Suits Me Fine DIY Pillows

By Kate Riley October 27, 2009

I’ve been “hired” by my younger brother Nate to upgrade his bedroom in his bachelor pad that he shares with his roommates in San Francisco.   One of the projects I’m working on is a fabric covered headboard.  When I was at Joann’s Fabrics over the weekend, something in the clearance rack popped right out at me: some suit fabric on sale for $5 dollars a yard.  Score !  What better way to cover a headboard for a man’s bedroom than with material designed for a suit ?

Well of course the handsome lad must have a proper complimentary bolster to go with it.  Is there a better way to impress the ladies ?   So I whipped up a little accent pillow to compliment his future fabric covered headboard.  I was a little envious that he was getting a special pillow of his own.  After all, we gals love our stylish suits too.  I couldn’t help but select another suit fabric to create a decorative pillow for myself.  Equal rights !

Here is brother’s:

up close in living room

Here is mine:

plaid pillow in office

Here’s the skinny on how I made them.

Easy Peasy Simple Sew Bolster with Piping

I’m don’t consider myself a real sewer or seamstress so forgive me since I don’t use the proper lingo.  To make these pillows, I bought 2/3 yard of each fabric, some large brown buttons like you’d see on a suit, and some filler cord for piping.


I used a scrap of silk blend fabric leftover from this lampshade project to make the piping.  I must confess, I was terrified of piping for years.  Then I found out that all it takes is switching out the snap on presser foot on your sewing machine to the miniature version for an up close and personal seam.  I felt a little foolish.  But now I’m a self taught piping pro !

sew piping

Next, I cut a piece of fabric large enough to wrap around my bolster and two strips about five inches wide for the sides.

Riveting photo, isn’t this ?   I mean, seriously stimulating.

cut strips and fabric

I attached my piping to the long strip of fabric that I used to form the length of the bolster.

sew piping to cover

Then I flipped it over and used the existing seam as the perfect guide to attach the strip in order to form the side of the bolster.

use seam as guide

I repeated for the other side, then pinned the long seam inside out and sewed it together.

turn inside out

Once the long seam was done, I turned it right side out, and inserted my bolster (which is really just my roll of batting wrapped in thin cotton lining.  Ssshhh).  Then I hand stitched the sides by folding over approximately every two inches.

fold and handstitch end

Attach a button to hide the threads and you’re done !

up close in living room

The bolster is in temporary residence in the living room until it finds its new home next week.

bolster sits in living room

Velvet settee will be broken hearted to part with bolster buddy.

Next, I created this little sweetie for the home office.

suit pillow with others

For the square version, I created some more piping, then used my pillow form to size the piping around the first side of my fabric and attach with pins.

pin piping to pillow

I attached the piping to the fabric with my sewing machine.  Then I used the seam on the opposite side to attach the second piece of fabric to make the pillow.

One of the nice things about working with straight patterns like this is they give me a guide so I can attempt to keep my seams straight.  I’d be all over the map without them.

sew piping to plaid pillow

I left the bottom part of the pillow open, inserted my pillow form, then hand stitched the bottom closed.

handstitch bottom

I tufted the center of the pillow and added a decorative suit style button.   Again, my apologies for these less than technical directions.  Blame my amateur sewing skills and rudimentary knowledge.

fabric detail

I really like this brown and blue plaid fabric.

plaid pillow in office

I think it adds just the right touch to my home office.

just the right touch

There you have it folks, my take on decorative pillows made with suit fabric.  I can’t wait to show you little brother’s upgraded room – you’ll love the before and after.


  1. The pillows are adorable and using suit fabric is a fabulous idea that I’m going to have to borrow myself!


  2. Thanks for the tutorial on how to add piping. You make it look so easy!!! I have some left-over fabric from the family room valance I made last year and had planned to make some pillows with it. I think I’ll drag it out this weekend and get it done. Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. You are so very talented and your brother is a lucky man to receive your work for free! I would totally love a skirt made out of that delicious plaid fabric. Could you make me one, size six please? ha

  4. Those are really nice! Love the fabric on your pillow especially. I need to add some pillows around the house and I’m thinking the old ones need a makeover. Thanks for the inspiration!

  5. girl! your making me wanna drag out the sewing machine! I LOVE making pillows-im not that good but I still love it. I even buy ugly cheap pillows and use those as the inserts sometimes.

  6. great post! love this diy as i love all the others! i dont think i am that good with the sewing machine… so this one i will just have to buy it at the store :D

  7. So cute! I love the ‘textures’ in your living room, too! The pillow brings out the wallpaper nicely! (which, now that I look at it again, looks a LOT like the other pillow fabric..did you fabric the walls??)
    And I MUST have that rug!!! Where did you find it?? It’s exactly what I’ve been looking for! Help a fellow No-Cal sistah out! :)

  8. Wow! I love the fabric. Who knew suit fabric could look so elegent? I can’t sew but maybe someday……. They look beautiful. Can’t wait to see the rest.

  9. I too tackled a piping project as a novice recently. It was terrifying! One part of the instructions I had that I didn’t understand until later was cutting the piping strips on the bias. I thought this was pointless until I realized it made the fabric more versatile to work with and created a smoother flow for corners.

  10. It would be a shame if your brother’s new bolster got lost in one of the kids’ closets for a few weeks until he forgot about it. Then you’d just have to leave it with velvet settee. Just sayin’….

    Love the piping…it scares me too. I am (very!) slowly working up to trying a pillow project…with a square pillow form. I know, don’t laugh. I’m not sure why it scares me. I guess I just don’t want to ruin the fabric and waste it.

    I love that suit fabric…great job. Looking forward to seeing your brother’s “new” bachelor pad. :)

  11. I must confess that when you said it was easy, I was a little skeptical. But I actually think I could do that. I also have some men’s suit fabric that I bought on clearance last year just because I liked it. I’d love to try this. Thanks for the idea!

  12. I love the bolster pillow. I’ve been thinking about making a tweed bolster pillow for our living room. You just inspired me to try it.

    Love them both and thanks for sharing how to do piping. I’ve never attempted it and it makes it look finished and professional.

  13. Wow! That’s amazing! I love, love, love your pillows. I’m now inspired to make my own. Question though – how did you tuft the center? :) Thanks for the inspiration!

  14. Aren’t you the Pied Piper of Piping! Lovely job and I can’t wait to see how your brother’s headboard turns out, too. I love that bolster and could even see a small size brown tassel hanging off the side buttons ~ I think it would work well for a man or a woman.

  15. I can’t decide what I love more – the fabric, or the way you finished off the ends of the bolster – both awesome!

  16. I love that bolster pillow you made. Great idea to use suit fabric. I’m no seamstress myself but I love seeing easy diy tutorials. Thanks!


  17. Love your pillows. I bet your brothers headboard will be gorgeous with suiting fabric.
    I was always afraid of piping, but finally tackled it and had fun. I will be using more piping. Love the piping on the bolster pillow. Thanks for taking the time to show step-by-step how you put it on. I plan on making a bolster pillow at some point with piping.

  18. I love them both…but, I could skip over the instructions. Sewing anything will never be for me…but, I do love seeing what you’ve done.


  19. Cool! I am about to embark on a handmade slipcover for my couch and have never worked with piping. It looks easier than I’d thought it might. Now I’m excited to start on it!

  20. Love the use of the suit material. It looks fabulous. What a super idea for a man’s room. Great tutorial also. Hugs, Marty

  21. Awesome! I love this website. There are tons of things I want to try. Oh, it’s a zipper foot, by the way :) It’s my favorite foot to sew with.

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