This past weekend my family went on an overnight backpacking trip near our home in the Eastern Sierra. When you are carrying all of your gear on your back you want your items to be as light as possible so I picked up this inflatable Sea To Summit Aeros Ultralight Pillow.
Of course I’ve never met a pillow that didn’t deserve a handmade pillowcase, so I set to work making one for this uniquely shaped fellow.
Fully inflated the pillow is approximately 16″ x 12″ x 4″ with an interior curve on the neck side and an exterior curve on the opposite side. The top and bottom edges are all rounded as well. I used matching fabric from the DIY bandana I sewed in this post and draped it over the pillow to see if it would fit.
Once I knew the fabric would fit, I turned the fabric wrong sides up and used pins to mark the four curved corners. Be careful, you don’t want to puncture your brand new backpacking pillow!
On the interior curve, I found the approximate center and cut the fabric up a ways.
Then I used pins to tighten up the fabric around the top of the curve.
Once everything looked right, I used a marker (but you could use a pencil if a marker would show through your fabric choice) and marked the corner seams and the portion of the interior curve I had pinned.
Then I used a sturdy ruler and placed it against the sides of the pillow, marking the approximate edge all the way around.
Carefully, I slipped the case off of the pillow, making sure not to disturb any of my pins. I only removed the pins corner by corner as I sewed following my marks.
For the interior curve, I sewed the small section I had pinned to cinch the fabric around the corner, then finger pressed the raw edges of both sides of cut fabric over twice and sewed a hem.
Here I took a moment to turn the pillowcase right side out and placed it over the pillow, just to double check my sizing. I would be adding elastic to bring the loose fabric under the case, but this was good to see before cutting the excess fabric off of the corners.
Once I knew it was correctly sized, I turned the pillow case wrong side out and trimmed off the excess fabric on the sewn corners.
Then I marked a 1″ hem all around the case using the line I’d created earlier as a guide.
At this moment I realized I didn’t have enough fabric on the side opposite where the neck would lie. I took a spare piece and sewed it onto that side, pressed the seam down, and then continued drawing my 1″ hem.
Once the 1″ hem was drawn I cut out the fabric. Now you could really see the shape of the case coming together.
I finger pressed the hem over ½” and then another ½” and sewed my hem as I folded and pressed.
Then it was time to finish the interior curve. I fit the pillow case on right side out and pinned each flap from the center so the fabric hugged each curve. I sewed the flaps.
Now it was time to add elastic. I used ¼” elastic.
When I had fully sewn around the hem, I drew the elastic across to a point on the opposite side of the pillow and sewed the elastic in place.
I then repeated on the opposite side with a separate piece of elastic, creating a crisscross pattern on the bottom of the pillow.
As long as you don’t sew the elastic too taught, you can absolutely slip the inflated pillow into the case. Take a few moments to work the case into the shape you’ve sewn and then flip it over to enjoy your handiwork.
For backpackers who weigh everything that goes in their pack, this pillowcase weighs 1.4 oz. Happy backpacking!
Charlotte Kaufman is a writer and sewist in Mammoth Lakes, California. She specializes in marine and home interiors and continues to fall more and more in love with quilting. You can follow her at charlottekaufman.com.