Pillowcase Tote Tutorial


Many of you requested a tutorial for my pillowcase grocery bags. They are super easy and quick to make, involving only straight line sewing. The straps actually take a bit more time than the bag itself, but still easy enough. Hopefully these instructions are easy to follow.

Here is what you will need:

–Cutting mat or nice large space to work on
–scissors (rotary cutter optional)
–Thrifted pillow case (any size), washed and ironed
–Sewing machine, thread, pins and sewing needles(optional)
–hot iron
–About one hour of time and some good music.

  1. Turn pillowcase inside-out and fold in half long-ways.
  2. Cut a 3-4 inch strip off of one side. Save the long strip for the straps.
  3. Open and lay flat. Pin together the open sides. You will be sewing this together in the following manner, leaving a 6 inch (15cm) gap in the center.
  4. Cut a 2 inch square (a) off of all four corners (b) making sure to measure from the folded edge and and seam, not the rough edge.
  5. Following THESE instructions, you are going to square off each corner (c).
  6. When all four corners are sewn, flip the bag right side out through the open gap and sew the gap closed (hand or machine– I used my machine for this). Now you will have a completely sewn shut, empty pillowcase with squared off corners.
  7. Now the fun (and kinda hard to explain) part… Fold the pillowcase into itself by stuffing the just sewn together gap-end into the bottom of the opposite end. The sewn together gap-end will be the inside bottom of your bag(d) and the squared-off corners will meet together on each side(e). Does this make any sense at all?
  8. Once all the corners meet(f), iron and then sew around the top edge. Now you are ready for the straps

There are many ways to make straps, this is just how I do it. I just don’t like sewing all around the edges of a skinny strap and then try to turn it right side out of a little hole on the end.

  1. Cut off the big hemmed end off of the remaining strip. Fold the strip in half long-ways and cut again. These will be your two straps. They should be 12-16inches long each.
  2. With the right sides facing in, sew together the short ends of each strap, leaving one long side open.
  3. Trim the corners(g) and turn right-side out.
  4. Following the picture above, fold the ends towards the inside so that the raw edges are tucked inside(h-j). Once it is straight and flat(k), press with an iron and sew together(l-m).
  5. Lastly, sew one strap to each side of your bag with big criss-cross squares(n) and you are done!!!

Now, my editor (Mr Creative Kismet, who really isn’t very creative as far as sewing is concerned, but did major in english lit) said “um, this sounds good and seems to make sense?”. What he was really trying to say was that he hasn’t a clue if this sounds right. SO, if any of you sewing buddies of mine out there in blog land think I need to tweek anything on this, please shout out, because I did use some of my own terminology which may, or may not, be helpful in this tutorial. Thanks!

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76 Responses to Pillowcase Tote Tutorial

  1. Pingback: Recycling Crafts | Little House in the Suburbs

  2. 50's Wife Trapped in 2009 says:

    Thanks for the great tutorial…I made one from a pillowcase

    and another from some scraps of fabric then added a button

  3. Pingback: Links: Old Pillow Case – Repurpose. « Food for the flowers to grow

  4. Pingback: My Very Own Pillowcase Shopping Bags « the tummies

  5. Oh my goodness! No way. You have the matching pillow cases to my thrift store find sheet that I turned into a summer duvet cover.


    Thank you for this great tutorial. Something I can actually sew!

  6. Pingback: sewing day « Eyrie crochet

  7. Valerie Sinclair says:

    Thanks Mate from an Ozzie Shield by marriage. Just what I needed some easy sewing now I am retired, great pattern and instructions, will watch your page with interest Ta Val Sydney

  8. wyldhare says:

    that was fun…but i had to laugh…i KNOW those sheets…we had them in blue too…lol…and im 58…ha!

  9. KnitalifeLaura says:

    I love this! I just bought a sewing machine and am just learning to use it, this was a perfect beginner project for me! This also works well with a yard of fabric, doesn’t it? I bought some cute prints to try it out. Thank you for a great idea! Laura

  10. Cheryl says:

    Love it. Your english is just fine to an aussie. Maybe someone who has an english degree, just needs to learn to sew so he can understand the written word. LOL

  11. nancy says:

    I adore thrifted pillowcases and I adore making bags…thanks for the tute! I love that they are lined, and so, reinforced. Perfect! I have already made quite a few from this tute. Thanks!

  12. Tracie says:

    Love your pillowcase tote…such a good idea!! Thanks for sharing!

  13. Glorian Garner says:

    What a great addition to the pillowcase dresses my faith group is making for Haitian girls. Missionaries have told us that children have nothing to carry their few belongings and this is perfect to add to the dresses that are being sent. This is heaven sent. Thank yo

  14. rbrown says:

    Great way to reuse your old pillowcase.

  15. Gina says:

    Hi,Your right, #7 of the instructions kinda makes sense by the fifth time it is re-read. Still, I would like some more step by step pics. I’ve been saving these old pillow cases for ever looking for just this idea. Think you could accomodate me with just a little more visual aid? Thanks

  16. jen says:

    Would love to ad this tutorial to my blog: The vintage sheet blog: http;//vintagesheets.blogspot.com. Please let me know if that would be all right. thanks

  17. Izzy says:

    Just wanted to thank you for the design, I JUST finished making this and it was a piece of cake! (I’m new at sewing). Anyway, thanks!!

  18. June says:

    need help with steo C on the pc bag. The picture doesn’t really show what you need to do. Help Please!!!!

  19. Gail says:

    For those who seem to have problem with rule #5 c above, I did too. Note the words “Following THESE instructions, you are going to square off each corner (c).”
    The word “THESE” is a link for instructions. Make sure you click on that word for more info. I didn’t catch it the first time.

  20. Tiffany says:

    Hi there!okay, I think i can understand everything except the first step. Which way do you fold the pillow case? It says long ways and cut off 3/4″ on one side? On just one side of the fold? Help, i love this and can make pillow case dresses, but this has me completely confused:).

  21. Shirley says:

    You sure do make som beautiful things I love looking at them thanks so much for sharing.

  22. Micko says:

    Thanks for taking the time to post this! I know this has been up for a while, but the first direction I think you mean “short wise” because long way would imply like a hotdog vs. hamburger style. Also in #4 you say “edge and and seam” which is NBD but you did request revision ;)

  23. Pingback: Travel Handmade [Refashioned Bags] | The Sewing Summit

  24. Anna says:

    How long did it take you to do this?

  25. Erin Hutchinson says:

    I just made this and I love my new shopping bag! Now back to make some more with the pillowcases I just bought at Goodwill.

  26. viebschen says:

    I have this fabric ! Mine were sheets. I made a cover for my feather comforter.

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