An Emerging Tween Begins to Rethink Her Room Decor Plus Making Bolster Pillows

When my daughter was born nine years ago, I chose two colors to work around – a rosy pink and moss green. I also decided to create a room that would work as she grew up and, I have to admit, one that I would have liked at her age: The Roman shades have big cabbage roses, the stuffed chair I picked up at a garage sale is upholstered in a sweet all-over floral print, and the furniture is an assortment of family heirlooms (the trunk that carried my great-grandparents’ belongings from Norway, the writing desk my aunt pulled off a garbage truck in Hyde Park in the 1960s, and the wash stand received from my parents as a wedding present).

Flash forward nine years, and while I thought (read: assumed) the room would work beautifully as she got older, she has a few of her own ideas about her tween room. Over the last year, she has added her own touches – posters of pop music stars and her own drawings taped to the wall (next to the bunny quilt I made when she was a baby), a calendar thumb tacked to the door, and mod flowers that stick to the windows. My only stipulation has been that the Roman shades stay because they are too nice to replace.

Earlier this year, she played the role of client and picked fabrics for a quilt from my stash and, then together we designed it. Over the last few months, she has added some pillow made of fabrics of her own choosing, while I pretty much have stood back and just sewed (even though some of the fabrics clash a bit with the shades). So the room is losing a bit of the polish it once had, but it is becoming more her room and less mine. I’ve also concluded that the room decor, for the most part, is the little stuff … when my tween begins the argument for why she should have a cell phone and be able to text during dinner, I will take a stand!

Bolster pillows covered in a poodle print fabric were the latest addition to the room and were, surprisingly, a cinch to make. Here’s how:

Gather Your Materials

  • Bolster pillow form(s) – We purchased two 36″ long pillows that together run the length of her twin bed
  • Fabric (see below for how much) – We used 54″-wide decorator weight fabric (I pre-washed and dried a sample swatch to see if it was washable and it came out fine.)
  • Ribbon for the gathered ends
  • Thread to match

Make the Pillows

(I have been pulling my hair out for hours trying to get these directions to look as perfect as they did in my Word file, including some fairly nice illustrations. However, the computer wins in this case. WordPress has e-mailed me a couple of ideas which I will try and if either works, will update this post later. Ugh!)

  1. Cut a rectangle from your fabric for each pillow based on the following calculations:
    1. Determine the depth of the rectangle (the shorter side of the rectangle) by measuring the circumference of the pillow using a tape measure and then adding 1-1/4″ to allow for 5/8″ seam allowances. (In the pillows we made, the circumference was 26″, add to that 1-1/4″ for a total measurement of 27-1/4″.)
    2. Determine the width of the rectangle (the longer side of the rectangle) by measuring the length of the pillow and then adding the radius of each end and 1-1/4″ for each casing. (Each pillow we made measured 36″ long and had a radius of 4″. So, for each pillow, we added 36″, 8″, and 2-1/2″ together for a width measurement of 46-1/2″.)
  2. Finish the edges using your favorite method, such as a zigzag stitch around the edges.
  3. Fold the rectangle in half, right sides together, and sew a 5/8″ seam from one of the long edge to the other end; you now have a long tube.  Press the seam open and turn right side out.
  4. Make a casing for the ribbon by turning the ends down 1/2″ to the wrong side; press.  Then, turn the ends down another 1″.  Top stitch about 3/4″ from the edge, making sure to catch all fabric layers. Leave about a 3/4″ gap to thread the ribbon through.
  5. Cut a length of ribbon and attach a safety pin to one end of the ribbon; thread it through the casing. (I used about a 30″ piece of ribbon.) Then tie the ends of the ribbon together fairly tight and tuck inside the pillow. When necessary, you can just pull the ribbon out of the pillow ends, untie, and throw the case into the washing machine.
  6. Finish the ends of the pillow if you like. I wanted to tack a large button on each end, but my daughter thought it was just fine without. It is her room I reminded myself, so we skipped this step.

That’s it! Happy Sewing!


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