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

@Sally - You're so welcome. Itis a nice look - especially if you have a super pretty case - who wants to see the pillow ?!

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