How to Make a Reading Pillow

How to Make a Reading Pillow

I am always looking for a new reason to sew and my kids ended up inspiring this one. My kids were having some downtime and during it, they usually read. Most times they like to lay down with a pillow and a good book on the floor or in their bed. When I saw this I thought why not put the two together. Thus I created this tutorial on how to make a reading pillow. My kids loved how it turned out as one was mermaid-themed and the other was unicorn-themed. As with all the DIY reusable projects I do, you can customize with colors or patterns of fabric to the end-users liking or style.

Easy to Sew Reading Pillow

Supplies for Reading Pillow

Supplies for Reading Pillow

How to Make a Reading Pillow

Iron Pillow Fabric

Wash, dry and press the fabric. I went with snuggle flannel from Joann’s, you could use comfy flannel as well. It is so snuggly and soft, plus it goes on sale all the time. Choose two coordinating fabrics for the pocket/back and then the inside of the pocket. If you decide to go with cotton or a different type of fabric, it may be necessary to “bulk up” the pocket with some interfacing. The flannel was thick enough to not need this step. Back to the reading pillow project, I have found that the end result has fewer flaws when I pre-prep my fabrics with wash, dry and press. Remember you can always customize the fabrics to your child’s liking. Now on to the cutting and sewing of the reading pillow.

Cutting fabric with Rotary

Measure and cut out your fabric. When cutting your fabric, be sure the print/pattern is facing the way you’d like it to on the finished pillow. I did not add any extra fabric in my measurement for seam allowances. I made my pillow to be a finished 18” square. This will make the pillow extra fluffy, rather than having extra wiggle room inside.

Cut Fabric Pieces
  • You will need:
    • Pocket and back fabric:
      • Three 13” x 18” rectangles (I’ll call these A pieces)
      • One 4” x 12” rectangle (for the handle – piece C)
    • The front panel of fabric (under the pocket)
      • One 18” x 18” square (This will be piece B)
Pressing fabric

At the top of two of the A pieces, fold the fabric down ½” and press all the way across (this is the top 13” edge). Fold-down ½” again and press. On the third A piece, follow the same folding/pressing process twice – but this time on the bottom of the pattern/print. This will end up being the top panel of the envelope back.

sew seam

Using ½” seam allowance, topstitch across all 3 folded hems you just created. The stitch should be close to the edge of the hem.

19 inch ribbon

Measure and cut a 19” piece of ribbon. Place ribbon along the hemmed edge of piece A (choose one where the hem is at the top), leaving ½” of ribbon hanging over each end.

Pin Ribbon on Fabric

I chose to cover my seam, but leave about ¼” of the fabric showing above the ribbon. Pin the ribbon into place. The ribbon piece is not necessary, but I wanted added strength at the top of the pocket. I didn’t want the pocket to stretch sag after many uses by my kiddos, so the ribbon should help with that.

Stitching Ribbon

Stitch very close to each side of the ribbon to attach it to piece A. (think sewing like railroad tracks!)

If you wish to add a handle, follow these directions now. The handle is not necessary either, just an added convenience. If you don’t want the handle, just skip the steps below for piece C altogether.

Folding C - Handle
  • Fold piece C in half lengthwise and press to create a crease. Unfold fabric.
Fold Middle - Handle
  • Fold in one side of piece C to meet the crease you made. Press.
Fold Opposite - Handle
  • Repeat for the opposite side.
Middle Fold Handle
  • Fold piece C in half again, along the original crease. Press.
Stitching Handle
  • Stitch very close to the edge of each side of piece C. Then Set aside – you’ll sandwich it in the pillow in a minute!
Pinning Pillow

Lay out piece B, right side facing up. Place your piece A (with ribbon sewn on) on top of piece B, lining it up along the bottom and sides of piece B. Pin in place.

Stitch Around Pillow

Top stitch around the sides and bottom of piece A to attach it to piece B. It should be left open at the top – you just created the pocket!

U handle

If using a handle on Pillow. Form piece C into a “U” shape and lay it at the top of piece B – the ends of piece C should be hanging over the top of piece B’s top edge. I left the ends 4” apart.

Take the piece A with the hem stitched at the bottom. Place it on top of newly sewn piece B (pocket piece), right sides together (piece A will be facing down). This will sandwich piece C.

Insert Handle

Place the other piece A (hem at the top) face down on top of piece B and piece A. Pin all the way around the square, making sure to add a pin on each side of the “U” shape of piece C.

Stitch around pillow sandwich

Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch all the way around the square. Backstitch at the start and stop of your sewing, as well as over the edges of the pocket and the handle strips (piece C).

Turn inside out

Snip the corners to allow for easier turning and less bulk. Reach into the bottom part of the envelope back and pull the fabric right side out.

Pillow Flat

Repeat for the top envelope piece as well.

Insert Pillow

Insert your pillow form into the pillowcase, bottom first. You’ll need to wiggle it around and push the corners into the corners of the pillowcase. The handle should be at the top.

Finished Reading Pillow

Now your reading pillow is ready for your napping or reading enjoyment.

How To Sew A Reading Pillow

If you liked how to make a reading pillow tutorial makes sure to pin it to your favorite Pinterest board or share it with friends on social media. If you decide to make it take a picture afterward and tag us on social media as we love seeing the fabrics and color choices others make.

Yield: 1

Easy Sew Reading Pillow

Easy Sew Reading Pillow

Make this adorable Reading pillow for the person that loves to read. Customize the fabric to the users' tastes. Bonus tip, include a new book for the person to read if giving this as a gift.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Active Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Difficulty Moderate
Estimated Cost $15.00

Instructions

  1. Wash, dry and press the fabric.
  2. Measure and cut out your fabric. You will need:
  3. Pocket and back fabric: Three 13” x 18” rectangles (I’ll call these A pieces) and One 4” x 12” rectangle (for the handle – piece C)
  4. Front panel of fabric (under the pocket): One 18” x 18” square (This will be piece B)
  5. At the top of two of the A pieces, fold the fabric down ½” and press all the way across (this is the top 13” edge). Fold down ½” again and press. On the third A piece, follow the same folding/pressing process twice – but this time on the bottom of the pattern/print. This will end up being the top panel of the envelope back.
  6. Using ½” seam allowance, top stitch across all 3 folded hems you just created. The stitch should be close to the edge of the hem.
  7. Measure and cut a 19” piece of ribbon. Place ribbon along hemmed edge of piece A (choose one where the hem is at the top), leaving ½” of ribbon hanging over each end. I chose to cover my seam, but leave about ¼” of the fabric showing above the ribbon. Pin the ribbon into place.
  8. Stitch very close to each side of the ribbon to attach it to piece A. (think sewing like railroad tracks!)
  9. If you wish to add a handle, follow these directions now.
  10. Fold piece C in half lengthwise and press to create crease. Unfold fabric.
  11. Fold in one side of piece C to meet the crease you made. Press.
  12. Repeat for the opposite side.
  13. Fold piece C in half again, along the original crease. Press.
  14. Stitch very close to the edge of each side of piece C.
  15. Set aside Handle fabric – you’ll sandwich it in the pillow in a minute!
  16. Lay out piece B, right side facing up. Place your piece A (with ribbon sewn on) on top of piece B, lining it up along the bottom and sides of piece B. Pin in place.
  17. Top stitch around the sides and bottom of piece A to attach it to piece B. It should be left open at the top – you just created the pocket!
  18. Form piece C into a “U” shape and lay it at the top of piece B – the ends of piece C should be hanging over the top of piece B’s top edge. I left the ends 4” apart.
  19. Take the piece A with the hem stitched at the bottom. Place it on top of newly sewn piece B (pocket piece), right sides together (piece A will be facing down). This will sandwich piece C.
  20. Place the other piece A (hem at the top) face down on top of piece B and piece A. Pin all the way around the square, making sure to add a pin on each side of the “U” shape of piece C.
  21. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch all the way around the square. Backstitch at the start and stop of your sewing, as well as over the edges of the pocket and the handle strips (piece C).
  22. Snip the corners to allow for easier turning and less bulk.
  23. Reach into the bottom part of the envelope back and pull the fabric right side out. Repeat for the top envelope piece as well.
  24. Insert your pillow form into the pillowcase, bottom first. You’ll need wiggle it around and push the corners into the corners of the pillowcase. The handle should be at the top
  25. Enjoy your Reading Pillow

Notes

I did not add any extra fabric in my measurement for seam allowances. I made my pillow to be a finished 18” square. This will make the pillow extra fluffy, rather than having extra wiggle room inside.

The ribbon piece is not necessary, but I wanted added strength at the top of the pocket. I didn’t want the pocket to stretch sag after many uses by my kiddos, so the ribbon should help with that.

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