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Making Ruffled Pillow Shams

A ruffled pillow sham is perfect in a country-style bedroom.
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A ruffled pillow sham adds softness to any bedroom ensemble. A novice sewer has the skills to make one, and they can be constructed of a variety of fabrics and combinations. Try a plaid body and floral ruffle, or a striped body and polka-dot ruffle for a little girl’s room. The possibilities are endless.

Cut one piece of fabric equal to the width and length of the pillow plus 1-1/2 inches. Width is the measurement from left to right, length is the measurement from top to bottom.

Cut two pieces of fabric equal to half the width of the front piece plus eight inches. Lay these two pieces side by side, right side to the table. Turn the right edge of the left-hand piece toward the wrong side 1/2 inch twice, press and stitch close to the inside fold. Turn the left edge of the other piece toward the wrong side of the fabric 1/2 inch twice, press and stitch close to the folded inside edge. Fold again three inches toward the wrong side and press.

Overlap the left-hand piece onto the right-hand piece until the widths across the top and bottom are equal, and the same as the width of the front cut piece. Pin the two pieces together and stitch through all the layers of the overlaps, 1/4 inch from the raw edges.

Calculate the length of the ruffle piece needed by adding twice the width plus twice the length of the front fabric cut pieces, and multiplying the result by three. This will produce a full ruffle of three times fullness.

Cut the width of the ruffle piece equal to the required ruffle width plus 1/2 inch for seam allowance, doubled. Sew sections of fabric together as necessary to create the ruffle strip.

Fold the strip in half, lengthwise, match the long edges and press. Open the fold at the ends and sew the two ends of the strip to create one continuous strip. Press the seam open and refold on the length-wise pressed line. Stay-stitch 1/4 inch from the raw edge, through both layers of fabric all along the long edge of the strip.

Fasten one end of dental floss to a safety pin and fasten it to the raw edge of the ruffle. Unravel the floss from its spool as you lay it on the ruffle, 1/2 inch from the raw edge and zig-zag stitch over it. Use a zig-zag as small as possible without stitching on the floss, and attach the floss to the entire length of the ruffle. Leave 12 inches extra and cut the floss, attaching it to another safety pin.

Add twice the width of the front fabric piece to twice the length. This is the length of the ruffle required.

Grasp the long end of the dental floss in one hand and gently push the ruffle into gathers with your left hand. Continue until the strip measures the required length.

Align the raw edges of the ruffle to the raw edges of the right side of the front of the pillow and pin in place, adjusting the gathers as necessary. Sew the ruffle to the front piece using the 1/2-inch seam allowance. Position the back fold-over section, right side to right side, onto the front section and stitch together, using the previous 1/2-inch sewn seam as a guide. Serge or zig zag the seam to prevent raveling.

Turn the sham right side out and press.


  • Always pre-launder the fabric in the same way as the finished item will be cleaned to prevent shrinkage. Look for wide, pre-gathered lace to use as ruffles in a baby’s room. Use two ruffles, one narrower than the other, for further interest.

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