How to Sew a Bolster Pillow

4 Materials
1 Hour

Bolster pillows seem to be growing in popularity these last couple years, or maybe I've just had them on my mind. I used to always have a body pillow on my bed in front of my decorative pillows, but when I refreshed my girls' bedroom a few months ago I recovered my body pillow for my daughters new queen bed. Since then, I've had plans to make a bolster pillow for my bed. I'm finally getting around to it.

The first step is to decide how big you want your pillow in length and in diameter. If you plan to make your own feather pillow filler/insert like I did, then you can make your bolster any size your heart desires. However, if you want make things easier, I would say order or buy your filler first, before you make your bolster cover, so you can use the dimensions of the filler. 

I cut my end circles 9" in diameter so my finished ends would be 8" in diameter. I used a kitchen plate, however you could easily customize the size of your end circle using the thumbtack and string method.

I usually double layer my fabric so I can cut both ends at once.

The next step is to make welt to attach to both ends of the bolster. I have a tutorial and video on welt making  .


Start by snipping relief snips in the welt cord the whole length of welt so it'll bend around the circle. Then pin the welt all the way around the circle, joining the welt to itself at the start.

Using either a welt foot or a zipper foot sew the welt to the end circles. 

You can either measure around your welt circle to determine the cut size(circumference) of the barrel(body) part of the pillow OR you can get fancy and use the formula C=πD (circumference =3.14 x diameter). Either way, you'll need to add an inch to that dimension to allow for the zipper seam allowance. My cut length came to 28" and I decided to make my bolster 39" long.

So I cut my fabric for the body of my bolster pillow 29" x 40". My bolster came out a little fatter than I really wanted it to be. Another reason it's a good idea to start this project with your filler(pillow insert) in hand. You won't have to try to guess how big your finished product will be. :)


Fold you fabric right side to right side lengthwise to install the zipper. First lay the zipper centered on the length of the pillow and snip a 1/4" notch through both layers of fabric to mark where to install the zipper. 

I like to leave between 2"-4" on both ends of the bolster without zipper. You'll sew those ends shut after installing the zipper. 

Open the zipper all the way and pin one side of the zipper to one side of the pillow, with the zipper pull face down. Then match the other side of the zipper to the notch you snipped and pin the other side to the fabric.

Now sew the zipper with your zipper foot as close to the teeth as possible without sewing into the teeth. This is an invisible zipper so it tends to roll in on itself. You'll need to hold it open. Do the same on both sides.

After the zipper is sewn in place, you'll need to sew the last couple inches past the ends of the zipper on both sides to close up the barrel part of the bolster pillow. The video explains this part in detail. 

Now it's time to sew on the end circles. Pin all the way around and then snip relief snips in the body fabric about 1/4" into the fabric, so the body fabric will lay down flat around the circle. Otherwise you won't be able to sew it. 

Before you sew the second circle to the end of your bolster make sure to open your zipper enough to get your hand into the pillow, so you can turn it right side out. 


Lastly, stuff your pillow filler into your beautiful new bolster pillow. 

Zip it up and enjoy. 

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