{DIY} Present Sack Pillowcases

For many years I worked as a clothing designer and manufacturer. I got to play with great fabrics and this led to adorable clothing for my kids and a prodigious fabric stash for myself. I also got burnt out on elaborate sewing projects. I literally put my machines away, for years.

However, as my second son outgrows the hand me downs,  I am nostalgic for the lounge pant prints. Yet I’m still too lazy to make more clothing he’ll outgrow in the blink of an eye. It goes too fast. Mere months per size, at times. Everyone skips size 3, don’t they?

As I was folding laundry the other day, a thought came to me. We were out of pillowcases – AGAIN. My kids seem to go through pillowcases at quite a rate – drool, snot, what have you. I change them so often.

They argue over the cute ones, of course,  as those are the best for good dreams. Pajamas and pillowcases must be carefully chosen.

Coincidentally, I’ve been meaning to experiment with making present sacks. I hate wasting beautiful paper for every birthday party, and don’t get me started on the amount of waste during big gifting holidays.

It occurred to me that it would be simple to whip up a bunch of pillowcases that would double as present sacks and be a gift “bonus”.

The added bonus for me was that my kids cannot outgrow a pillowcase as quickly as a pair of pants. These prints will remain with us for a long time now, and as a sentimental mama, that makes me ever so happy.

I was able to whip up a dozen of these in under two hours.

You could probably have figured these directions out without me, but, just in case!


For these pillowcases I used standard 45 inch wide cotton quilting prints. I folded in half and traced around a premade pillowcase to get the size right. Rather than cutting all around, I measured mostly for the length and cut a slit on the folded edge and tore the fabric into appropriate lengths. It’s a dressmakers trick to tear rather than cut and does indeed give you a nice straight edge, very quickly. But you can cut as you prefer!

Note: Because I did these on the fold, I only had to sew one side seam and one seam on the top. Additionally, because I used a serger, I let the machine do the cutting for me on the long side seam. I’m lazy like that. I could have been a bit more frugal with the fabric but it would have saved only a very little bit, and I didn’t think I would end up using the small scraps. If you have a different size fabric or want to be more frugal than me, and don’t mind a little extra sewing, you can play with the layout and possibly stretch your yardage.

1. With the pillowcase folded right sides together, sew or serge the top seam.

2. With the pillowcase still folded, right sides together, sew or serge the long side seam.

3. Sew a narrow hem on the open end (or serge the raw edge).

4. Iron the hem of the open edge of the pillowcase. I hate to iron but it is important in this case for a nice finish.

For a finished non fraying hem, you want to turn under twice. If you have sewn a narrow hem, that is the first time. If you have serged around, you want to turn under the serged area about 1/4 inch (wrong sides together) and iron, the turn again about 2-3 inches and iron again for a nice neat finish.

*If you use a regular sewing machine you will probably want to finish the raw inside edges of the pillowcase with a zigzag or overedge stitch.

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