Pillow Shams with Flange

I have a problem. I make things up in my head that I decide I need and then go out shopping for it and then get super frustrated that I can’t find it. That’s a sign of a creative genius. Just kidding, I made that up, too. So, pillow shams, easy enough to find, but, they aren’t always exactly what I’m looking for, so I decided to make some. I wanted some with flange (which totally sounds like a dirty word) so I did some searching and found a video tutorial that looked pretty promising. Until she started talking about cutting fabric on the bias. I’ve wasted enough fabric on flubbed bias cuts that I know not to attempt it again without my grandmother’s supervision. I also wanted the flange to be stiff, I mean, who doesn’t love a stiff flange?

Here we go.


For the front of the sham, I used quilting cotton for softy-comfort and for the back pieces I used a heavyweight white canvas to keep that flange standing at attention. As it should be.

First decide how big you would like your flange (ew), and then use the formula below which allows for a half inch seam allowance:


For example, my pillows were 34″ x 17″


I cut the fabric for the front of my shams at 41″ x 24″. Since this is an envelope style pillow, the back will be in two pieces. To get the measurement for the back pieces, divide the length by two and add five to ONE side. Yeah, I know that 41″ divided by two is 20.5″ and not 20″, but I like to round to make it less confusing for my tiny brain. So, these were my cuts.


Take your largest back piece (the 25″ x 24″ one) and hem one of the short sides about an inch. This will be the one that shows on the outside of the “envelope”. For the other back piece, hem one short side by about 1/2 – 1/4 “, or you can serge it to finish the edge – this edge will be on the inside of the “envelope” and will not show, you just want to finish the edge to prevent fraying.


Lay your front fabric right side up and then place your larger back piece on top with right side facing down and hem toward the middle. Then place your smaller back piece on top of that, right side down. Line up the edges so that they all match and you have a slight overlap in the middle.


Pin in place and sew all the way around using a half inch seam allowance.


Turn the sham right side out, press and re-pin


With right side down, mark where you will be sewing your flange.


Mine was 3″ wide, so I marked at 3″ all the way around with the James Bond of sewing notions, an Air Erasable Fabric Marking Pen, which you can pick up just about anywhere fabric is sold.


Using these marks as your guide, sew all the way around the sham. When you get to a corner, put your needle down, lift the presser foot and rotate the sham 90 degrees and keep going until you’ve sewn all the way around, making sure to back stitch. Iron the sham.


Okay, so, remember the video lady that I said was talking about bias cuts? She was using those for her flange, but I just faked it. Once you’ve sewn all the way around, go back to each corner and sew from the inside seam out to the corner, making sure to back stitch.


This is what it should look like when you’re done. To add a little extra stand-up-ness to your flange, hit it with some heavy starch on both front and back, and iron.


Pop your pillow in there and you’re done. These two took me about an hour to finish.


Ignore the unpainted Rast dressers, I haven’t gotten that far with the bedroom yet. I did, however, pick up this amazing couch for a steal at a nearby moving sale.


I love it so much that I just want to rub my flange all over it.

Wait, what?


The teal and white pillows are made from a HomeGoods fabric shower curtain using this tutorial, the weird hand by the lamp is also from HomeGoods, the lamps are a thrift score that you can check out here and the pom pom pillow and headboard will both be up on the blog soon.


Wishing you many stiff and beautiful flanges.



  1. Ruth says

    I’ve never heard them called flanges before! How funny. ‘Oxford pillowcase’ is how I’ve always known them.

    • says

      Hi, Ruth! I had no idea what they were called. I went to Google and typed in “Pillow Shams with” and the word “flange” popped up. I checked out the images to verify that was what I was thinking of and it was, so I just went with that. Oxford Pillowcase sounds much more classy.

  2. says

    Oh man – this is just in time. I was literally YESTERDAY just thinking how do you make that extra little thing on the outside of a sham? (Because I definitely did not know it was called a flange, which is kind of a gross sounding word). Thank you!


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