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.

Handmade Ruched Pillow Shams on Bed

Photo by: Marian Parsons

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

Measuring and Marking Fabric

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.

Hem Back and Envelope Flap

Gather pieces cut for back and envelope flap. Create a double hem by folding fabric over twice on one 21" side of each piece. Press when folded (Image 1) and stitch hem into place. Repeat until one side is hemmed on each 12" piece. If using a fabric with a "right side", make sure hem is on bottom of fabric piece.

Ironing Fabric to Create a Seam

Make Ties

Gather fabric pieces cut for ties. Position one horizontally on ironing board. Visually divide into quarters length-wise. Fold top 1/4" over and press then fold bottom 1/4" up and press. Fold entire piece in half, with raw edges covered in the fold, and press (Image 1). Sew along top and end of tie to secure (Images 2 and 3). Repeat until all 12 ties are made. Trim threads.

Attach Envelope Flap and Ties

Gather both pillow fronts, envelope flaps and 6 ties. Position pillow front on work surface with widest 1/3 fabric section facing towards you (mentioned in Step 2) and facing up. Place envelope flap on top, right-side-down, raw edges facing you. Insert raw ends of three ties, spaced evenly along pillow case edge. Pin everything together, pleating ruched fabric by hand (Image 1). Sew along pin line and remove pins. Fold over and press along seam line. Pin envelope flap and front of pillow together (Image 2). Sew line about 1/8" from seam edge to hold envelope flap in a folded position and create a small trim edge (Image 3). Repeat with other pillow case.

Sew Ties to Back

Gather both back pieces and six remaining ties. Fold bottom raw edge of ties under and pin to inside hem of back piece (Images 1 and 2). Make sure ties line up with those sewn onto front of pillow sham. Sew ties to pillow back (Image 3). Repeat with remaining back piece and ties.

Assemble and Sew Pillow Sham

Place back piece on work surface, face up. Place pillow front directly on top, face down. Ties should be facing same direction and envelope flap should be visible on top. Line up edges and pin three sides, leaving side with ties open (Images 1 and 2). One side will need to be gathered by hand, due to ruching. Sew along three sides, leaving about 1/2" seam allowance. Remove pins and trim all threads. Turn pillowcase right-side-out, insert pillow form and tie ties (Image 3). To create an optional edge, sew along three seams 1/8" in as in Step 6. Tip: Enlarge this pillow case to create Euro or king shams or even a matching duvet cover.

Next Up

Faux-Fur Pillow How-To

Add a bit of texture to your home with this easy-to-sew accessory.

How to Make Custom Dog Clothing

Learn how to make simple and stylish custom pet clothing for all sizes.

How to Wash Pillows

Don't forget about the pillows during your next cleaning spree. Trust us, you'll want to wash your pillows, too.

I Slept on Purple's Harmony Pillow for Six Months — Here's How It Went

Stop tossing and turning and give yourself (or a loved one) the gift of a good night's sleep with this pillow designed to perfectly conform to your body and preferred sleep position.

Easy-Sew Food Plushie Keychains

These healthy 'snacks' smile back. Make adorable keychains with scrap felt and a simple sewing technique.

How to Sew a Burlap and Chalkboard Christmas Stocking

Looking for rustic, nature-inspired holiday decor? Craft some Christmas stockings out of burlap or canvas. A chalkboard patch on the front of the stocking adds even more charm.

How to Sew an Elf Christmas Stocking

The bright and bold colors of these adorable elf stockings are sure to match all of your holiday decor. Plus, the fun pointed toes and bells are guaranteed to put you in the Christmas spirit.

How to Make a Christmas Catnip Toy

Don't forget your furry best friend when making handmade gifts for the holidays. With just basic sewing skills, you can whip up a catnip-filled stocking-shaped toy as a surprise for your favorite kitty.

How to Make Negative-Space String Art

Most string art creates a picture or shape; this technique does the opposite by outlining a silhouette instead. Try this easy and inexpensive craft to add a punch of personality to your walls.

How to Ombre Dip-Dye a Duvet Cover

Transform a simple set of white bedding into a fresh and modern masterpiece with your favorite color dye and just a few hours.

Go Shopping

Get product recommendations from HGTV editors, plus can’t-miss sales and deals.


Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.