DIY: Bolster cushions

I‘ve been noticing a lot of dreamy furniture with bolster cushions on my travels.  Namely couches, which is the inspiration for this how-to.  This DIY is dedicated to the keen crafters and closet sewers amongst you and is my mash-up of a few different methods I’ve adopted to get the look.

I recommend you use the detailed instructions below with this vid.  (The vid is a visual aid).

Missing You (Jahzzar) / CC BY-SA 4.0

For this tutorial, you’ll need:

  1. Fabric and a bolster cushion inner

  2. Pins, quick unpick, tape measure, marking pencil, scissors.  A square ruler is handy but not essential.

  3. Velcro

  4. Cord (if you want piping)

  5. A compass or something round (i.e pot lid!)

  6. Double-sided tape (approx 1cm wide)

  7. Sewing Machine and zipper foot

Step One: Measure out your fabric, velcro and cord (if piping) and cut.

To make 1 bolster cushion cover (multiply for more):

  1. Body of fabric (1 piece): Depending on the length of your bolster cushion and seam allowances your body of fabric length will differ but this is the magic formula I used to calculate mine.   Take the diameter of the cushion inner,  multiply that by 3.14, then add  1.5cm (for your seam allowance) to get your fabric body length.  I added another 1.5cm to the other end to allow for my velcro closure.  The width of this fabric is calculated by measuring the length of the cushion plus add 1.5cm either side for seam allowances.

  2. Circular Ends (2 pieces): Simply measure the diameter of your bolster cushion and add a seam allowance – again I stuck to 1.5cm.  Then either take a compass and measure a circle to this diameter OR  I had a pot lid that happened to be pretty much the perfect size so I used that.  Cut two circles.

  3. Velcro (1 piece of each side): Velcro is easy and tidy so I used this instead of a zip. I used velcro that was 1.5cm in width. Cut each side of the velcro (sticky and furry sides) to the width of your fabric.

  4. Piping: If you’re adding piping, you’ll need to cut 2 strips of fabric (mine were approximately 3 or 4cm wide by the fabric body length).  These cover the cord.  You’ll also need to cut 2 pieces of cord to the fabric body length.

Step Two: Prepare end hems of main fabric for velcro

Note: I like the no-sew method when I can use it.  So I adopted 1cm wide double-sided tape to secure my seams.  It means no pins, less sewing, less unpicking if you muck up and therefore, less work.

  1. Mark where your end hems (and velcro will sit).  I measured a 3cm line at each end. I then ran a length of tape along (and inside) the line and folded the ends to half way (1.5cm) these also covered the tape perfectly. Woohoo – no sew seams.

  2. Make sure you remember that your end seams are on opposite sides as your velcro needs to sit on top of the other piece (and overlap).  This is another reason why tape is used (so you can undo and re-do easily).

  3. Once you have two neat hems. Run another piece of tape along the top (clean edge) and fix your velcro over the top so it covers it.  Remember to check to make sure your seams overlap correctly.  Once you are happy, sew your velcro to the seams.

Step Three (for piping only):  Attach Piping to the circle ends

  1. To prepare your piping.  Take your fabric strips and cord.  With each, place a piece of double-sided tape slightly off-centre along the length of the strip.  Lie your cord alongside the tape (grazing the edge).  Then fold the fabric over the cord and tape (using the side closest to the cord), securing the fabric tightly to the tape and the cord.  Trim excess fabric back but allow for a 2cm seam.  Cut 1.5-2cm slits all the way along the length of the piping seam – not into the cord! (this will help you bend the cord around the circle).  Please see the video for visual.

  2. Take a pencil and mark a starting point on the edge of your circle. Take one piping piece and pin your piping along the edge of the circle allowing a seam for sewing. The good side of your circle fabric and the good side of your piping fabric should be facing inwards (towards each other).  Repeat for the other circle and piping piece.  When you get to the ends meeting, you can easily undo the tape and cut the cord slightly shorter on one end so that the other end can slot in to meet it seamlessly.

  3. With a zipper foot, carefully sew around each circle, along where you pinned and as close to the cord as possible.

Step four: Attach circle ends to the main body of fabric.

First: Fasten the velcro ends  of the main body of fabric together.  Then turn your main body of fabric inside-out (still velcroed together, so the good sides are facing inwards).

  1. With each circle (good sides facing in), carefully pin the edge of your circle to the ends of the main body of fabric.  I like to make my ‘North’ starting point where the velcro is at the top and then pin at points East, South and West before securing the gaps in between with pins.  Allow for a small seam allowance.

  2. Once both circles have been pinned at each end, sew carefully to secure.  Sew where your pins are (removing pins prior to sewing) and as close to the piping seam as you can get, right the way around.

Step Five: Transform your cover by filling it with the cushion inner

Simply turn your now-sewn cover back the right way (since it’s currently inside-out).  Grab your cushion inner and fill the cover. Push the cushion inner right to the ends and fasten the velcro.

Waa-lah!  Your bolster cushion is complete. 


The bolster cushions I’ve made aren’t strictly for the couch but can be placed wherever a space needs lifting i.e. spare beds, armchairs, window seats…

Happy crafting and most of all thanks for watching/reading (and just being you really)!


Erena Te Paa Stylist

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