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New uses for old pillowcases

Published: Monday, Aug. 27, 2012 11:48 a.m. CDT

Pillowcases are durable pouches that can be used for creative and practical projects around your home. They come in a variety of patterns, and chances are you have one or more without a mate. You can find them dirt-cheap at thrift stores and garage sales, too.

Here are a few ideas for putting pillowcases to new use:

Story bag: Make a cute pillow case drawstring bag, then fill it with a few secondhand books, stuffed or small toys, puzzles, workbook pages, craft activities and supplies or flashcards, etc., that follow the theme of the stories. For a tutorial, visit sewddelicious.blogspot.com/2012/02/pillowcase-to-drawstring-bag-tutorial.html. You can also use the drawstring bag as a sleepover bag, to hold laundry, unmated socks or beach gear, or as a reusable gift bag.

Organizer: Use a pillowcase for sheet storage. One reader, M.F. from Canada, shares: "I fold fitted sheets as best I can, then store them inside the matching pillowcase, along with the top sheet and the other pillowcase. It looks tidy on the shelf, and it's all in one place when it's time to change the bedding."

Fun floor cushion: Sew five or six pillowcases together. Insert pillows into each case to make a cushioned "mattress" kids can use on the floor to lounge, watch TV or take a nap.

Pajama keeper: Cut an opening in a large stuffed animal and remove some stuffing from the body, keeping the head, arms and legs stuffed. Insert a pillowcase that's been cut to fit inside the body. Sew the pillowcase to the opening you cut, or remove the stuffing and sew in a zipper. Kids can then store pajamas inside.

Draft stopper: Stuff one end of a pillowcase with unmated socks and roll it into a tube. Then put rubber bands (or ribbon or strips of fabric if you want it to look more stylish) around the tube in a few places to keep it from unrolling. Use self-sticking Velcro, placing half on the door and half on the draft stopper, to hold it in place; or, if the door is metal, glue magnets to the draft stopper. You can make a draft stopper like this out of the legs of old jeans, too.

Wash stuffed animals: To prevent a stuffed animal from coming in contact with your washing machine agitator, place it in a pillowcase and wash it in cold water on the delicate cycle.

Pillowcase snowman: Get started on your holiday crafts early. Stuff a white pillowcase with polyfill. Sew the opening closed, or use self-sticking Velcro so it can be washed easily. Tie a scarf around the pillowcase one-third of the way down to form the body. Add a winter hat; glue on wiggle, button, pompom or fabric-paint eyes and a felt nose; then glue buttons vertically down the front.

Garment bag: Protect tops from getting dusty in the closet. This works more nicely than flimsy dry-cleaning bags. Simply cut a hole in the seam of a pillowcase and slip it over the hanger.

Classroom and party craft: A pillowcase is like a mini canvas to draw or paint on. For a cute preschool classroom memento, have each child bring a pillowcase and apply fabric paint to each child's hand so they can press their handprint on each pillowcase. They can write their names with fabric markers, too. For a tutorial, visit kinderteacher.com/Pillowcases.htm. This website sells pre-printed pillowcases with a clever little poem for this project.

Another reader, Neeley, shares: "When my daughter turned 8 we had a slumber party for her. I bought a white pillowcase for each girl instead of traditional goodie bags. Before the party, I used a fabric marker and decoratively wrote their name in the center of their pillow. At the party, all of the girls used fabric markers to sign each other's pillowcase and write a short message. I put a piece of cardboard in the pillowcase so the marker wouldn't bleed through."

Pillowcase dress: A pillowcase can become a toddler dress. Visit sewlikemymom.com/easiest-pillowcase-dress-ever for a free pillowcase dress pattern.

Sara Noel is the owner of Frugal Village (www.frugalvillage.com), a website that offers practical, money-saving strategies for everyday living. To send tips, comments or questions, write to Sara Noel, c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut Street, Kansas City, MO, 64106, or email sara@frugalvillage.com.

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