How to Make Pillow Shams

Would you like your bedroom to look as if an interior decorator had designed it? If your answer is yes, then a quick and economical way to accomplish that goal is to make custom pillow shams of your very own and curtains out of matching fabric. For a fraction of the cost you can get that same designer look by doing it yourself! Below you will find easy-to-follow directions for making king size pillow shams.

If you would like to make a different size, simply adjust the measurements as shown. You might want to consider purchasing extra fabric to make other bedroom décor accents, such as lamp shades and throw pillows.

Instructions for Two King Size Pillow Shams


  • 5 yards of 45 wide fabric
  • thread to match
  • sewing machine
  • dress maker pins
  • fabric marker
  • scissors or rotary cutter

How to start:

  • Wash and iron fabric
  • Lay fabric out flat and cut two pieces 37 x 22. (The 37 side should be going cross grain or salvage to salvage.) These pieces form the top of the pillow sham.
  • Next fold fabric in half, matching salvages and cut 2 pieces (you should end up with 4 pieces because the fabric is now doubled) of 21 x 22 fabric. These pieces form the bottom of the pillow sham, which will be open at the middle back to insert your pillow. Using your fabric marker, make a mark on the wrong side along both 22 sides indicating that they are the sides. Since the remaining edges are only an inch different, it’s easy to confuse them, so this is an important step that will help you when sewing the pieces together.
  • Last cut 11 strips of 5 x 42 for the ruffles. Cut one of these strips in half. This will give you 5 ½ strips to make each of the ruffles for your two pillow shams.

How to assemble:

Start by ironing a ¼ hem on one 21 end of each of the four 21 x 22 pieces. Then, turn the ¼ hem once more and press. Sew all four of these hems with a straight stitch to secure them. These become the overlapped openings to the pocket at the center back of the pillow sham where you will insert your pillow. Set these aside.

Next sew the short 5 x 21 ruffle pieces to five 5 x 42 pieces. Press the seams flat. Press one long edge under ¼, then turn this edge under once more and press again. Machine sew this hem. Begin measuring on one end of this long ruffle piece and using your fabric marker, mark a distinctive mark on the wrong side at the 40 mark, then continuing on make the same mark at the 113. Make a third mark at the 153 measurement and a last one at the 226 measurement. These marks are the corner marks, to help you keep the gathers evenly spaced. (Note: It’s helpful to place a small safety pin on the outside edge where the ruffle hem is. This helps identify where your marks are, since it’s sometimes time consuming to locate them.)

Now run a gathering stitch using a wide stitch length at the ½ and 3/8 seam line on the long raw edge of the ruffle. Stop at each of your four measurements (mentioned above), being sure to leave enough thread to catch hold of for gathering. Start stitching again within ¼ of where you stopped. Then sew two short 5 raw edges of ruffle together and press flat.

Lay the large 37 x 22 piece of fabric down right side up. Using bobbin (bottom) thread, gather all four sections making gathers fit between your marks and the corners of the large fabric piece. The first section you gather will be the 40 long section you first marked and will be pinned at one short end (22) of the large piece. The second section will be the 113 one and will be pinned to one long (37) side. Pin the ruffle to the large piece–right sides together, matching raw edges, and matching your markings to each corner. Draw up gathers to fit. It’s helpful to pin down some of the ruffles to keep them from catching in the seam as you sew. Baste a ½ seam. Remove pins.

Place the remaining two short 22 x 21 pieces over the ruffles and the top large piece, which you have just sewn together. The right sides of the top and bottom sham pieces should be together, and the short hemmed edges along the 21 side should be overlapping (remember these form the opening used to slip the pillow inside. Pin in place and stitch along all four raw edges with a ½ seam. Clip corners, cut threads, turn right side out and you are finished! You now have learned to make pillow shams of your own.

Author Profile

From the first time I sewed the buttons on backward and clipped a hole in the front of my first blouse in high school home economics, I’ve been hooked on sewing. I have been sewing and making crafts for over 40 years and enjoy the process of creating something unique and exactly what I want.

Hopefully, you to will also have fun making projects which will add warmth and charm to your home or touch a special someone with your unique gift.

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