DIY Pleated Pillow Sham

By Kate Riley February 13, 2012

Hello all, happy Monday!  I’m slowly working on redoing my 8 year old daughter’s room, it will be shades of gray, white, and yellow with some blue too.  I bought her a new matelassé coverlet for the end of her bed but beyond white sheets and a white duvet, I couldn’t find a pleated pillow sham that I like so I decided to make her one out of simple cotton fabric.

pleated pillow sham labeled


Two weeks ago I bought myself a new sewing machine after my old (and very basic) Singer started acting up.  I thought cleaning it would help, it did a little, but it was in need of a repair, so I took it in to have it looked at. The estimate to repair it was slightly more than the trade in amount so I decided it was time to invest in an upgrade – I plan to do a lot more sewing in my life so after trying a half dozen machines in the store, I decided on the Singer Quantum Stylist and can I just say Oh Em Gee sewing with this machine is a dream.

Its rays of awesomeness radiate from within.

singer rays of awesomeness


It’s quiet.  It’s easy to use – I had a bobbin ready in like 45 seconds, because of the easy to read numerical step-by-step directions on the machine.

thread a bobbin


It also has the most wonderful invention in the universe, a needle threader.  A needle threader!  Where have you been all my life, I died and went to sewing heaven.  I push a lever and it actually threads the needle for me, no more licking the end of the thread and squinting to work it through the needle, oh no. I could just kiss the person who came up with this idea.

needle threader


The machine has like 600 different stitches and just the Greek key stitch alone has me dreaming up new projects.  But I won’t go on an on today, you’ll hear more as I get to know it better, but it’s so nice to be sewing with such a dream machine.

Back to the pleated pillow sham, if you want to stitch one up yourself, you’ll need 60” inches of 44” wide basic cotton fabric.

Here’s how I divided the 44” x 60” cotton fabric for a standard size sham:

fabric pieces


Part A is the front and measures 22” x 33”, parts B and C are the back and measure 17” x 22”. Parts D and E measure 5” x 54” and Part F is 5” x 44” – those three 5” wide strips come together to form the pleat.

To start, prewash your cotton fabric then cut your pieces as shown.  Roll under and pin one of the the 22” sides of both pieces B and C then hem to form the edges for for the back closure.

hem back pieces


Stitch together the ends of pieces D, E, and F to form one longer strip, then fold the 5” strips in half and press with an iron for a crisp edge.

press strips


Slowly work the long strip of pressed fabric through the sewing machine tucking the fabric with a fold every inch and a half to form the pleat.

hem pleat


You will end up with a strip of pleats long enough to wrap around the sham.

perfect pleats 2


At this point you can pin it all together inside out and stitch it together with the sewing machine.  I chose instead to first attach the pleat to piece A instead of all at once.

attach pleat


Once the pleat was attached to piece A, I pinned the top piece of part B to the back then stitched it together.  With this method, you have to flip the A fabric underneath as you turn the corners.  Repeat same method for piece C.

pin top before sewing


In the end, you’ll have an opening in the back of the pillow sham where you can slide the pillow insert in and out.

back of sham


That’s all there is to it… your own custom decorative pleated pillow sham!

pleated pillow sham cg

pleats up close

pleated pillow sham on bed cg


If you’re sewing a Euro sham or King size sham I imagine you’ll need at least 2 yards, but how fun is the possibility of making your own pleated pillow shams with any fabric you love.  Enjoy!




  1. Great fabric and great tutorial. Glad you’re enjoying your new sewing machine. I just got a new machine for Christmas and it’s the best. It’s amazing how much they have improved them.

    • Hey Bethany, I sewed it together where it met on the backside so you can see the small seam at the bottom but only from the back, hope this answers your question, probably should have included that in the step by step!

  2. If you plan on doing more pleats or ruffles invest in ruffler foot! It’s the most fantastic thing EVER! It will pleat and ruffle your fabric for you! Just have to attach the foot and sew! AWESOME!

    • Say what? There is such a thing as a pleat and ruffle foot? These inventions amaze me, must investigate further, thank you thank you Jayme!

  3. Thanks so much for the tutorial ~ haven’t tried pleats yet, but this looks easy-peasy! Would love to know where you got the fabric…so pretty!

  4. Thanks for the clear instructions – those pleated shams are surprisingly spendy. I have (just a little) envy for your beautiful new machine. My vintage 1968 Kenmore is still going strong but the new ones are sure pretty and talented!

  5. Is it just me or is there a typo in the tutorial? You posted two different measurements for “f”. But overall this is great and helpful thanks!!!

  6. Beautiful!
    I got a new machine last year, and until I found chalk paint a few months ago, literally sewed 24/7, so I understand your excitement.
    There is a pleating foot attachment that I bought, and seriously OMG! What a wonder!
    I love the grey, white and yellow….(Sarah of Sarah’s House uses it all the time…)
    Keep up the great work, want to see the room when it’s done!!

  7. Beautiful fabric + your impressive sewing skills + that awesome new machine = the perfect pillow!
    My old machine has a needle threader too…its called a magnifying glass!! Ha!
    Thanks for the tutorial – love the pleats.

  8. So pretty! My girls would LOVE those. Now I just need to get over my sewing machine phobia. :)
    We’ve started our bedroom makeover, btw. I’m super nervous about its current state of insane disarray, but you’ve given me the courage to press forward!

    • Hi Jessica, it’s by Andover fabrics and the name is ‘Birds of a Feather’ – I found it at a local quilting shop!

  9. I have a wonderful sewing machine that’s become the main dust collector in our bedroom. I am just so intimidated by it, even though I know it’s a million times easier than my old one. When I finally get the nerve to use it, this will be a good project for me.

  10. ooh, that’s so pretty. i love the fabric! now all you need is a ruffler foot! i’ve had one forever, but just finally started to tinker with it this week. it’s seriously addicting!

  11. Congrats on the new sewing machine. How weird all are of us sewers that get so excited over a new machine! I really like the fabric you picked and of all the things (like probably a thousand) I have made, I have never pleated anything this particular way. Looks great!

  12. The sham is beautiful, Kate! I think you are able to master anything you put your mind to! Very pretty fabric and I am a ruffle/pleat gal. I bet your daughter is excited having her room redecorated.

  13. Oh I love this! Where did you find this fabric and what color matelassé coverlet did you find? I love using matelassé instead of a duvet and I’ve been looking for a light grey one to use in my bedroom with no luck. Would love to check out this fabric to see if it would go with my other fabrics in the bedroom. Thanks!

  14. Really great fabric and your end result is beautiful. I think even with my limited sewing abilities may even try this since you provided such a great tutorial-thanks!

  15. You are very inspiring! The pillow is beautiful and one of a kind. Thanks for such a great website. I look forward to logging in each day!

  16. Ooooooh I want one! I have fits and starts of where I need to be creating at any time. I made biscuits this morning and am painting my desk tonight but boy am I yearning to get sewing.

    Fab inspiration as always.

    On another note…. I wish we had the kind of natural daylight you have, here in the UK. It’s just grey, grey, grey!!!

  17. Recently found your website and I love it! I am a sewer, love fabrics and bought a new machine after years of struggling with my mom’s old one. Mine is a Janome and I am in love with it too. Your Singer looks like a great machine. Isn’t it just the best to have a machine that just hums along with no complaints? Love your pillow shams. Great choice of fabric!

  18. The self-threader is the BEST! Especially for someone who now needs glasses to read the labels at the grocery store. ~sigh~ Great looking sham- I love the look of pleated ruffles. Yes, you can buy a ruffling/pleating foot for your machine. I had one for my old machine, haven’t bought one for my newest one yet. It’s a little tricky to get the right settings, though, at least for me.

  19. I have been reading every post for months now and you are totally inspiring! I’m sorry it’s taken me this long to tell you. From one creative soul to another, Thank you so much !

  20. Thanks so much for the tutorial! I am planning to make a new duvet for my bed, but had no idea where to start when it came to the matching shams. This will make a wonderful project!

  21. Hi Kate,

    I’m just getting ready to make this pillow sham and I’m wondering how much you overlapped the pleats as you were making them? It looks like maybe about 1/4 – 1/2″ but you don’t really say. Any help would be appreciated.


  22. Hi Kate,

    Thank you for your detailed instructions and also information about your new sewing machine. I am in the market to replace a very old Elna sewing machine and wanted to ask you if you think the Singer Quantum Stylist would be able to sew on light weight leather or suede, as I am thinking about replacing a suede cushion with a new vibrant suede. The cushion has sewn edging and is one of those loose type of cushions, which sits at the back of a lounge chair for full back support.

    I have read up on the features of the Quantum Stylist and it sounds like it will do so much, but I would like to make sure it can handle something as heavy as the suede. Thanks so much!

    • Hi Magdalena, I’ve only worked with the Singer QS on thin cotton so to be frank, I don’t know but it is a high quality machine and should be able to handle those thicker fabrics like suede.

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