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Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go. It’s the season for traveling and spending time with friends and family. Sometimes that means a lot of people trying to find a place to sleep in a small space. If you’re running out of room, the kids in the bunch will love this project: a cozy sleepover bag and matching pillowcase made in pretty holiday flannels and soft cotton. Remember, 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. Flannel is great to work with, and we used zipper-by-the-yard for the long side opening. You can stitch it flat, attaching the zipper pull later! We also added a cute, wraparound harness so the bag can be rolled and held securely with a built-in handle to carry it to the next holiday adventure.

By purchasing a little extra flannel (we give you the appropriate yardages below), you can also make a matching pillowcase. The kids can be nestled all snug in their beds wherever they’re resting their sleepy heads.

We always 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 your lint trap.

We’ve included several new fabric combinations below, showing how easy it is to make a distinct bag and pillowcase set for each sleepyhead on your list.

This first trio continues the forest theme and includes two flannel fabrics and a quilting cotton from Joann Fabrics (left to right): Snuggle Flannel-Holiday Stag with Poinsettia, Cozy Flannel – Sunshine and Christmas Cotton – Green Diamond.


Our second trio is all flannel found at Fabric.com. All three are from the Sugarplum collection by Heather Ross for Windham Fabrics.


The sleeping bag finishes at approximately 75″ x 32″ when laying flat. Fold it in half and roll into a tidy bundle about 16″ wide x 23″ in diameter. The pillowcase is sized for a standard bed pillow.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

NOTE: Supplies shown are for one sleepover bag, one harness strap, and one pillow case.

  • 3½ yards of 44″+ wide 100% cotton printed flannel for the bag front and pillowcase body
  • 3 yards of 44″+ wide coordinating 100% printed cotton for the bag back, pillow case accent band, and harness
  • 4½ yards of 44″+ wide coordinating 100% cotton solid flannel for the bag lining
  • ¼ yard of 20″+ wide mid-weight fusible interfacing; we used 45″ Heat ‘n’ Bond Woven Fusible
  • 5 yards of ½” – ⅝” coordinating rick rack
  • 2¼ yards of plastic zipper by the yard with at least one zipper slide (zipper by the yard often comes with multiple slides)
    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.
  • ¼ yard of 1½” wide sew-on Velcro® in a color to best match your fabric; we used beige
  • ONE twin-size cut (72″ x 90″) of soft polyester batting; we used Soft & Bright Polyester Batting by Warm Company
  • All purpose thread to match fabric and rick rack
  • See-through ruler
  • Measuring tape
  • Yardstick
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Straight pins
  • Hand sewing needle

Getting Started

For the sleepover bag

  1. From the printed flannel, cut ONE 33″ wide x 76″ high rectangle.
  2. From the printed cotton, cut ONE 33″ wide x 76″ high rectangle.
  3. From the solid flannel, cut TWO 33″ wide x 76″ high rectangles.
  4. Leave the batting as one piece; it will be cut during assembly.

For the bag’s harness strap

  1. From the printed cotton, cut the following:
    FOUR 2½” x 30″ strips, centering the chevron motif
    TWO 2½” x 6″ strips, centering the chevron motif
  2. From the interfacing, cut the following
    FOUR 1½” x 29″ strips
    TWO 1½” x 5″ strips
  3. From the Velcro®, cut TWO 3″ lengths.
  4. From the rick rack, cut FOUR 30″ lengths and TWO 6″ lengths.

For pillow case

  1. From the printed flannel, cut TWO 26½” wide x 21″ high rectangles.
  2. From the printed cotton, cut TWO 21″ wide x 9″ high rectangles.
  3. From the rick rack, cut ONE 42″ length.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Sleepover bag

Main exterior and lining panels

  1. Find the 33″ x 76″ panel of printed flannel and the 33″ x 76″ panel of printed cotton. Place the two panels right sides together. With the wrong side of the flannel facing up, orient the panels so the directional print of the flannel (if any) is running from top to bottom.
  2. Make sure the raw edges of the two panels are flush all around. Pin along the 76″ edge on the RIGHT only.
  3. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch this side together. Press the seam allowance open. Set aside.
  4. Find the two 33″ x 76″ panels of solid flannel. Place the panels right sides together. Pin along ONE 76″ side only.
  5. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch this side together. Press the seam allowance open. Set aside.
  6. 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 steam if necessary to remove any wrinkles and fold lines.
  7. Center the exterior sewn panel (the large 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″ extending beyond the batting on all four sides.
  8. Using a ¼” seam allowance (¼” from the raw edge of the fabric not the batting), machine baste around all four sides.
    NOTE: A Walking foot or similar is recommended for this step. We used the built-in Janome AcuFeed Flex™ system.
  9. Trim the batting flush with the fabric panel.


  1. Find the zipper by the yard. At one end, write “top” on both sides of the zipper coil.
  2. Pull the zipper apart into two lengths.
  3. Find the large fabric/batting panel. Place it right side up and flat on your work surface.
  4. Place one of the zipper lengths along each long side of the fabric/batting panel. If using a directional fabric as we did, make sure each end of the zipper marked “top” is at the actual top of the panel. Position each zipper length so this writing is beyond the edge of the fabric; it will be trimmed away in later steps.
  5. Pin each zipper length in place. The edge of the zipper tape should be ¼” in from each long edge of the fabric/batting panel.
  6. 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.
  7. On both sides, measure and mark (with a pin or with clip into the seam allowance) 3½” up from the bottom edge of the panel.
  8. Sew each zipper length in place, running your seam approximately ¼” from the zipper teeth. We used our narrow AcuFeed Flex™ foot, which is part of the built-in system, and positioned the needle to the left. You could also use a standard Zipper foot.
  9. Start the stitching from the ¾” top mark and end the stitching at the 3½” bottom mark. Lock your seam at the beginning and end.
  10. At the upper edge of each length, fold the zipper at a 90° angle. Pin in place.
  11. At the bottom edge, 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

  1. Find the bag lining (the solid flannel). Place it right side up and flat on your work surface. Place the bag exterior (the printed flannel/cotton) right side down on top on the lining. The two layers are right sides together with the zipper tape sandwiched between. Make sure the layers are flush on all four sides. Pin along both sides and across the top. The bottom edge is open.
  2. Start stitching on one side at the 3½” mark. Run the seam right along the previous line of stitching (the zipper tape stitching line).
  3. 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.
  4. Trim the upper corners at a diagonal, taking care to NOT clip the zipper tape.
  5. Turn the sleeping bag right side out through the bottom opening. Smooth and steam the seams.
  6. Place the sleeping bag right side up and flat on your large work space (probably still the floor). Smooth away any wrinkles. Pin across the upper edge to keep this seam from rolling to the back.
  7. 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 a yardstick on hand.
  8. 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 edge of the bag.
  9. If possible, attach a Walking or Even Feed foot once again or engage your machine’s built-in fabric feeding system. Lengthen the stitch (we used 3.0 mm). Stitch along each drawn line, starting and stopping (and locking your seam) at the zipper tape seam line.
  10. 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.
  11. Fold the bag in half, right sides together, matching the two halves of the zipper.
  12. 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. Zip the slide up onto the coils.
    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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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 (just the exterior panels, not the lining).
  15. Using a zipper foot and a ½” seam allowance, stitch this short seam, starting as close to the zipper as possible.
  16. Pull the excess zipper tape back against seam and mark the point on the coil where 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 to form a zipper stop.
  17. Trim excess length of the zipper tape about 1″ below the stop.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch across the bottom edge.
  21. 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.
  22. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch from the corner to the end of the 10-12″ pinned segment.
  23. Clip the sewn corner, then push the corner back into place so the sewn seam in now right side out.
  24. Repeat to pull out the opposite side of the lining and stitch about 10-12″ from that corner.
  25. 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.
  26. Thread the hand sewing needle and slip stitch the opening closed.
  27. Turn the sleeping bag right side out and smooth the lining down into place, pushing it all the way into the bottom corners.
  28. Unzip the bag slightly. Topstitch along the upper edge of the bag, approximately ¼” from the finished edge.

Sleepover bag harness

  1. 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.
  2. Wrap a tape measure around the rolled sleeping bag so it overlaps. Record the measurement. Add 5″ to this measurement. For our sample, the rolled measurement was 23″, so our total length for the harness strap was 28″.
  3. Trim the four pre-cut 30″ lengths of cotton print and the four 30″ lengths of rick rack to this final measurement. Trim the four pre-cut 29″ lengths of interfacing to 1″ less than the final measurement, 27″ for our sample.
  4. Center a strip of interfacing on the wrong side of each 28″ strip. Following the manufacturer’s instructions, fuse the interfacing in place.
  5. Center a strip of interfacing on the wrong side of each 6″ strip. Following the manufacturer’s instructions, fuse the interfacing in place.
  6. Find the two 6″ fabric strips and the two 6″ lengths of rick rack.
  7. Place one fabric strip right side up and flat on your work surface. Place a length of rick rack along each 6″ side. The ends of the rick rack should be flush with the ends of the fabric strips and the waves of the rick rack should be flush with the raw sides of the fabric.
  8. Machine baste the rick rack in place, running your seam down the exact center of the rick rack, which should be an approximate ¼” seam allowance.
  9. Place the plain 6″ strip right sides together with the rick rack strip. Pin together along both 6″ sides.
  10. Stitch together, running your seam right on top of the previous line of rick rack stitching.
  11. Turn the strip right side out. Press flat.
  12. Edgestitch along each side.
  13. Repeat to attach lengths of rick rack to TWO of the four long fabric strips. The only difference in attachment is that rather than being flush with the ends of the fabric strips, the ends of the rick rack are folded back so the rick rack starts and stops ½” from each end. Pin the fold back, trimming away the excess rick rack as needed.
  14. As above, place a plain strip right side together with a rick rack strip. Pin together across both ends and along both sides (of both strips), but leave a 3″ opening centered on one long side of each strip.
  15. Starting at one side of the opening, sew along each side and across each end, stopping at the opposite side of the opening. Remember to pivot at all the corners. As with the short strip, your seam should follow along in the previous line of rick rack stitching.
  16. Trim the corners at a diagonal, taking care not to trim the rick rack. Turn each strip right side out through its side opening. A narrow wooden spoon made a great turning tool for this step. Press both strips flat.
  17. Find the finished short strip. Insert one end of the short strip into the opening of each long strip.
  18. Center the strip and pin in place.
  19. Edgestitch all around both long strips, securing the short strip and closing the opening as you sew.
  20. 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.
  21. Edgestitch around all four sides of each Velcro® piece.
  22. Wrap the harness around the sleeping bag, overlapping the Velcro® ends to secure.

Matching pillowcase

  1. Find the two 26½” x 21″ panels of printed flannel.
  2. Place the two printed flannel pieces right sides together, matching all the raw edges. Pin along each long side.
  3. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch each long side. Finish the seams with a sewing machine or serger. When working with flannel, which loves to fray, finishing your seams is strongly recommended.

    NOTE: We used a serger, but to use your sewing machine, check out our four-part series on machine sewn finishes.
  4. With the pillowcase still wrong side out, flatten it so the seams are 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.
  5. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch across the bottom end. Finish this seam allowance as above.
    NOTE: This seaming technique makes very 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.
  6. Find the two 21″ x 9″ strips of printed cotton. Place the two strips right sides together and pin along each 9″ end.
  7. Using a ½’ seam allowance, stitch each end, creating a circular accent band. Press the seam allowances open.
  8. Fold the accent band in half, wrong sides together, matching the raw edges. Press to set a crease.
  9. Unfold and press up one raw edge ⅜” all around.
  10. Find the remaining length of rick rack and the pillowcase body. With the pillowcase body right side out, place the rick rack around the top edge. The rick rack should be positioned so the center of it is ½” from the raw edge of the pillowcase. Overlap the ends of the rick rack at one side seam of the pillowcase. Pin all around.
  11. Stitch the rick rack in place down the exact center, which should be a ½” seam allowance.
  12. Find the accent band. It should be unfolded and 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 rick rack sandwiched between the layers. Pin in place all around.
  13. Stitch the layers together, following the previous line of rick rack stitching and removing the pins as you sew.
  14. Press the seam allowance toward the accent band.
  15. 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.
  16. Topstitch all around, staying approximately ⅛” from the rick rack within the accent band. This final seam secures all the layers.


Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Michele Mishler

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