How to make a hot dog pillowcase

Several months ago, the company I worked for asked for volunteers to help make a hot dog pillowcase for the Minneapolis branch of Ryan’s Case for Smiles – a nonprofit group helping children cope with treatment for cancer and other serious illnesses.

I know I’ve mentioned before that I’m not much of a sewer (sewist?). I can barely sew a straight line, so I’ve only dabbled in sewing – making a pencil roll case, coasters (we still use these!), a shirt for myself, and even a mermaid tail. One year I made some quilt blocks: Friendship Star and Borders, my favorite: Churn Dash, and an occasional failure, although they never made it past the single block stage. However, the hot dog pillowcase pattern I received seemed simple enough that I wanted to give it a try.

Unfortunately, the instructions I received looked like they were a copy of a copy … black and white pictures and enough re-copies to make it fuzzy. It also had some odd measurements that didn’t quite make sense after I had made one. So I decided to make my own tutorial to share with you!

You will need two pieces of 100% cotton quilting fabric:

  • The main fabric or “hot dog” needs to be 27″ (3/4 yard, 68 cm).
  • The “cuff” or “bun” fabric needs to be 9″ (1/4 yard, 23 cm).

Choose fabrics that coordinate well, but especially if you are making these for charity, keep them bright and fun – especially kid-friendly patterns.

Of course… I picked chickens!! 🙂 My cuff fabric is an unknown stash find -which was actually a little thick, but worked ok since it was just used on the cuff. The chicken fabric is Rooster Rainbow by Daphne Brisonnet (licensed by Wild Apple).

fabric requirements

Note: There are some hot dog pillowcase (aka “burrito” pillowcase) instructions on the web that actually call for 3 pieces of fabric (with “mustard”), but I wanted to make mine as simple as possible. The same concept applies, but you need to factor in a third piece when pinning, rolling and sewing. Maybe someday I’ll try that version! I found a great tutorial at The Quilt Asylum.

If you plan to make these for charity, go ahead and buy a yard of each and then you can have alternating pillowcases (the cuff of one is the main fabric of the other). See my note at the bottom about how to choose patterned fabric!

Update: I forgot to mention this step. Be sure you WASH your fabrics before you begin!! This is especially important if you are using bright colors or strong contrasting colors. I didn’t do this for the animal fabric and black trim pillowcase shown above, and the black ended up bleeding after the first wash. Save yourself the headache and wash first!

You will cut each of these to a width of 41″ (104 cm) – “ish”. Standard US pillows are 20″ wide so this will allow for ease of slipping the pillowcases on. I have made them with a width of 40 1/2″ (I would say this is the absolute minimum) and 42-44″ (a bit baggy). If you are making a queen or king size pillow, or live outside the US, determine the measurements of your pillow, multiple by 2 and add at least 1″ (2.5 cm) to determine the width (size: 70 cm = fabric width = (70 x 2) + 2.5 = 143 cm).

fabric placement

Place the cuff fabric down on the table, right side up, with a long edge at the top.

Lay the main fabric down over the cuff, right side down, matching up the two long edges. Pin temporarily to secure.

hot dog pillowcase - roll up main fabric

Now, roll up the the main fabric into a roll. You will need to keep this relatively small in size so it will fit inside the bun. Stop when you have reached approximately 2″ (5 cm) from the top.

hot dog pillowcase - folding and pinning

Bring the bottom edge of the cuff up and over the “hot dog” until the long edge meets the pinned long edge. Pin all three layers in place, making sure the “hot dog” stays away from edge so you don’t end up pinning it in place or later sewing it into the seam.

hot dog pillowcase - pinned together

As you can see, this forms the hot dog (main fabric) and the bun (cuff) in this hot dog pillowcase method. Confused how this all comes together?! Just wait for the magic!

first seam

Sew a 3/8″ (1 cm) seam along the top edge. The picture actually shows a 1/2″ (1.25 cm) seam. Either one is actually fine, but keep in mind if you use that third accent fabric, you may need to keep your seam small.

Now comes the magic…

hot dog pillowcase - pull center

On one end of the “bun”, reach in and start pulling out the “hot dog”.

hot dog pillowcase - pulling out the hot dog

It will take a little effort to gently pull all the fabric out. You can see how it starts out looking like a mess (picture 1), where it starts to look like this will work (2) and finished (3)!

turned right side out

Once the fabrics are separated, press the seam between the cuff and main fabric.

The next step I’m going to show you is entirely optional. You could turn the fabrics with right sides together and seam the side and bottom to complete the pillowcase. However, I’m going to show you how to make a French seam, so there are no “raw” edges!

second seam

With wrong sides together, fold in half so the cuff ends line up together. Pin and sew a 1/4″ (.6 cm) seam all the way down the side and along the bottom. This needs to be a tiny seam for the next step to work. As you sew, create rounded corners by pivoting the fabric. You will need to do this for both bottom corners – but still keep the seam width small.

side seam

If it helps, you can use a pencil or fabric marker to draw lines where you want the seam to go.

French seam

Turn the pillowcase inside out and repeat the seam along the edge and bottom, but this time make it a 1/2″ (1.25 cm). This is another piece of “magic”. Making the larger seam encapsulates the smaller seam so the raw edges are completely hidden!


Well, sometimes. This is where the thicker fabric worked against me and there was one spot on the cuff where the edge peeked through. Not enough to be highly noticeable though.

Turn the pillowcase right-side out again and press the seams. Wash before use.

hot dog pillowcase - full view

We have a finished pillowcase!

Here is where you get to see my other “oops”. Which way are the roosters facing? Not what I had intended. My thought was that they would have their heads aligned with mine, but the way the 1-yard fabric was positioned, that didn’t work. Something to keep in mind when you are picking out your fabric!

hot dog pillowcase - completed

That’s ok. I’m still very happy with my rooster / chicken pillowcase. (And no, this one is NOT for charity LOL).

If you make a hot dog pillowcase, I’d love to see or hear about it! Just comment below – or send me an email!

3 Replies to “How to make a hot dog pillowcase”

  1. This is actually called The Burrito method

  2. Barbara says: Reply

    Thank you. This is the best tutorial for this method I’ve seen…you addressed the fact that you only have two seams on the body and not three as I was thinking. Your fabric is adorable!

  3. This is so cute! Honest question… If we wash the material before we sew it, why are we rewashing it again? TIA

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