How to Sew Ruched Fabric Pillow Shams

High-end, fabric pillow shams can be a splurge when decorating a bedroom. With basic sewing skills, inexpensive white cotton can be transformed into beautiful, designer look-alike shams at a fraction of the cost.

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Handmade Ruched Pillow Shams on Bed Marian Parsons

Materials Needed:

  • 3 yards 45" wide white cotton fabric (for two standard shams)
  • iron and ironing board
  • sharp scissors
  • pencil
  • yardstick
  • sewing machine
  • all-purpose white cotton thread
  • quilting ruler or square

Prep and Cut Fabric

Wash and press fabric then spread on a flat work surface. Measure, then mark and cut out the following fabric pieces for two standard shams:
(2) 21" x 28" pieces for pillow back
(2) 4" x 21" pieces for envelope flap (6-8" wide for loftier pillows)
(2) 45" x 28" pieces for pillow front
(12) 13" x 2" pieces for ties
(4) 4" x 21" pieces for trim

Make Ruching

Spread one 45" x 28" pillow front piece onto work surface with right side facing down. Line up yard stick or measuring tape along pillow width (28"). Make a pencil mark at 9" and 18". Note: At this point, fabric will be divided into thirds, with one third being 1" wider than other two. (This side will be hemmed in step 6.) Use a quilting ruler or square to draw a straight pencil line at each of these marks down the length of fabric. Sew along both pencil lines with all-purpose white cotton thread — but do not double back at the start or end of stitches to knot (Image 1). Gently pull on thread at one end to ruche fabric (Image 2). Repeat on other stitched line. Once gathered, spread ruches evenly over 20" (Image 3). Repeat with other piece cut for pillow front.

Sew Trim

Gather four 4" x 21" pieces cut for trim. Place one fabric piece horizontally on ironing board. Visually divide fabric piece into quarters length-wise. Fold over top 1/4 of fabric and press (Image 1). Fold up bottom 1/4 of fabric and press (Image 2). Repeat with three other fabric pieces. Place one trim piece over each ruched seam with folded edges face down and pin into place (Image 3). Sew along each side of trim to secure (Image 4). Repeat with all trim pieces. Tip: A coordinating or contrasting ribbon can also be used for trim.

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