How to Sew a Flanged Pillow Sham

Pillow shams
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Sew Your Own Pillow Sham

A pillow sham is a quick way to decorate a room. Shams are meant to be decorative, which means, while they're often made of pretty fabric, they aren't always the most comfortable to have pressed against your face all night. They're also intended to hold their rectangular shape better than pillowcases.

The way shams work is that, after you make your bed in the morning, you simply shove the pillow (case and all) into the sham! It's a quick way to add extra elegance to any room. Pillow shams are also super easy to make.

Materials You Will Need

  • Fabric of your choosing (1 yard)
  • Yarn
  • Needle
  • Straight pins
  • Iron
  • Carpenter's square or square cardboard

Cut Your Fabric

Choose your pillow size and find the demensions to cut your fabric to sew a flanged pillow sham
Debbie Colgrove

Use the above chart 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 to cut squarely. Rotary cutting tools are one way to ensure that you are cutting squarely. If you don't have rotary cutting tools, find a carpenter's square or a squared corner of cardboard to make sure you are cutting the corner squarely.

Hem, Mark & Fold

Fold line chart for various size bed pillows to sew a flanged bed pillow sham
Debbie Colgrove
  • Make a narrow hem. Fold under 1/4 inch and 1/4 inch again to the wrong side, on each narrow end. Stitch the hem in place.
  • Mark in from each long edge. Measure in from each hemmed edge, end as indicated on the chart.
  • Fold on the 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 both edge seams. Use 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 right-side out.
  • Press. Keep all edges squared.

Sew the Flange

A diagram showing where to top stitch a flanged pillow sham
Debbie Colgrove
  • Set a seam guide. To get a perfect 3-inch flanged edge, you must set a seam guide 3 inches horizontally and vertically away from the needle.
  • Pin the back overlap flaps. Do this to hold them in place. Keep pins out of the area 3 inches from the edge.
  • Topstitch 3 inches from all pressed edge. Pivot the needle down to turn the corners.
  • Press the stitching. Do this to set the stitches.
  • Place pillow in sham. Enjoy!

Tips and Tricks

A finished flanged pillow sham
Debbie Colgrove
  • When cutting a square of any form, it is helpful to have a carpenter's square or rotary cutting tools.
  • Make throw pillows for your bed that complement your shams.
  • If you are working with a thin fabric, you may want to add interfacing the fabric to provide stiffness.
  • Buy extra sheets to have pillow shams that match your bedding.