How To Make a "Hot Dog" Pillowcase

Let’s Make Pillowcases for Ryan’s Case For Smiles

Madam Sew is sewing pillowcases for Ryan’s Case For Smiles! Our efforts will help this organization to deliver smiles to children. Below, you will find a full tutorial and "how to" video for completing a cheerful and whimsical pillowcase for a child in the hospital. This is a project that anyone, including beginners with basic sewing skills!

We know our sewing and quilting community enjoys sewing for different charity organizations. Three years ago we came together and sewed 1000 sanitary pads for refugees and women in poverty with the Pachamama project. We are certain we will do the same for sewing pillowcases for Ryan's Case For Smiles!!

Why did we choose Ryan's Case for Smiles? Because we think we can all make a difference by sewing something as easy as a colorful pillowcase. By giving a child a whimsical pillowcase, Ryan's Case For Smiles helps to reduce the fear and stress associated with a hospital stay and reminds them they are not defined by their illness. Receiving a beautiful and fun pillowcase gives the children an uplifting boost. To learn more about the project, Ryan Case For Smiles, click through to The MadamSew Sewing for Smiles project page. This project will run through August 2024.

How many pillowcases can we, as a warm sewing community, make in 6 months? For every pillowcase you send us, we will donate one dollar to Ryan's Case for Smiles up to $1500! They will be very grateful for your help!

Send your handmade pillowcases to this address:

Madam Sew
PO Box 1907
Iowa City, IA 52244

women holding a homemade pillowcase in the air made out of blue and fuchsia fabrics

Over the weekend, I found some fabric scraps that I thought would make a kid smile and I started assembling them to make my first pillowcase. Then I noticed that the organization likes the hot dog method, sometimes also called the burrito method of sewing a pillowcase. This was a new approach to me that I never heard of. The good news is that it is amazingly easy to follow. So let’s follow their lead!

Let’s brighten a child’s day together!

What You Need to Make a Pillowcase

Making this pillowcase is very simple and straightforward. You just need some basic sewing tools like fabric shears or a rotary cutter (+ mat and ruler), a sewing machine, an iron, pins or clips, fabric, and matching thread.

A standard pillowcase is about 30 by 20 inches.

The goal is to find cheerful fabric for children ages newborn - 18 years old. When selecting fabric, ask yourself, would this make a child smile?

Fabric Requirements

  • Fabric must be 100% cotton
  • Choose colorful and cheerful fabrics with kid-friendly designs or designs that would speak to pre-teens. The age group is 1-18 years old. Holidays such as Valentine's, birthday, Halloween, Christmas, and Hannukah are great!
  • Please avoid:
    • Red fabric (color dye tends to run)
    • Flannel fabric
    • Fabric with glitter or skulls
    • Any fabric with religious themes or words
  • Prewash all fabrics that are used, please do not use scented detergents, dryer sheets or fabric softeners


The pattern we are using consists of two fabric pieces, both 100% cotton. The smallest fabric piece is used for the double sided band. You’ll need about a ⅓ yard of this fabric. The bigger fabric piece (in my pillowcase this is the one with a print) is for the main body. For this one you need 3/4 of a yard of fabric. These are the actual sizes you will need to cut:

Main Body                           40 ½ by 26 ½ inches

Double-Sided Band         10 ½ by 40 ½ inches


If you are using fabric with a directional design, make sure to cut the fabric the right way. The 40 inch edge is the side seam, the 26 inch edge is the top or bottom. This is a little tip, out of experience :-)... I cut the fabric with the little lions the wrong way. So, make sure your design is facing the 26 inch edge and not the 40 inches edge. You don’t want to have the design facing sideways. The blue fabric with little robots is multidirectional so direction doesn’t matter as much. I will go and get some new lion fabric next week.


Let’s make a pillowcase!  

To make this tutorial I made two pillowcases, one with blue fabric with little robots and one with soft pink fabric with lions. For the band I used the same fuschia cotton fabric. Some steps will be shown with the lion fabric, others with the robots.

three different cotton fabrics, one plain fuchsia and two with colorful prints for kids
detail of blue cotton fabric with little robot designs

1. Cut the Fabric to Size

Whether you are using one or two types of fabrics, you need a big piece for the main body and a smaller one for the double-sided band:

Main Body         40 ½ by 26 ½ inches

Band                   10 ½ by 40 ½ inches

rotary cutter cutting blue fabric on a transparent cutting mat using a ruler
magenta cotton fabric being cut on a large cutting mat with a ruler and rotary cutter

2. Sew The Double Sided Band on the Main Piece

Position the long side of the main body on top of the long side of the band piece (40 ½ inch), right sides facing each other, making sure that the edges line up. These two edges have the same length.

magenta fabric strip on a white table
larger piece of fabric positioned on the magenta fabric strip to make a pillowcase

Grab the main body piece that is furthest from these two matched long edges and roll it up towards them. Stop rolling a couple of inches away from the edge.

women rolling up fabric to make a pillowcase using the hot dog method
two fabric pieces to make a burrito pillowcase
detail of how to roll fabric for the burrito method of making a pillowcase

Fold the fabric of the band that still lies on your table over the rolled fabric and position the edge of this band on top of the two layers of fabric and line up all of the edges. Now pin or clip these 3 layers together. If you are not sure about this, check out the video, where you can see these steps much better.

women lifting fabric to create the burrito for the pillowcase
attaching three fabric layers with fabric clips
attaching detail of the three fabric layers to make a pillowcase
detail of a sewing clip used to hold different fabric layers
hands showing two fabric clips

This is your “hot dog”. The band is the bun and the rolled up main piece is the hot dog.

Now sew the three layers together on the long edge (40 ½ inches) with ½ inch seam allowance. Remove pins or clips as you sew. Be careful to catch the hot dog roll in this seam.

the fabric hot dog to make the pillowcase
sewing the hot dog closed with a sewing machine

You can finish this seam with your favorite method for managing raw edges if you want, but this seam will be totally enclosed, so you can skip serging or zigzagging for now.

3. Turn Right Side Out

Now pull the “hot dog” out of its “bun”. Pull the band piece over the main body piece that is rolled up. You are pulling the main fabric in one direction and the band fabric in the other direction.

pulling the main fabric out of the band fabric for the pillowcase
pulling the main fabric out of the magenta band fabric
band attached to the main fabric for the pillowcase

As a result you will have the band fabric sewn onto the main fabric with a completely hidden seam. Iron this seam flat.

detail of the band attached to the main fabric on both sides
ironing the newly sewn seam of the pillowcase

4. Sew the Pillowcase Closed

Fold the 40 ½ inches edge in half, both the band and main body piece, right sides facing. Pin or clip together and sew the two remaining seams: one seam is opposite the band and the other one is the one across from the fold.

a picture with text showing what seams need to be sewn to make a pillowcase

5. Finish the Edges

Finish the edge of these two seams with your preferred method. You can use pinking shears, a zigzag stitch, an overcast stitch with your regular sewing machine, a serger, or a french seam. The french seam is definitely the cleanest finish, but it will also take the most time. If you want to use this technique, you need to sew your first seam wrong sides facing instead of right sides.

I finished the seams with my serger. Don’t just cut off the thread ends of a serged edge but hide them in the serged stitching with a hand needle. If you used another way of finishing the edges, cut off all little thread ends now.

tucking away the serged end of the pillowcase seams
finished edge of the interior of the pillowcase

Make sure you remove all pins!

Turn your pillowcase inside out, give it another press and it is ready for donation!

Last step: take a picture of the pillowcases you made and share it in the Madam Sew Facebook Group, on your Instagram (#sewingforsmiles) or email it to us at( to inspire others!

ironing the handmade pillowcase
finished pillowcase with a magenta band and blue fabric with robot drawings
folded DIY pillowcase
detail of the corner of the DIY pillowcase
detail of the band of the pillowcase
detail of the inside of the pillowcase

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Thank you!

Send all pillowcases to the Madam Sew address before September 1, 2024.

Madam Sew
PO Box 1907
Iowa City, IA 52244

And remember, we will donate $1 for every pillowcase we receive (maximum of $1500 US dollars) to Ryan's Case for Smiles in September 2024.

Let’s use our favorite craft and skills to put some smiles on children’s faces!


Blogging for Madam Sew

PDF Download of this Madam Sew Pillowcase Tutorial
PFD Download of the Ryan's Case For Smiles Instructions


If you want to check out other pillowcase tutorials, click on the links below, but know that these are not advised by Ryan's Case For Smiles and are more for decorative purposes.

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I have actually done small travel pillowcases for grandchildren. The burrito pillowcase is so simple to do. I will be glad to do this project. My late husband passed from mantel cell lymphoma. A special gift to give back.

Margo Moseby Nash

I thought the first time I did the burrito or hotdog method it was going to be a lot. However, when I made my grandchildren their pillowcases for our annual Cousin Camp last summer, I found the method super quick and easy to use. I’m glad I did it; I’d ignored it when I had seen it in several Pinterest posts, but loved it once I finally tried it. It probably took until the second one I made that all was clear to me.
Looking forward to making some pillowcases for this organization!

Janet S LaGue

This tutorial seems to be a lot of work. Why not hand stitch that band in place when you turn it over? I can hand stitch while hiding my stitches.
But it seems that is not what this organization wants?


What a great cause ! Thank you for specifying the size you expect ! Looking forward to participating!


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