I have always found sewing anything round kind of tricky - but I've finally found a formula for sewing bolster cushion covers that works really well!
TOOLS & MATERIALS:
- 1 Meter of fabric
- 1 Meter of piping material (I prefer to use the non-plastic type)
- 1 bolster pillow form
- 1 zipper (just slightly longer than the length of your pillow form)
- Sewing machine
- Straight pins
- Seam ripper
- Carpenter's Square (optional)
STEP 1: Measure your pillow form
Using a soft measuring tape, measure the length of your pillow form from seam to seam and add 1" onto your measurement to determine the length of the body of your pillow cover. (In my case, my bolster pillow was 14" long, so with the added 1" my working measurement for the length of my pillow cover was 15")
Now measure the diameter (length across the middle) of the end of the pillow form (again from seam to seam) and add 1" onto that measurement as well. (In my case the diameter of the end of my pillow form was 6", so with the added 1" my working measurement was 7").
To find the appropriate width for the body of your cushion cover, take the diameter of the end of the pillow form + 1" (in my case 7" total) and multiply it by 3.14 (otherwise known as Pi - who knew math had a practical application?). In my case this turned out to be 19.84".
STEP 2: Cut your fabric
a) Cut the body of your pillow cover according to your measurements (for me: 15" x 19.84")
|*Tip* I have found that using a carpenter's square to help me measure and mark my fabric has provided me with greater accuracy in cutting, which helps to avoid problems later on.|
b) Cut 2, 2" strips from your fabric for the piping just slightly longer than the width of your pillow body (in my case I cut them about 21" long), and 2 pieces of piping material the same length as the width of your pillow body (19.84" in my case).
c) Cut 2 circular end pieces with a diameter in accordance to the measurement of the diameter of your pillow form + 1" (in my case 7").
|*Tip* Use a compass or perfectly round object of some kind that you can trace the circle onto your fabric and then cut it out. In my case I rummaged through my kitchen until I found a pot that I had with a 7" diameter.|
This is what your pieces should look like:
STEP 3: Install zipper
a) Take the body of your pillow cover and fold it in half right-side to ride side along the length (15" side in my case).
Pin along the edge and sew a basting stitch across the length with a 1/2" seam.
|*Tip* A basting stitch is just a temporary stitch used to hold things in place for the time being. Use the longest stitch length you have on your machine (in my case 4) and do not secure the beginning or end.|
b) Open the right-sides of the seam, and iron flat.
c) Place the zipper face down across the length of the pillow cover body with the teeth of the zipper right against the edge of the basting-stitch seam.
|*Tip* Leave the zipper head hanging off the edge of your fabric so it doesn't get in your way.|
Pin the bottom edge of the zipper to the bottom edge of the seam (make sure you don't go all the way through to the body - just get the seam) and sew in place.
d) Zig-zag the edges of the zipper to the edges of the fabric for extra strength.
e) Push the zipper-head down so that it sits about 1" away from the edge of the fabric. Secure the end of the zipper about 1/2" away from the edge of the fabric by going back & forth over it with your sewing machine a couple of times.
|You may need to rip a couple of the basting stitches in order to push the zipper-head down.|
|Secure the end of the zipper by going back & forth over it with your sewing machine a couple of times.|
Secure the end of the zipper in the same way.
e) Trim off the zipper excess and turn the pillow cover body right-side out.
Use a seam-ripper to cut the basting stitches and open the zipper. Pull out the basting stitches.
STEP 4: Sew the piping
a) Fold one end of the piping strip over about 1/2" and iron flat.
Fold the strip of fabric in half lengthwise (right-side out) and iron flat.
Open the fabric, and place the piping material inside, against the fold, starting just before the folded over edge.
Fold the fabric over the piping and pin in place as snug as possible.
Sew along the length of the piping using a zipper-foot on your machine, getting the seam as close to the piping as possible.
b) Trim off the raw edge of the piping, so that you have about 1/2" of fabric next to the piping.
Snip the 1/2" edge of fabric (being careful not to get too close to the piping) at 1cm intervals along the length of the piping.
STEP 5: Sew the piping onto the end pieces
a) Mark a starting point on the edge of your circular end pieces (right-side up). Starting with the folded end of the piping, pin the piping around the outside edge of the end piece, placing the end of the piping material at the starting point marked on the end piece (the empty, folded over edge should extend past the starting point).
|Starting point is placed at the first snip.|
b) Trim the raw end of the piping so that it matches up to the starting point.
Tuck the raw end of the piping into the folded end of the piping and pin in place.
Sew the piping in place using a zipper-foot on your machine (try to get the seam as close to the piping as possible - this can be a little tricky).
Repeat for the other end piece.
STEP 6: Attach the end pieces to the body.
a) Place the zipper half-way down the length of the body and turn the body inside-out.
Pin the outside edge of the body to the outside edge of the end piece all along the circumference of the end piece. It should match up precisely (this is why I find using the carpenter's square to measure and mark my fabric before I cut important).
Repeat on the other end.
Sew the ends to the body using a zipper-foot on your machine, getting the seam as tight to the piping as you possibly can.
c) Turn the pillow cover right-side out and check your seams along the piping.
If it's not tight enough, turn it inside out again and give it another go (this can be tricky to get right tight on the first go).
When you are satisfied, zig-zag the edges for added strength.
STEP 7: Stuff the pillow
Turn the pillow cover right-side out and hold your breath while you insert the pillow form. It should be snug, but you shouldn't have to struggle to do up the zipper. Fluff and smooth the pillow form inside the cover until you are satisfied with the shape and enjoy your new bolster pillow!