How To: Make a Fitted Sheet

Make a Fitted Sheet Tutorial
My baby is growing up, Sob!
Emma has grown out of her toddler bed and has graduated to a single bed (you call them twin in the States). We were lucky to enough to inherit this cool vintage one from a family member in great condition. I didn’t have any single size bedding so rather than hitting the stores, it was the perfect opportunity to make use of all those thrifted vintage sheets I’ve been collecting, the only hitch was vintage sheets are all flat, which is a pain in the backside.
No drama, with a few easy steps, all flat sheets can be converted to practical fitted sheets.
The instructions below apply to any sized sheet, so you can use this tutorial to make cot sheets right up to a king sized bed sheet.
Vintage sheets are great for this, but I if you don’t tend to use the top sheets that come in a sheet set (I use a duvet without a top sheet), it’s a great way to double the value of your bed linen purchase.
Read on for full instructions…

You will need:

Flat sheet the size of your mattress
Firm thin elastic (about 0.5cm / 1/4″ width) length will depend on sheet size
Elastic threading tool or Safety Pin
Measuring tape
Sewing machine
General sewing supplies

How to:

Gather you materials, you probably have every thing you need in your linen press and craft drawer.
This guide to bedding sizes is a great reference to help you calculate the measurements required for your sheet, but I suggest taking your own measurements of the mattress you are sewing for, as sizes and especially depths may vary.
The mattress measurements you will need are:
length
width
depth

and extra tuck under (several inches if possible but that will depend on the size of your flat sheet)

Cutting:
Fold your sheet into quarters, from the center fold measure half the length and half the width, add the depth and as much extra as your sheet will allow.

Tip: some flat sheets tend to be wider as they are designed to go over your body, so cut off the excess width so the depth + extra is same all around (marked with a X).

Cut away the square that is remaining in the corner, leave 1cm (half inch) for seam allowance (indicated with an X).
It’s always best to cut a fraction bigger to allow for mattress protectors etc… You can always make it smaller but not the other way around.
Make a fitted sheet steps
Sewing:
1. Fold over the edges of your corners matching the little x’s.
2. The right sides of the sheet should be facing each other as pictured.
3. Sew a seam back stitching towards the corner and finish the raw edge with a serger or zig zag stitch. Repeat for all corners.
Tip: Try it on your bed at this stage just to make sure you are on the right track.
4. Serge or zig zag right around the raw edge of the sheet.
5. Fold over and sew to make a casing for the elastic to thread through. Mine was about 1.5cm wide (6/8″?) but it will depend on the width of your elastic. Don’t make it too narrow or it will be hard to thread elastic through.
6. Leave an opening about the width of your hand.
Sew a fitted sheet tutorial steps
7. Secure the end of your elastic with an elastic threading tool (pictured) or a safety pin.
8. Thread your elastic into the opening.
9. Keep feeding all the way around till you get back to the opening.
10. Pull the elastic so it gathers the edges of the sheet in like the bottom picture, but not too much that it won’t stretch over the mattress. Sew the ends of the elastic together.
11. Sew the opening shut.
easy fitted sheet instructions
All done! Wasn’t that super easy?
Check out how nice and snugly the sheet fits over the mattress. Bed making is such a breeze now, no more messy corners.
Emma’s new big girl bed is coming together, next on the list is a duvet cover and a quilt.
DIY fitted sheet instructions
Emma’s new big girl bed is coming together, next on the list is a duvet cover and a quilt.
Vintage retro Fitted sheet
So go and dig out all those flat sheets at the back of your linen press and convert them to fitted sheets, clear the clutter and save money at the same time!
Any questions? Feel free to leave a comment and I’ll get back to you with an answer as soon as I can.

Related Projects – Vintage Sheet Duvet Cover

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40 Comments

  • Absolutely love this; I have flat sheets multiplying in my cupboards none as gorgeous as this though!

  • Honora Jane says:

    Love the sheets! I believe I had a pattern close to this when I was a tot. The lion pillow. It reminds me of either a storybook, or possibly a cartoon from the 70’s. I know that face! Did you make him as well?

    • Miss Cinti @ My Poppet says:

      The lion is a super cute thrift shop find. I imagine he was made in the 70’s, I remember seeing some similar animal pillows in vintage craft books.

  • Lisa says:

    Love the retro fabric you have used and great instructions thanks

  • I love how easy it is to make fitted sheets! I’ve recently been going through a fitted sheet DIY frenzy but hadn’t considered using vintage flat sheets. They’re super cute!

  • Keren says:

    I have been thinking about doing this to my flat sheets for a while now … sets are normally better value than buying individual pieces but I end up with sheets that hardly ever get used. Now I don’t have to walk in blind and experiment, thank you!

  • Awesome, thanks for the tutorial. I’ve been looking for orange cot sheets for our new nursery and they are impossible to find! Might just whip some up :)

  • Cassandra says:

    Great tutorial Cinti. I’ve had this project on my to do list for a while now… I really should get onto it shouldn’t I!
    Also love your elastic threading tool. I’ve not seen one of those before.

    • JB Devereaux says:

      The tool used to thread the elastic is called a bodkin. You can usually find them in the “notions” section of a fabric store.

      • Miss Cinti @ My Poppet says:

        Oh thank you! I knew it had a name but couldn’t think of what it was. I find mine very practical.

        • Great idea. I love tutorials that show instructions step by step. My question is, how does one determine the measurements of the elastic that goes around the sheets,
          whether it is twin to king size. Do you have a chart that gives the elastic lenghts?

          • Miss Cinti @ My Poppet says:

            Thanks! Good question re elastic. As a general rule estimate by calculating/measuring the distance around your mattress (circumference) minus about 15-20%. Of course this may vary depending on how stretchy your elastic is and how much depth you have in your sheet/mattress. Always best to get a bit extra then you can pull in to adjust once you have threaded through.
            Hope that helps
            Cheers Cintia

  • Kay Susan says:

    Since we usually purchase the King sheet set for a Queen size bed — more width on the top sheet — this is any excellent tutorial on how to modify the bottom sheet. Thanks!

  • Lynn says:

    This blog is fabulous! Within 10 mins of finding it, I had so many things that inspired me I don’t know where to start! I am moving back to the UK from Ghana this summer and I have lots of cotton flat sheets that I thought would be going to waste….not any more! And as for all of the t-shirts my husband has accumulated over the years, I feel a rug coming on! Thank you!!

  • Jaya says:

    thanks so much for the tutorial. really appreciate you taking the time to make it look so easy!

  • Tatiana says:

    Great tutorial, thanks for that! Also, I just found out what is that funny thing that I bought the other day, it’s a bodkin! It came together with a loop turner, and I had no idea how to use it, but now I know!

    Just a quick question, how do you calculate the size of the elastic?

    Tatiana
    Brazil

    • Miss Cinti @ My Poppet says:

      Thanks! Good question re elastic. As a general rule estimate by calculating/measuring the distance around your mattress (circumference) minus about 15-20%. Of course this may vary depending on how stretchy your elastic is and how much depth you have in your sheet/mattress. Always best to get a bit extra then you can pull in to adjust once you have threaded through.
      Hope that helps
      Cheers Cintia

  • Penny says:

    You don’t even have to go all the way around with the elastic. You can just do the ends.

  • Jan Jones says:

    I AM SO EXCITED TO FIND THIS!!!!!!!!!! You have NO idea how frustrated I have been with my current sheet situation. The corners are always coming off, because although they are the correct size for my queen bed, they were old, and had shrunk from washing. Also, it seems like the pockets are not deep enough for my mattress. The final problem is that there is not elastic going all the way around. I was blessed to find 3 sets of king sheets yesterday at a yard sale! I also do not use the top sheet as a cover, so I could have up to 6 new fitted sheets! Yea!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

    • Miss Cinti @ My Poppet says:

      great find. I’m sure you’ll have no problem converting those king sheets. I always find it hard to find sheets deep enough for those extra deep mattresses too.

  • Suzanne groves says:

    What a brilliant site,easy instructions and diagrams.cannt wait to start making flats to fitted sheets,with correct depth for my mattress.

  • Cyn says:

    Great tutorial, thank you!

    Just an FYI for anyone doing this with a modern Australian queen flat sheet, the sheet probably won’t be long enough. I found this out making my first fitted sheet today. Fortunately, I had a spare flat single bed sheet, which I sewed on to the bottom of my queen sheet before making it fitted. Now I have a “custom” bi-colour fitted sheet for my queen sized bed. :)

  • Alexandra says:

    Thank you! I just used this great tutorial to turn a couple of charity shop bargain curtains into great sheets for my son’s awkwardly shorter-than-a-single-bed mattress. So much easier than trying to use too-big flat sheets on a midsleeper!

  • Lorraine says:

    Thank you so very much for posting the step by step directions- with pictures for this project. I was certain there had to be a reasonable solution for this, but didn’t know how. What a blessing you are!

  • Sahuri Nur says:

    thanks so much for the tutorial. really appreciate you taking the time to make it look so easy!

    Once again thank you.

  • Esther says:

    Hi I have got so far as measuring and cutting but I have ended up with a rectangle rather than square cut offs! What have I done wrong?

    • good one! You need to have the side depth the same on each side so the cut out square sides are the same. you can fix it by either cutting away the extra length, or sewing on a strip of fabric to the shortest side to make up for it.

      All assuming you have the top of the mattress measurement correct?
      hope that helps

  • Holy moly, why didn’t I ever think of this? I have a super deep mattress and the only sheets I can ever find for it cost a small fortune. Now I can buy king size flat sheets and convert them into extra deep pocket queen size sheets! Sure elastic is pricey, but it’s still a lot cheaper than expensive sheets!

    • glad I could help, I always find you can get flat sheets on sale because not as many people use them.

    • Jeanne says:

      I had the same problem with my old mattress. It was 18 inches deep. I bought a lot of king-sized flat sheets to make my bed, but they won’t be long enough to make a fitted sheet even if you open up the placket at the top. I just did the math and measurements to convert my kings to a fitted queen for an 11 inch deep mattress, and they just aren’t long enough. They will, however, be long enough for an 8 inch deep mattress (my daughter and son-in-law’s bed), without opening up the placket. And since there is already a casing at the top and bottom, I don’t have to sew as much! Just have to make sure it stays open for the elastic when I sew the corners. Plus I have the consolation of being able to make crib sheets from extra queen flats I have because the fitteds got worn out.

    • Jeanne says:

      As a side note, we always had a fitted bottom sheet when I was growing up, so I had no idea how to make a bed with just flat sheets. In case you don’t either, there are plenty of tutorials on line. I learned how from an episode of Martha Stewart’s first TV program a very long time ago. The instructions online from her aren’t the same as those I learned. That was actually what inspired me to use flats instead of over-priced but cheap sheet sets for deep pockets. They have come a long way since then in quality and price, but you also run the chance of the top sheet not being wide enough (had that happen with one of the two sets I bought)when you buy a set.

  • Melanie Demkey says:

    That’s fabric “collector”.

  • Demaroge says:

    I find that the top sheets aren’t made long enough to make a properly fitted fitted sheet. Ugh. This may be where your ‘vintage’ sheets are a great find … they are probably longer!

    I converted a knit jersey top sheet (it could barely be called that at only 82 inches in length!) The jersey wasn’t cut on the grain line so I had to eliminate wonky extra corners. I did cut off approximately 6 inches from the width.

    I literally ‘eyed’ it because I just couldn’t figure out how to salvage enough of the fabric if I cut it on the best grain line as properly as I could. I also ‘cheated’ and didn’t make a casing all the way around. I sewed the elastic into a circle and pinned it at the half-way points around the sheet. (I ‘eyed’ it, too.)

    I am not a perfectionist-brain-surgeon kind of sewer! LOL!

    So ….. it is wonky, a bit twisted and actually ‘too small’ but it will work because jersey stretches. LOL!

    I wish my kid would use the woven fabric … I have a TON of those from my older children who are grown ups now …. and this one doesn’t like them.

  • Tameka says:

    Semi stupid question when yoh say in quarters does that mean fold my sheet 4 times?

  • Benzmom says:

    Thank you! Thank you! I have an adorable 101 Dalmations sheet that was my daughter’s, now it will be a crib sheet for my grandson. So fun to have 2 generations enjoying this. You did a great job of explaining and your pictures really clarify any questions. Thank you again.

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