Monday, February 11, 2013

How to Make Standard Shams out of King Pillowcases + How Not to Add Trim

Last week, I decided to attempt a quick update to the bedroom pillows with the addition of two shams. My quick attempt ended up taking a few days, but more on that later.

After searching locally for some simple and affordable white shams with no luck, I thought that it would be pretty easy to make standard shams out of king pillowcases.

It took me a little bit of time to figure it out, but once I did, it was really easy!

First I measured my pillow at ~ 16" x 26". The king pillowcase was 20" tall, so that would give me a 2" border which was perfect! I wanted the finished measurement (with a simple 2" border all around) to be 20x30.

From the open end, I ripped the seam out about 14" on both sides. From the closed end, I measured 31" for seam allowance (since I wanted the finished length to be 30").

I then cut the backside where I wanted the opening for the pillow to slip in (about 10" from the open end) I used the fabric I cut off to create the top part for the envelope. At this point, I checked to make sure there was enough overlap (about 3-5") and cut off any excess.

I turned the sham inside out and lay the smaller piece under neath the larger section. (Since it is inside out, make sure that the finished sides will be on the outside of the sham.)

I pinned and sewed the sides that the seam was taken out of, I left the the top flap un sewn and turned it right side out. Now I had the basic shape of a sham with the envelope closer on the backside. Almost done!

To match the other side (which isn't sewn), I closed the open end with heat n' bond no sew adhesive. I folded the fabric under so it measured 30", put heat n'bond inside and ironed.

Finally, I finished by sewing 2" in on all sides. I measured 2" from my needle and I put a piece of tape to keep my line straight. Once I got close to the edge I held a ruler up to measure 2" and then turned the sham to repeat.

I forgot to take a picture here, but about 30 minutes later it basically ended up looking like this :)

Ok, now onto adding trim ... as you read in the title, this was not a DIY success. After looking at this pillow from Target's Modern Cottage collection, the basic premise was:

The ribbon basically sits on top of one another and each piece goes to the end with one side folded under at a 45. To make the ribbon line up at the inner corner and the outer edge it needs to be folded all the way to the edge. 

Mistake # 1 since the cut edge of the ribbon needs to be folded all the way to the edge , it needs to be sealed to prevent fraying. The fraying wasn't too bad, but definitely to be washable, each piece would need to be cut and then sealed (maybe dip each end in a little craft glue?) 

Pretty simple concept, but it ends up being a lot of detail work, like about 36 little exact folds that need to be ironed a few times. 

I cut 16 - 4" strips and 5 - 6" pieces and 2 - 16" pieces for the long straight. I laid them out, put heat 'n bond adhesive underneath and ironed.

Mistake # 2  If ironed too long, the heat n' bond will show through the grosgrain ribbon. See it below?

err ... I could of covered it with a second accent ribbon on top, but decided that combined with the work involved in doing it on the other sham wasn't really worth it ...

Friday I talked about how I had a plan to get the corners flatter ... I was originally thinking of placing a thin piece of trim overtop the angle and and fold the edges under using heat n' bond to secure it, but the fraying became an issue again. So I ended up applying a small amount of glue underneath just the ribbon and ironing. To get it as precise as possible, I used the tip of an xacto knife to avoid getting it everywhere. This worked really well and didn't take too long.

BUT ultimately I decided that the combination of not being able to wash them (because it would fray) and having to cover up the heat n' bond wasn't worth it.

This could work, and I may try it again with these modifications:

1. After cutting the ribbon, seal with glue to prevent fraying.

2. Use a thicker cotton ribbon to prevent the heat n' bond from showing through or sew the ribbon on. Sewing would be a good option since it is pretty hard to get the heat n' bond everywhere.

So instead I ordered these shams from Crate and Barrel, I'm still deciding if I want leave them alone or add a little something. Let's face it, I probably will :)

Lesson learned,  always test a small area before doing the whole thing (like the heat n' bond on the ribbon) and sometimes the time invested isn't worth it!

I may try it on a smaller throw pillow (now that I know what mistakes to avoid)

Better luck next time! :)


Update 2/24/13

See this post for how I successfully added trim!!


  1. Love the sham from a king pillowcase idea, I hadn't thought of that! I'm actually planning on doing a similar ribbon treatment on shams, but maybe not in a Greek key design. :) But an easy way to seal the end of the ribbon is to melt it over a flame. Use a lighter or small candle and just quickly run it under the end of the ribbon. Works like a charm.

    1. I think either less little corners or a wider ribbon would help (I burnt myself a couple of times with the iron!)

      Thanks for the tip with the ribbon, I'll have to remember that for next time.

  2. No wonder pillows with that trim are so expensive. That is a lot of detail work! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Yes! I admire those that produce them commercially! I'm still determined to try in on a throw pillow though :)

  3. Thanks for sharing! I was so looking forward to this project because I wanted to do the exact same pattern with ribbon on some slipcovers for my sofa pillows. I wonder if keeping the ribbon in one piece and just folding it back over itself at the corners would have worked better? That way you wouldn't have so many little pieces of ribbon and corners to iron down.

    1. Hi Noe, I have one more idea I want to try so check back in a week or two to see if it works :) Also, I did think about making it out of one continuous piece, but when you turn the corner it ends up at a 45 and not a square, so just a different look :)

  4. Ugh, what a bummer that it didn't work after all that effort!


Thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts! I love hearing what you think! :)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Pin It button on image hover