Thursday, January 19, 2012

Easy Bolster with Gathered Ends and Covered Button

Bolsters make great decorative pillows for chairs, sofas and beds.  There's so many different elements that you can add to make them eye catching.  The options are endless.....Contrasting banding, trim, ruffles, shirring, and buttons are just a few.  Today I'm sharing a fairly easy one that looks a little fancy, but really it's one of the easiest to make.
This bolster measures 29" x 9".
What you'll need:  bolster fill (either foam, polyfil or down), 1 1/2 yards of fabric, 1 zipper, 2 buttons, thread, 2 yards of welt cord, tufting needle (or large needle), tufting cord or very strong thread.


To cut the main piece of fabric for this pillow, take the diameter of your pillow x pi, in this case 9x3.14=28 1/4".  This is the circumference.  Add seam and zipper flap allowance of 1 1/2", so 29 1/2" is what it will take to go around the pillow with a zipper.
Since my pillow is 29" long, we will add 1/2" seam allowances.  So my first cut is 30 x 29 1/2".

Our next cuts will be the end pieces.  They are just long rectangle pieces that are gathered up in the center.  Our diameter is 9", divided in half= 4 1/2".Add 1/2" seam allowance and 1" hem allowance(just to be safe)=6" this is the width of our 2 gathered piece cuts.
So we cut 2 pieces at circumference plus 1"= 29 1/2" x 6"

Cut 2 scrap pieces 1 1/8" wide x 4" long.  These will be your zipper stops.
Cut 2 yards worth of bias strips for the covered welt.  You can find the instructions for this here:  http://sew-passionate.blogspot.com/2012/01/easy-bias-strips-and-covered-welt-cord.html

The very first thing I always do when I make a pillow is serge the edges of the fabric that will be sewn along the zipper.  This ensured you will never have frayed edges and string getting caught in your zipper.  So serge the edges that are 30" long.
The first step in constructing this bolster is the zipper.  I use zipper by the yard.  Here's a great source for zipper by the yard.
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You can use a regular zipper and still follow the same directions, it's just a lot easier when you use zipper by the yard.

Step 1.  Zipper
With a 1/2" folded under, stitch a zipper stop to the end of your zipper.  Stitch along both sides of the zipper teeth as close to the zipper teeth as possible.

Lay one of the serged edges of your main pillow piece on top of the zipper aligning the edges.  Stitch along this edge along the zipper teeth stopping short about 5-6" from the other end.

Take your second zipper stop and line it up with the second end, fold 1/2" under and see where you need to cut the extra zipper off.  You want the zipper to lay under the zipper stop by at least 1/2".  Cut excess zipper off.
With 1/2" folded under, lay the zipper stop over the end of the zipper and then align the serged edge and stitch the last 5-6".  Turn it right side facing up and this is what it should look like.
Extend the fabric over the zipper teeth and crease with your fingers.  Stitch with your zipper foot on the left side of the zipper to form the zipper flap.
If using zipper by the yard, separate your zipper slightly and attach the zipper slide.
Stitch the remaining serged edge to the other side of the zipper, as close to the zipper teeth as possible, making sure the zipper flap is pushed out of the way.

Step2.  Welt
  With the raw edges lined up, lay the beginning edge of your welt to the main pillow piece where the zipper is.  Extend the welt 1/2" past the zipper and sew all the way around the end of the bolster, stopping a few inches from the starting point.
Fold the end of your welt 1/2" past the beginning edge and cut like this:
Using your scissors open up a couple inches of the welt seam to expose the welt.
 Fold 1/2' up on the ending edge of the welt and lay the beginning welt edge over it.
Clip the excess exposed welt so that they butt up against each other.

Fold opened welt fabric over the cut edges of the welt cord and stitch the final 2-3 inches.  Repeat on the other end.
Step3.  Bolster Ends
Serge one long edge of each of the bolster end pieces.  Then with right sides together lay the unserged edge over your end with the welt cord folding up 1/2".  Stitch getting as close to the welt as possible without running over it with your needle.
When you've stitched all the way around, simply overlap the ending raw edge over the beginning folded edge.
Repeat this on the other end of your bolster.

Step 4. Gathering Ends
In my original measurements, I allowed for a 1" hem along the serged edge of the end of the bolster.  Insert your bolster fill and check to make sure the strip will join in the middle of the round part when 1" hem is folded under.  If so, press up 1" fold all along this serged edge of the fabric.

Fold and pin the overlapped ends like this:
Using Strong thread and a needle, on the right side of this pressed hem, hand stitch in and out using a running stitch.  Make sure you have a large knot at the end.  Spacing your hand stitches about 1/2" apart, stitch all the way around and pass the beginning by a couple stitches.

Step 5.  Covered Button
Since I used a heavy velvet fabric for my pillow, I decided to use a lighter weight complimentary fabric for my button.  Thick heavy fabrics do not work well for covered buttons.  Lay your button front on a scrap piece of fabric and draw a circle that is 1/2"-5/8" bigger all the way around.  Cut 2 of these circles out of your scraps.
With needle and thread, do a running stitch all around the edge of the circle of fabric just like you did with the end of your bolster.  Again overlap by a few stitches and pull the thread to gather the circle up over your button front.  Keep this thread pulled taught.
Snap the back of your button onto the backside of your button front.

Step 6.  Tufting
If you don't want to bother tufting your pillow ends, you could just hand stitch the buttons on the ends of your bolster.  But I think the ends look way cooler when they are tufted and the buttons recede into the pillow a little.
I use a tufting needle.  Tufting needles can be purchased at most upholstery supply stores and they come in different lengths.  Mine is 18" long.  It should be registered as a lethal weapon because it is sharp!  So I'm always very careful with it and the minute I am done with it, I stick the sharp end into a wine cork.
Tufting needles have a large eye.  Here's a closer picture.

I use tufting cord.  Tufting cord is woven in such a way that once you pull on it to knot it, the twine locks on itself.  You don't have to use tufting cord, but make sure you use a VERY strong thread or cord.
Measure out enough tufting cord to more than double the length of your bolster.  Fold the cord in half and knot the folded end to your first button.
Thread the cut ends of your tufting cord into your tufting needle.  Find the center of your bolster end and poke your threaded needle through the end of your bolster fill.  Push it as far as you can into the pillow without the eye of the needle going through yet.
Now unzip your pillow and using a seam ripper or a small pair of scissors open up a small section of the seam of your fill.  I used a down feather fill, so I had to do this very gently to ensure a bazillion feathers did not end up all over.
Carefully stick your hand in this opening and find your tufting needle and feed it the remaining length of your pillow, making sure you have the needle exiting the center of the end.  Once you have your needle through to the other side, close your fill back up before attaching the last button.  Hand stitch the seam closed where you opened it up.  Zip your pillow back up and then attach your last button with a double knot pulling the buttons in as far as you like.  You might want to knot it a third time if you are not using tufting thread just to make sure this knot never comes lose.  Clip the tufting thread ends and you're done!
Not so hard huh?!


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44 comments:

  1. This is a really pretty pillow! Your tutorial is great because it is the "right" way to make this. There are so many "shortcut" tutorials out there, either people want a shortcut or they just don't know. But you can tell a shortcut when you see it. Yours is just lovely! Obviously not a shortcut : ) I really appreciate it!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Kate,Glad you liked the pillow and tutorial! Yes, this "IS" the right way. I sew Custom interiors for a living and this is how they are made in the industry. I've seen the tutorials you're talking about where people are just "winging" it and I always wonder if the finished project really works or holds up.
      You're welcome and stay tuned, I'll be showing all kinds of sewing tutorials on my blog that are done "the right" way. I promise the only shortcuts you will find with me are "tricks of the trade"
      Jules

      Delete
  2. That's a lot of work will you just make me a couple ? LOL

    It would take me maybe a week sewing everyday to do that since I can't even follow those instructions LOL

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I take it you're not much of a sewer? If you ever do decide to make some pillows, let me know, I'll walk you through it.
      Jules

      Delete
  3. this is so fabulous!I'd love if you would link it up to my blog party. I know my readers in the uk love american interior style. hope you can make it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you liked the bolster tutorial! I'll stop by your blog and see about linking up.
      Thanks, Jules

      Delete
  4. Ugh, I love a good bolster. Hey, why dontcha come and link up to the Head to Head Showdown? It's happening right now at www.icantstopcrafting.blogspot.com ~Jen

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Jen, Glad you like the bolster! I linked it up to your Link Party this morning. Thanks for the invite!
    Jules

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  6. Thank you so much for visiting -- I love finding new blog friends and am now following. Follow me?

    I am saving this tutorial -- you must have a professional workroom. I am not so skilled, and I am sure my mother would turn over in her grave if she looked at my slipcovering methods!

    I will visit you regularly to see what other tips I can garner.

    ETS

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Following back! :-) Yes, I have a professional workroom. Lately I've been thinking that a slipcover tutorial is in order. Just the fact that you can slipcover at all tells me you have pretty good skills. I look forward to seeing future projects and thanks for your warm comments.
      Jules

      Delete
  7. Wow, you make that look easy! Following you now...

    ciao form Newport Beach

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is easy! Following you too and nice to meet someone from my neck of the woods.
      Jules

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  8. I love bolster pillows. I am a big sewer, use to make my own cloths, but now focus on home decor project. So was happy when I stumbled upon your blog. Now following! I will be making one of these soon, and your tutorial will be a great help. I never understand why so many "freak" out about sewing. I was lucky and learned from my Mom at a very young age, we would sew together. My fingers are crossed you'll share your bolster pillow at Sunday's Best tonight!

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  9. That is great Jules, I have a sewing machine and would love to use it. I am following you now to get some good tips. Rhonda @ The Messy Roost

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hi Rhonda, Yes! Get your sewing machine out!! That's one of my main goals...get people sewing again! If there's anything in particular you would like to have a tutorial on, let me know.
    Following you back!
    Jules

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  11. So pretty! I must find a sewing machine! Love the tutorial! Will you come link up at my place Wednesday and share with my group?
    Melody
    ChattyChics.com
    PS You could win a $5 Starbucks card and I would love to feature this in a future post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you liked the tutorial. If you don't already have a sewing machine, sometimes you can find perfectly nice ones used at sewing machine & repair shops.
      I'll make sure I link up with ChattyChics on Wednesday!
      Thanks for your kind words,
      Jules

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  12. Loved the tutorial. I am saving this one.
    Great inside tips.
    I am a new follower and I followed you on Pintrest. Please come by to visiti me. I am having a nice giveaway.
    Ginger

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Ginger, I hopped over to 2 of your blogs and I'm following both. I also checked out your Bed Skirt tutorial...very nice job!! I construct my bed skirts almost the same exact way. You're a great sewer and I look forward to following you.
      Jules

      Delete
  13. I love this. I am so scared of zippers though! I hope you'll come share it at our linky party!

    http://housewivesofriverton.blogspot.com/2012/01/one-year-blogaversary-and-new-linky.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jenn, I put you on my Link Party list for Tuesday, I'll link up next Tuesday for sure!
      Don't be afraid of zippers! They are easy when they are done my way...I promise! I can put a zipper in anything in under 2 minutes flat and I assure you that you CAN master zippers!
      See you tuesday, Jules

      Delete
  14. Thanks for another great tutorial! And thanks for linking to Potpourri Friday!

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  15. I was excited to see you join us for the party. I love this bolster pillow. Also enjoyed you Linen Pillow with butterfly corners. What a great sewer you are. Love sewing. Thanks for sharing your creative inspiration at Sunday's Best party!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cathy,
      Thank you! So glad you liked my pillows. I really love to sew too. Nice to meet a fellow sewer!
      Thanks for hosting and I'll see you this weeks party.
      Jules

      Delete
  16. This looks about 1000 times better than the one I made last year. Yours is so professional, love that covered button! Thanks for linking to Refresh Your Nest Friday and hope to see you back there tomorrow!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Carrie,
      Thanks for hosting and I'll see you at the next party.
      Jules

      Delete
  17. Replies
    1. Stevie, Glad you liked it. If you make one send me a pic, i'd love to see it!
      Jules

      Delete
  18. Thank you for the how-to! I love to sew for my house--can't wait for more tutorials!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jane, So glad you liked the tutorial! Nice to meet someone else that loves to sew!!
      Stay tuned, I have so many tutorials I want to do, just have to find the time to get all these projects out of my head and into action.
      Jules

      Delete
  19. Vous avez un joli blog avec plein de bonnes idées!

    A très bientot!
    Pascale

    ReplyDelete
  20. This was amazingly helpful. I'm so glad I found your blog. I had worked out the final stages of finishing my bolster and your information confirmed I was on the right track. The clues on attaching the buttons were what I really needed. I found another blog where it was suggested to use elastic to pull the buttons towards each other. Unfortunately I didn't have a tufting needle and was too impatient to get my bolster finished - hence th inevitable feather escape party. Clue - if using elastic DON'T let go of the elastic once you've sewn up the inner - as you can guess, this comment has come from experience!!!Anyway, finally a gorgeous bolster was finished. I also love your new additions

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  21. Thank you so much for this tutorial. I have just completed my neck bolster to finish off the decor for my bedroom. I learned the basics of sewing when I was younger and haven't sewed much since, but was able to follow your tutorial very easily. I was very proud to complete my pillow and now my room matches my inspiration room. SO Happy! You are awesome!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Hi, I'm June from Melbourne, Australia. Just found your blog and am reading your tutorials with a lot of interest. This cushion look great, but I do have one question. If you have to launder the cushion, would you have to undo the tufting? I noticed that you have inserted a zipper so the case is removable, but the buttons have been tufted into the insert, so I'm not sure how the pillow is intended to be laundered. Could you please enlighten me?

    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Hi I am wondering how to go about making a tufted bolster without a zip or piping? If you can't give me any info about this could you point me in the direction of a good website or book that may help? Thanks, it's a great post tho!

    ReplyDelete
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