throw pillows, types of throw pillows

Decorative pillows are something that almost everyone owns, but very few people know anything about. Unfortunately for anyone buying pillows, not knowing the basics can prevent you from carefully choosing your pillows according to design, material and durability, mainly because you have no idea why you would make these choices. This guide includes everything you need to know to learn the basics about your pillows so that you can make an informed purchase according to your personal preferences, house and style.

Most of us think of pillows in terms of square or round, but the truth is that pillows are much more complex than that. Pillows are divided into types based on their specific design and each one affects comfort and longevity. The following include the basic types of pillows that you can purchase for your home.

Knife Edge 

The knife edge pillow is the most common type of pillow and is usually the pattern used for both throw pillows and sleeping pillows. The knife edge is so named because the seams are simply cut, folded in and sewn as-is for a straight and tapered edge. These pillows are fluffiest in the middle and thinnest around the edges but can be square, round, rectangular and even triangular depending on the maker. Knife edge pillows are the easiest to make and therefore are often the cheapest, but due to design, these pillows can become lumpy over time and the seams can sometimes come out over time.


Flanged pillows are very similar to knife edge pillows except they feature a flat band of fabric around the edges of the pillow. This band is essentially a decorative trim for the pillow and can be matching, contrasting, or even made of an entirely different material from the pillow. Examples include pillows with grosgrain trim, pillow with fringed sides, and pillows with seaming a few centimetres in from the edge of the pillow. Flange pillows are a great look for anyone who wants a basic pillow that is more decorative than the knife edge. Like knife edged pillows, the stuffing in flanged pillows can lump to one side over time.

Welted Pillow 

Welted pillows are quite simply pillows with rolled seams. Sometimes the seam is put in place separately from the actual seam, while at other times it is part of the same fabric. In either case, welting or cording adds more contrast and a little more detail than the knife-edge pillow. Self-welt pillows are those that have a welt made from the same fabric as the pillow, while ‘welted’ pillows have a seam made of a different material. Welted pillows have stronger seams than knife edge pillows, making them a slightly more durable choice.

Box Pillows

Box pillows are one of the more plush designs available because they are quite literally sewn in a box pattern. These pillows can be square, round, rectangular, or triangular, but all feature sewn in sides. The sides are flat, giving the pillow more depth and thickness. Box pillows are most like cushions and most can be used as cushions. Box pillows are great for anyone who has issues with stuffing that settles to one side of the pillow as it rarely happens with box pillows. However, the seaming can burst or split if they are frequently used as cushions.


The bolster pillow is a cylindrical pillow that is often used as a lumbar brace or neck roll. These pillows can be short or long, can be pointed, tapered, or flat on the ends and can be almost any thickness, making them very versatile. Bolsters are most commonly used in combination with the other pillows on this list to add a little more contrast and definition to the couch. Bolster pillows are mostly quite durable, but are not the most practical type of pillow due to their shape and size.

There are plenty of different types of throw pillows out there but it is up to you to find the style, size and design that suits your needs and home. Remember that the pattern, stuffing and the material play just as large of a part in your search for new pillows as the design. If you want something unique, remember to shop at online stores like rather than in boutiques and furniture stores. That, and keeping the different types of throw pillows in mind when you search can help you with making the decision between ordinary and extraordinary, because you will know exactly what it is you are getting.

George Torres is a professional pillow designer. Pillows are his passion and he’s more than happy to help anyone out with choosing theirs.

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