How to Sew a Flanged Pillow Sham

silk pillow on the bed
Valentino Nobile / Getty Images
Project Overview
  • Total Time: 1 hr
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $10

A pillow sham is a quick way to decorate a bed pillow. Shams hold their rectangular shape better than regular pillowcases, and they often have attractive details, such as a flange border. Store-bought shams often can be expensive, but you can learn to make your own pillow shams for a more cost-effective approach. This project, which creates a flanged pillow sham out of a fabric of your choice, is quick and easy for beginner sewers. You can have fun finding fabric that coordinates with your bedding and even make some shams to rotate seasonally and for holidays if you want.


You can buy extra sheets to have pillow shams that match your bedding. Also, consider making throw pillows for your bed from the same fabric. If you are working with a thin fabric, it can be beneficial to add interfacing to the fabric to provide stiffness.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Scissors or rotary cutting tools
  • Straight pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Iron and ironing board


  • 1 yard fabric of your choosing
  • Matching thread


  1. Cut Your Fabric

    Use the chart below to find your pillow size and the measurement to cut your pillow sham fabric. Cut the length of the sham on the straight grain of the fabric, and be sure your cuts form right angles.

    Rotary cutting tools are one way to ensure that your edges are square. If you don't have rotary cutting tools, find a carpenter's square or a squared corner of cardboard to help you form precise corners.

    Choose your pillow size and find the demensions to cut your fabric to sew a flanged pillow sham
    Debbie Colgrove
  2. Hem, Mark, and Fold

    Make a narrow hem by folding under 1/4 inch and 1/4 inch again to the wrong side of the fabric on each narrow end. Stitch the hems in place.

    Then, measure in from each hemmed edge as indicated on the chart below. Fold the fabric on these marks. Keep the right sides together, so there is an overlap on the back, aligning the raw edges and keeping the fabric perfectly flat. Pin in place.

    Stitch your edge seams, using a 1/2-inch seam allowance. It is not necessary to put any seam finish on these seams, as they will be enclosed in the flanged area.

    Turn the fabric right side out, and press it.

    Fold line chart for various size bed pillows to sew a flanged bed pillow sham
    Debbie Colgrove
  3. Sew the Flange

    To get a perfect 3-inch flanged edge, you must set your sewing machine seam guide 3 inches horizontally and vertically away from the needle.

    Pin the back overlap flaps to hold them in place. Keep the pins out of the area 3 inches from the edge.

    Topstitch 3 inches from the edge. Pivot the needle down to turn the corners.

    Then, press the stitching to set it, place your pillow in the sham, and enjoy.

    A diagram showing where to top stitch a flanged pillow sham
    Debbie Colgrove