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Everything Old Is New Again with Fabric.com: Seersucker Flanged Pillow Shams

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Keep It Crisp -- that's our seersucker slogan! It's day three of the Everything Old is New Again series, sponsored by Fabric.com, and we continue our rippling romance with seersucker. Today we pair its crisp, fresh stripes with solid cotton twill to create a pair of pillow shams. Ours feature a pretty mitered flange and rick rack to frame the snow white center. If you've never tried mitered corners as a outer frame, we think you'll be pleasantly surprised by how easy we've made it to understand.

The seersucker for this project and all the others comes from our friends and Series' sponsor, Fabric.com. They have a marvelous selection of seersuckers from which to choose: from classic stripes and ginghams to bold plaids, checks and specialty stripes. Check out Monday's ruffled pillows in a set of four delicious sherbet colors.

One of the things we really appreciate about the Fabric.com site is the amount of information provided about each fabric. They tell you fabric content, width, weight, care instructions, vertical and horizontal repeat dimensions, the manufacturer, and how many yards are left in stock. This makes putting together your fabric order so much easier!

The Fabric.com Everything Old is New Again series continues over the next several weeks with more "forgotten fabrics," such as: delicate eyelet, rich linen, traditional toile, flirty little floral prints, and crisp white cottons; as well as some of the vintage sewing techniques used to put all the pretty pieces together, like shirring and hemstitching. We've taken all this old-fashioned goodness and whipped it up in a wonderful new ways.

NOTE: When ironing seersucker, you want to press down, but don't rub the iron back and forth too much.  You don't want to iron out the puckers - just the wrinkles and fold lines.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

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Fabric and supplies listed are for TWO pillow shams to fit standard 20" x 26" bed pillows.

Getting Started

The seersucker should be cut so the lines are all running on the vertical. The yardage above was figured with this in mind. Keep this in mind as you make your cuts; all the "height" measurements should be on the vertical.

  1. From the seersucker, cut the following:
    TWO 21" high x 16" wide rectangles
    TWO 21" high x 17" wide rectangles
    FOUR 5" high x 31" wide rectangles
    FOUR 5" high x 25" wide rectangles
    NOTE: You could also cut 5" strips across the width of the fabric, then cut these strips into four 31" lengths and four 25" lengths.
  2. From the white twill, cut TWO 21" x 27" rectangles.
  3. Cut the rick rack in FOUR 22" lengths and FOUR 28" lengths.
  4. Cut the grosgrain ribbon into EIGHT 22" lengths.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Attach the rick rack to the front

  1. Find the two white rectangles and the eight lengths of rick rack.
  2. We often describe rick rack as having hills and valleys or waves. When applying rick rack into a seam, you want the stitch line to go right down the center of the trim so the hills (or the crest of the waves) are revealed and valleys (the crash of the waves) are in the seam.
  3. Our rick rack was 1" wide, which meant we placed it on the fabric with the "hills" flush with the raw edge of the fabric. Our ½" seam allowance then went down the exact center of the rick rack. If your rick rack is a different size, adjust it accordingly in order to insure an even reveal from the ½" seam line.
  4. Place a 22" length of rick rack along each 21" side of the fabric. Place a 28" length of rick rack along each 27" side of the fabric. Overlap the trim in the corners. The rick rack is intentionally longer than the fabric so you can match and adjust the overlap of the valleys as shown; this will give you lovely square corners. Pin in place. Trim away the excess rick rack.
  5. Using a ½" seam allowance, machine baste in place.
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    NOTE: We used a slightly different color thread (and ivory) in the bobbin. Later, this will allow us to better see this original seam line and re-stitch along it with flange.
  6. When the seam allowances are pressed and the rick rack edge is exposed you will see a clean wave pattern (sneak peek photo below).
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Prepare the back panels

  1. Our shams have an overlapping envelope back with ribbon ties.
  2. Find the two 17" x 21" back panels and the 16" x 21 back panels.
  3. Pair up the panels so each pair includes one 17 panel and one 16" panel.
  4. Along one 21" edge of one 17" x 21" rectangle, make a simple ½" double turned hem. To do this fold back and press ½". Fold back another ½" and press again. Stitch the hem in place, staying close to the first fold line.
  5. Repeat on the second 17" x 21" panel.
  6. Along one 21" edge of one 16" x 21" rectangle, make a wide double turned hem. To do this fold back and press ½". Fold back additional 2" and press again. Stitch the hem in place, staying close to the first fold line.
  7. Repeat on the second 16" x 21" panel.
  8. If you are new to hemming, take a look at our tutorial: How To Make A Simple Hem.
    NOTE: In the photo below, the strip of white paper is simply to better show the narrow hem. It's just a scrap of paper.
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Attach the ribbons

  1. Place each of the back panel pairs right side up and flat on your work surface. The hemmed edges of the panels should be facing each other, but not overlapped.
  2. Place your tape measure vertically on one panel with the end of the tape flush with the top of the panel. This tape measure and your seam gauge will be your guides for ribbon placement.
  3. The top edge of the top ribbon should be 7½" down from the top raw edge of the panel. The bottom edge of the bottom ribbon should be 7½" up from the bottom raw edge of the panel. This should then make the two ribbons 6" apart in the middle, from inside edge to inside edge. One raw edge of each ribbon should be flush with the outside edge of its panel, which will leave excess ribbon in the center to tie the bows. Place a few pins to hold the ribbons in place.
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  4. From the raw/outside end of each ribbon, measure in 12". Place a pin at this point. There should be no other pins beyond this 12" point. Pin all four ribbons securely in place (two on each panel).
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  5. Thread your machine with thread to match the ribbon in the top and thread to match the seersucker in the bobbin.
  6. Edgestitch the ribbon in place: sew up one side to the 12" pin, pivot, sew across the ribbon, pivot again, sew down the opposite side. Repeat for each ribbon.
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  7. Overlap the ribbon-stitched panels and check the width. It should be 26" and you should have four long ribbon tails in the middle from which you'll make your bows.
  8. At the top and bottom, where the two pieces overlap, hand or machine baste the pieces together within the seam allowance. This will help hold the two panels together when you sew the pillow front to the pillow back.
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  9. For now, it would also be handy to simply gather up the ribbon tails and pin them towards the middle of the back panel to keep them out of the way of the final seam. You could also tie them in a temporary bow to keep them out of the way.
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  10. Repeat all these steps for the remaining seersucker rectangles to add the ribbons to the back panels of second pillow sham.

Create the flange

  1. Find TWO of the 5"x 31" seersucker strips and TWO 5" x 25" seersucker strips.
  2. Fold each strip in half lengthwise and press to create a center crease.
    NOTE: The center crease lines will be important in helping to create the mitered corners on the flange.
  3. Open up the strips with the fold facing down.
  4. Bring in each corner in to meet the center crease line at a 45° angle, creating a point at each end of the strip. Just like the first steps in making a paper airplane.
  5. Press the point in place.
    NOTE: Remember our caution from above about pressing: press down, but do not rub the iron back and forth too much. You just want to press a light crease, you don't want to iron out the puckers.
  6. Open the pressed points. Trim away the corners along the pressed fold lines, leaving a clean point.
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  7. Place the pointed strips flat on your work surface in the basic shape it will become: longer strips top and bottom, shorte]r strips on the sides (remember, you have two sets of strips for two pillow shams). The next step is to pin the points together, end to end.
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  8. Start in one corner; we chose the upper right. Unfold the top strip's right corner point and the right side strip's top corner point. Place the points right sides together, aligning the two diagonal sides. Be sure not to twist the strips, they all need to be right sides together. Use the center crease lines to help you keep track of which are the right sides.
  9. Use your fabric pen and seam gauge to mark a point ½" in from the bottom of the diagonal on either side of the point. These are your start and stop marks for your ½" seam.
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  10. Using a ½" seam allowance, sew each point. Start at one side of the corner at your mark, sew to the point, stop with the needle down in the crease line, pivot, then continue to sew down the opposite side of the corner to the stop mark.
  11. Trim away the tip of the point, but be careful to not cut into your stitching.
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  12. Pinch and pull the point apart so the seam runs down the center on both sides. Press the seam open and flat on both sides.
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  13. Turn the newly mitered corner right side out. Press in place. There will ½" loose at the inside corner; this will become part of your seam allowance.
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  14. Repeat these same steps for the remaining three corners of the flange to create the finished mitered frame.
  15. Place the flange right side together with the center piece (to which you've already attached the rick rack).
  16. Starting in one corner, begin to pin the flange. You want the miter seam of the flange to be aligned with the corner of the rick rack center piece. To do this, you will need to make a pleat at each corner. This will enable you to turn the corner smoothly when sewing.
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  17. Pin all four corners first, then pin the top, bottom and sides.
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  18. Using a ½" seam allowance, sew the flange in place. At each corner, you will need to sew right into the corner, stopping in line with the miter seam with the needle in the down position, pivot, then continue down the next side.
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    NOTE: Another option, which we introduced in our Cornering Tutorial is to use the same ½" seam allowance, but stitch just up to the first tiny pleat, pivot 45°, sew a few stitches across the corner at a diagonal to the next tiny pleat, stop with the needle down, pivot 45˚ again, then continue sewing along the next side.
  19. Place the pillow back right sides together with the pillow front, sandwiching the flange in between the layers. Be sure to tuck in the flange, especially at the corners (we suggest pinning these out of the way). You don't want to catch the corners in the seam.
  20. Put the pillow front on top so you can sew along your previous line of rick rack stitching (following along in that slightly different colored original line of basting).
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  21. Using a ½" seam allowance, sew around all four sides of the pillow sham.
  22. Turn right side out through the opening in the back.
  23. Pull out the flange all around and press.
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  24. Insert the pillow form.
  25. Tie the ribbons together into a bow, check your length and trim the ends if necessary.
  26. Untie the ribbons. Make a tiny double turn hem to finish the raw end of each ribbon. To do this, fold back the end ¼" and press, then fold back another ¼" and press again. Stitch the fold in place.
  27. Repeat these same steps to finish second sham.
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Project Design: Alicia Thommas   
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Kathy Andrews, What Sew Ever



Comments (12)

Kristen said:
Kristen's picture

What size of pillow are these adorable shames made for? I am tyring to figure out how to work the dimentions for a 24"x24" pillow

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@Kristen - Thanks! As mentioned above the supplies list, these shams are made to fit standard 20" x 26" bed pillows.

Joannie said:
Joannie's picture

Great Tutorial -- thank you SO much. Mine turned out super cute (even though they aren't perfect)... I love them.

Very Pottery Barn in ivory quilted fabric.

Tina said:
Tina 's picture

These shams are adorable.  Don't try them unless you are more experienced than I am.  Luckily, I did one at a time.  Everything was great until I put the mitered frame on.  It was downhill from then on.  All of my corners were puckered.  The pictures were perfect.  I'm just not that experienced of a seamstress.  I spent three days on it.  Now, with an aching back, I will try something more simple.  The instructions were clear.  The problem was with my inexperience.

tarynbritches said:
tarynbritches's picture
Oooh, the Woven Cotton Seersucker Stripes Grey/White would be perfect for something I am working on now.
MomoG said:
MomoG's picture
I think this project is my favorite out of all the projects you've ever done. If downsized, the fabrics and tailored details would be perfect for a baby boy's room. I love the sweet serenity of the clean and simple look for an adult too - ME!
lizziejohns said:
lizziejohns's picture
I also love seersucker and you've given us another wonderful tutorial for making pillows Thanks.
Gladys Restle said:
Gladys Restle's picture
I love the seersucker and the ideas you've come up with. I have always loved seersucker and have two summer robes made of it. Also love rickrack. I can remember when I was a little girl and my mother made me a beautiful blue feedsack dress trimmed in rickrack. I cried and cried when I outgrew it and had to give it to my little sister.
tsetsgee said:
tsetsgee's picture
Looks pretty, I like ric racsmilies/smiley.gif And so creat cornering tutorial. Thank you.