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One of the final decor elements in Ellie’s Bedroom Makeover was to add decorative pillows. We thought that Bolster pillows would add a perfect touch to her French country daybed. While we both have done quite a bit of sewing through the years we had never made a bolster pillow, but we discovered it’s easier than it looks. Just follow along with our step by step tutorial with video and see how easy it is to get professional results.

This easy DIY project shows you how to measure and make your own custom bolster pillow, as well as install a zipper for a removable cover and a clean look.

Bolster pillows are perfect for a bed, daybed, couch or chair. They’re a great way to freshen up or update any room in your home. There’s no end to the decorative fun you can have with a good set of throw pillows, and adding bolster decorative pillows to the mix opens up yet a whole other world of possibilities.

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Bolster Pillow Supplies

For this project you will need basic sewing supplies as well as a bolster pillow insert. As luck would have it, we were at the Goodwill looking for something else and happened to see 2 bolster pillows. They were only $2 a piece!  🙌🏻 

For the fabric for our bolster pillows we had extra fabric from the Roman shade, so there was no expense there.  We spent a total of $4 for 2 bolster pillows. Can you believe that?!

Custom Measurements

Bolster pillow inserts can range in size from 6″to 9″ in diameter as well as vary in length. We will share the measurements we used, however you will want to measure your pillow for your custom bolster pillow.

Bolster Pillow Measurements

Begin by measuring the length of the bolster pillow, then add 1″ to that measurement. This will allow for a 1/2″ seam allowance on both ends. Our pillow length is 35 1/2″ and then we’ll add 1″ to that amount.

Bolster Pillow Measurements

Next, measure the circumferance of the bolster pillow. Our pillow circumference is 25″, then we added 1 1/2″ to that about for a total of 26 1/2″. We allowed 1/2″ on one side for the fold over area for the zipper and 1″ overlap for the other side of the zipper. 

For the body of each pillow our fabric is cut to 26 1/2″ x 36 1/2″.

Bolster Pillow Measurements

The final measurement for the bolster pillow will be the diameter. Ours is 8″ and with the seam allowance we cut 9″ circles.

For a more finished look we desired to also add a piping edge. While you can purchase ready made piping, we decided to make our own with the same fabric.

Bolster Pillow Fabric

Cut out all of the pieces for each bolster pillow as follows:

  • Main body – 26 1/2″ x 36 1/2″
  • Sides – 2   9″ circles
  • Piping – 2  2″ x 26″ (cut on bias)
  • Flap – 2″ x 36 1/2″ zipper flap (optional)

Bolster Pillow Piping

Piping Detail on Bolster Pillow

Begin by stitching together the 2″ sides to form a continuous loop, right sides together.

Piping Detail on Bolster Pillow

Cut a 26″ length of cording (determined by the circumference of the bolster pillow).

Place cord in the center of the strip, against the wrong wide of the fabric. Then fold the fabric around the cording with raw edges aligned.

Stitch close to the cording using a zipper foot.

Piping Detail on Bolster Pillow

In order to make the cord fit around the circle fabric, make relief cuts about every 1/2″  These cuts will be within 1/8″ of the stitching line.

How to Sew a Bolster Pillow

Pin piping to the circle piece of fabric. You can see here how those relief cuts allow it to fit around the circle. Use plenty of pins to keep it in place while stitching.

Piping Detail on Bolster Pillow

Stitch the piping to the circle fabric. It’s a good idea to remove the pins as you sew. Stitching over the pins may result in a broken needle. Believe me I know.🤪

Once the piping is stitched on, it will look something like this.

How to install zipper

Press Left Edge of Fabric
Press Right Edge of Fabric for Bolster Pillow

Along the 37″ length of the fabric press over 1/4″ on one side and 1″ along the other side.

Preparing Right Side of Zipper

Next align the zipper teeth with the 1/4″ fold edge. Pin in place.

Pin zipper to bolster pillow fabric

Then for the left side of the zipper align the raw edge of the zipper with the raw edge of the fabric, pin in place.

Left zipper lap

With the zipper closed the left edge of the fabric should overlap the right edge by about 1/8″.

Carefully unzip the zipper and stitch the left edge 1/8″ from the folded edge.

Finally, on the left side of the zipper stitch 3/4″ from the folded edge of the fabric, stitching the zipper in place.

Finished zipper cover

Zip close, the left flap should completely cover the zipper and overlap the right edge by 1/8″.

This should form a tube of fabric when the zipper is closed.

Often when you zip a pillow closed, the batting can get caught in the zipper. So we decided to add an extra piece of fabric that would prevent this from happening.

We cut a 2″ x 37″ piece of fabric and zigzagged one edge. Then we placed it under the zipper on the right side and stitched over our stitching line.

You’ll see that when we stuff the insert and zip the pillow closed, it closes much easier. However this step is totally optional.

Stitch sides to Fabric Tube.

Pin Ends to the Tube for the Bolster Cover

Last, but not least, turn the fabric tube inside out and pin the circle pieces to each end.

Once again use lots of pins to ensure that there are not puckers in the fabric.

Stitch the circle pieces on each end of the fabric tube. Stitch on top of the previous piping stitch line.

Finished Bolster Pillow

Turn right side out, insert bolster filler and enjoy your one of a kind, designer bolster pillow.

By following these simple steps you will ensure professional result. You’ll have a designer pillow without the designer price tag.

Enjoy your bolster pillow

The 36″ length is the perfect size for each end of Ellie’s French country daybed. 

These final touches really pull the room together. By incorporating the remaining fabric from the Roman shade, we’ve carried that color and pattern across the room, making it feel more cohesive.

Styled Bolster Pillows

Have you made a bolster pillow? This was our first time and we are thrilled with the results.

Is this a project you would like to try? We’d love to hear from you! We love your thoughts and input.

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Thanks for spending some time with us today!

And as always here at Sunny Side Design


Bolster Pillow Tutorial

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This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Stacy

    I’ve never sewn in a zipper. How long do I need if my bolster pillow is 18×6? Thank you

    1. Michelle Dickson

      Anywhere between 14-16 inches. Good luck! Let us know if you have any other questions.

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