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Add "Pop" With Pillow Shams -- How to Make Your Own Shams

Updated on March 20, 2012

Simple Directions for Pillow Shams

Redecorating can be messy, time-consuming and expensive, if you make extensive changes. If you have directions to make your own pillow shams, however, you can add quick and inexpensive changes to brighten and refresh your bedroom decorating.

Add some color with a special sham.
Add some color with a special sham. | Source

Quick and Easy Ruffles

A pillow sham is essentially disguising a false decorative pillow, and the quickest and simplest shams involve starting with pillowcases that match your bed linens and embellishing them. Other than regular sewing notions, you will only need pre-gathered ruffles or lace, ribbon and some snaps or hook-and-loop closure tabs.

First, pin the ruffles to all four sides of the pillowcase, leaving the case open. Stitch close to the edging on the ruffle, catching only one layer at the opening.

Next, pin the ribbon over the ruffle edging to cover the unattractive part. Stitch along the top and bottom edges of the ribbon, again leaving the opening.

Finally, add three or four snaps or hook-and-loop closure tabs into the case opening to close your new sham.

Flanged Shams

A flanged pillow sham is one of the easiest ways to transform a pillow, as it requires only the simplest of straight sewing techniques, yet adds decorative interest. A completed flanged pillow sham, essentially looks like a frame around the pillow.

For this project, you will need fabric and the usual sewing notions.

Begin by measuring the length and width of your pillow. Record the measurements.

Add 4 1/4 inches to all the sides and cut three piece of fabric. Set one piece aside; this will be the front of the sham.

Cut one-fourth of the length from each of the remaining pieces. These will be the back pieces.
On one end of one of the back pieces, fold 1/4 inch toward the wrong side of the fabric. Fold it again, 1/4 inch and stitch the hem. Repeat for the other back piece.

Place the front piece on your work surface, right side up. Layer the back pieces on top of the front, right sides down, with the unhemmed edges aligned with the edges of the front piece.

Pin the three pieces together, right sides of the front touching the right sides of the back.

Stitch around the four edges, using a 1/8-inch seam allowance and removing the pins as you sew. Turn the sham right side out and iron the seams flat.

Measure 3 3/4 inches from the outer edge on all sides and draw a line with tailor’s chalk. Stitch along the lines to make the flanges on the sham.

Insert the pillow from the back and smooth the overlapping back pieces.

Tailored and Piped Shams

Although tailored and piped pillow shams sound more difficult than the previous methods, all they need is some additional materials that are cheap to buy, and a few more minutes of your time. The effect is very formal, but also adds a wonderful professional finish to any pillow project.

This time, in addition to the fabric, you will need prepared piping trim, measured to match the perimeter of your pillow.

Measure the length and width of your pillow; add 5/8 inch to all sides. Cut three pieces of fabric to match your measurements.

Fold two of the pieces into fourths and cut away one section from each, so that you have two pieces measuring the same width as the third, but three-quarters of the length. These will be the back pieces.

Make a clean-finish hem (1/4 inch folded under twice) on one end of each of the back pieces. Set them aside.

Pin the piping to the front piece of the sham, with the raw edging at the edges of the piece and the finished piping nearest the center of the piece.

Pin the first back piece to the front piece with their right sides together and the piping between them, aligning three unfinished edges of the back piece with the edges of the front. Repeat with the other back piece, aligning the piece to the other edge of the front piece and overlapping the first back piece.

Stitch the sham layers together, using 1/4-inch seam allowance. Trim the corners as needed and turn the sham right side out. Press the seams flat.

Pillow shams are one of the easiest ways to decorate your bedroom. With these directions to make your own pillow shams and the perfect coordinating fabrics, you can change the look of your bed anytime with ease and very little expense.


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