When you browse through home decorating books or magazines almost all of the bedrooms have a collection of throw pillows somewhere in the room. Anyone who can sew can make a collection of custom pillow shams and covers at a small fraction of what it would cost to buy them... and in the colors and textures you want instead of settling for what is available.
Equipment / Tools
- Measuring tape
- Pen or pencil
- Scissors or rotary cutter, ruler, and mat
- Sewing machine
- Compass, round object, or a circle cutting tool (optional)
- Cylindrical bolster pillow form in the desired size
- Fabric - enough to cover the pillow used
- Covered piping or cording and fabric to create your own piping - enough to go around the pillow twice (for each end)
- Invisible zipper (optional)
Calculations and Cutting
Follow these directions to determine the cut sizes for any bolster pillow.
Note: Use a 1/2" seam allowance.
The Pillow Ends
- Measure the distance across the end of the bolster pillow form (the diameter) and add 1" for seam allowances.
- If you want to cover cording to make your own piping to match, do this now before cutting the rest of the fabric pieces.
- From the fabric, cut out two circles at the larger size. Use a compass or one of the many circular items found around the house to obtain a circle template the same size. Plates, bowls, pans, and more are all usable templates.
- Stack the circles and mark the exact same spot on one edge of both circles. This will be the mark to begin and end the piping and to align with the seam on the body of the pillow.
The Pillow Body
The body of the pillow will require a rectangle of fabric as follows:
- Measure the length of the pillow form and add 1" for seam allowances. This is the length of 2 sides of the rectangle.
- Multiply the original diameter of the pillow form (without the 1" added for seam allowance) times 3.14 (Pi), then add 1" for seam allowances. Round up or down to the nearest quarter-inch for the width of the rectangle.
- Cut 1 rectangle the length x width calculated above.
For example, for a 9" x 14" bolster pillow form, the length of the form is 14" so one side of the rectangle is 14" plus 1" which equals 15".
The diameter of the pillow is 9" so the other edge of the rectangle is 9 times 3.14 which equals 28.26 plus 1" for seam allowances is 29.26 (rounded down to 29.25 or 29 1/4")
Using these calculations - a 9" by 14" bolster pillow requires:
- two 10" circles for the ends
- one rectangle 15" x 29 1/4" for the body of the pillow
Attach the Piping and Sew the Body
The Pillow Ends
- Starting at the mark on each circle, sew the piping to the right side of the fabric using a 1/2" seam allowance.
- Clip the seam allowance of the piping seam allowance. Even though it is cut on the bias, clipping the tape will allow the piping tape to lay smoothly.
The Body of the Pillow - Using the rectangle for the body of the pillow:
- Match the edges that are the length of the pillow plus 1".
- Optional: Insert an invisible zipper leaving 1/2" open at each end of the seam.
- Sew the seam, leaving an opening in the seam for turning if not using a zipper.
- Apply a seam finish.
- Press the seam open. If using a nylon zipper, lower the iron temperature and avoid pressing directly on the zipper teeth.
Attaching the Ends
Working with the tube for the body, wrong side out:
- If you have sewn in an invisible zipper, open the zipper.
- Fold the piped circle ends in half along the previous mark, then in quarters, and place pins at the quarter marks.
- Repeat to quarter mark both ends of the body tube, with one mark at the seam.
- Match the marks on one piped circle end to the seam on the body tube, right sides together, with the piping start/end aligned with the seam, and pin all around.
- Sew one piped end to the body tube.
- Repeat to pin and sew the remaining piped end to the opposite end fo the tube.
- Trim the seam allowance.
- Apply a seam finish.
- Press the seams.
- Turn the pillow cover right side out.
- Press and insert the pillow form inside the pillow cover.
- If you left an opening in the seam, hand sew the opening closed.