Sew and Donate a Travel Pillowcase

TravelPillowcase Nancy Zieman First

Sew and Donate a Travel Pillowcase

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When my team recently approached our local cancer treatment center to inquire about their sewn item needs, the response was immediate: “Super-soft travel pillows with washable pillowcases”. We were happy to oblige. I encourage you to reach out to your local hospitals and treatment centers to ask if they may have similar needs. Here’s a free tutorial on sewing travel pillowcases.

Sewing Tutorial

Here’s a quick sewing tutorial for a super-easy travel-sized pillowcase, which is designed to fit over smaller pillow forms (14″ x 20″); available at most big box retailers. Or, you can sew your own 14″ x 20″ pillow forms (below).

TravelPillowcase Nancy Zieman First


  • 2/3 yard washable cotton fabric

TravelPillowcase Nancy Zieman 1Cutting

  • Cut a fabric rectangle 24″ x 30″.

TravelPillowcase Nancy Zieman 2

Create the Travel Pillowcase

  • Along one 30″ edge, press under 1/4″ towards the fabric’s wrong side.
TravelPillowcase Nancy Zieman 3

  • Along the same edge, press under 3″ hem.
TravelPillowcase Nancy Zieman 4

  • Edgestitch.
TravelPillowcase Nancy Zieman 5

  • Fold the fabric in half, matching right sides and matching the 24″ cut edges. Pin.
TravelPillowcase Nancy Zieman 6

  • Serge the seam.

Note from Nancy: A straight stitch with a 1/4″ seam allowance and zigzag stitch to secure the seam can be used in place of the serger.

  • Fold or “wrap” the seam allowance forward and serge the remaining seam at the end of the pillowcase.

TravelPillowcase Nancy Zieman 9

TravelPillowcase Nancy Zieman 8
  •  Press the pillowcase flat.
TravelPillowcase Nancy Zieman 10
  • Turn right side out and insert travel pillow.

TravelPillowcase Nancy Zieman 11

How to sew a travel pillow insert:


  • Cut a fabric rectangle 20-1/4″ x 28-1/2.
  • Fold the fabric in half, matching right sides and matching the 20-1/4″ cut edges. Pin.

Nancy Zieman shows how to make a travel pillow insert


  • Serge one short edge. 

Nancy Zieman shows how to sew a travel pillow insert


  • Fold or “wrap” the seam allowance forward and serge the long edge of the pillow.

Nancy Zieman shows how to sew a travel pillow insert


  • Stuff the pillow with super-soft fiber fill and serge the opening closed. 

Nancy Zieman shows how to make a travel pillow insertTa-da! These are so fun, fast and easy to make! Plus these pillows are such a comfort to those undergoing medical treatments.  


For more ideas for charitable outreach sewing in your local community, nationwide or internationally, visit the Sew To Give page here on my blog.

Bye for now,

Nancy Zieman The Blog

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  • Frances Adams
    November 28, 2015

    Directions are so precise. Wish they had this type of instructional media 65 years ago. Would have helped me. Thanks, Nancy, your work is great!

  • Ella Buck
    November 28, 2015

    Nancy I love every post you do. What happened to your show that aired here in Hanford California on my local channel 8? I miss you!

  • Natalie
    November 28, 2015

    Our church quilting group made 52 pillowcases over the summer for sick children who stay at the Ronald McDonald house in New Orleans. Our group is called ‘Hearts and Hands’ of Mandeville FBC.

  • Sheila Sullivan
    November 28, 2015

    Thanks for this idea.

  • Beverly
    November 28, 2015

    Love your turned serger corners…why have I forgotten that extra touch. It is a super tip!

  • Sammi
    November 28, 2015

    THANKS for this tute!!!

  • Kity
    November 28, 2015

    I have never seen the turned serger corners before. Great new tip!

  • Brenda Ackerman
    November 28, 2015

    Thank you for sharing this pattern and tutorial! Two quilting friends and myself have been talking about creating a project that would be quick/easy and something that does not require a lot of fabric and time. Only because with just the three of us doing this we know we are not going to contribute a large quantity. Yet we also know we are wanting to give to our community…I think this project will fit the requirements perfectly. Now, we will check some of our local resources and see if these are something that they would need. Thank You once again for all of your brilliant ideas, tutorials, tips and patterns. I continually learn from you. Have a wonderful creative day!

  • Nancy
    November 28, 2015

    I’ve never done corners that way. If Nancy recommends it, surely there’s a good reason. Can someone please fill me in? Thanks!

      • Nancy
        November 28, 2015

        Thanks, Nancy Z for your quick response! I most certainly will give it a try next time!

  • Becky Payne
    November 28, 2015

    These are super easy to make with a French seam if you don’t have a serger. That is how I do it.

  • Francie Larrabee
    November 28, 2015

    Love this idea of an economical gift and so simple to make. Perhaps put a fabric strap on it to hang on arm? After neck surgery, I have to have my own pillow whenever I travel. Made a bigger one with Velcro to hold the pillow in and shoulder strap. Yours is a darling mini and would be a treasure!

  • Carolyn
    November 29, 2015

    When my son was sick from cancer, he was given many of these little pillows in the hospital to rest is frail and bony legs, arms, etc on. He absolutely loved these pillows and frequently talked about how wonderful the volunteers who made them were. Since the volunteers enclosed little slips of paper under the case of each one, he was able to read who made it and after his passing, I was able to send thank you notes to many of them. I stlll have those pillows.Sometimes, it’s the smallest thing that makes the biggest difference.

  • Betty mcgough
    December 9, 2015

    This looks like my speed! I been looking at pillowcases for a gift for a graduate. I think a cancer treatment center would be appreciate to have these for their patients.
    Betty mcgoo

  • Ginger
    June 4, 2016

    Hi! I just bought 2 travel pillows today that measure 12×16. Using the above directions I would cut my fabric 22″ x 26″, correct? Just wanted to double check before I cut. Thank you so much.

  • Sharon Cripe
    August 23, 2016

    A very basic question. Do I pre-shrink the fabric? If no, won’t they ‘twist’ upon washing?

      • Sharon Cripe
        August 29, 2016

        Thank you for your response! I’m 74 and was always taught to pre-shrink fabric before cutting/sewing. However, I’ve discovered that the new generation doesn’t pre-shrink anything.

  • Dora Duncan
    June 5, 2017

    What size is the pillow???

  • 1921681254
    December 8, 2017

    The tutorial would have been presented better if after Step 8 there were two separate paths to follow to choose from, one for someone using a serger and one for someone using a sewing machine instead of having duplicate sequential instructions.

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