Pillow King
October 8, 2017 7:45 AM   Subscribe

I have about 8 king size pillow cases I want to convert to regular size.

I see how it can be done, but I don't have a sewing machine. A local shop wants $20 per case, which seems high to me. Is there an internet service for this?
posted by falsedmitri to Home & Garden (20 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You literally just have to sew 16 straight lines to do this, then trim off excess fabric. You might be able to find someone who would do it online for less than the ridiculous estimate you got, but it seems like overkill.

In your shoes, I'd either hand sew them, which would take longer but not forever, or, if I had any other use for a sewing machine and had the space, or if I knew someone else who might want it after I'm done, I'd just get a cheap sewing machine.

You can get a mini sewing machine for $11 on Amazon.

Thrift stores and prices vary a lot, but depending on your area, you could pick up a regular sewing machine really cheap there, too. I think the low end ones go for about $5 around here.
posted by ernielundquist at 8:03 AM on October 8 [2 favorites]

$20/case x 8 cases = $160

For less than that, you could (1) buy a sewing machine and do the work yourself, or (2) buy a new set of standard size pillowcases. Heck, if you've got some Netflix to catch up on, you could even hand-sew it yourself. I'd suggest using some basting tape to tape the pillowcases together where you want the seam (this will make it easier for you to sew evenly -- it's much easier than pinning it), then sew with small stitches. It'll take a while, but that's what the Netflix is for.

If none of these options sound appealing, I'd recommend posting it up on Craigslist for whatever price you're willing to pay for it.
posted by ourobouros at 8:05 AM on October 8 [2 favorites]

Yeah, if you're up for it, you can get a totally decent and simple Brother sewing machine at Target for under $100, and do this in an afternoon.

OR: post this on your social media. Someone's grandma will happily do it for $50 no doubt.
posted by BlahLaLa at 8:06 AM on October 8 [1 favorite]

I swear that if you ask your friends (or post on Facebook, or on Nextdoor, or Twitter, or whatever internet cesspool you prefer) you'll find a friend who can do this for you in about twenty minutes, for free or in exchange for a plate of brownies.
posted by tapir-whorf at 8:07 AM on October 8 [2 favorites]

Another option: you could go back to the person who quoted you $20 per case and say, "It looks like that price will cost me more than buying a new sewing machine. This is only 16 straight seams and seems like a quick job -- is there any way you can bring this down to something like $[whatever you feel is reasonable to pay]?"
posted by ourobouros at 8:10 AM on October 8

Sewing tape is your answer, assuming you have an iron.
posted by spindrifter at 8:12 AM on October 8

I don't think you'll get good results with sewing tape. If you don't have a friend with a sewing machine and don't want to buy your own, see if there are any sewing studios/stitch lounges/places that teach sewing in your area where you can rent time on a machine. In my area this would be Gather Here, and it would cost you $10-20 for an hour or two of studio time plus a couple bucks for thread.

This is pretty much the easiest possible sewing job, and definitely something you can do even if you've never used a sewing machine before!
posted by mskyle at 8:19 AM on October 8 [2 favorites]

Sewing tape is indeed awesome, but for a long seam in a pillowcase that gets pushed and pulled around, it's probably not the best solution (it will likely pull apart sooner or later, same as if you tried to glue it). I'd recommend a stitching-based solution.
posted by ourobouros at 8:22 AM on October 8 [2 favorites]

You could probably do it with Aleene's No-Sew, but you're going to want like a three-stripe seam so that it holds really well.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:09 AM on October 8

I would bargain with the shop, first and foremost.

Hand sewing is easy and something you can do while sitting in front of the boob tube. It's also very relaxing, at least to me.

Do you live near south NJ? You can come use mine. I'll leave it plugged in outside on the front porch with thread and scissors, you don't even have to interact with me if you don't want to, although I can assure you that I am not particularly murdery or anything ;P

(older married female, not murdery, does own a sewing machine)
posted by the webmistress at 9:11 AM on October 8 [12 favorites]

Post on FaceBook - see if you know someone with a machine who will allow you to use it or who will do the sewing themselves. If you know how to use a machine already, make that clear in your post. If you don't, you will probably need some help getting started.

I have a machine and I'd let a friend come over and use it for an hour or so. I'd probably decline the cash, but if they turned up with a bottle of wine or a box of good tea or some other small gift, I'd accept it happily.
posted by bunderful at 9:14 AM on October 8

In the meantime, you could do what I do. Fold it like this.
posted by beccaj at 9:57 AM on October 8 [3 favorites]

+1 to just folding it in like an envelope.

Also a friend of yours has got to sew. If I were near you I would do it. If you do it yourself I would consider a French seam or zig zag finish depending on the type of fabric so it won't fray.
posted by Crystalinne at 10:03 AM on October 8

Yeah, for that money you can buy a decent machine and pay for several intro classes to teach you how it all works. For simple straight stitches you can probably just do it yourself either by hand (mark with a straight edge, of course!) or by machine with the benefit of a book or video primer on the basics, especially if you don't mind losing one of the extras if you mess it up badly enough that it's too frustrating to fix.

Georgia was able to teach herself to do make simple stuff from patterns and simple alterations when she picked up a machine a few years ago, and even with seemingly "OK" quality. However, a few classes helped her understand the settings of the machine and how to operate it better. There was a noticeable improvement in quality. Only afterwards did we notice the early stuff looked more like it was made in some cheap Wal-Mart factory. Improved technique made things look way better. (Less bunching, more even stitching, etc goes a long way. It's amazing how poorly constructed a lot of mass market clothes are.
posted by wierdo at 10:04 AM on October 8

I would bargain with the shop, first and foremost.

Seconding this. Or try another shop if available. I have had this done plenty of times for around $5/case which is still high compared to DIY, but I loathe most DIY, so it was worth it to me.
posted by anderjen at 10:08 AM on October 8

King size pillow cases are longer but not wider than standards so each needs only one seam although a French seam will be much sturdier. Sew the first seam with the pillow case right side out and a little short of where you want the final one. Cut about 1/4" from the stitching, turn inside out and sew another line encasing the first seam. Press well between each step. Weighting or clamping the fabric on a table so you can stretch it out will really speed up straight hand sewing.
posted by Botanizer at 10:19 AM on October 8 [3 favorites]

Some libraries now loan out tools, including sewing machines. As people above say, it's a very easy project.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 3:33 PM on October 8

Just coming in to say that our library here in Denver has sewing machines and days when there are people there to help you use them. Worth a call anyway.
posted by BoscosMom at 8:48 PM on October 8

If your neighborhood is on Nextdoor, you could ask to borrow someone's sewing machine. Or maybe there is a maker space in your area that has one.
posted by lakeroon at 8:48 PM on October 8 [1 favorite]

Cheap sewing machines act more like staplers than sewers, in my experience. I don't mean you have to spend more than $100, but less than $50 on a new item is not going to get you a good product. I agree that this is a minimal amount of sewing and anyone you know or find on the web with a machine should be able to do it for less than $20 each. $5 each sounds right for a shop and maybe less for someone who works at home. A local sewing shop should have a bulletin board or contact book with the names of local sewers who will take on work.
posted by soelo at 7:57 AM on October 9

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