Sewing pillowcase shams without those fussy edges

I’ve always loved the European bed look which features pillows and shams minus that extra edge of fabric that seems to constitute the American take on pillow shams. There is something so clean and pretty about a simple envelope pillow. I wanted something clean and uncluttered for my Lorax applique.

For those who haven’t read The Lorax by Dr. Seuss with your children, it is one of the best eco-education books out there. I’ll come back to The Lorax from a homeschooling perspective next week. Pinky-swear. But now back to the shams.


  • Fabric yardage
  • Applique or ornament (if you are like me and can’t help but see a tree)
  • Needle, thread, and/or machine


To make edge-free pillow shams, I started with Sky Turtle’s 5 minute envelope pillowcase tutorial and modified from there. I decided to make shams for standard pillows, which measure 20″ x 26″. If you choose to make shams for a different size pillow, US measurements run as follows:

Queen Pillow 20″ x 30″

King Pillow 20″ x 36″

European or Continental Pillow 26″ x 26″

Boudoir Pillow 12″ x 16″

Since my pillow was a 20 x 26 inch square, I added 2 inches to that base (22 x 28) and then cut a rectangle that was 2.5 times long and one time wide. That means my rectangle was 56 inches long and 20 inches wide.

After changing a diaper, I took a few minutes to hem the two sides of the rectangle. I decided to double fold the edges and use a zig zag stitch to match the materials and general style of the shams.

Then I sewed the applique (a Dr. Seuss collage mounted on natural linen) to the center of the front outside pillow face using a zig zag stitch. (I’ve been on a bit of a zigzag binge lately….)

After adding the applique, I laid the fabric out flat with the outside facing up towards me (Skyturtle has great images) and folded the fabric from the outside to the center, slipping one hemmed edge under the other. I made sure my I had a 4 inch fabric overlap at the edges and then pinned.

I used my zigzag stitch (again) to sew the edges together. Then I flipped the pillowcase outside in and blew a kiss to Skyturtle.

I still haven’t decided whether to run a stitch along the entire sham edge for a more finished look. It fits a standard pillow so perfectly now that I’d hate to make it too snug. Opinions?

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