Ain’t That a Sham?

When my husband and I fly from Oregon to Georgia for our annual two-week Thanksgiving visit with my twin sister and her husband, I almost always make something for their home. It’s a small way to thank Diane and Ed for the generous hospitality they show Charlie and me on these visits, and it satisfies my urge to make something when I’m away from my sewing room for an extended time. You know how it is: a maker’s gotta make.

I knew ages ago what this year’s project would be. That’s because Frugal Fabrics, a home dec fabric store in the Atlanta suburb where my sister lives, announced at the beginning of the year that it was closing. Diane and I have found beautiful fabrics there in past years that have made their way into home dec projects in her house.

Before the shop closed its doors for the last time, Diane bought a gorgeous piece of fabric called “Brandywine Paisley” by Duralee Fabrics. She bought what was left on the bolt – about 6½ yards – without any idea what she would do with it. (At $2 a yard, I would have done the same thing. I have a thing for paisley prints.) We consulted via text messaging and concluded the fabric would be perfect as new pillow shams in her master bedroom.

Fast forward to my arrival in November. After Thanksgiving was over, Diane and I designed the shams, starting with the notion of a simple envelope with braided trim on the “flap” of the envelope on the front. She likes her shams up against the headboard with sleeping pillows arranged in front so it was important that the flaps be short enough for the braided trim to show.

If Diane were a quilter, she would have freezer paper in her house. She’s not and she doesn’t, so I made a pattern for the flap out of two sheets of parchment paper:

I had to pin the two sheets together because scotch tape doesn’t stick to parchment paper!

Being somewhat obsessive-compulsive, I wanted the design on the fabric to match where the flap meets the sham. That meant the flap needed to be a separate piece that could be attached to the back of the sham in just the right place for the design to match up on front after the pillow form was inserted. All of this called for some careful fussy cutting – in triplicate, because there are three shams. It took me the better part of one afternoon just to cut the fabric.

What you see below is one sham in two pieces. The body of the sham is essentially a square with rounded edges and a lapped opening on the back where the pillow form is inserted:

This is what the sham looks like flat:

While I was working on the shams, Diane was auditioning pillowcases I’ve made for her over the years (all made from this tutorial). She found three pair that looked especially good against the shams:

She decided to use the pair in the middle first because the reds and greens in the fabrics are right in keeping with the Christmas decorations that started coming out that week.

Here’s a look at the shams in place in the master bedroom:

Don’t they look nice? I love the addition of the Christmas pillow. Here’s a view from across the room:

I’m back home in Portland now, ready to get back to work on a couple of projects I want to finish before the end of the year. And the end of the year is only 27 days away!




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9 Responses to Ain’t That a Sham?

  1. Rebecca says:

    Gorgeous fabric. Great job!!!

  2. Reigh says:

    Another work of art, Dawn! I was pleased to witness your efforts firsthand — always a treat. Come visit me soon, ok?

  3. Sandy says:

    Welcome home, Dawn. Your gift to your sister is very special and beautiful.

  4. Auntie Em says:

    Rounded edges and piping too. Beautiful job! I’m quite partial to paisley too. Just this weekend I picked out some paisley fabric in the Home Dec section to recover some dining chairs in time for Christmas dinner.

  5. Helen says:

    Looks so cozy; beautiful craftsmanship or craft woman ship, should I say.

  6. Kristi says:

    Beautiful shams! Your sewing is always so perfect! Merry Christmas.

  7. Diane says:

    There is something so familiar and comforting to have you happily sewing away in our home while the rest of us are watching bowl games just a few feet away. Very Norman Rockwell-esque. And the result of your work is icing on the cake. I think I may have to rethink the pillow placements on our bed though to put the new shams front and center. Ain’t it a sham indeed!

    You are the BEST!!

  8. Beautiful shams and a great design. Clean, but interesting and hopefully easy – because I’m going to totally steal this idea! Thanks for sharing, Dawn – have a wonderful holiday season!

  9. anna says:

    Oh my, Dawn….I wish we could be sewing buddies! Those shams, and the pillow cases are gorgeous. I love those that you made for us. Diane’s bed dressing is lovely. Buddy has taken to sleeping on ours every day (with the addition of Diego, he needs a “safe room.”) So now our beautiful quilt (wedding gift from a dear friend) is covered by a very in-elegant blue duvet cover from Joe’s airbnb days with his UK home. UGH.
    I, too, am obsessive about patterns matching. I made a wool wrap coat back in the early 70’s the was an uneven plaid. I matched everything, even the belt that tied around the coat was matched to a certain place. I tried the coat on, overlapped the front for the wrap, then painstakingly figured out where I would tie the belt when wearing it. Sheesh!
    Love reading your posts. Happy Holidays!

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