Make Pillow Shams from Vintage Linens

“A stitch in time….”

A stitch back in time.

How to make a pillow

Picture this…a young girl carefully chooses the colored floss from her carpet bag. Shades of purple, yellow and green.  She threads the needle, pulling and making a knot.  Picks up her embroidery ring and begins her next masterpiece. A small dresser scarf measuring only 11 x 15, dotted with dainty flowers on white linen.

It doesn’t take her long as she is skilled, having learned to work a needle from her grandmother.  Once completed she proudly spreads the cloth on her dresser, on it it places her perfume atomizer, steps back and smiles.

How to make a pillow

Somehow this small work of art survives the ravages of time and ends up in your hands. What ya’ gonna do with it?

(you aren’t going to leave it in your stash are you?)

How to make a pillow

You are going to make a easy sham pillow & I am going to show you how!

So go dig into your stash of vintage linens and come right back.

If you don’t have any on hand, they are easy enough to come by at flea markets or estate sales. I’ll wait…

How to make a pillow

Yours will be a no zipper, 3 piece sham pillow.  The insert will tuck between the overlapping back pieces…so easy!


  • a vintage linen piece
  • fabric for the back
  • optional trim
  • thread & pins
  • iron
  • pillow insert (1 to 2 inches bigger then your fabric pieces)

How to make a pillow


  • chose your vintage piece to fit the size of your pillow insert or cut a piece to size
  • cut the fabric for the back the same height as the vintage piece, but 6 inches wider
  • fold the back piece in half the short way & iron
  • cut the back piece along the iron crease
  • on the cut edge of each turn under .25 inch & iron, then do the same again ~ so there is a nice hem on each

How to make a pillow

  • layer fabric with right sides facing and edges aligned
  • pin vintage piece to over lapping back pieces
  • sew all the way around

How to make a pillow

  • if using trim make sure the trim is sandwiched between the front & back before sewing
  • turn pillow right side out
  • tuck in the insert

How to make a pillow

Someone else stepped back & smiled today when I placed this pillow on her bed…

You guessed it, Lara!  This is the first of several vintage toss pillows I plan to make for her ‘new’ room.

How to make a pillow

Pin this to share the instructions on how to make pillow shams if you wouldn’t mind.

I’d like to have a part in getting vintage handmade linens out of stashes, bins & boxes and once again making someone smile…

** Kelly **

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  1. says

    I love to use vintage linens and fabrics to make shams ! Antique quilts that are too damaged to save are some of my very favorite things to use, so much great texture.

  2. Dana Fulton says

    Kelly, you’ll get a kick out this. I have spoken of you so often to Jack and shown him your blog as inspiration that this morning he sent me this text. “So look what showed up in my Google highlights this morning…” It was your website with today’s entry. I thought that was pretty awesome…as is today’s entry…and wanted you to know! Have a beautiful day!

  3. says

    That’s really a sweet craft Kelly. I’ve made small pillows from old sweatshirts or T shirts the children couldn’t part with and those worked out wonderfully. Once I made such a pillow from one of Chloe’s hoodies…a hand me down from her big sister…and left the kangaroo pocket in the front. She hid all sorts of treasures in that pocket. I think the pillow is still around somewhere; probably in one of the trunks. 🙂

  4. Romney says

    What a great idea, the ultimate in recycling.
    Lara’s room will be beautiful

  5. says

    This goes on my MUST-TRY list! What a wonderful way to use some of the pretty things that stay in my drawers! LOVE the fringe! It really makes the vintage pillow a little sassy! Pinning and featuring on fb!

    • says

      I LOVE the fringe too! Sassy is a good word for what it does to that vintage piece. Thank you ever so much for the shares!!!

  6. says

    I really like the throw pillow that you made with the vintage embroidery. I have been looking for other ideas to upcycle some of my cutters that could bring them back to life again. Some of the work is so pretty and delicate. Thanks for the tutorial.