Sunday, 1 January 2012

Tutorial - Neck Roll Pillow Form

I have stuff. I have lots of stuff. I don't usually have lots of time, since I work full time and have a long commute, so that is why it is such a treat to be able to just 'play'!

Yesterday I decided I needed some new neck roll pillows. I made a pair well over 10 years ago, and they work fine, but one is softer than the other, and I figured it was just time. They have removable covers, so they are easily washed, and they are perfect when you're reading in bed.

I could just go out and buy some, but what is the fun in that? And besides, I have all the 'stuff' to make some, so why not use it up?

This will make two neck roll bolster pillow forms measuring about 20" long.

You will need:

1 - queen sized polyester batting
2 - 20 1/2" squares muslin or other light fabric
1 - 7" x WOF strip muslin or other light fabric
Matching thread for hand sewing
1.  To start with, I had this queen-sized poly batting lying around forever.

2.  Open the bag of batting and unroll the length, but don't separate the layers! The way the batting is stuffed into the bag, makes it almost perfect for the length of your bolster. 
3.  Fold the length of the batting in half to find the middle, and then cut into two pieces. Set aside for now. This allows it to expand a bit, and takes out some of the wrinkles.

4.  Take your 20 1/2" square of muslin and fold it in half lengthwise and pin into a tube. Using a 1/4" seam, sew the long seam, backstitching at the beginning and end. Press the seam as it makes a nicer finish. Repeat for the second square.
5.  Using the seam as your first 'mark', mark the fold at the opposite side with a washaway pen. Join this mark with the seam and mark the opposite side centers. Your tube openings should be divided into four. 
6.  Using scissors, on the ends of each of your tubes, carefully take little snips no more than 1/8" about every inch or so. This will help with pinning and easing the circles into the ends of the tubes. Set aside for now.

7.  If you have an Easy Circle Cut ruler, fold your 7" strip just enough so you can line up the fold mark and use the 6" finished circle slot to mark (don't cut) the fabric.

8.  Cut the circle out 1/4" beyond the marked line. Repeat to make a total of four circles. If you don't have a circle ruler, I've created a template here, click on the image to below to download the circle template.
9.  Fold your circles in half and iron to mark the folds. Unfold and match your folded points and iron again, so your circle is divided into four.
10. Start with one fold mark and match to the tube mark and pin. Pin all four marks and then continue pinning, easing the tube around the circle. Your circle should be on the bottom with the tube facing up. You can't use too many pins!

11. Now sew along the edge using a 3/8" to 1/2" seam allowance, being sure to backstitch. (I used the edge of my presser foot without selecting the 1/4" setting on my machine, so I figure that's about 3/8"). Repeat for your second bolster pillow.

12. Take the second circle and iron the seam allowance down on half the circle. This makes it easier when hand stitching the opening closed.

13. Using the same method as before, pin the circle into the tube, matching marks, EXCEPT only pin and sew half the circle to the end, backstitching at the beginning and end. Repeat for second bolster.

14. Don't turn your pillow right side out just yet. Now is the fun part (and can't be shown in pics as it's rather unlady-like!  ~wink~

15. Now take one half of your roll of batting, and roll it back up into a sausage, fairly snugly. It will measure 20" wide by about 20-ish" around. Tying a ribbon around it may help you for the next step if you don't have a helper.  

16. This is like stuffing a sausage (I've never done that!) Insert your arm into the tube (seam allowances are on the outside) and grab a firm hold onto your batting roll so the circle end is sort of around the end of batting roll.

17. Use your other hand to start pulling the bolster 'sleeve' around the batting tube. Keep a firm grip on the end of the batting as you're doing this. It may require other body parts, such as the batting being gripped between your knees, but don't give up! It ain't pretty, but it will work, just keep at it! (You can see the rick-rack I used to tie the roll, don't forget to remove it)

18. Once you've got the batting inside the tube, you can reach inside and adjust it as necessary. Your seams are now enclosed. Whew! It's really not that difficult, I promise!

19. Using matching thread, whipstitch the opening closed and you are done! Neck roll pillow form ready to be covered! Until next time...


  1. This tutorial ROCKS!! Oh I can't wait to see all your future one as well. You are a fountain of sewing tips & tricks. thanks for sharing!! Whoah whooooo!

  2. Excellent. I may have to get myself one of those circle cutting rulers.