How to sew a cover for a bolster pillow

Updated November 22, 2016

Bolsters are tube-shaped pillows that make great neck rests. The easiest way to make a cover for a bolster pillow is to use drawstrings on the ends of a tube of fabric. This makes the bolster cover easy to sew, and easy to change if it needs washing or if you simply want to change the cover for a different look.

Measure the length of the bolster pillow, the diameter (or width of the circular end) and the circumference. You can measure the circumference by wrapping a flexible measuring tape around the bolster, or by wrapping the ribbon or cord around the bolster and then measuring the ribbon or cord.

Add the length and the diameter of the bolster together, and then add 5 cm (2 inches) more. For example, if the bolster pillow is 60 cm (24 inches) long, and the circular ends are 15 cm (6 inches) across, your result would be 80 cm (32 inches).

Add 6.2 to 7.5 cm (2 1/2 to 3 inches) to the circumference of the bolster, depending on how snug you want the cover.

Cut a rectangle of fabric that’s as long as the result of Step 2, and as tall as the result of Step 3.

Fold each long edge of the fabric over 1.2 cm (1/2 inch) toward the wrong side. Press each fold flat, then stitch it in place using 6 mm (1/4 inch) seam allowance.

Fold each short end of the fabric over 6 mm (1/4 inch) toward the wrong side. Press the folds flat. Fold each short end over another 9 mm (3/4 inch) and press the folds flat. Stitch along each fold close to the inner edge to make the casings for the drawstrings.

Fold the fabric in half, matching up the long edges. Pin the long edges of the fabric together.

Sew the long edges of the fabric together between the two drawstring casings using 6 mm (1/4 inch) seam allowance. Do not stitch the casings shut. Turn the bolster cover right side out.

Cut two drawstrings from ribbon or cord, each as long as the circumference of the bolster plus 30 cm (12 inches). Attach a safety pin to the end of one piece of cord or ribbon. Insert the safety pin into the end of the casing, and push it through until it comes out the other end.

Pull the drawstring so that there are equal amounts of ribbon or cord on both sides of the casing. Insert the other drawstring in the other casing the same way.


To put the cover on the bolster, insert the pillow through one open end. Adjust the cover until the bolster is completely covered, then pull the drawstrings to shut the ends. Tie the drawstrings into bows.


Use caution when working with scissors, irons, pins and sewing machines.

Things You'll Need

  • Fabric
  • Matching thread
  • Ribbon or cord
  • Measuring tape
  • Scissors
  • Straight pins
  • Iron
  • Ironing board
  • Sewing machine
  • Safety pin
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