pillow talk…
understanding cushion terminology

Fall 2012 Pillows

Cushions and pillows are an easy way to bring color and texture to any space, and they’re a quick way to update the look of your room. A well-chosen pillow can be the difference between ho-hum and wow! If you’ve ever looked at all the pillow and cushion options and wondered what it all meant, and what’s a knife-edge anyway…

In the US, outside of bed pillows, the words cushion and pillow are interchangeable. They come in all shapes and sizes, from soft and squishy to the harder versions meant to be used as floor cushions. Knowing a few key terms can help you choose the right pillows, or cushions, for your space.

Knife Edge – the simplest of all, it’s just two pieces of fabric sewn together along all four sides. It might include a zipper or button flap to remove the insert. These tend to look fuller in the middle and thinner on the edges and do best with a stiffer filling like feather and down instead of straight down.

Flanged Cushion – take a knife edge and put a second seam an inch or more from the edge. The insert will fill the center, leaving a nice, soft, fluttery edge on the cushion.

Box Cushion – just like what it sounds, the box cushion has a top, a bottom and four sides, called the boxing. They can be as little as one inch thick, or 10” or more. It’s common to see these on banquet seating, bench cushions and floor pillows. Inserts should be firm to provide comfort and cushion for seating.

Turkish Corner – imagine taking a knife-edge cushion and sort of tucking the corners in. Also called pinch pleating, the tucked corners cause the insert to fill the cushion all the way to the edges for a softer, fuller look.

Bolster Pillow – those round tube-like pillows can have multiple purposes. Smaller ones are great for lumbar support in an upholstered chair while larger ones look at home on a bed or lounge and provide nice head support. They lend themselves to all sorts of decorative treatments and break the monotony of square pillows.

Embellished Cushions – no matter what cushion type, added embellishments allow cushions to take on a more unique personality. From the tailored look of contrast piping or straight-stitched trim to playful pompoms and feminine ruffles, a little trim can take a pillow to new levels of pow.

And a word on fillers – make sure the insert is encased in a tight-weave fabric for longevity and to prevent feathers from popping through. Inserts should fill the entire cover, for a fuller, plumper look, get an insert the exact size or slightly larger than the cover. For a slimmer look, opt for one just an inch smaller.

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