Aug 3, 2012

Travel Pillow Tutorial

My friend Donna asked me if I would write a tutorial on my
 travel pillow .  It's really simple but when I make something, I find it so much easier to visualize if I can look at photos.

My son said that his pillow is his favorite thing that he brought with him on his two year church mission to Brazil.  I made a note of, and decided to sew him another pillowcase so that he can rotate them.  This time I went to the fabric store and chose some "masculine" fabric.  This is what I chose....

The printed fabric is called "how to press a shirt".  Very appropriate, since my son wears a white shirt every day of the week.  When Sean was 15 years old, he earned his Boy Scout Eagle award.  His grandfather flew in from Florida for the occasion.  His grandfather is retired Air Force and very strict about creases in the sleeves of his pressed shirts.  I had shown Sean how to press a dress shirt before, but it wasn't his forte.  Sean came downstairs with a perfectly pressed shirt, and even creases in the sleeves!!!  We were all impressed, including Sean's grandfather.  Later my father in law asked me where the iron and ironing board was.  I showed him and we noticed a paper on the ironing board.  We picked it up and it said, "Google:  How to press a shirt".  We laughed and laughed, so this fabric has a lot of meaning!  Ha ha!!!

The pillow form that I buy at JoAnn's measures 12" X 16".  I cut two pieces of fabric, 17.5" X 13.5" each. 

I get such a thrill out of choosing fabric, that I choose a different print for the front and a different one for the back.  If you want to use the same print for the front and the back, you still need to cut out two pieces.  
I also cut out 2 pieces 4" X 14", for the edging on the pillow.
Here are my cut pieces.

Place the two pillowcase pieces right sides together and sew along three sides, the two long ones and one short side, using a 1/4" seam.
Finish the edges with a zig zag stitch to encase the raw edges.

Turn the pillowcase right side out and press.

Now take the two smaller edging pieces, and fold them longways, right sides together.  Lay them against the short end of the pillowcase.  I did that, and saw that I needed to sew the short ends of the edging with a l/2 seam allowance.  

Turn the edging right side out and press.

Pin the edging to the pillow case, matching the finished seam of the edging to the side seam of the pillowcase.

Pin the same edging piece to the other side seam and then finish pinning the rest of the edging piece to the pillowcase, right sides together (there isn't a wrong side of the edging).  I usually pin when I sew, it leaves less chance of having to rip out stitches!  My seam ripper and I have a love/hate relationship....

See how the edging pieces meet perfectly at the side seam?  The other side seam looks exactly the same.  The two flaps give a little more "masculine" look.  

Sew the two edging pieces to the entire pillowcase, using a l/4" seam allowance.  Then zigzag, encasing the raw edges of the seam.

Press the finished seam toward the pillowcase and staystitch.  Staystitch means to sew a seam close to the seam, so that the seam won't "roll up" and will stay pressed towards the pillowcase.

This is what the seam looks like on the inside.  Since the seam has been staystitched, it will never roll up, but always stay pointing towards the pillowcase.

Here is the "how to press a shirt" fabric close up, isn't it cute?

This is the front of the pillowcase.

This is the back, a nice argyle print.

I made one for my husband, as a birthday gift. (it's Sunday :)

If you would like to add a ruffle to your pillowcase instead of the plain edging, the measurement is one and a half times the width.  Instead of cutting your edging 14" long, I would cut it 44" long. You only need one piece instead of two.  If I don't have a piece long enough in the print I want for the ruffle, I often piece the fabric, joining different pieces together.  The seams never show.  

When I sew a ruffle onto my pillowcase, I use one piece and only have one flap instead of two.

There are two flaps on the edging of the masculine pillowcase.

That completes my travel pillow tutorial.  If you make one, I would love to see some pictures!
post signature


  1. The "How to Press A Shirt" fabric is absolutely perfect for a missionary! I think every missionary mom should pin your idea.

  2. Cynthia: A great tutorial, thanks so much. A visual is always helpful. Great fabric choices. Love the "How to Press A Shirt",how perfect for a missionary. I also have a weakness for argyle. I am for sure going to make a few of these.

  3. Totally awesome project!! I have 1 that I sleep with nightly that I can make it match my new bedding. Love your blog!!