Turn old suits into pillow shams

Pillow Shams

I’m going for elegant masculinity in this room, and there is little that is more elegantly masculine than a suit. I already made the bed pinstriped in honor of it and it looks like a million bucks, eh? But I didn’t want the bedding to be slick and matchy matchy. That seemed like it would venture too far into the clinical and be too sterile. So I wanted to add a bit of a hodgepodge to the pillows, but still working with the elegant masculinity suit theme. So I decided to use the suits in a homespun way by piecing them together to make the shams. First step: To the thrift store!


Step 1

I bought a bunch of sportscoats and suits and took them straight to the washing machine. Suits are the worst for hanging on to the thrift store funk, so you might want to give them a couple washes. I’d avoid any wool suits for this project because they’ll felt before you can get the funk out, and won’t hold up to any future washings. Tear these apart on the seams and cut them into 3″ x 3″ squares. I tried to include any cool details like pockets or buttons and even some exposed interfacing because I think it’s cool to see all the stuff that these suits are made of, and I wanted to preserve the suit look through the pillow.


Step 2

I didn’t want to come up with a pattern for how the different fabrics were used. Different suits yielded different numbers of usable squares, and I didn’t feel like doing a lot of math, so I just threw all the pieces into a bag and shuffled. Pick out two squares and sew them together. Do that over and over until they’re all used up.


Step 3

Throw the pairs back into a bag and pull them out to sew together in a chain 10 squares long. Make 6 of those chains of 10 squares.


Step 4

Iron the chains flat. Depending on the fabric content of your suits this can be tricky, but iron all the seams in one direction. The flatter you can get these the neater the finished product you look, which will be important if you used some super heavy weight fabric mixed in with a lightweight one. Take one of the chains and flip it in the opposite direction before pinning it to the long side of another of the chains. This should let all those seams nestle up next to each other instead of on top of each other and decrease some of the bulk you can get working with these fabrics.


Step 5

For the front of a king sized sham I used 10 squares across and 6 squares down. Give the whole thing a good ironing.

Step 6

For the back I used an envelope closure. So that means I made two pieces of 6 x 6 squares and hemmed one edge of both of them. Lay them out on top of the front piece right sized together and match the edges, letting the hemmed sides overlap. Sew around all four sides.

Step 7

Trim the corners before turning it right side out and you’ll get nice sharp points in your pillow.


Suit Shams

I love how all the details look once it’s all pieced together. The little bits of pockets and cuffs and buttons make it obvious these are suits and not just a bunch of fabric pieced together. Just be sure when you’re laying it out that the buttons wind up on the sides and not right in the places you’re likely to lay your head.