#sewing · home decorating

Canvas Print Bolster Pillow

I love getting the chance to be a Minerva Maker and choosing fabric in exchange for a post on their Maker’s site. When I saw this fabulous blue and white print canvas, I’ll have to admit that I envisioned a pair of preppy summer shorts with them. However, it turns out the print was quite a bit bigger than I envisioned and I didn’t think it was going to work for shorts. It did turn out to be absolutely perfect for pillow to perk up a fairly plain bed in our new guest cottage.

To start, I rolled an old foam mattress topper tightly and then wrapped it with the kind of plastic wrap that sticks to itself.
From there, I hand stitched a muslin cover for it. I know—hand stitching! But it’s really the best way to get the cover good and tight and it doesn’t take long. You are never going to see those stitches once it’s all done so they don’t have to be pretty.
Now it’s time to cut my fabric. Since this fabric has a very definite print I did a good bit of measuring to make sure that the birds were going to be in the center of my pillow. (And apparently I was so intent on measuring that I forgot to take a pic of that step.) I also made sure my end pieces, the circles were cut identically. Don’t forget to add seam allowances when cutting all of your pieces. The piping was cut on the bias and since so little of it shows the pattern doesn’t matter.
The first bit of sewing will be the zipper. I like a nice wide fold to hide the zipper in. So I just folded about and inch and half a stitched one side of my zipper upside down. Stitch the side that is farther from the fold.
Next flip it over and pin that folded part out of the way. Wrap the fabric around the pillow and fold under the opposite edge of the fabric and pin in place so that the fabric is nice and tight around the pillow form. Your seam allowance will vary depending on how much fabric you left yourself to wrap around the pillow. Carefully unzip it and take it off the form and then topstitch the seam close to the zipper. I found it impossible to pin only the fabric and zipper when I started pinning so to take it off, I unzipped a bit, repinned, and repeated until the whole thing was off of the form.
It’s now time to sew the ends on! First, run a couple of gathering stitches around the ends of your main fabric piece. This will help distribute the fullness when sewing it to a circle.
Next, sew the piping. I cut my bias a little narrower that I probably should have. A wider fabric is easier to sew with the piping cord inside. Your bias width will depend on how wide your cording is. I find that a walking foot is great for a first pass of stitching when making piping. It keeps your bias from stretching out and going all wonky on you. (Sorry, I’m being so technical here.😉) If you don’t have a walking foot, just use your regular foot first. I will go back over it with a zipper foot to get fairly close to the cording. It’s actually easier if you don’t get super snug up against the cording here because sometimes it will show later on when you stitch it to the main fabric.
Cut notches about every inch or so into the seam allowance of your piping. Start sewing about 4 or 5 inches away from the end of the piping with a basting stitch. Sew all the way around until you get to about 4 or 5 inches from the beginning of the piping.

1. Pull back the fabric from the piping and put some scotch tape all the way around each piece. Draw a line and snip across both pieces so that they are even. Don’t cut your fabric here!

2. Butt your piping ends together so that they form a nice smooth circle around the edge of your fabric.

3. Wrap more tape around both ends to hold them together.

4. Fold one end of your fabric under and wrap it around the other end of the fabric to create one nice smooth circle of piping.

The piping is all done. Now it’s time to attach these circles to the main piece!
From here, start pinning your circle, right sides together to the ends of the main piece. You can see here that I don’t have the gathering stitch on this end but I quickly learned that it was going to make things much easier.

Now, using a basting stitch and a walking foot, if you have one, stitch the circle onto the main piece just like we did with the piping. Once everything seems smooth, go back over it with a zipper foot, getting as close to the piping as possible. I find that using a basting stitch first, helps smooth everything out, just like easing in a sleeve.

Ta Da! All done. It’s an afternoon’s worth of work but it makes a big impact on a plain bed.

For more pictures and lots of great fabric, check out my post on the Minerva Makers site.

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