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.
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.
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 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 opened welt fabric over the cut edges of the welt cord and stitch the final 2-3 inches. Repeat on the other end.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.