How to Make Your Own Zafu Meditation Pillow

Furniture Ideas, Sewing Patterns

Want to meditate and do more yoga in the new year? Learn how easy (and inexpensive) it is to make your own zafu meditation pillows. Get started!! Follow the easy, illustrated instructions at and make your own zafus! OM!!!!

What’s a Zafu?

A zafu meditation pillow is a firm, high cushion that is specially designed for seated meditation and certain types of yoga. Call it meditation pillow, meditation seat or meditation cushion …, the official term is ‘zafu’. Or zafus for plural.

How to Make Your Own Zafu Meditation pillow

Free Sewing Tutorial with Instructions to make zafus *!

how to make a zafu mediation pillow

Materials Needed to make your own Zafu Meditation Pillow


It’s best to use organic cotton fabric. How much fabric you’ll need is:

One fabric Length of 59 inches, 6 inches to 9 inches wide (depending on how high you would like your cushion to be).

Two circles of fabric, each with a diameter of 11 – 13 inches (depending on how large around you would like your cushion to be.)Absolute Novice Tip: when you buy fabric, often it’s folded double on the bolt. So, what looks like 30″ is really 60″ wide. Hurray!

The Best Filling for Zafu Meditation Pillows kapok zafu meditation pillowYou’ll need Kapok fiber for your pillow filling (or buckwheat hulls for a firmer seat. Click this orange image to order your kapok now:
USE our exclusive Carolina Morning discount code of 0012310. YOU will get 5% off your first order if you do. Plus, they give us a little kick-back too. We both win. Thank you for using our Carolina Morning discount code. How Much Kapok do you need??

Free Step-by-step Tutorial to make your own Zafu Meditation Pillow

STEP 1. Pleat the length of cloth. I suggest you make 3/4″-pleats, 3 inches apart.To clarify: this is how that will work out over the width of your fabric:

PLEAT 1: 6.5 + (3 x 0.75) = 8.75″ of fabric
PLEAT 2-10: For each of these 9 pleats: (3 + (3 x 0.75))= 9 x 5.25″ = 47.25″
PLEAT 11: the closing overlap = about 3″
Total: 58.5, and with 2 seam allowances of 0.25″ that makes 59″ (i.e. the width of your fabric).

How To Pleat
a) Beginning from the left edge of the length: mark your 0.25″ seam allowance first, and a stretch of 6.5″.Now start your first pleat : make three marks, 3/4 inch apart, thus marking out the first pleat, and fold and pin your pleat.

Second section: 3 inches after your first pleat, begin your second, as indicated above.

free pattern step-by-step instructions meditation pillow

Continue doing this till you have used up the width of your fabric. When you finish, the last pleat marking should be about 3″ from the right edge, and allow you a 0.25″ seam. (If you wish to have narrower pleats, of course, simply increase the number of pleats.)

free patttern meditation pillow

b) Next, iron the pleats and pin them. They should all be folded and ironed in toward the left-hand side. For each set of pleat markings, fold the third in toward the first as shown, and then pin as shown at below:

STEP 2. Now, having completed the first step, take the right edge of the pleated strip cloth and pin it to the left end of the strip, so you’ll get a nice, evenly pleated tube. Right?

free pattern meditation cushions step 3

STEP 3. Pop the round tube onto 2 layers of fabric. Mark each circle of fabric within the tube, at four equidistant points.
Separate the two pieces of fabric with the ‘circles’, i.e. put the pin marked on each of them individually.

Turn your pleated tube inside out. Pin each circle to the pleated tube, one circle to the top edge and one to the bottom edge, at each of the four points, as in the picture.

how to make a zafu meditation pillow

You can use a round object to help you create a circle marking onto the fabric (and then you can cut it… while adding a .25″ seam allowance everywhere around the circle.  Or, just leave the extra fabric for now, and cut it off at the end of your project. This way, there won’t be any novice mistakes… ;-)

STEP 4. Next, pin all pleats into the circles, top and bottom. Sew the circles to the length of cloth:

STEP 5. Turn inside out and stuff with kapok or buckwheat hulls (through opening in the side that the zafu will have) It’s best to use a lot of stuffing material. Kapok will slowly compress with use and buckwheat hulls eventually breakdown:

How to make a zafu meditation cushion - free sewing pattern - step 5

STEP 6. TSew a zipper in the opening so you can easily refill it as and when needed.

How to make a Zafu meditation cushion | meditation pillow

* Our pattern is adapted from “To Forget the Self: An Illustrated Guide to Zen Meditation” by John Daishin Buksbazen, published by the Zen Center of Los Angeles; an out-of-print book Namaste!

How to Make a Zafu Meditation Pillow – NEXT STEPS

How much Kapok or Buckwheat Hulls to make this zafu?
Where to buy Kapok or Buckwheat Hulls to make your own zafus, or buy ready-made zen meditation pillows, zabutons and futons
Why buy kapok rather than cotton?

Eco-friendly Cushions, Pillows and Beds


You can also buy ready-made zafu meditation pillows at Caroline Morning. If you mention in the ‘where did you hear about us’-box and use our Carolina Morning coupon code of 0012310, your 5% discount applies to everything you order: $6 worth, $60 worth, or $600 worth!

Find more projects tagged …