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Round Piped Pillow with Gathered Top

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If you're happy and you know it... make a pillow. Pillows are one of the best things for a beginner to tackle; they're fast, fun projects for anyone and immediately brighten up your décor. This pillow is what we envision Little Miss Muffet's tuffet must have looked like. We show you an ultra easy way to create its gathered top and bottom. The body of the pillow starts out as a tube, then you gather the top and the bottom, cinching the fabric to create the cushion shape. The gathering points are concealed with jumbo covered buttons.

We originally created our pillow in the Happy Land collection by Jennifer Paganelli for FreeSpirit Fabrics. This is an older collection that is no longer readily available, but current options for happy prints are everywhere. We visited our friends at Fat Quarter Shop and picked out two wonderful alternatives. For the top, bottom and sides: Large Floral in Orange from the Flower Sugar collection by Lecien Fabrics. For the contrasting piping and covered buttons: Hibiscus in Pink Rhapsody from the Paradiso collection by Kate Spain for Moda Fabrics


Just like happiness, pillows come in all shapes and sizes; and when you're creating a pile of pillows on a bed or sofa, it's important to vary both size and shape. A unique shape in a bold color will make your pillow-scape more interesting and fun. Arrange big, blocky pillows in the back, happy little pillows in the front... just like when they lined you up on the bleachers for grade school class photos!

Our pillow finishes at approximately 14" in diameter x 7" deep. 

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

  • ¾ yard of 44-45" wide quilting weight cotton for the main body of the pillow
  • ½ yard of 44-45" wide quilting weight cotton for the piping and covered buttons
    NOTE: To get the proper curve, you really need to work with bias cut strips for the piping fabric, which does require more yardage, however, the finished smooth look is worth it. If you are new to the technique, see our Bias Binding tutorial for more information about figuring yardage, cutting and making bias binding.
  • 2¾ yards of ¼" diameter piping cord
  • ¼ yard of 45" wide fusible batting or fleece: we used 987F Fusible Fleece by Pellon
  • ONE large bag of polyester fiberfill; we used Soft Touch® Poly-Fil Supreme Fiberfill by Fairfield Processing
  • 3½ yards of thin yarn or multiple strands of embroidery floss to cinch the pillow centers; we used a thin craft yarn in red
  • TWO 2" - 2½" jumbo button cover kits; we used Dritz 2½" Half Ball kits
  • All purpose thread to match fabric
  • Button or carpet thread for sewing on buttons (optional)
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Straight pins
  • Curved needle (optional, for sewing on buttons)
  • Small safety pin

Getting Started

  1. The diagram below shows you the cuts that will be assembled to create a tube to form the finished pillow.
  2. From the fabric for the main body of the pillow, cut the following:
    TWO 7¾" high x 44" wide (WOF) rectangles for the top and bottom panels
    ONE 4" high x 44" wide (WOF) rectangle for the side panel
  3. From the fabric for the piping, cut enough 1½" strips on the bias to yield TWO 47" strips. 
  4. Cut the piping cord into two 47" lengths.

    NOTE: As mentioned above if you are new to bias cuts and binding (it's the same technique for the strips to wrap piping cord), see our tutorial
  5. From the fusible batting, cut ONE 3" x 44" rectangle.
  6. Cut the yarn/floss into two equal lengths.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board


  1. Find the bias cut strips and the piping cord.
  2. If you did not cut full-length strips, stitch your multiple strips together end-to-end to yield two 47" strips. Press all seam allowances open.
  3. Place the two finished strips wrong side up on your work surface.
  4. Place a length of cording down the center of each strip.
  5. Wrap the strip around the cording, aligning the long raw edges of the strip. 
  6. Attach a Zipper foot.
  7. Thread your machine with thread to match the piping fabric in the top and bobbin.
  8. Stitch the length of the strip, staying as close to the cording as the foot will allow. If possible on your machine, you can also move your needle position to the left to snug up your seamline even closer.

    NOTE: If you are new to piping, we have a great step-by-step tutorial.

Main body of the pillow

  1. Find the three panels, the two lengths of piping, and the fusible batting strip. 
  2. Place the 7¾" high x 44" pillow back panel right side up and flat on your work surface. 
  3. Center a length of piping along the top 44" raw edge of the panel. The raw edges of the piping should be flush with the raw edge of the fabric panel. The ends of the piping will extend beyond the fabric a bit.
  4. Pin the piping in place. If you're a beginner, you may want to machine baste the piping strip in place, using a Zipper foot.
  5. Find 4" high x 44" side panel. Place it right sides together along the top 44" raw edge of the back panel, sandwiching the piping between the layers. Pin in place. 
  6. Still using the Zipper foot, stitch the 44" seam through all the layers, staying as close to the piping as the foot will allow. If you machine-basted your piping in place, you can follow along in this basting seam.
  7. Place the bottom/side sewn panel right side up on your work surface. 
  8. Place the remaining length of piping along the top 44" raw edge of the side panel. The raw edges of the piping should be flush with the raw edge of the fabric panel.
  9. As you did above, pin the piping in place, then machine baste the piping strip in place. 
  10. Place the 7¾" high x 44" pillow top panel right sides together along the top 44" raw edge of the side panel, sandwiching the piping between the layers. Pin in place.
  11. Again as you did above, stitch this 44" seam through all the layers, staying as close to the piping as the foot will allow. Just as before, you can follow along in the piping's basting seam.
  12. Press the top and bottom panels away from the side panel, revealing both lines of piping.
  13. Flip the sewn panel to the back. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse the batting strip to the wrong side of the side panel. This layer of batting will give both stability and a smoothness to the side of the finished pillow.
  14. Fold the entire piece in half, right sides together, aligning the raw edges and being especially careful to line up the ends of the piping. Pin in place.
  15. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch in place.
  16. Trim away the excess piping.
  17. You now have one tall tube. Turn this tube right side out. Roll the tube so the seam is at the center back. Press.

Drawstring channel top and bottom

  1. Fold down the top raw edge ½" and press.
  2. Starting just to one side of the vertical seam, stitch this folded top edge in place, staying close to the raw edge. You are creating a casing or channel for the drawstring. Stop just before the vertical seam so there is an opening in the channel directly over the seam. Lock your seam at the starting and stopping points.
  3. Repeat to create a matching drawstring channel along the bottom raw edge.
    NOTE: This pillow design is meant to be spot cleaned only and our fabric was not prone to raveling, so we simply made one fold and stitched to create the drawstring channel. If you want a more finished edge or you do have a ravel-prone fabric, make a double fold. First fold under the raw edge approximately ⅛", then fold an additional ⅜" and press again. Edgestitch along the inside folded edge. Your channel will be ever so slightly smaller, but should still be big enough for the yarn/floss.
  4. Find the two lengths of yarn/floss.
  5. Tie one end of one length to the end of a safety pin. Feed the safety pin all the way through one of the channels. 
  6. Repeat to feed the remaining length through the opposite channel.

Cinch and stuff

  1. Turn the tube right side out.
  2. On the bottom panel, pull the ends of the yarn/floss to cinch up the panel as tight as it will go, gathering the panel and flattening that end of the tube. Tie a tight knot and trim away the excess yarn/floss.
  3. Flip the tube so it is sitting up on the cinched end.
  4. Through the open end, stuff the polyester fiberfill.
  5. When filled to pleasantly plump, cinch down this open end just as you did on the opposite side and knot the yarn to secure.

Covered buttons

  1. Make two covered buttons using the leftover fabric from the piping strips. Also, we always add a small scrap of lightweight batting under our fabric for a smooth, curved shape to our covered buttons.

    NOTE: If you are new to covering buttons, we have two tutorials, one using Covered Button Kits (what we did here) and one about Making Your Own.
  2. Thread a hand sewing needle with button or carpet thread. Hand sew one covered button to the pillow front and one to the back. Pull the buttons tight so they create a nice, tufted effect. 
  3. Be careful to keep the buttons in the exact center so they nicely cover the "cinched hole" on both sides.


Project Design: Alicia Thommas  
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Aimee McGaffey


Comments (17)

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ LcoyoteS - You did a great job! Congrats - now, on to the next project, right?!

Teresa Davis said:
Teresa Davis 's picture

I was wondering if I could do this without the center strip and piping.  I don't need my pillow to be as thick, as it will be a cushion for a round vanity seat. Can it be done without the side strip?

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Teresa - Piping is most always optional, but removing the side of this pillow design changes the shape so much, we just couldn't guarantee it would cinch up correctly. For the end-use you describe (a vanity seat), this probably isn't quite the right project for you. We do have a pretty design for a squarish vanity chair: http://www.sew4home.com/projects/pillows-cushions/bows-ruffles-vanity-ch... Or, just a traditional round pillow like the one from our Romantic Bedroom Trio: http://www.sew4home.com/projects/pillows-cushions/romantic-bedroom-toss-...

Teresa Davis said:
Teresa Davis's picture

Ok got it. Without the side panel, it would probably cinch into a ball.   Fabric is really not my medium. 

Sylvia Ross said:
Sylvia Ross's picture

I was looking for round pillows to make. This is exactly what I was picturing. I am going to use  as a seat cushion on 2 repurposed wicker  tables. How come you use squares instead of rounds for pillows. I was going to measure my top round area and do round but after seeing your round results is this a better way to go. I have not sewed  in a long  time so I will take all advice. I also am not sure about attaching the button securely. You have the foam so are you sewing the button to the sides of the ring to keep it tight.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Sylvia -- This pillow is designed to be made flat and then cinched down to create the gathers. The assembled flat piece is sewn into a tube, which is what results in a round shape. The buttons are sewn through the center of the pillow to one another and so are secure. When you read through the steps a couple of times, it will become clear how it all comes together. Our design is really meant to be a decorator pillow rather than a seat cushion, which is why use used polyester filler. If you are doing a seat cushion, you would be better off with foam. We do not have a tutorial exactly for your situation, but you might be able to customize one of our round floor cushioin tutorials into a smaller, thinner size. These are linked below:



Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Milady - so glad you were able to get it to work; I can imagine that a thicker fabric would have made that center gather more difficult. But your result looks lovely - and with a coordinating bolster! Thanks so much for sharing your success.

Loni said:
Loni's picture

I love this tutorial! Your instructions are so clear and easy to follow! I have one question though. I see you have fusible fleece listed in the needed supplies but I don't see it used in the instructions. Did I miss something?

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Loni - As it shows in the cutting section, the fleece is just a 3" x 44" strip for the side panel. Step #13  in the "Main body of the pillow" section. 

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ NonConsumer - thanks for sharing your results - that is cute fabric. If you can, in addition to the link, we'd love it if you could mention that the project is a custome design from Sew4Home. Thanks!

zilsil said:
zilsil's picture

This is really a beautiful pillow.  Such a easy way to construct it. Time to make some from my fabric stash.

Barbara Quinn said:
Barbara Quinn's picture

 The instructions are just  fabulous & so easy to understand.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

W Barbara Quinn - thanks! this pillow is very fun to make.

mpistey said:
mpistey's picture

Wow, your tutorial makes it look easy.  What a beautiful pillow!