How to make a bolster pillow

Updated July 20, 2017

A bolster pillow is a throw pillow shaped like a log or cylinder. It's often called a "neck bolster pillow" because its shape makes it ideal for neck support. Bolster pillows are also used to cushion against hard or un-upholstered arm rests, making them integral accessories to wood and metal futon beds. If you know how to use a sewing machine, you can make bolster pillows in no time.

Buy foam cushion from a craft of fabric shop. Bolster foam is usually available in different sizes, but as an alternative, you can get 2.5 to 5 cm (1 to 2 inch) thick flat foam, which you can roll up into a bolster. If you're using flat foam, secure the roll with ribbons or strings.

Measure the dimensions of the cylindrical foam -- length, width, and circumference. Use these numbers to determine how much fabric material and welt cord you will need. Remember to allow for naps on all the edges that will be sewed up.

Choose your bolster pillow fabric.

Cut up a piece of cardboard into a round shape to use as a template for the side ends of the bolster pillow.

Cut a 5 cm (2 inch) wide piece of fabric equal to the length of the welt cords to serve as a cover. You will need two strips for both ends of the pillow.

Get a zipper that is a little longer than the length of the bolster foam so that the zipper will open from end to end.

Gather the materials and prepare the sewing machine.

Sew the welt cord inside the welt cover. Snip the nap of the welt cover to allow for easy attachment to the circular ends of the bolster pillow. Sew the zipper on.

Working with the underside of the fabric out, sew the welt strip on to the top and bottom edges of the body fabric.

Using sewing pins, attach the round pieces adjacent to the welt strip. Working with pins, you can easily adjust the attachment if necessary.

Sew the pinned pieces together. Reverse the bolster fabric, insert the foam inside, zip up and you're done!


If you're using a rolled-up foam cushion tied down with strings, you can remove the strings after you've inserted the foam into the bolster cover. Or you can leave them there so you won't have to re-roll the foam when you replace the cover.

Zippers are available in different sizes, but you can also buy them per metre, allowing you to have a zipper that will go from one end of the bolster to the other. The longer the zipper opening, the easier to insert the foam cushion.

Buy enough materials for not just one but two bolster pillows.

Things You'll Need

  • Fabric
  • Zipper
  • Sewing pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Scissors
  • Tape measure
  • Foam cushion
  • Welt cord
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Sarah Hamilton is a professional artist and dressmaker in Los Angeles. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in fashion design from the Fashion Institute of Technology, and has since been working in all forms of the visual arts. She is happiest in her studio, painting, sewing, or crafting anything from nothing.