Don’t Be Afraid of Pillows! *Beautiful Hemstitched Boudoir Shams*

Greetings to all!

In my travels I get to visit with customers who love to sew and embroider as much as I do.  I try hard to listen to what people are wanting and asking for, and what they need help with most.  I'm always surprised at how many experienced embroiderers are afraid to stitch on pillow shams and cases.  Which is a shame, because they are some of the prettiest and most loved gifts to give!  So I thought for this blog I would just go over the basics of embroidering on pillow shams of all sizes.

The supply list is minimal:

Pillow sham of your choice (AnnTheGran has some beautiful basic ones here)

Pillow form (it's important to have the pillow form you're using for that sham when you begin)

Medium weight tear-away stabilizer (the sticky kind if you prefer)

Temporary Adhesive Spray

Thread of your choice

For our sample shown above, I used the Francie Alphabet from  I created the monogram design in my embroidery software, making the M slightly bigger and resizing the H and S until they looked the way I wanted.


Steps for Embroidering on Pillow Shams:

1) The first step is to print a paper template of your design. If you've read my blogs before, you know what a believer I am in the paper templates! Just print it out in black and white on plain paper and trim it down to your design. I spray the back LIGHTLY with temporary adhesive spray and position it onto the pillow.

2) This is very important to remember---put the pillow form you're using in the pillow BEFORE you place your design. What looks good when the pillow sham is flat on the table is VERY different from what looks good when the pillow form is inside. I've found that every pillow form has its own personality. No two seem to fit the same into the pillow shams.


3) Once you've determined design placement, you'll now know which side is the "bottom" seam of the pillow sham. I take a seam ripper and gently tear the bottom seam. You'll find that linen items like this hemstitched sham come from the factory very heavily sized and it actually tears right out with a gentle tug. You can literally open the seams up in 15 seconds flat.


4) You can see in the photo below that, generally speaking, you will really only have to undo the bottom seam. It usually allows enough of the backing to be removed to get out of the way of the embroidery process. Occasionally I am planning a big design and will need to undo the sides a little bit, but 90% of the time, this method works for my planned project.

5) Here's a photo of what the pillow sham looks like hooped up. As you can see, I rotated the design 90 degrees so that the bulk of my pillow sham is off to the left of the embroidery machine. I find that very helpful. And I stopped apologizing for my dirty hoop about 3 blogs ago! LOL (I keep promising myself to buy hoops that are to be used for photography only, but you know that never gets done...)

6) You can also see how helpful the paper template becomes when it's time to hoop the pillowcase. The centerpoint is indicated, along with the cross hairs so I can get the pillowcase lined up straight.

7) I don't ever hoop the pillow shams. If I tried, it would take me a year to get it all straight. I find it much simpler to hoop the stabilizer, spray it with a temporary adhesive spray (or use the sticky stabilizer), and stick the pillow sham down onto the hooped stabilizer. I do pin it around the edges a bit to make sure it stays in place. This method is much quicker and simpler for me, but always do what feels best for you!

8) Stich the design. Here's another tip: 90% of the time I stitch the monogram TWICE. I stitch it once, then restart the machine at the beginning and stitch it twice right over the first one. I find that most monograms look much richer and prettier this way!

9) When completed, take the pillow sham out of the hoop and straight to the ironing board. Using a lot of hot steam, iron the monogram from the BACK. This will help your lettering to pop up off the surface of the's gorgeous!

10) Time to stitch up your pillow. Using the same thread, just set your sewing machine to straight stitch and top stitch the back of the sham back into place. It's REALLY easy to follow the seam line from the previous stitching. Plus, the seam is along the bottom of the pillow and no one will EVER see or notice it! Super Easy!

And you're done!!!  I hope that if you've ever been afraid to embroider on pillows that you'll feel a little braver now to jump in.  Putting a simple monogram on a pillow is fast and easy and they are just so BEAUTIFUL!  Most of my projects HAVE to be done in an hour or so, because I don't have any more time to sew than that during one sitting.  So, quick and pretty is what I'm always looking for.  I am sure many of you can relate!  Don't be afraid of pillows!

Until next time, happy stitching!


Comments (3) -

Great instructions and the idea of doing the monogram twice is awesome. I will incorporate that the next time I do a monogram.

Susan - Great to hear from you again!!

I have used your beautiful, and ultra elegant linens and always get so many compliments on them.

This method is really easy and quick as well.


Cheers to you for such beautiful stitching and for instructions on how to achieve such beautiful results!  I would like to know where I could find the monogram you used on this pillow sham.  It transforms the plain pillow sham into an elegant one!

Thank you!


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