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Teen Pretty Pack: Decorative Softee Bolster Pillow

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Sitting up takes sooooooo much work. Especially when the alternative is stretching out with the latest news and a super soft bolster pillow to gently prop your head. The third project in our Teen Pretty Pack trio is this extra long, extra soft bolster/neckroll pillow. We used Minky Marshmallow for our center panel trimmed with the beautiful swooping birds of Michael Miller Fabric's Bonnes Amies. I'm sure our model has finished her homework and is just relaxing. At least... I'm pretty sure.

A BIG thanks to our brand new friends and supporters at Minky Delight! They provided the cushy soft, double-sided Minky Marshmallow fabric for all our Teen Pretty Pack projects. If you are looking for "soft, cuddly, melt-in-your-hand fabrics"... this is the place. Thanks, Dan and Lori!

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As we mentioned above, the accent fabrics are from Bonnes Amies by Michael Miller Fabrics. It's the same great collection we used for our Michael Miller!

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

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  • ¾ yard of 44-45" wide fabric for the center panel: we used Minky Marshmallow in Aqua from Minky Delight
  • ¾ yard of 44-45" wide fabric for the side panels: we used Bonnes Amies in Marseille Colette by Michael Miller Fabrics
  • ¼ yard of 44-45" wide fabric the end panels: we used Bonnes Amies in Marseille Gaston by Michael Miller Fabrics
  • ¼ yard of 44-45" wide fabric the end panel flange detail: we used Bonnes Amies in Marseille Picnic by Michael Miller Fabrics
  • One large bag of polyester fiber fill
  • All purpose thread to match fabrics
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Hand sewing needle
  • Tape measure
  • Straight pins

Getting Started

  1. From the fabric you are using for the Center Panel (Aqua Minky Marshmallow in our sample), cut ONE 22" wide x 19½" high rectangle
  2. From the fabric you are using for the Side Panels (Marseille Colette in our sample), cut TWO 6½" wide x 19½" high rectangles.
    NOTE: We carefully fussy cut our side panels to showcase a full bird within each side panel. You can adjust your center panel and side panel widths a bit as necessary if you are fussy-cutting to feature a particular design.
  3. From the fabric you are using for the End Panels (Marseille Gaston in our sample), cut TWO 8" x 8" squares.
    NOTE: If you are using a directional print for the end panels (ours was omni-directional), be sure to cut these squares so the direction of the print is parallel either left/right or top/bottom.
  4. From the fabric you are using for the Flange details (Marseille Picnic in our sample), cut TWO 2" x 19½" strips.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Creating the end caps

    1. Fold and press one 8" x 8" square in half and then in half again, creating intersecting crease marks.
      NOTE: You do not have to press the crease marks with an iron; you can simply fold by hand and finger press.
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    2. Lay the folded square on your work surface so the center point is in the lower left corner of the square. Folded, it is now just 4" x 4".
    3. Place a see-through ruler or tape measure at the exact center of this lower left corner, and swing the ruler/ tape from the top to the bottom of the square, like a compass or pendulum, measuring and marking a dot at the 3¾" point in three to four spots. You are creating a semi-circle.
    4. Draw an arc to connect the marks. If you own a large compass, you could also use it to create your 3¾" arc.
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    5. Cut along your drawn line.
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    6. Repeat to fold and cut the remaining 8" x 8" square.
    7. Unfold both pieces; you'll have two 7½" circles.
    8. Press the circles flat to remove the creases.
    9. Using a long straight stitch (a machine basting stitch), sew ½" from the raw edge around one circle and then the other circle. Do not back tack at the beginning or end of your seams.This stitch will be used for gathering.
    10. Pull the bobbin thread to gather up each circle so it looks like a little bonnet. Be sure to gather evenly around the entire circle.
      NOTE: If you are new to gathering, see our tutorial,

Sewing the pillow panels and flange

  1. With right sides together, pin one of the Side Panels to each 19½" side of the Center Panel,
  2. Sew together, using a ½" seam allowance. Press both seam allowances toward the Side Panels.
  3. You now have a Pillow Panel that is 33" wide x 19½" high.
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  4. Fold this panel right sides together lengthwise to create a long tube. Pin together along the 33" edge.
  5. Sew together, using a ½" seam allowance, leaving a 6-8" opening in the middle of the seam. We'll need the opening later to turn the whole thing right side out. Remember to lock your stitch on both sides of this opening.
  6. Press the seam allowance open, including at the opening; it should be pressed back at ½" so it is flush with the sewn seam.
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  7. Find the two Flange strips. Fold one strip in half, right sides together, lining up the 2" ends to make a circle. Pin in place.
  8. Sew the ends together, using a ½" seam allowance, and press this seam open.
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  9. Repeat with the other Flange strip.
  10. Take one circular flange and fold it in half lengthwise WRONG sides together. Press. You now have a circular flange band that is 1" wide x 18½" around.
    NOTE: Okay... I just gotta say that "circular flange band" reminds me of that song "Rubber Band Man." Ha! Now it's stuck in YOUR head too.
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  11. Slip one of the circular flange bands around each end of the pillow tube, lining up the raw edge of the band with the raw edge of the tube, and matching the seam on the band with the seam of the tube. When you have everything aligned and laying flat, pin in place.
  12. Stitch the flange down with a ¼" seam
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Adding the end caps and finishing

  1. Find your two gathered end cap circles.
  2. Place one end cap circle inside one end of the pillow tube. What will be the rounded end goes into the tube so the right sides of the end cap's gathered edge will sit against the right side of the pillow tube.
  3. Pin in place around the entire circle, pulling the thread as needed to gather the circle evenly. Don't be afraid to use plenty of pins.
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  4. You are now going to 'stitch in the round'! This is similar to how set-in sleeves are sewn.
  5. Place the pinned end of the tube so the raw edge is flipped up a little under the sewing machine foot. This will make it easier to sew around the circle.
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  6. Using a ½" seam allowance, sew around the circle through all the layers: the flange, the side panel, and the circular end panel.
  7. Repeat to attach the opposite end cap.
    NOTE: If you used a directional print for your end panels, you need to be especially careful how you pin your end cap circle in place. Those creases you did way back when (when you cut out the circles) can act as compass points to make sure your print stays straight. We used this technique for our Whimsy Neckroll project.
  8. Turn the pillow right side out through the opening in the pillow tube.
  9. Stuff the pillow firmly with polyester fiber fill of the filler of your choice.
  10. Thread a hand sewing needle with matching thread, and slip stitch the opening closed.



Project Concept: Alicia Thommas

Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Gregory Dickson



Comments (14)

Sneuzy said:
Sneuzy's picture
Alicia, Thanks for your quick response. I copied your formula and will put it with my notes for the next time I make a bolster. That was wonderful! I knew there was a formula, just couldn't think of it. So much for my math skills! HA!
alicia.thommas said:
Sneuzy: To find the DIAMETER of a circle, you need to know the CIRCUMFERENCE. The formula is:
DIAMETER = CIRCUMFERENCE divided by Pi (3.14).

In sewing, however, you need to consider seam allowance. Here is an example:
If your CIRCUMFERENCE is 24 inches (finished length of fabric excluding seam allowance... so if you use a ½-inch seam that piece of fabric is actually 25 inches long (width is irrelevant). You divide 24 inches by 3.14 (Pi) to get 7.64 inches which is the DIAMETER of the circle. Add 1 inch for seam allowance for a final DIAMETER of 8.64 inches. That will be the measurement across the widest part of your circle.

If you want to draw your circle using a compass, you need to know the radius (distance between the compass point and the pencil).
RADIUS = DIAMETER divided by 2 (in this example 4.32 inches).

WIth this particular pillow we wanted a more rounded poof to the ends. We rounded the measurements and added ½ inch to the diameter for fullness which we eased into the seam. This is optional.
Sneuzy said:
Sneuzy's picture
I need to know how to measure for various size bolsters. They can't all have a 7 1/2 inch end piece. If you have a certain measurement for the pillow part and want to make the end pieces to fit that part, how do you figure that out? Can anyone answer this?
THE Pam Fernicola said:
THE Pam Fernicola's picture
OK, here's what i'm thinking. make the sleeve, stuff it (lengthwise) w/a washable material (something stupid like rolled terrycloth towels) "seam" it with velcro (lengthwise) and whip it apart when i'm ready to wash it - guts and all. whaddya think?
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
Hi Pam - this particular pillow isn't really constructed to be a wash-in-the-machine type of item. One, it's really big and so would have to kind of be jammed in there, and two, the fiber fill could clump in a normal wash and dry cycle. Instead, it would be better to spot clean it if need be. It's a decorative type of pillow - so it shouldn't get too dirty. Have fun! smilies/cheesy.gif
THE Pam Fernicola said:
THE Pam Fernicola's picture
Can you tell me how (if) you can make this to be able to throw it in the washing machine????

MrsTurk said:
MrsTurk's picture
Thank you! I recently invested in a sewing machine with great ambitions yet no prior experience smilies/cheesy.gif after a few fails, hopefully this cushion will prove to hubby the investment wasn't a total waste of moneysmilies/grin.gif Great tutorial
wordygirl said:
wordygirl's picture
I hope someone I love is reading this right now, thinking of making me a bolster pillow!
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
Hi Cassandra -- thanks for sharing your bolster made from recycled jammie pants. Very cute idea. We love it. Re-make... re-use... yay!smilies/cool.gif
Gaylyn Arnold said:
Gaylyn Arnold's picture
I love this project, I am new to the creative art of sewing. I find pure joy and satisfaction in creating and I am looking forward to creating curtains, a bed skirt, a bed cover, and this booster pillow for my bedroom. I have not located my fabrics yet, but I am focus on red and creating around it. So glad I found this website and I am looking forward to visiting on a regular basis to pick up new ideas.
Thank you......
Andrea Thieck said:
Andrea Thieck's picture
I just wanted to say THANKS for all your wonderful tutorials!!! Andrea