Thursday, January 6, 2011

DIY Anthropologie-inspired Bolster Pillow

If I didn't tell you, I am trying to complete our master bedroom look.  I bought several accessories with my Christmas spending money, and now I am making a few pillows for the bed.  

Anthro is selling like 10 bolsters right now, so I thought it would be nice to make one and show you how.  Inspiration:
(pic from Anthropologie)
I made the "small" size 23"x9".  I couldn't find the price for that one, but the large sized bolster is $148.00.  So let's guess and say the small one was maybe $112.00?  Even if it took you 10 hrs (it won't) it would be like someone paying you $10 an hour.  That's how I like to look at things:  if I worked, I would have to work 10 hrs to be able to afford this pillow.  Instead, I can stay at home with my little girl and make this pillow in about 3 1/2 hrs while wearing my pjs.  Hello - best of both worlds.  
(of course if you prefer to work and buy it, more power to ya)
SO on to the bolster tutorial.
Here are two important tips for this pillow:  
Go slowly
Clip around the curves
 Those should help a lot.  AND Bonus - there is also a tutorial
for making your own custom cording - NOT hard.  
Don't be intimidated.

Here is what you will need:
2 bags of Polyfil or a 23x9 bolster pillow form(you would probably have to order it)
A yard of colorful fabric (fabric A)
 3/4 yard of contrasting fabric (fabric B)
3/4 of solid fabric for cording (fabric C) - you could possibly use fabric A remnants
2 1/2 yards of cable cord (don't be afraid of this, they sell it everywhere. It costs around .29 a yard)
Perle Cotton Embroidery Floss
Sewing Machine/thread
Water Soluble pen
Fearless attitude

Step 1:   Once you have assembled your materials, you need to cut four pieces.
*one rectangle 29"x20" of fabric A
*one rectangle 29" x 4 1/4" out of fabric B

*two 10" circles out of fabric A
(you can draw your own or print out my pattern here)
It's nice if you make the fabric pattern match.

Step 2:  Lay the 4 1/2" strip on top of the rectangle, edge to edge, right sides together.

Pin together and sew using a 1/4" seam.  
Open and press flat.

Step 3:  Time to add the detail.  The Anthro bolsters have pick-stitching detail.  
I decided to mimic that look with a simple large quilting stitch. 

Draw lines across the fabric, 2-3 inches apart (mine are 3"), using the water soluble pen.

I alternated embroidery floss colors every two rows
(the Anthro ones alternate every three).

  You can skip this stitching detail step but that's what makes things special - detail.

Step 4: Cording Tutorial: 
 DON'T BE SCARED!!  You can do this. 
Lay your fabric out like this - selvage is on the right side of the pic:
Fold the bottom right corner of the selvage edge up to the top left corner of the cut edge:
I usually split that fold with my scissors:
Then measure along that diagonal edge you just split 1 1/2".
Cut both layers, resulting in two bias strips 1 1/2" x 31".

Now, fold one strip in half and place the cording in the crease.
You will probably need to put the zipper foot on.  It looks like this:

Topstitch along the fabric right next to the cording.

Finished cording looks like this:
pretty right?

Step 5:  Once you have finished both pieces of cording, snip 1/4" into the lip - this will make it fit around the circle gracefully.
Pin the cording lip to the right side of the circle.  Match the raw edges of the circle and the cording.

When you make it all the way around the circle, this is how you join the two ends of cording.  Open one end (you may need to rip the seam just a little)  and fold the raw edge back.
Pull that cording out of the way, and lay the other end of cording in it's place.
Close the fabric over the cord.

Topstitch it on like this:

Ooooo what a pretty circle :)
Step 6:  Okay you're doing great. 
Right sides together, pin the 29" edge of the rectangle around the circle.
You will need to clip the edge of the rectangle just like you clipped the cording lip.
Sew in place (still feeling for the cording - you don't want to sew over it).
{You basically sew right next to the cording three times - once while making the cording, once around the circle, and once around the rectangle.}
Repeat with the other side or the rectangle.

Flip it right side out to make certain it looks pretty.  
Then flip it inside out and sew along the 24" side of the pillow - leave about a 6" opening for stuffing (if you are using a pillow form  you will need to leave a larger opening).
Step 7:  Flip the pillow right side out and stuff well with polyfil.  Pin the closing.

Step 8:  Whipstitch or blindstitch the opening closed. 

Now stare in AMAZEMENT at your success and 
upload a picture of it to the Flickr pool so we can all Oooo and Ahhh...

happy homemaking,


  1. Nicely done! I want to go make one now. Love your header.

  2. That is gorgeous!! What a talent you have. Thanks so much for sharing.

  3. What a great project and you always have such good tutorials! You make it look easy! I started a giveaway this morning...hope you'll stop by to enter! ♥

  4. Very nice and great tutorial! I think your pillow looks better than the Antro one.

  5. Love the fabrics and how it looks in the bedroom!

  6. it's perfect! where did you get your fabrics?

  7. That's such a beautiful pillow! Your fabric choices are perfect!

    I linked to your tutorial over at Craft Gossip Sewing:


  8. The main fabric is by Duralee 180964H/Caribbean 339. It's a home decor fabric. I'm not sure what the other one is - it was just in my stash :)

  9. Awesome! Can't wait to try it. Thanks for the tutorial.

  10. That's definitely the best tutorial I've seen for doing cording! I've always screw it up.

  11. This was featured today over at Today's Top 20! Hooray!


  12. This is gorgeous. I love the fabrics you put together. Anthropology has nothing on you! ;)

  13. I love this pillow so much! I featured it in my Crush of the Week post -
    Stop by and check it out! :)

  14. I just made a bolster using another tutorial and I'm not happy with the outcome. Thanks....I'm going to try your way!

  15. Great Tutorial I understood it well and i am going to have a go at making both the pillow and the bolster. Maureen

  16. wow, i love this bolster. Great choice of fabrics! Thank you for the great tutorial. You're very clear with your instructions and very encouraging to a beginner sewer like me!

  17. This tutorial is great! I love your fabric choice, too!

  18. This was so helpful! I actually did stare in amazement that I could pull it off! Here is how my bolster turned out:


Thanks so much for commenting! If you have a question, make sure your email is in your profile or leave it in a comment so I can answer you. Otherwise email me at jessica(at)sewhomegrown(dot)com - Have a lovely day!

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