All the decorating books and home design television shows love the pillow sham. We would have to agree it does make a wonderful base from which to build the bed. For our king size shams, we combine lush, cushy velvet with rich, smooth cottons. The front features an intricate double flange border: a velvet outer flange with mitered corners, and a cotton inner flange – also with mitered corners. The inner flange is the same fabric as the back panel fabric. In fact, these shams are as pretty from the back as they are facing front, giving you twice the decorating punch. This project is a bit more advanced, but the results are stunning, and they are a fabulous addition to our Romantic Bedroom Retreat.
The Romantic Bedroom Retreat features four collections from our wonderful sponsor, Westminster Fibers Lifestyle Fabrics: FreeSpirit Pagoda Lullaby by Tina Givens, FreeSpirit The Birds & The Bees by Tula Pink, Rowan Bromley by Victoria & Albert and Rowan Cameo by Amy Butler. Want to learn more about how we brought together these four different collections into a cohesive design? Take a look at our tutorial: A Romantic Bedroom Retreat with Rowan & FreeSpirit Fabrics: How to Mix and Match Designer Fabric Collections.
Today's pillow shams feature two beautiful cottons from the Bromley collection by Victoria & Albert for Rowan Fabrics. This collection is based on copper-plated designs from within the pattern book of Foster & Co. of the Bromley Hall Works near London, which dates from circa 1760-1800. This pattern book resides in the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, the world's largest museum of decorative arts and design. Its collection spans 5,000 years of art in virtually every medium.
As mentioned above, this is an advanced-level project. If you have made mitered corners before, this process is similar, however, because we have a double flange, it's handled a bit differently than a flat mitered corner. You need to keep your seam allowances free to attach one to the other. A suggestion we often make is to use scrap fabrics to test any techniques you are new to or unsure of. Sometimes, I even make a little mini-prototype out of paper. This can help you wrap your brain around three-dimensional steps such as these.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Any sewing machine (we recommend the Janome Memory Craft 6600P)
- Walking foot (optional but very helpful with these fabrics)
NOTE: Velvet loves to creep; a Walking foot has its own built in top feed dogs to work in combination with the machine's bottom feed dogs to keep tricky layers of fabric from shifting.
Fabric and Other Supplies
For all of the projects in our series, Westminster helped us put together a very handy Where to Buy Retailer Locator, giving you a fast and easy way to source the fabrics we are featuring from both brick and mortar stores in your area (the page is broken out by state) as well as online options. The collections are just coming out now in-store and online.
Our shams are sized for high-quality king size down pillows. The yardages shown below are for TWO matching shams.
- 1¼ yards of 44-45" wide cotton fabric for the pillow front panels; we used Ikat Blossom in Citron from the Bromley Collection by Victoria & Albert for Rowan Fabrics
- 2¼ yards of 44-45" wide cotton fabric for the pillow back panels and the pillow front flange; we used Divinity in Citron from the Bromley Collection by Victoria & Albert for Rowan Fabrics
NOTE: We were able to cut our panels side by side. If you have a strong directional print, you would need 3¼ yards so you could cut each panel vertically. You would end up with quite a bit of excess... but you could make some additional toss pillows!
- 1½ yard of 60" velvet; we used an upholstery velvet in black (purchased locally)
NOTE: If you are new to working with velvet, you may want to consider a thinner velvet. If your velvet is not as wide, you will need 2 yards.
- ¼ yard of 21" wide lightweight fusible interfacing
- Three ½" - ¾" buttons; we used black buttons (purchased locally)
- All-purpose thread to match fabrics
- Contrasting all-purpose thread to sew buttons; we used pink
- See-through ruler
- Tape measure
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Iron and ironing board
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Straight pins
- From the fabric for the sham front panels (Ikat Blossom Citron in our sample), cut TWO 21" high x 37" wide rectangles.
- From the fabric for the sham back panels and front flange (Divinity Citron in our sample), cut the following:
FOUR 21" high x 24" wide rectangles
SIX 5" x width of fabric strips
- From the fabric for the outer flange (black velvet in our sample), cut the following:
FOUR 4" x 27" strips for the front
FOUR 4" x 45" strips for the front
FOUR 4" x 28" strips for the back
FOUR 4" x 45" strips for the back
- From the fusible interfacing, cut FOUR 20" x 2" strips.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Attach the inner flange to the front panel
- Find the six 5" x WOF flange strips (Divinity Citron in our sample). Separate them into two sets of three.
- Pin one set of three strips right sides together end-to-end to create one long 5” wide strip.
- Stitch together, using a ½" seam allowance. Press the seams open and flat.
- With wrong sides together, fold the strip in half lengthwise and press to create a center crease.
- Open the strip wrong side up so the center crease is visible.
- Place a sham front panel (Ikat Blossom Citron in our sample) right side up on your work surface. Find the center of the bottom edge of the panel and mark this point with a pin.
- Starting at this pin point on the bottom edge of the front panel, place the flange strip right sides together with the front panel, extending the raw end of the flange strip 2" beyond the pin point. In other words, leave about 2" free at the head of the flange strip before you begin pinning it to the front panel. The flange strip should be open and flat against the front panel with raw edges aligned.
- Pin in place from the center pin point to ½" from the first corner.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch from the center pin point to ½" from the first corner.
- Stop and lock your stitch, leave the project under the needle and the needle in the down position.
NOTE: Because we worked with rather dark fabrics, we were having trouble getting enough contrast to clearly show you the steps. So, we mocked up a "faux sham corner" in some especially vibrant fabric and thread colors in order to help you follow along. Our "faux seams" extend just several inches; yours would continue all the way around the pillow.
- Make a ½" snip into the flange at the ½" from the edge stopping point. You are cutting up to but not through the stitching. You'll notice in the picture below that we backed up from the cut point. This was to make it easier to get our scissors in to make the snip. Once that snip is made, stitch back to the real end point so your needle is exactly in place at the cut point.
- Measure 4" from your first snip along the flange edge and make another ½" snip. Why? Because the finished flange measures 2", so we need 4" to turn the corner.
- Lift the presser foot (remember, your needle is down). Pivot the panel 90˚ so you are set to stitch the next side.
- Gently push the excess fabric to the left and the inside of the corner, bringing the second snip around to meet the needle, and turning the corner with the flange strip. Align the raw edge of the flange strip with this second side of the front panel.
- Drop your presser foot and begin stitching along the second side.
- Here's what the first corner looks like - remember, ours is just a single sample corner; you would not remove your project from under the needle.
- Back under your needle, finish stitching the second side, again stopping ½" before the next corner. Repeat the snip, measure 4", snip and turn "ballet" at this corner.
- Then, repeat at the third and fourth corners.
- Stop when you are just a few inches from your original starting point.
- Smooth out the two free ends of the flange, lapping the tail end over the loose start end so the flange lays flat.
- Gently lift up the ends and place them right sides together. Where the two ends come together at the base, mark a seam line (oh look... we're back to our original fabric for a minute!).
- Pull the flange away from the pillow front and place just the flange ends back under the needle.
- Following the drawn line, stitch the seam. Trim the excess fabric back to a ½" seam allowance and press open.
- Complete your seam, carefully matching the start and end of this final stretch with the existing seam line.
Inner flange mitered corners
- Place the sewn panel on your work surface so the main front panel is right side up. Fold the flange in half along its original crease line, wrong sides together.
- All the raw edges should match up and the corner will come together into a triangle peak. Let that peak flop over so the two sides of the corner overlap.
- You need to snip the unstitched edge of the flange ½" from the corners to match up to snips on the sewn edges. First snip the top to match.
- Then, lift up the "peak" and snip the side to match. There should be a corner of your main pillow fabric pillow visible between the snips.
- Flip the panel over and open out the flange again. Your little folded peak is now on the inside of the corner. We've lifted it up with the scissors in the photo below so you can see it better.
- Let the little folded peak fall back down into its flat position and refold the flange wrong sides together along the top. Match up the raw edge of the flange with the sewn edge/seam allowance of the flange.
- Fold in the side, again matching up the raw edge of the flange with the sewn edge/seam allowance of the flange. You will create a pretty folded corner miter on both the front and back of the flange.
- Pin in place along both the top and side.
- Stitch, using a ½" seam allowance and stopping at the same point as your first set of seams: ½" from the corner. You will still have that little visible corner of the pillow front panel sticking up and out.
- Repeat this process to form each of the four corners. Then repeat the whole shootin' match to attach and miter the second inner flange to the second pillow front.
We're still using our faux fabric combinations, but we did switch to a black-ish fabric to simulate the velvet. When you try to photograph velvet, it simply sucks up all the light then sticks it tongue out at you and laughs (or at least that's what it seemed like it was doing!).
- The outer flange is assembled as a flat border. Find the eight velvet strips for the front: four 4" x 27" strips and four 4" x 45" strips. Separate them into two sets of two 4" x 27" strips and two 4" x 45" strips. The longer strips are for the top and bottom; the shorter strips are for the sides.
- Working with the first set of four, fold each one in half and mark the center of the strip with a little snip along the top and bottom
- Find one of your two pillow fronts with its attached inner flange.
- Fold this pillow front lengthwise and widthwise to find the center of the top/bottom and both sides. Make a little snip at these four center points within the flange seam allowance. Do not cut into the actual seam.
- Aligning the center snips, place the first strip right sides together with the pillow front. The inner flange should be folded up, towards the middle of the pillow, and sandwiched between the layers. The strip will extend beyond the pillow front by 3½" on each end. Pin in place.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch the strip in place, starting and stopping ½" from each corner of the pillow front.
- Repeat to stitch the remaining three strips in place. We stitched them in this order: bottom, side, top, side. You will have two 3½" loose tails at each corner.
- Starting in one corner, fold the pillow front at a diagonal so the two ends of the outer flange align right sides together. Pin in place.
- Using your see-through ruler and a fabric pen or pencil, draw a line that continues the diagonal angle of the pillow front through the outer flange.
- Gently pull the outer flange away from the pillow, so you can insert just the flange under your needle. Stitch along the drawn line.
- Trim the excess fabric back to a ½" seam allowance and clip the top corner.
- Press the seam open. Here is what the corner looks like with both the inner and outer flanges in place from the front...
- ... and the back. There's that little corner of the pillow front that you've finally encased.
Pillow back panels
- Find four 21" high x 24" wide back rectangles (Divinity Citron in our sample) and the four 20" x 2" strips of interfacing.
- Following manufacturers instructions, fuse the interfacing strips along one 21" side of each back panel. Center each strip so it is ½" from the 21" raw edge and centered top to bottom, ie. ½" from the top and bottom raw edges.
- Along each edge, make a 2½" double turn hem. To do this, fold back the raw edge ½" along the interfacing and press. Fold back an additional 2" and press again, encasing the interfacing. Pin in place.
- Topstitch in hem in place close to the inside fold.
- Along one panel, mark the placement for your buttonholes centered side to side and top to bottom within the hem. Remember to account for the ½" seam allowance top and bottom. And make sure you are using an easily erasable/removable fabric pen or pencil or pins.
- Following your machine's instructions, make the buttonholes.
- When you cut the buttonholes open, cut in a little from each edge towards the center. This is better than trying to cut them open with one action, which often leads to cutting into the buttonhole stitching.
- Take both finished panels and overlap them so the hems align. The buttonholes should be on top; the plain hem on the bottom.
- Pin the two panels together.
- Place a pin at the exact center point of each buttonhole. Make a mark on the opposite panel at this pin point. These these points are where you should sew on the buttons. We used contrasting pink thread to sew on our buttons.
- Repeat to create the second pillow back.
- Button together both sets of panels.
Attach the back flange
- Find the remaining eight velvet strips for the back: four 4" x 28" strips and four 4" x 44" strips. Separate them into two sets of two 4" x 28" strips and two 4" x 44" strips. The longer strips are for the top and bottom; the shorter strips are for the sides.
- Working with the first set of four, fold each one in half and mark the center of the strip with a little snip along the top and bottom.
- Find one of your two buttoned-together pillow backs.
- Fold this pillow back in half lengthwise and widthwise to find the center of the top/bottom and both sides. Make a little snip at these four center points along the raw edges of the pillow back.
- Attach the velvet strips to the pillow back in the same manner you attached the outer flange to the front.
- Match up the centers, pin in place and then stitch in place.
- Mark, seam and trim each corner
Assemble front to back
- Pair up your two finished fronts and back (the back center button should be unbuttoned). Place each front right sides together with a back, matching up all the edges and the indented corners. Pin in place.
- Stitch all the way around the back flange and front outer flange (velvet to velvet), using a ½" seam allowance. Pivot at each corner just below the inside corner of the indent.
- Turn right side out through the unbuttoned back panel.
- Pin the layers together matching up the seams on the front and back.
- Using a Walking foot if possible, stitch in the ditch (stitch along the actual seam line) all around the inside border. Remember to pivot at each corner.
- This final seam sets the "stopping point" for the full double flange - the seam against which the pillow sits inside the sham.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Kathy Andrews, What Sew Ever