Take an off-the-rack sheet set and plain Jane shams to the next level with ribbons and a few simple stitches.
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An easy way to bring color, pattern, and style to almost anything, ribbon is a simple addition. Dress up plain sheets and white pillow shams with colorful ribbon and fabric tape. We'll show you how to create custom bedding with just a few inexpensive materials. When attaching ribbons to fabric, either stitch (like on the pillowcases) or use iron-on adhesive tape (like on the shams). Do not try to do both. Sewing through adhesive tape does not work well and can ruin your needle. Once you've mastered the technique, try creating personalized throw pillows to finish your space.

blue colored bedroom ribbon trim bedding
Credit: Jay Wilde

How to Sew Ribbon Trim on Bedding

Supplies Needed

  • Pillowcases
  • Iron
  • Grosgrain ribbon
  • Pins
  • Coordinating thread
  • Sewing machine
  • Flat sheet
  • Decorative shams (we used 26×26-inch Euros)
  • Decorative ribbon or decorative fabric tape
  • Iron-on adhesive/hem tape with paper backing
  • Fabric glue

Step-by-Step Directions

With a few simple sewing skills and these how-to instructions, you can create your own set of decorative sheets and pillowcases. You should be able to complete this craft project in an afternoon.

close up ribbon pinned to blue patterned bedsheet
pinned ribbon on patterned fabric
Left: Credit: Jay Wilde
Right: Credit: Jay Wilde

Step 1: Add Grosgrain Ribbon to Pillowcases

Press pillowcases using an iron ($10, Walmart). With the open end of the case on the right and starting at a seam, align the right edge of the grosgrain ribbon with the stitch line of the hem on the open end of the case. Pin in place, working your way around the case. At the end, turn back ½-inch of ribbon to overlap the start of the ribbon and pin. Slip the open end of the case around your sewing machine's work surface. Topstitch the right-hand edge of the ribbon around the case, then topstitch left side. Be sure to stitch forward, reverse for a few stitches, then forward again at the start and stop of each run. Remove the case from the machine and press. Repeat this step for additional pillowcases and for the top side of the flat sheet.

Editor's Tip: Grosgrain ribbon is a stiff silk or nylon woven ribbon with distinct transverse ribs. Its thick, horizontal fibers provide durability with just the right amount of elasticity for trimming and edging projects. Grosgrain ($4, Etsy) comes in a wide variety of colors, patterns, and widths so you're sure to find a ribbon to fit almost any color scheme.

measuring light blue ribbon
ironing corner of light blue ribbon
Left: Credit: Jay Wilde
Right: Credit: Jay Wilde

Step 2: Apply Grosgrain Ribbon to Pillow Shams

To apply ribbons to pillow shams (we used 26-inch-square Euros, two colors of grosgrain ribbon, and a decorative tape), press each sham flat. Plan your ribbon placement (our top ribbon starts 1-inch down from the top corners of the sham). Cut the first ribbon longer than you'll need. Fold the piece in half with short ends together. On the folded end, measure 1 inch from the fold, mark, then sew a 45-degree angle from the mark to the opposite corner at the fold. Cut off the folded excess, being careful not to cut your stitch. Open the folded ribbon and press flat. It is very important to get the middle seam of each ribbon pressed flat so it will lay nicely on and adhere well to the sham.

Editor's Tip: Decorative tape (aka fabric tape or trim tape) is similar to ribbon but is usually heftier, has a raised design, and is traditionally used to edge drapery panels or upholstery. Decorative tape (from $13, Etsy) is available in any number of designs and color schemes and a variety of widths.

ironing white strips to fabric
Credit: Jay Wilde

Step 3: Prep the Patterned Ribbon

With the right side of the ribbon face down, apply iron-on adhesive tape ($3, Walmart) to the back of the ribbon. Remove paper from the iron-on tape and place the ribbon on the sham in your desired arrangement. We spaced our three ribbons 1 inch apart in a repeating V. Pin the ribbon at its three corners. Repeat for additional ribbons.

ironing white and blue pillow case
embroidered blue strip on pillow case
blue patterned bedsheets and pillows
Left: Credit: Jay Wilde
Center: Credit: Jay Wilde
Right: Credit: Jay Wilde

Step 4: Add Patterned Ribbon to Pillow Shams

Secure ribbons to sham by starting ironing in the center and working toward the edge. Fold the ribbons' cut edges under at the sham's side hems and iron flat. Glue edge for extra hold.

Editor's Tip: Grosgrain ribbon can be washed in cold water. Test for color fastness before stitching onto bedding and washing. Decorative tape, depending on its construction, may be washable. We recommend hand washing shams where ribbons are ironed on instead of stitched.

By Lacey Howard and Sonja Carmon

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