Simple Sew Pillow Sham

pillow sham featured

Whether you need new shams because you’re getting a new set or you’re just wanting to switch up your bedtop decor, look no further.

This Ikea replica is a very simple sew and can completely change your room. It’s simply two pieces of fabric sewn together in straight lines, with a little bit tucked in to hold your pillow inside. Not so scary, right? Right!

I eyeballed this pattern and its measurements based off of my Ikea sham that came with my bed set many years ago. We liked the style of the set, but Ikea only made sew many (ha!) patterns, so I made my own duvet, and finally now the shams to complement. We’ve actually been using those flowery yellow ones below, awful right??

What You’ll Need

  • Fabric – I always preach the power of a JoAnn Fabrics coupon, so find one here first. The amount you need will vary based on the size sham you are making below.
  • Dimensions – what size pillow sham are we working with?
    • Twin/Full/Queen: 20″ x 30″ long
    • King: 20″ x 36″ long
  • Thread – Closest match to your sham color, or what might be least conspicuous if it’s a multi-color pattern. A sewing rule of thumb is to always go with the darkest color if you have multiple similar shades. One spool will more than work for two cases and then several projects after that.
  • Sewing machine, iron, fabric sheers, measuring tape, pencil – the essentials.

How Much Fabric Do I Need to Buy?

My dimensions and this post will include supplies needed for two twin/full/queen size pillow shams. If you are making the king size, or a different number of shams, you simply need to plug in the the appropriate measurements/numbers below per sham.

Supplies needed for each pillow sham:

  • Twin/Full/Queen: One 22″ x 33″ panel, and one 22″ x 41″ panel
  • King: One 22″ x 39″ panel, and one 22″ x 47″ panel

How to Order Your Fabric

First, check to see how wide the bolt of fabric is. The picture below indicates 44″, which is a very standard size, as seen towards the lefthand side under the fabric’s name.

FullSizeRender 100

What that means is you can fit both shams on the same width* of fabric (since they are 22″ wide each and your fabric is 44″ wide), so what you then need to look at when ordering your fabric is the length (imagine both pieces of one sham in tandem, with both shams laid down next to each other on the bolt of fabric). This will save you some good dinero on the final cost.

*always be sure there is no part of the edge of fabric that you would need to cut off first, if it cannot be hid within the seam of the finished product

Example: For two full-sized shams you would need 74″ (~6 feet, also known as 3 yards – fabric is priced per yard at the fabric store) of fabric. That being the case, I’d suggest getting 6.5 feet (78 inches) so you have wiggle room.
Where did you get 74″ of fabric needed? The full-sized pattern calls for one 22″ x 33″ panel and one 22″ x 41″ panel, since the widths will fit side by side, you essentially only need to order one length’s worth of fabric, since that will yield you two sham’s worth of fabric.

Measure Twice, Cut Once

While commonly heard in corporate jargon, it is more importantly the golden rule of sewing. Always measure twice.

Regardless of size of the pillow sham, your width is going to be 22″. Measure to 22″ on the width of your fabric, repeat, then mark it. Take your fabric sheers and cut a slit straight in to the fabric just about 1/2″ long.

Now, if you’re someone whose not worked with fabric a lot before, this will be a leap of faith, but will then be your favorite new bit of sewing know-how: take the area you just slit with the sheers and just rip the fabric apart down that slit with your bare hands.

There is no better way to ensure you are splitting the fabric evenly than ripping it versus cutting down the entire 6+ feet of fabric.

Not to mention it will take WAY less time. You can thank me later 🙂

Once you’ve separated the original, purchased fabric at the 22″ width – into your two final product shams – mark where you’ll need to cut the two panels into two more pieces (the front and back of your shams). To do that, take one panel and measure 41″ down the length, twice, and mark there. Once you’ve cut a small slit at the 41″ mark you will rip this piece of fabric also so it is perfectly straight, I promise, it’s the way to go!
Pro Tip: set this piece aside, clearly marked, as soon as you cut it so you don’t confuse it for the other panels (do this each time you cut a piece, in any project).

From there you will measure another 33″, which should be all but approximately 4″ of the remainder, of the remaining panel you were working on. Mark, cut, rip, label as with the first, larger panel. Repeat with the second, third, etc. sham as necessary to cut all pieces before moving forward.

Great! We have our sham’s panels completely cut and ready to move on!

How to Finish an Edge

If you scroll back to the title picture, or just recall in memory, pillow cases have edges that are exposed. We don’t just leave fabric ends hanging out there to fray or look junky, we finish them. *queue Mortal Kombat voiceover*

I have an extra inch built into the pattern to do this once on each panel of each sham, two finished edges total per sham. Where at you ask? One on the edge of the length and one on the end of the lip that sits tucked in. See below:

finished edges

Step 1: Set fabric on surface with the ‘good’ side face down. Identify 1/2″ at the length’s end and fold it over, ironing as you go so it stays folded.

Step 2: Let it cool, then repeat step 1 once more, folding over another 1/2″. As you’ll notice, this will leave a clean edge, with no edging/frays visible.

Step 3: Sew a straight line through the folded 1/2″ area, closer towards the inside of the panel as that is where it was last folded and will secure the best (closer to the middle is fine too).

Step 4: Repeat Steps 1 through 3 on the other panel on one of the length’s ends so you end up with both your longer and your shorter panels each having one finished edge.

Awesome! Now your two panels are ready to be pinned together for sewing!

Preparing to Sew

First, lay your longer panel good side facing down, and fold 8″ of the finished edge side over so that you’re looking at 8″ of the good side and the rest the inside of your pillow case. Pin that flap down to the other side of that same longer panel so that it sews together to create the built-in flap (as seen in the post’s initial photo).

Next, you’re going to sew this pillow sham inside-out, so lay the two panels down with the good sides touching one another (which will leave the folded over flap facing outward, which is right, you will see the flap folded over as you sew since that will ultimately go inside the sham).

The finished edge sides should be on the same end when you match up the panels. Because you folded the flap over what you will actually have is the shorter panel’s finished edge matching up directly with the crease of the longer panel.
What if the longer panel’s crease doesn’t match up exactly? Dont’ worry! Simply adjust how far you fold over the flap on the longer panel. No one will ever know it is shorter than the other since it sits inside – adjust away!

Once you have the panels lined up looking just how you want, pin them together on the three appropriate sides. You will not sew the edge with the crease and the finished edge, that will be the opening.

Sewing the Panels Together

This part is honestly the least confusing and stressful, in my opinion. Bring your pinned sham over to sew. You will sew 3 of these edges – both long sides and one short side.

Start at one of the corners next to the side that won’t be sewn and sew with a 1/2″ to 1″ seam (however much room you have decided you have to spare so that you will have 20″ from stitch to stitch when done). Be sure to reinforce that first stitch however you normally do for the ends of projects, then sew straight down the long side and stop about 1″ from the end.

Sewing the Corner

When you stop, be sure you stop in a spot where your needle is down in the fabric. You will then lift up your presser foot and turn your sham on an angle towards the next side to sew in a nice corner .

Lower the presser foot to sew again, sewing in about 3 stitches while angled and stop the needle in the fabric again. Rotate the fabric back to a straight line, this time lined up with the one short side you’ll be sewing.

Repeat this above section for the next corner and the last long side you need to sew, reinforcing at the end just like you did at the beginning.

Viola! Your sham is now one piece – we’re almost there!

Post-sew Finishing Touches

Iron the inside of the seams, see below:



IMG_5634 2

What a difference it makes, right? The top was not ironed from the inside-out and the bottom was. You always want to iron the inside seams to give your final products a nice crisp, flat seam line.

Then, when it comes time to turn your final product rightside out, be sure to poke out your corners, Here’s what it looks like before (left) and after (right) you do, it’s definitely noticable!

FullSizeRender 95

My Before and After

That yellow floral on my new coral, grey and white duvet = WOOF! So glad I finally made my matching shams!

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Did you try your hand at homemade pillow decor of your own? Share on social media with #foodwinediy – I love seeing and sharing your projects!


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