How to Sew a Cylinder Pillow

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A cylinder pillow, or bolster, is the perfect shape for slipping under your neck for a nap on the couch or to help prop you up for a long evening reading in bed. You can sew your own cylinder pillow in an afternoon and make it as soft or firm as you like. You can even re-purpose old towels as the stuffing to a firm furniture-suitable cylindrical pillow.

Things You'll Need

  • Sewing machine
  • 1.5 yards pillow fabric, or more for a large bolster pillow
  • Matching thread
  • Cylindrical pillow form or old towels
  • Quilt batting or heavy interfacing
  • Covered cording or ribbon
  • Fabric shears
  • Straight pins
  • Spray adhesive
  • Paper plate or other round object for template
  • Yard stick
  • Cloth tape measure
  • Marking pencil or chalk

Determine the size cylinder pillow you would like, as well as its hardness. For a soft cylinder pillow, purchase a cylinder pillow form in the appropriate size or use a whole role of purchased quilt batting for the stuffing. For a firm couch bolster stuffing, stack old towels, fold their long edges in to meet in the middle and roll the towels firmly.

Measure the length and circumference of the cylinder with a cloth tape measure. Using marking pencil or chalk, transfer these dimensions to a single thickness of quilt batting if making a soft cylinder pillow or a piece of interfacing if making a firm cylinder pillow. Add 2 inches to the circumference measurement. Cut out the quilt batting or interfacing with fabric shears. Spray the cut-out piece with spray adhesive and wrap it around the cylinder of stuffing, overlapping the ends by 1 inch.

Using marking pencil or chalk, transfer the length and circumference dimensions to the reverse side of the pillow fabric. Add 3 inches in length to each end and 2 inches to the width that will encircle the stuffing. Cut out this marked piece of fabric with fabric shears.

Zig-zag stitch around all raw edges with a sewing machine, using matching thread. With right sides together, fold the cut fabric in two lengthwise and sew the long seam, leaving a 1-inch seam allowance. Zig-zag stitch inside this seam and sew another straight seam inside the zig-zag stitch for added strength.

Open the long seam 1 inch at each end, using fabric shears to cut thread. Stay stitch across the seam at the end of the opening.

Turn back the edge of fabric around the cylinder end 1/2 inch and straight-stitch the edge, forming a narrow tube. Thread covered cord or ribbon through these tubes to form drawstrings.

Turn the sewn fabric cylinder right side out and insert pillow stuffing. Use a paper plate or other round template and mark two circles with marking pencil or chalk on the reverse side of the remaining pillow cover fabric. Cut out the circles with fabric shears and zig-zag stitch around the raw outer edges with matching thread, using a sewing machine.

Insert one circle in each end of the cylinder, with the right side facing out, covering the end of the pillow stuffing. Tighten the drawstring cord or ribbon and tie in a bow, completing the cylindrical pillow.

Tips & Warnings

  • Cut the main piece of pillow cover fabric just 2 inches longer than the stuffing length and sew the round fabric pieces to the ends of the pillow cover fabric, right sides together, for a pillow without drawstrings. Open the main long seam from the center outward to about 6 inches from each end of the seam, insert the pillow stuffing through this opening, pin shut with straight pins and hand-sew the seam shut. Welted cording inserted in the round seams at the ends of the cylinder will give the pillow a crisp, upholstered look.

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