Uni has finished for the semester and it’s time to relax!
What better time than right now to get on the sewing machine and create something comfy.
There has been a great big pile of worn out clothing in the corner of our lounge room for several weeks now and as soon as the assignments were submitted I got my act together to turn the pile of junk into something useful… A bolster! Some of you may know that I have studied yoga teaching and one of my little dreams is to teach from a home studio under my deck when the flow allows us to renovate. This bolster is the first of many that I plan to make for my studio from fabrics I was lucky enough to find secondhand at my local landfill recycle market for a total of under ten dollars (not bad when each was marked with a $70+ original sale label). The bolster is something for me to use now and a continual reminder to myself that the dream studio is coming my way.
To make a bolster of your own you will need:
- Fabric pencil (or some kind of pencil/pen/marker)
- Ruler or tape measure
- A sewing machine
- Stuffing (firm is better for a yoga bolster so mine is full of old synthetic clothes, an old blanket and some beyond repair denim)
The first big decision of this relatively easy sewing process is working out how big you want your bolster to be. As I am planning to use my bolster for restorative yoga practice they need to be quite large. I chose a dinner plate and traced around it twice (work as close to the edged of the fabric as possible to save on waste and throw any scraps into the pile to be used as stuffing).
Cut around your two circles and put them to the side. Now comes the tricky part. Working out the size of your fabric. This requires a little math to work out the circumference of the circle. Start by laying a ruler or tape measure across the diameter of your circle (one side of the circle to the other) then multiply this diameter measurement by 3.14. The diameter of my dinner plate is 27cm so the circumference of my fabric is 84.78cm. Being a total post-uni-assignment-air-brain I forgot to take a photo of my project to explain the next bit but hopefully words will work (if not let me know in the comments and I will take a photo of another piece of fabric to give you a visual). Basically we are just measuring the length and width of your bolster body rectangle and cutting it out. Lay your bolster body fabric flat and measure your width (the circumference which in my case is 84.78cm and add a seam allowance mine was 2 cm) now measure the desired length of your bolster. Cut around the rectangle. Fold the rectangle in half and pin along the fold ( be mindful of your seam allowance).
Sew down the length of your bolster rectangle. I did this twice to add strength to the seam. You can also overlock the edges to tidy up and add some extra strength if you like but it will be on the inside of the bolster and isn’t visible. I didn’t bother. Having made a bean bag around 6 years ago using this lazy technique and it still surviving after years of use I feel confident leaving my bolster with just two lines of straight stitching.
The next step is to sew the ends of your bolster on. Pin one of the circles to the end of your bolster ‘sausage’ (as shown above) leaving your seam allowance (if you are worried about your sewing abilities you can use this more accurate but more time consuming method here). I sewed around this end circle twice to add strength to the seam. You can also overlock if you would like. Do the same thing for the other end of the bolster but don’t sew all the way around, leave a 5-10 cm opening so you can get the stuffing inside.
Once you have sewn both ends on turn the bolster the right way out by feeding it through the small hole you left for the stuffing. It should look pretty awesome (albeit a bit flat) when you look at it from the right way out!
Insert your stuffing through the hole. As I mentioned earlier, this bolster was created as a way to reuse some synthetic fabrics. I have chosen to dispose of these unwanted items as they are damaged, old, and would likely end up in landfill if sent to charity stores for recycling. Of the textile waste recovered by Australian charities, 60% of items of clothing can be reworn or reused and 15% can be torn into industrial wiper cloths but disturbingly, 25% is unusable and sent to landfill. By using my old synthetic fabrics as bolster stuffing they get a new purpose in life and won’t contribute to this waste stream.
Once your bolster is stuffed all you have to do is hand stitch the hole that you inserted the stuffing through shut, then sit back and enjoy. If you have made a person sized yoga bolster I highly recommend that you enjoy it using this restorative yoga video. I went ahead and made a long rectangular meditation cushion to go with my bolster. Both of which have already had a good work out (in the day and a half I have owned them) by myself and a cheeky four legged friend who has to be involved in everything.
My favourite part about this bolster is that not only has it diverted textile waste from landfill it was made from thrifted fabrics. Doesn’t get much better than that! Have you ever completed a DIY that made you feel eco-proud? Let us know about it below. Please share links if you posted your favourite DIY online.