Thursday, April 17, 2014

how to make a fitted sheet (out of that flat sheet that you werent using anyway)

embarrassing confession time: i am a violently fitful sleeper. to the point where i WEAR GIANT GAPING HOLES in my sheets. im not kidding. i wish i was kidding, because a few months ago, i finally wore out the super fancy sheets we got on clearance right after we got married. and i dont mean that the sheet finally wore out, i mean that there was a distinct, obvious, victoria-sized hole on my side of the bed and the rest of the sheet was perfect.

at the time this happened, we had NO money for new sheets. not even crappy ones, given that our (hand-me-down) mattress is a king sized extra thick pillow top and the cheapest cheap sheets i could find were $40 +.  i knew we couldnt get crappy sheets because one time i had crappy sheets and i wore them to ribbons in like a year. so i started researching options and i found a few tutorials on how to make a fitted sheet. 

and i was like, "great! i totally have the flat sheet that came with our set because theres nothing i hate more than flat sheets and i have a matching one hanging out in the linen closet wasting space so ill use that! problem solved!"

but just about all of these tutorials involved measuring your mattress and doing all this complicated math (i guess its not that complicated, but please remember that im HORRIBLE at math), measuring the dimensions of the mattress and adding various amounts to account for hems, elastic casing, and seam allowances. 

i started taking measurements and trying to work out the math but it got too complicated and i wasnt sure the flat sheet would be big enough and my enthusiasm for making a fitted sheet waned all the way down to "oh well, thats too much work, ill just pull out the ugly flannel sheet that i hate and hope we have enough money for nice sheets when that one eventually wears out". 

then one day a couple weeks ago, it hit me that flat sheets are specifically designed to wrap all the way around the mattress and that OF COURSE it was enough fabric and the only measurement i even needed was the mattress height and i didnt even have to do ANY hems or casings. 


so, i finally made our fitted sheet. and because i know that i am certainly not the only person out there that HATES sleeping with a flat sheet (they make me claustrophobic, ok), i thought that all you kind folks would appreciate this little tutorial, because whats better than getting a free extra fitted sheet in your sheet set?

heres what you need:

flat sheet in the same size as your mattress
measuring tape
rotary mat + clear ruler
marking pen of some kind
scissors or rotary cutter
lots and lots of elastic (enough to go ALL THE WAY around your mattress, my king sized sheet used about 8.5 yards)
sewing maching (not pictured)

and heres what you do:

step one: fold your flat sheet in quarters with all four corners exactly together (this makes it so you only have to cut and measure once):

step two: measure the overall height of your mattress, and add about an inch or so to account for the seam allowances (my mattress was about 13 inches high, so i did 14 inches):

step three: mark a square using that measurement on the corner of your sheet (so, in my case, 14x14 inches):

and cut it out, cutting through all four layers at the same time:

step four: pin each corner together right sides together (and dont mess this up like i did):

this is what makes the "pockets" for your mattress)

step five: sew each corner shut, using a short straight stitch for extra durability:

step six: finish your seam allowances with a zigzag stitch (this is important to prevent fraying, since sheets get washed a lot, you dont want the seams to wear out):

step seven: heres where things get tricky, set your sewing machine to a stretch stitch (like the one thats a zigzag/running stitch combination, and place one end of your elastic under the presser foot like so:

and sew a few stitches back and forth to secure the end. next pull your elastic TIGHT and hold it right up against the edge of the sheet (just like in the picture) sew ALL THE WAY around your sheet, keeping the elastic pulled as tightly as possible. 

it should look like this on the inside:

and this on the outside:

step eight: when you get all the way back to where you started, keep sewing the elastic until it overlaps the beginning by about an inch, and then back stitch a few times to make sure its EXTRA secure:

step nine: clip any threads you have left, and then youre done! go enjoy your brand spanking new custom fitted sheet!

but after telling a few people about this project, i noticed that flat sheets are a pretty polarizing issue. people either love them or hate them. what are your thoughts on flat sheets? necessary, or unpleasant? 


  1. with this, I could make a fitted sheet out of any fabric. I'm pinning this for craft project later. :) Thanks for sharing this tutorial.

  2. yes! the only adjustments youd need to make are some hems, but otherwise the method is exactly the same!

  3. This is such a great idea. I am on the anti-flat sheet side of the spectrum. I think they are completely pointless and a waste of space. I would much rather transform it into something I would use!

  4. thanks! I think the very best part of this project was not having to own a useless fitted sheet anymore (because the older I get, the more irritated I get with owning useless things)