Category Archives: Home Decor Sewing School Series

Home Decor Sewing School | How to Sew Half-Square Triangles

Even though everyone (likely) has Christmas on the brain right now, I wanted to pop in with my next Home Decor Sewing School tutorial! I’ve actually been blown away how popular these tutorials have been in recent months, and I am so excited to hear that I’ve motivated and encouraged some of you to actually tackle some simple sewing projects. I’ve said it each time, so I’ll just repeat it again: I’m not an expert sewer (by any stretch!); but over the years, I have learned and “mastered” some basic sewing techniques that allow me to not only make things for our own homes, but others’ as well! These are projects that people may look at and think “I could never do that.” But once you see how truly easy they are, hopefully you’ll be more inclined to give them a try. So far, we’ve covered how to sew piping, pillow shams, and boxed corners. Today, we are dipping our toe into quilting, and I am going to show you how to sew half-square triangles.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

What Is a Half-Square Triangle?

The “half-square triangle” or HST is a term you may or may not have heard before; but I guarantee you’ve seen them (even if you are just a casual quilt admirer). When put together into larger patterns, they can create some pretty spectacular effects; but in isolation, they are exactly as the title suggests: two triangles that come together to form a square.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

I love the HST for so many reasons. First and foremost, as you will soon see, they are so stinkin’ fast and easy to make! If you need to whip together an amazing quilt in short order, the HST is your very best friend. And second, they are the foundation to some of the most spectacular quilt patterns. The squares can be rotated and combined to create a variety of effects. In fact, I’ve used HSTs to make two very different quilts already shown here on the blog:

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

HERRINGBONE QUILTWILD GREEN QUILT

Do you see the HSTs in the above quilts? Sometimes they can be tricky to pick out depending on how the colors are used and the optical illusion the fabrics create. The picture below might help:

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

And these two are just the tip of the iceberg! The HST can be used in countless ways. Here are just some quick examples, but check out HERE for loads of ideas!

Half-Square Triangle Quilt Ideas

If you look at some quilts you love and focus in on the basic element, you might find they are indeed just HSTs put together in a really cool way!

What You Need

Hopefully, I now have you convinced that the HST is a quilt technique worth learning and mastering. Now I’m going to show you how easy they are to sew together! Here is what you need to sew HSTs:

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

*affiliate links used

  1. Self-healing cutting mat
  2. Cutting ruler
  3. Square ruler (optional, but SO handy)
  4. Rotary cutter
  5. 1/4″ quilting foot for your sewing machine (optional, but SO handy)
  6. Fabric pen
  7. Thread
  8. Fabric

Just a quick note on #5, the 1/4″ quilting foot for your sewing machine. In quilting, a majority of seams are 1/4″. You can certainly sew these seams with a careful eye and a regular presser foot. However, once my Mom gave me the 1/4″ foot, I was amazed at how much easier it was to get consistent seams on my quilt blocks. Your’s may not look like this (each machine’s feet have a different look), but most (I think) will have a guide that is perfectly measured at 1/4″.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Here’s the foot on my machine. The red lines on either side of the guide are exactly 1/4″ out, meaning I can use this foot to sew on either side/direction! Check the manual to your specific sewing machine to learn more about your 1/4″ foot. They are usually just a couple dollars and are worth investing in!

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Before you can sew up the HSTs, you need to cut your fabric down into squares. What size squares you need to cut are outlined in the two different tutorials below. At this time, I am not going to go into the various patterns/effects you can create with different fabrics. You can use the images above to decide a pattern you like (or Google “Half-Square Triangle Quilt Patterns”) and figure out how to lay out your squares from there. Just note that each HST is made out of two different fabrics. So if you want a red and white finished HST, start with one red square and one white square.

TIP! I find it easiest to do all these steps (cut, then sew, then cut, then iron, etc) in batches, so take the time to cut down all your fabric(s) into squares before moving on.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

The Half-Square Triangle – Method 1 (Yields 2 HSTs)

There are lots of different ways to make HSTs, but all of them are based on sewing squares together and cutting them apart in different ways. This first method sews two squares together to yield 2 identical HSTs. To help you determine what size to cut your starting squares, use this handy chart:

Half-Square Triangle Measurements - Method 1

To get really precise measurements, I recommend using a rotary cutter, mat and ruler.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

For one set of HSTs: start with two squares cut to the exact same size (mine were cut to 8″ for ease) and place them on your work surface with RIGHT sides facing each other.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

On the top square (which should have the WRONG side facing up), draw a line from one corner to the opposite corner using a fabric pen.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Next, sew a line 1/4″ away on BOTH sides of the line you just drew through both squares of fabric.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

To do this, line up the guidelines on your 1/4″ foot with the pen line and stitch down the full diagonal of the squares.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

If you look carefully at the images below, you will see a line of white stitching on BOTH sides of the drawn pen line.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Next, use a ruler and rotary cutter to cut along that same pen line.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Once cut, you should be able to flip open the squares along the seams you sewed to reveal two HSTs…each made with half triangles of your two fabrics! Neat, huh?

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

The Half-Square Triangle – Method 2 (Yields 4 HSTs)

This next method also makes HSTs. But instead of creating 2 identical HSTs, it creates 4 identical HSTs…although the four are a bit smaller. Use the following chart as a general guide to determine your final square measurement using this method. (NOTE: This method doesn’t create “simple” sized HSTs; but once they are squared off, you can create the more “workable” sizes as shown.)

Half-Square Triangle Measurements - Method 2

Like above, start by trimming down the fabric to  your desired starting-sized squares. The squares used in this example are the same as above: 8″.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Also like before, place your squares right-sides-together…

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

This time however, instead of sewing on diagonal, sew the two squares together along all 4 edges (again, using a 1/4″ seam allowance).

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

This time, I used the outside guide of my 1/4″ foot along the edge of the fabric to get the correct measurement.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

With all four edges sewn shut, you will cut along BOTH diagonals this time to create the HSTs.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Just like before, once you flip each one open along the sewn seams, you will end up with four identical HSTs! How easy is that!

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Pressing the Seams

With your squares sewn and cut, there are still a few more steps you need to take before they can be assembled into a quilt. The first step is to press the seams to one side and press the whole HST flat.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Start with your triangle pointing to the left. For each HST of the same patterns, make sure the same fabric is on top (so all the seams are pressed the same way). For these grey/blue squares, I started with the blue chevron on top every time.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

First, iron the seam with the triangle shut (below left). This “sets” the seam, which essentially allows you to easily pull the top open (below right) while keeping the seam in place.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Once pulled open, iron the center seam flat.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Repeat for all the HSTs, ensuring your seams are all pointing the same direction.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Trimming Off Tails & Squaring Off

There is one final and very important step you need to take before the squares can be sewn into a quilt. If you look closely at each and every HST, they have little “tails” at the corners where they were sewn/cut. If these aren’t trimmed off, it makes for very tricky matching of seams AND bumps in your final quilt because of bulk. We need to trim those off!

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

You can certainly take a scissors and just trim them all off, but this is also a good opportunity to “square off” your HSTs. If your seams or cutting went wonky along the way, this is where you can compensate for it and make everything nice and square and identical from square to square.

You don’t HAVE to use one, but having a square ruler makes this part so much easier. Simply line up the diagonal line on the ruler with the diagonal seam on your quilt block…

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

…and then use a rotary cutter to not only trim off the tails, but trim the entire square down to your “finished square” size.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

See? No tails and a perfectly symmetrical 7.5″ square all ready to be assembled into a quilt!

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Here is a quick example of how the two methods differ a bit. Both the red/white and blue/grey started as 8″ squares. Method 1 yields 2 larger HSTs, while Method 2 yields 4 smaller squares.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Once you’ve tried and mastered this basic sewing concept, you’ll be whipping up HSTs (and ultimately quilt blocks!) in no time! These really do come together so fast. In fact, it took me less time than the John Denver and the Muppets Christmas album to sew together and cut down all these squares into HSTs!

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

With your squares all sewn, cut, and ironed, you are ready to start assembling your quilt. But this tutorial is long enough, so I’m going cut it off here for now. I’ll be busy working away on Baby’s quilt over the next few weeks and will have the second half of this installment (“How to Assemble a Basic Quilt”) for you next month! For now, here is where I am headed!

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

What has become very easy and “second nature” to me is sometimes a bit tricky to explain in step-by-step instructions like this. If something is unclear, please let me know and I’ll help you as best I can. If you’ve always wanted to try sewing a quilt…this is a great place to start. Grab some fabric (don’t worry about colors or patterns) and cut it into some squares (don’t fret over the size) and just start whipping up some HSTs. By the time you’ve got it down, I’ll be back to show you how to put it together!

Also, in the meantime, be sure to check out the other tutorials in this series by clicking on the picture!

Home Decor Sewing School | How To Make Piping for Home Decor Projects - Learn how to give your home decor projects a finished and professional look with DIY piping!Customize your bed linens and save money by making your own pillow shams! This tutorial walks you through everything you need to know!Learn the simple sewing technique for giving a flat piece of fabric boxed corners to fit over tables, cushions and more!The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

I have a long running list of other sewing tutorials that have been requested and I want to do. If there is something you’re dying to learn, be sure to let me know in the comments!

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Hope your week is off to a great start. Later this week, I’ll be sharing a look at our simple yet festive indoor holiday decor! See you soon!

Megan Signature

Home Decor Sewing School | How to Sew Boxed Corners

If you tuned into Instagram this past weekend, you saw that I spent many hours seated at my sewing machine! I’ll show you what all I made on Thursday, but today I wanted to pop in with another installment of my Home Decor Sewing School series. This series is all about breaking down common techniques and projects that are used to make basic home decor items. I am not an expert sewer, but mastering these basic techniques has allowed me to create unique and perfectly-tailored items for our home, time and time again. We’ve covered how to make piping and pillows shams. Today I want to show you how to sew boxed corners, allowing you to transform a flat piece of fabric into a 3-dimensional one that can fit onto cushions, tables, and more!

Learn the simple sewing technique for giving a flat piece of fabric boxed corners to fit over tables, cushions and more!

Some of you may be scratching your head thinking “Why is it so handy to be able to sew a box corner?” Well…mastering this one, very simple technique opens up a whole possibility of projects for your home. Even if you’re not following a specific pattern or project tutorial, understanding how to give a flat piece of fabric dimension via corner seams allows you to make really tailored fabric items such as slip covers, cushion covers, sheets, tailored table cloths, and more! Here is just a sample of projects I’ve done in our homes over the years that have all used the boxed corner technique.

Learn the simple sewing technique for giving a flat piece of fabric boxed corners to fit over tables, cushions and more!

Chair Slip Covers | Ottoman Slip Cover | Boxed Cushion Cover | Crib Sheets

Once you understand how to sew fabric together to make a simple corner seam, your eyes really will be opened to the various projects you can now do. I promise this one is a simple one…here is what you need to get started:

Learn the simple sewing technique for giving a flat piece of fabric boxed corners to fit over tables, cushions and more!

Materials Needed to Sew a Boxed Corner

*affiliate links used

  1. Fabric
  2. Coordinating thread
  3. Rotary cutting set including a self-healing mat, long ruler, and rotary cutter
  4. Square cutting ruler (optional)
  5. Pins and sewing machine (not pictured)

Measuring and Cutting Your Fabric for a Boxed Seam

I’ve shared with you all before that I’m not really one for following patterns. I like to make things up as I go; I tend to look at my item and figure out how to get the look I want. That’s why understanding this technique is so handy! But since I don’t have a specific project I’m sharing this technique for, I’m going to speak in some generic abstracts. Let’s say you want to make a tailored table cloth, an ottoman slipcover or even a stool cover, you will need to measure your specific item that you are covering as described below to figure out how much fabric you need AND exactly what dimensions to cut the fabric down to:

Learn the simple sewing technique for giving a flat piece of fabric boxed corners to fit over tables, cushions and more!

A note here on letter C – the amount needed for hem and/or seam allowance. This measurement is somewhat up to you based on what you are doing and how much of a hem/seam allowance you like to work with. If you’re making a table cloth or slip cover, a 2-3″ hem is probably sufficient. If you’re going to be attaching another piece of fabric along the bottom (to make a full cushion cover, for example) then you may need only 1/2″ extra for seam allowance. Think about your project and how much excess fabric you will need here!

Once you figure out your dimensions for your specific project as described above, cut the fabric down using a rotary cutter and ruler…

Learn the simple sewing technique for giving a flat piece of fabric boxed corners to fit over tables, cushions and more!

Next, you will need to determine how much fabric to cut away in order to make a perfectly-fitting corner seam. Use the graphic below to help you:

Learn the simple sewing technique for giving a flat piece of fabric boxed corners to fit over tables, cushions and more!

In my sample project, the item I am covering is 6″ high (B). I then decided to give myself 2 inches for hem (C). As such, I used my square ruler to cut out 8″x8″ squares from all four corners of my fabric. If you don’t have a square cutting ruler, you can use a regular ruler and a pen to mark your dimensions.

Learn the simple sewing technique for giving a flat piece of fabric boxed corners to fit over tables, cushions and more!

Next, cut out the square according to the dimensions you determined above!

Learn the simple sewing technique for giving a flat piece of fabric boxed corners to fit over tables, cushions and more!

Sewing the Boxed Corner Seam – Method 1 (The Really Easy Way)

With your square of fabric cut away, it’s time to sew up your corners! Simply bring one of the cut out edges to the other (on the same square).

Learn the simple sewing technique for giving a flat piece of fabric boxed corners to fit over tables, cushions and more!

For this method, you’ll want to make sure you’re RIGHT sides are together and the top and sides line up perfectly. You may certainly pin this seam in place if you need to.

Learn the simple sewing technique for giving a flat piece of fabric boxed corners to fit over tables, cushions and more!

Using your sewing machine and coordinating thread, sew the two edges of the cut-out square together using a 1/2″ seam allowance.

Learn the simple sewing technique for giving a flat piece of fabric boxed corners to fit over tables, cushions and more!

If your fabric frays or you want to keep the edges from rolling, you can either use a wide zig-zag stitch or a serger to finish the raw edge. Repeat the process on all four corners of your project.

Learn the simple sewing technique for giving a flat piece of fabric boxed corners to fit over tables, cushions and more!

Once turned right-side-out and pressed, you’ll have lovely corner seams that allow your fabric to now fit perfectly over a table/cushion/whatever!

Learn the simple sewing technique for giving a flat piece of fabric boxed corners to fit over tables, cushions and more!

Sewing the Boxed Corner – Method 2 (French Seams)

The method I described above is super simple, friends. I mean it. You can have all four corner seams done in about 10 minutes. This next method (French seams – ooo la la!) is almost as easy and almost as fast; it just has a few extra steps to help make your seams a little more durable and polished!

You will cut out your fabric and corners exactly as described above. This time, however, instead of bringing the RIGHT sides of fabric together, you will bring the WRONG sides of your fabric together. It’s still the two edges of the cut-out square, just brought together the other way.

Learn the simple sewing technique for giving a flat piece of fabric boxed corners to fit over tables, cushions and more!

This time, sew the seam with a 1/4″ seam allowance…

Learn the simple sewing technique for giving a flat piece of fabric boxed corners to fit over tables, cushions and more!

Next, use a ruler and rotary cutter to trim away 1/8″ of that seam allowance (essentially trimming it down by half).

Learn the simple sewing technique for giving a flat piece of fabric boxed corners to fit over tables, cushions and more!

Now, take that same seam and turn your fabric inside-out so that your RIGHT sides are finally together. You’ll notice below that this essentially flips your first seam to the inside. Press this seam with a hot iron to make sure it’s nice and flat.

Learn the simple sewing technique for giving a flat piece of fabric boxed corners to fit over tables, cushions and more!

Go back and sew the seam again, this time with RIGHT sides together but again using a 1/4″ seam allowance.

Learn the simple sewing technique for giving a flat piece of fabric boxed corners to fit over tables, cushions and more!

When done, you will notice that the raw edges are caught in between the two seams, meaning you don’t need to serge or zig-zag to clean up any raw edges.

Learn the simple sewing technique for giving a flat piece of fabric boxed corners to fit over tables, cushions and more!

Again, once turned right-side out, you’ll end up with a lovely boxed corner seam!

Learn the simple sewing technique for giving a flat piece of fabric boxed corners to fit over tables, cushions and more!

Which method to use is mostly a matter of preference and the type of fabric you’re using. This red start fabric is a flannel which frays like crazy. And since it’s going to be washed a ton, I chose to use Method 2 which  enclosed the raw fabric edge into the seam. This way, with the loads and loads of washing it’s sure to get…I don’t need to worry about the fabric (and therefore the seam!) ultimately washing away! Sneak peek:

Learn the simple sewing technique for giving a flat piece of fabric boxed corners to fit over tables, cushions and more!

Once you master this very easy technique, I swear your eyes will be opened to potential projects all over your home! With some precise measuring and cutting, you can make tailored covers for just about anything. Sure there are other ways to create covers like the ones I’ve shown here, but this most-basic technique will get you off and running in no time!

Home Decor Sewing School

The Home Decor Sewing School Series is all about providing thorough, easy-to-follow tutorials for the skills and concepts used most in home decor projects! Catch up on other posts in this series below!

Home Decor Sewing School | How To Make Piping for Home Decor Projects - Learn how to give your home decor projects a finished and professional look with DIY piping!Customize your bed linens and save money by making your own pillow shams! This tutorial walks you through everything you need to know!Learn the simple sewing technique for giving a flat piece of fabric boxed corners to fit over tables, cushions and more!The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Back here on Thursday, I’ll show you more details on what I was making here as well as LOTS more fun fabric projects for baby. See you then!

Learn the simple sewing technique for giving a flat piece of fabric boxed corners to fit over tables, cushions and more!

Megan Signature

Home Decor Sewing School | How to Make a Pillow Sham

Last month, I kicked off a new series called Home Decor Sewing School! While I certainly don’t consider myself an expert sewer (trust me, I am far from it!), there are skills and tricks I’ve learned and mastered over the years that have allowed me to quickly and easily make perfectly customized and unique things for our home. (And making things myself is precisely how I achieve unique decor and styles in our homes over and over again on a tight budget!) Last month we tackled piping, and this month, I am going to show you how to make a pillow sham! Even for the most inexperienced sewer, this is a great project to master (because it’s translatable to other projects and spaces) and only requires a few straight lines! Let’s get started!

Customize your bed linens and save money by making your own pillow shams! This tutorial walks you through everything you need to know!

While my goal with this series is to break down some basic home decor sewing techniques and projects so that you feel confident making your own home decor, this month’s tutorial may have had a slightly selfish purpose. Remember that adorable floral fabric I used to cover the dresser a few months back? Well…I couldn’t stop thinking about it after I removed it from the dresser and was desperate for a way to work it into our own home. A scrap was literally sitting on our bed when I realized it worked SOOO well with our other bed pillows AND it brought in a much-needed accent color. I went to the store the very next day to buy enough fabric to make some pillow shams for our bed! So I get new pillow shams out of the deal, and you get a snazzy new sewing tutorial! We all win!

Customize your bed linens and save money by making your own pillow shams! This tutorial walks you through everything you need to know!

Pillow shams, at least the kind I am going to show you today, are essentially envelope-style pillow cases (which means they have an overlapping opening in the back to insert the pillow). To give these pillow covers a bit more presence and qualify them as “pillow shams,” they have a flange around the perimeter…which is essentially that 2″ border you see around the pillow’s edge.

Customize your bed linens and save money by making your own pillow shams! This tutorial walks you through everything you need to know!

These flanges are nothing to be scared of…in fact, you will be shocked to see how easy they are to achieve! And the result is a professional-looking pillow sham that will add layers and interest to your bedding arrangement!

Customize your bed linens and save money by making your own pillow shams! This tutorial walks you through everything you need to know!

Materials & Supplies

You don’t need anything fancy to make your own pillows shams, just some basic sewing supplies and your favorite fabrics! While home decor fabrics often have a bit more weight to them (allowing your flanges to sit up a bit straighter), you really can use any cotton or home decor fabric you love! Here is what you need to make a basic pillows shame (NOTE: quantities will differ based on the size and quantity of shams you’re making!)

*Affiliate links used.

Customize your bed linens and save money by making your own pillow shams! This tutorial walks you through everything you need to know!

  1. Pillow Front Fabric (How much you need depends on how big and how many pillows you are making. Refer to the cutting guide below to determine how much fabric to buy.) This fabric is from Hobby Lobby.
  2. Pillow Back Fabric (This fabric can be the same or coordinating with the front fabric. Again, how much you need will depend on how big and how many pillows you are making.) This fabric is from Hancock Fabrics.
  3. Coordinating thread
  4. Disappearing fabric pen (THESE are my absolute favorite!)
  5. Pins
  6. Ruler
  7. Cutting tools (both a rotary cutter and scissors come in handy!)

Other tools needed: sewing machine, iron, cutting mat (this set is invaluable!)

Cutting the Fabric

The first step will be to determine your measurements based on your pillow size and desired final look. One of the BEST things about making your own pillow shams, besides picking the fabrics, is that you can make them as big or as little as you want them. If you want a grander look, make larger flanges, if you want them slight, make small (or no) flanges. Use the equations below to determine your fabric cuts. (NOTE: the example used here is for a standard bed pillow case with a 2″ flange. Be sure to adjust the measurements based on your pillow size and desired flange width.)

Customize your bed linens and save money by making your own pillow shams! This tutorial walks you through everything you need to know! Customize your bed linens and save money by making your own pillow shams! This tutorial walks you through everything you need to know!

Once you’ve determined your measurements, cut one front piece and two back pieces. A long, clear ruler and rotary cutter make this a breeze! (TIP: on the back panels, use a pin to mark which sides are the “height” and which sides are the “width,” as these measurements can often be quite close and hard to keep straight.)

Customize your bed linens and save money by making your own pillow shams! This tutorial walks you through everything you need to know!

Hemming the Back Panels

Set your front panel aside, as we’re going to start by hemming one side on each of the two back panels. On one “height” side of one of the back panel pieces, fold over the edge 1″ and iron in place.

Customize your bed linens and save money by making your own pillow shams! This tutorial walks you through everything you need to know!

Fold the edge over again another inch, iron and then pin in place down the edge.

Customize your bed linens and save money by making your own pillow shams! This tutorial walks you through everything you need to know!

Using a sewing machine, sew a straight line 1/8″ from the hem edge to secure the hem in place.

Customize your bed linens and save money by making your own pillow shams! This tutorial walks you through everything you need to know!

Repeat the same hem process on the second back panel. When done, you should have two back panels each with a single hem on one side.

Customize your bed linens and save money by making your own pillow shams! This tutorial walks you through everything you need to know!

Assemble the Pillow Sham

With the two back panels hemmed, it’s time to assemble your pillow sham! Yep – already! Start by placing your pillow front panel RIGHT SIDE UP on your work surface, as shown.

Customize your bed linens and save money by making your own pillow shams! This tutorial walks you through everything you need to know!

Next, place the pillow back panels RIGHT SIDE DOWN onto the pillow front, aligning all the raw edges. (NOTE: the hemmed edges of each panel should be toward the center.)

Customize your bed linens and save money by making your own pillow shams! This tutorial walks you through everything you need to know!

The two hemmed edges should overlap about 8-10″, and all the other raw edges should line up with the pillow front panel.

Customize your bed linens and save money by making your own pillow shams! This tutorial walks you through everything you need to know!

Next, pin all the way around the pillow sham. (TIP: be sure to pin all the layers together where the two back panels overlap to ensure you catch the inside panel in your stitching!)

Customize your bed linens and save money by making your own pillow shams! This tutorial walks you through everything you need to know!

Using your sewing machine, sew a 1/2″ seam all the way around the pillow case. You don’t need to leave any openings…go ahead and sew all four sides shut!

Customize your bed linens and save money by making your own pillow shams! This tutorial walks you through everything you need to know!

At the corners, you can either drop your needle down, pivot and keep sewing OR sew right off the edge, trim your threads, rotate and start sewing again. My Mom taught me to do the latter as it makes for stronger corner seams. Whichever method you choose, be sure to carefully clip the corners with a sharp scissors to reduce bulk once turned right-side out.

Customize your bed linens and save money by making your own pillow shams! This tutorial walks you through everything you need to know!

Speaking of right-sides out, it’s time to flip the case out! Open up the envelope backing made by your two overlapping back panels and pull the pillow case through the opening.

Customize your bed linens and save money by making your own pillow shams! This tutorial walks you through everything you need to know!

Press out the corners and smooth all the seams flat.

Customize your bed linens and save money by making your own pillow shams! This tutorial walks you through everything you need to know!

Sew the Flanges

The last step in making your pillow sham is to sew the flanges to create a nice border around your pillow. Start by ironing out your pillowcase and making your seams nice and crisp. I recommend pinning all the way around the pillow to keep all the layers together as you sew the flanges.

Customize your bed linens and save money by making your own pillow shams! This tutorial walks you through everything you need to know!

Next, you are going to use a disappearing fabric pen to draw a box around your pillowcase, on top of which you will sew to make the nice border on your sham. Using a ruler, measure in your flange size from the outside edge on ALL four sides. (NOTE: At this point, your pillow case is likely quite a bit bigger than your pillow. Besides adding a decorative detail, the flanges also create a tighter case for the pillow to sit in. As such, the rectangle you draw with your pen should roughly equal the actual size of your pillow.)

Customize your bed linens and save money by making your own pillow shams! This tutorial walks you through everything you need to know!

Next, top-stitch around the pillowcase (though all layers), following the line you just drew. This time, you will need to drop your needle and pivot at each corner to make clean angles.

Customize your bed linens and save money by making your own pillow shams! This tutorial walks you through everything you need to know!

To finish, use an iron to remove the pen marks and reveal a nice border created by your stitch lines!

Customize your bed linens and save money by making your own pillow shams! This tutorial walks you through everything you need to know!

Lastly, insert your pillow through the opening in the back…

Customize your bed linens and save money by making your own pillow shams! This tutorial walks you through everything you need to know!

…and place on your bed!

Customize your bed linens and save money by making your own pillow shams! This tutorial walks you through everything you need to know!

Making custom pillow shams is something I have done for years. Not only do I love that it allows me to bring in different fabrics other than the ones that come with my bedding, but they are such a quick and simple way to refresh our bedroom display for the seasons! I know I say “quick and easy” a lot…but I promise…this one really is a quick and easy one! Both these shams together took me about an hour!

Customize your bed linens and save money by making your own pillow shams! This tutorial walks you through everything you need to know!

I bought the floral fabric on sale (for about $10 total) and had the grey fabric on hand, so this Spring “refresh” in our bedroom cost me about $10 and 1 hour of time! And THAT’s why I love knowing how to sew my own items!!!!

Customize your bed linens and save money by making your own pillow shams! This tutorial walks you through everything you need to know!

Home Decor Sewing School

The Home Decor Sewing School Series is all about providing thorough, easy-to-follow tutorials for the skills and concepts used most in home decor projects! Catch up on other posts in this series below!

Home Decor Sewing School | How To Make Piping for Home Decor Projects - Learn how to give your home decor projects a finished and professional look with DIY piping!Customize your bed linens and save money by making your own pillow shams! This tutorial walks you through everything you need to know!Learn the simple sewing technique for giving a flat piece of fabric boxed corners to fit over tables, cushions and more!The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

I hope you found this tutorial helpful and feel emboldened to give this pillow sham project a try! Be sure to leave me requests for other home decor skills and projects you want me to cover in this series in the comments below. And if you make any projects these (or any of my!) tutorials, share on social media using #THIHMmademedoit

Customize your bed linens and save money by making your own pillow shams! This tutorial walks you through everything you need to know!

Hope you’re week is off to a great start! I’ll be popping back in a little early this week…check the blog tomorrow for a special Mother’s Day project!

Megan Signature

Home Decor Sewing School | How to Make Piping

I am a DIYer at heart, and that isn’t more true than when it comes to sewing projects. As most of you long-time readers know, I am a self-taught, never-follow-patterns, trial-and-error kind of sewer. I often get a vision in my head…and since I understand the basic premise of how things come together…I’m able to figure out how to bring my vision to life. Sure I often have to consult my sister for advice and every now and then will You Tube a technique, but I really do enjoy the process of creating things on my own and figuring it out along the way. That said, over the years of making things for my home, there have been a few skills that I’ve attempted to figure out myself and was always disappointed with the results. Then, when I finally learned the “proper way” to do it, it felt like a true lightbulb moment! Yes, there is certainly merit in figuring things out yourself, but learning to do certain sewing skills properly often saves time and headaches, and ultimately makes your projects look SO much better! Today I am launching a new series I’m calling “Home Decor Sewing School”! Each month I will break down one skill I use over and over in making unique items for our home; and if you want to make things for your home that look quality and professional, you should master them too! The first skill I’m going to teach is how to make piping for your home decor projects!

Home Decor Sewing School | How To Make Piping for Home Decor Projects - Learn how to give your home decor projects a finished and professional look with DIY piping!

I have long loved the look of piping detail on furniture, pillows, bags, clothes, anything! Early on in my DIY days, I tried adding piping to my projects (pillows, slipcovers, etc) but always got so frustrated when I couldn’t get it to lay flat and tight against my projects. The time and effort spent to end up with an amateur-looking result only made me more and leery of putting forth the effort. Then one day, my Mom taught me the proper way to cut, sew, and add custom piping to my projects and my eyes were forever opened! When done properly, making your own custom piping really isn’t that difficult and sure makes pillows, furniture projects, tote bags and more look so much more interesting and professional! Over the years, I have made yards and yards and yards of piping for all sorts of projects and I’m excited to break down my fool-proof  method for you today! Here is just a few examples of the piping projects in our home:

Make an upholstered bench in a mini size for kids to sit, cuddle and get dressed!DIY Toddler Floor PoufToddler-BackPack-007DIY Mid-Century Modern Ottoman

Materials & Supplies

One of the best things about making your own piping (rather then buying it) is you can make it with any fabric you like so you can be sure if coordinates with your project. Plus, you can choose any cording size so your cording detail can be as subtle or pronounced as you want! Here is what you need to make your own piping:

Home Decor Sewing School | How To Make Piping for Home Decor Projects - Learn how to give your home decor projects a finished and professional look with DIY piping!

  1. Fabric that coordinates with your project – how many yards will depend on how much piping you need for your project. A single yard of fabric can yield yards and yards and yards of piping, so I recommend starting there and then making more if you need it!
  2. Cording – again, how much you need with depend on many yards of piping you need for your project. See below for a bit more on the “girth” of the cording.
  3. Coordinating thread
  4. Pins
  5. Seam ripper
  6. Rotary cutter
  7. Transparent ruler and cutting mat

When you go shopping for cording, you will find you have all sorts of size options. I don’t think there is a hard-and-fast rule about which size you should use for certain projects. However, I do think the size of your project and how pronounced you want the piping detail to be should guide your choice. I often find the smaller-sized cording best for clothing, small purses and totes and the larger sizes better for home decor projects. For furniture and home decor projects, I constantly reach for the 9/32th size. I find this is the easiest to work with and gives me the most “bang for my buck” so to speak! (Note: my picture says 9/36th…the actual dimension is 9/32th!)

Home Decor Sewing School | How To Make Piping for Home Decor Projects - Learn how to give your home decor projects a finished and professional look with DIY piping!

Cutting the Fabric

The first step in making your own piping is to cut your fabric. This is probably the most important step and can be the most confusing for novice sewers. The one thing you must do when making piping is to cut your fabric on the bias (diagonal). If you cut your strips straight with the grain of the fabric, your piping won’t bend nicely around corners and you’ll end up with puckers and awkward pinches. Cutting fabric on the bias isn’t as hard as it sounds. Here is how you do it:

Start with  your fabric flat on your work surface. It doesn’t matter if your fabric is right or wrong side up.

Home Decor Sewing School | How To Make Piping for Home Decor Projects - Learn how to give your home decor projects a finished and professional look with DIY piping!

Take one corner (it doesn’t matter which one, but I will demonstrate with the top right corner), and bring it to the opposite edge, creating a right triangle as shown (below, top photo). Using a ruler and rotary cutter, trim away the excess fabric not part of the right triangle (below, bottom photo).

Home Decor Sewing School | How To Make Piping for Home Decor Projects - Learn how to give your home decor projects a finished and professional look with DIY piping!

You can set this extra fabric aside and use it to make more piping if necessary. For now, we are going to focus on the right triangle.

Home Decor Sewing School | How To Make Piping for Home Decor Projects - Learn how to give your home decor projects a finished and professional look with DIY piping!

The right triangle should have two layers of fabric since you folded it down over the length of fabric. The next step is to cut the two layers apart. You can use a scissors to just cut down the fold. I like to use my ruler and rotary cutter to trim away 1/2″ so I am sure to have a clean, straight edge to start.

Home Decor Sewing School | How To Make Piping for Home Decor Projects - Learn how to give your home decor projects a finished and professional look with DIY piping!

You can discard the 1/2″ strip you just cut away, and you should be left with two right triangles of fabric stacked on top of each other. I split the triangles apart so you could see the two layers. Line up those two triangles on top of each other before proceeding.

Home Decor Sewing School | How To Make Piping for Home Decor Projects - Learn how to give your home decor projects a finished and professional look with DIY piping!

With your two right triangles stacked, you are going to cut strips along that long edge (the hypotenuse) you just trimmed down. For the 9/32th cording, I like cutting 2″ strips. This width allows me to full wrap the cord and have plenty of seam allowance for sewing the piping into my projects.

Home Decor Sewing School | How To Make Piping for Home Decor Projects - Learn how to give your home decor projects a finished and professional look with DIY piping!

Simply cut two inches, slide your ruler over, cut two inches again, slide your ruler over, etc. Keep cutting until you get to the end of the triangle. Discard the scraps at the end.

Home Decor Sewing School | How To Make Piping for Home Decor Projects - Learn how to give your home decor projects a finished and professional look with DIY piping!

Because the two triangles were stacked, you should end up with double the amount of strips, all cut on the bias! See…not to hard, right?

Home Decor Sewing School | How To Make Piping for Home Decor Projects - Learn how to give your home decor projects a finished and professional look with DIY piping!

Sewing the Fabric Strips Together

The next step is to sew all those strips together into one long strip. Okay – full disclosure here! There is the “correct” way to do this, and the “easier” way to do this. To keep all your strips perfectly on the bias and able to bend around curves on your projects, you should technically overlap your strips at a 90 degree angle as shown below. However, I tend to get lazy when I’m making yards and yards of piping, and I often just stack them together. I’ve never had issues with my piping not bending nicely around my projects, but I also don’t do a lot of small, tight projects. If you are working on something with small, tight curves, I definitely recommend doing it the “correct” way.

Home Decor Sewing School | How To Make Piping for Home Decor Projects - Learn how to give your home decor projects a finished and professional look with DIY piping!

No matter how you choose to stack your strips, make sure they are right sides together and you sew them with a 1/2″ or more seam allowance.

Home Decor Sewing School | How To Make Piping for Home Decor Projects - Learn how to give your home decor projects a finished and professional look with DIY piping!

If you choose to stack your fabric strips like I do, be sure to trim away the extra triangle at the end to reduce bulk once the piping is assembled!

Home Decor Sewing School | How To Make Piping for Home Decor Projects - Learn how to give your home decor projects a finished and professional look with DIY piping!

Continue sewing all your strips together into one long strip. Once all your strips are sewn together, press your seams flat. Here is an example of how your seams should look once sewn, trimmed and pressed!

Home Decor Sewing School | How To Make Piping for Home Decor Projects - Learn how to give your home decor projects a finished and professional look with DIY piping!

I suggest sewing as many strips together to total the amount of yardage you need for your project. Yes, you can always make more piping, but it’s easier to add length at this stage rather than when the cording is all sewn together.

Home Decor Sewing School | How To Make Piping for Home Decor Projects - Learn how to give your home decor projects a finished and professional look with DIY piping!

How to Make Piping From the Fabric Strips

The next step is to add the cording to your long fabric strip to turn it into cording you can actually apply to your projects!

Home Decor Sewing School | How To Make Piping for Home Decor Projects - Learn how to give your home decor projects a finished and professional look with DIY piping!

With the wrong side of your fabric facing up, place your cording down the length of it. Be sure the excess cording and excess fabric are both heading in the same direction. Then, fold over the fabric so that the raw edges meet, and use your fingers to push the cording all the way into the fabric.

Home Decor Sewing School | How To Make Piping for Home Decor Projects - Learn how to give your home decor projects a finished and professional look with DIY piping!

If you are new at making piping, I strongly suggest pinning the cording and fabric in place. Yes, it takes quite a bit of time (especially if you’re making yards and yards!), but it makes feeding it into your machine much easier. I’ve made so much piping over the years that I am pretty comfortable feeding the fabric and cording into my machine without pinning…which admittedly saves a ton of time!

Home Decor Sewing School | How To Make Piping for Home Decor Projects - Learn how to give your home decor projects a finished and professional look with DIY piping!

Okay! If there is one “secret” to successfully making and inserting piping, it’s this: a ZIPPER FOOT. This is probably common knowledge to those of you who were taught to sew properly, but when I learned to use a zipper foot with my piping, the whole process because SO much easier. A zipper foot allows you to get up right next to the piping, making for tight piping and smooth seams! So…dig out your zipper foot and learn how to put in on your machine. Once you’ve done that, sew down the length of your piping as close to the cording as you can get without sewing onto it! Tip: You may need to move your needle over to get as close as possible. 

Home Decor Sewing School | How To Make Piping for Home Decor Projects - Learn how to give your home decor projects a finished and professional look with DIY piping!

After you’ve gone down the entire length of your fabric strip, your piping is done and ready to be applied to your project!

Home Decor Sewing School | How To Make Piping for Home Decor Projects - Learn how to give your home decor projects a finished and professional look with DIY piping!

Applying Piping To Your Projects

Now that your piping is all made, you can add it to your project! While this process might not be universally applicable, in my experience, piping goes into most projects the same way: sandwiched between two pieces of fabric.

Start by placing one of your fabric pieces (doesn’t matter which one) right side up on your work surface. Using lots and lots of pins, pin your piping to the fabric by lining up the raw edges of both the piping and your fabric. Don’t hesitate to use extra pins around the corners to keep everything lined up just right.

Home Decor Sewing School | How To Make Piping for Home Decor Projects - Learn how to give your home decor projects a finished and professional look with DIY piping!

Work around your entire project with a continuous stretch of piping. If you need to add more piping (because of the size of your project), refer to the “joining” steps below. Once you’ve worked all-the-way-around your project, leave your two tails loose and unfinished for now.

Home Decor Sewing School | How To Make Piping for Home Decor Projects - Learn how to give your home decor projects a finished and professional look with DIY piping!

Again using your ZIPPER FOOT, attach your piping to the fabric by sewing RIGHT OVER the seam line on your piping. By following that initial seam (on your piping), you will be sure the fabric is up nice and tight against the piping detail.

Home Decor Sewing School | How To Make Piping for Home Decor Projects - Learn how to give your home decor projects a finished and professional look with DIY piping!

Here is how your project should look once the piping is sewn in place before finishing off the ends.

Home Decor Sewing School | How To Make Piping for Home Decor Projects - Learn how to give your home decor projects a finished and professional look with DIY piping!

Joining Two Ends of Piping

The process of joining two ends of piping is the trickiest part of using piping but is also one of the most important steps for clean-looking projects. For years, I would just drag my piping off the seam without properly joining it, which always left me with a weird bump/gap in piping. Take the time to learn how to do it now…I promise it’s not THAT tricky!

Start by trimming off any excess piping, leaving about 1-2″ loose on both sides.

Home Decor Sewing School | How To Make Piping for Home Decor Projects - Learn how to give your home decor projects a finished and professional look with DIY piping!

So that you have a continuos stretch of piping across your project without added bulk, you need to trim away some of the cording while leaving the fabric in place. To do this, use a seam ripper to pull out a few stitches on the piping to expose the cording inside (only do this on one side).

Home Decor Sewing School | How To Make Piping for Home Decor Projects - Learn how to give your home decor projects a finished and professional look with DIY piping!

Using the other side piping for reference, trim away enough cording so that the two sides meet in the middle perfectly.

Home Decor Sewing School | How To Make Piping for Home Decor Projects - Learn how to give your home decor projects a finished and professional look with DIY piping!

With the cording trimmed away, next fold over the fabric 1/2″ (on the side you trimmed away the cording) to create a clean edge…

Home Decor Sewing School | How To Make Piping for Home Decor Projects - Learn how to give your home decor projects a finished and professional look with DIY piping!

Then slide the un-cut piping into the fabric space where you just cut away the cording. Fold the fabric down over the raw piping edge and pin in place.

Home Decor Sewing School | How To Make Piping for Home Decor Projects - Learn how to give your home decor projects a finished and professional look with DIY piping!

Use your zipper foot to top stitch the two ends of piping in place, again hugging the cording as tight as you can.

Home Decor Sewing School | How To Make Piping for Home Decor Projects - Learn how to give your home decor projects a finished and professional look with DIY piping!

Adding the Second Layer of Fabric To Your Project

As I mentioned, piping is most often sandwiched between two pieces of fabric. However, adding that second piece of fabric to your fabric+piping combo can sometimes be frustrating. Over the years, I have perfected a method that makes sewing your entire project together easy and accurate!

Here is the wrong side of my dotted fabric with the piping sewn onto it. Notice I used a pink bobbin thread so you could see the stitch line easily.

Home Decor Sewing School | How To Make Piping for Home Decor Projects - Learn how to give your home decor projects a finished and professional look with DIY piping!

As if I was going to make a pillow, I’m going to add another fabric onto the front of this fabric+piping panel.

Home Decor Sewing School | How To Make Piping for Home Decor Projects - Learn how to give your home decor projects a finished and professional look with DIY piping!

Put your two pieces of fabric together right sides together. When you pin, however, pin on the side that has the piping attached (in my case, the dotted fabric).

Home Decor Sewing School | How To Make Piping for Home Decor Projects - Learn how to give your home decor projects a finished and professional look with DIY piping!

The reason I suggest you pin on the side with the piping attached, is that you now have a perfect line to follow when sewing your two pieces together!!!! Do you hear the angels singing? No? Just me? 😉 That pink line is the bottom thread from when I sewed the piping to the dotted fabric. I already know that line is tight and right up against the piping, so by following it, I can be sure the second piece of fabric will also be sewn tight against the piping without crossing into the piping and catching it in your stitching!

Home Decor Sewing School | How To Make Piping for Home Decor Projects - Learn how to give your home decor projects a finished and professional look with DIY piping!

Once sewn, when you flip it open, you should have piping perfectly sandwiched between your two layers of fabric! No pinching, no puckering, no stitches crossing over into your beautiful piping!

Home Decor Sewing School | How To Make Piping for Home Decor Projects - Learn how to give your home decor projects a finished and professional look with DIY piping!

Home Decor Sewing School | How To Make Piping for Home Decor Projects - Learn how to give your home decor projects a finished and professional look with DIY piping!

Catch up on other posts in this series by clicking on the photos below:

Home Decor Sewing School | How To Make Piping for Home Decor Projects - Learn how to give your home decor projects a finished and professional look with DIY piping!Customize your bed linens and save money by making your own pillow shams! This tutorial walks you through everything you need to know!Learn the simple sewing technique for giving a flat piece of fabric boxed corners to fit over tables, cushions and more!The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Adding a custom piping detail to my sewing projects is one of my favorite ways to up the style factor in a lot of the things I make (and my secret to making them look less homemade!). It is an extra step that takes a bit of time, but oh so worth it! I hope this tutorial gives you the push to try it…and with practice, you’ll be adding piping to all your projects without any trouble at all!

Home Decor Sewing School | How To Make Piping for Home Decor Projects - Learn how to give your home decor projects a finished and professional look with DIY piping!

The Home Decor Sewing School series will be a monthly series and I already have a list of topics I’m hoping to tackle including how to add zippers to pillows, how to make boxed corners and more! If there is a skill you’d love a tutorial for, please let me know by leaving a comment below!

I hope you are all having a great week! Be sure to come back on Saturday to see a new kitchen product I am really excited to share with you!

Megan Signature