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Pretty Prints Please: Butterfly Pillow Shams

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Pillow shams are a pretty way to keep things tidy up top. Bigger than a toss pillow, they not only contain a regular size bed pillow inside, they're large enough to cover up other pillows in regular pillowcases underneath. Our four-patch shams mirror the design of the Pretty Prints Please Butterfly Duvet. But of course, you can create your own design to match your room, someone's favorite colors, or even to celebrate a favorite hobby or animal or school: patchwork ponies or volleyballs or team mascots.

Our shams are sized for standard size bed pillows, which makes the finished dimension of each 26" x 20" with a back envelope closure.

All the Pretty Prints Please projects were made using fabrics from the collections of seven fabulous fabric designers: Amy Butler, Valori Wells, Anna Maria Horner, Erin McMorris, Tina Givens, Sandi Henderson and Paula Prass. Their beautiful prints were accented with turquoise and zebra fleece and a pink designer solid from Free Spirit. To see how we developed our mix-and-match, teen-friendly palette, read our article: Tips For Mixing Prints.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

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Fabric amounts shown are for TWO shams.

  • Fabric for pillow front panels:
    Large Cut: ½ yard of 45" wide fabric, we used: Valori Wells' Del Hi in Tango – Ruby
    Medium Cut: ½ yard of 45" wide fabric, we used: Tina Givens' Butterfly in Fuchsia
    Small Cut: ¼ yard of 45" wide fabric, we used: Erin McMorris' Wildwood in Modern Vine – Fuchsia
    Strip: Large scrap of fleece or other contrasting fabric, we used: turquoise fleece
  • Fabric for pillow back panels: 1 yard 45" wide fabric, we used: Free Spirit Designer Solids Quilting Weight in Pink
  • 2 standard 26" x 20" bed pillows
  • All purpose thread
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pencil
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Straight pins

Getting Started

A reminder again that these instructions make TWO shams.

  1. From the fabric for the large cut (Valori Wells' Del Hi in Tango – Ruby in our sample), cut two rectangles of fabric, 16" x 21".
  2. From the fabric for the medium cut (Tina Givens' Butterfly in Fuchsia in our sample), cut two rectangles of fabric, 12" x 13". If you are using a directional print like ours, make sure the pattern is running the right way. In our sample, we wanted the butterflies flying up.
  3. From the fabric for the small cut (Erin McMorris' Wildwood in Modern Vine – Fuchsa in our sample), cut two rectangles of fabric, 12" x 6".
  4. From the fabric scraps for the strip (turquoise fleece in our sample), cut two rectangles of fabric, 12" x 4".
  5. For the back panels (Free Spirit Designer Solids Quilting Weight in Pink in our sample), cut two pieces 21" x 17½".

    Diagram

The back of our pillow has an "envelope closure," which is simply two hemmed and overlapped panels. It's the easiest kind of closure to make and one of our most popular techniques.

The opening on the back of your finished pillow should be at the center of the LONGEST side of your pillow. For our example, our pillow is a horizontal rectangle , so we want the opening at the middle of the longer side, which means in the diagram below, width is the shorter side and height is the longer side. Follow these formulas to create a back pattern piece if your pillow size is different than what we've specified:

Height of cut piece = ½ finished pillow height + ½" (bottom edge seam allowance) + 2" (extension amount) + 2" (for double turn hem edge).
Width of cut piece = full finished pillow width + 1" (½" seam allowance on both sides).
In our example, the formulas would look like this:
Height of our cut piece = 13" + ½" + 2" + 2" = 17½"
Width of our cut piece= 20" + 1" = 21

Diagram

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Create the three-piece panel

  1. Take one small cut and one strip cut and pin, right sides together, along one 12" side, matching raw edges.
  2. Stitch together, using a ½" seam allowance. Press seams flat. If you're using fleece, keep your iron away from it as much as possible as you can damage the nap with heat.
  3. Take the medium cut and pin it, right sides together, to the two-piece unit you just created, along the raw 12" side of the strip piece. Match raw edges.
  4. Stitch together, using a ½" seam allowance. Press seams flat.
  5. You now have a finished panel 12" x 21". If need be, trim the outside edges so they are flush and straight.
    Diagram
  6. Repeat steps 1 - 5 for the second sham.

Complete the front

  1. Take the large cut and pin it, right sides together, to the completed three-piece panel along one 21" side. Make sure any directional prints are going the right way. For example, in our sample the butterflies need to be flying UP. Match raw edges.
    Click to Enlarge
  2. Stitch together, using a ½" seam allowance. Press seams flat.
  3. You now have a completed sham front, measuring 27" x 21".
    Diagram
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 for the second sham.

Create the sham back

  1. Take one piece of your backing fabric, and turn under the right side of the fabric ½" along the entire width of the piece (the 21" side in our sample). Press.
  2. Fold under an additional 1½" and press.
  3. Stitch this hem down, sewing close to the inside fold.
    Diagram
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 with the other piece of backing fabric.
  5. Take both pieces and overlap the hems to yield the correct finished height (27" in our sample). Pin hems together.
    Diagram
  6. Working as close to the edge as possible, stitch the sides of hems together to secure and create one piece. It's easier to work with one piece to stitch front to back.
    Diagram
  7. Repeat for the second sham.

Finish the sham

  1. Place the sham top right sides together with the sham back.
  2. Pin in place.
  3. Stitch around all four edges.
  4. Trim all four corners.
  5. Using the envelope opening on the back, turn the sham right side out. Push out the trimmed corners from the inside to make nice, square corners on the outside. Use your finger or a blunt edge tool, like a large knitting needle.
  6. Insert the pillow and fluff out the corners.
  7. Repeat for the second sham.

Hints and Tips

When stitching dissimilar fabrics (like the cotton and fleece we use in this project), always stitch with the problem fabric on the bottom.

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Contributors
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Kathy Andrews, What Sew Ever

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