On the Go Reading Pillow Tutorial

September is National Sewing Month and to help celebrate last week I shared this tutorial on the Fave Crafts blog. Today I’m sharing it here with you.

Reading Pillow Tutorial


I love to sew, it is truly one of the great pleasures in my life. When I’m not sewing you can find me busily blogging away at The Polkadot Chair, or stalking Pinterest for new things to pin (I may be slightly obsessed!)

I thought a lot about what to share with you guys today. I decided on a revamp of some pillows I made for my nephews a few Christmases ago.  I did them quick (like in an hour) and always thought that I could have done a better job.  Regardless my sister says that her boys took them to bed every night and kept all kinds of treasures in the pocket.   I gifted the pillows with a flashlight, because there is something charming about a little kid staying up late to read at night.


Here’s how to make the pillow:

You will need:

  • 3 Fat Quarters (the measurements leave little to no waste of these fat quarters, so if you are nervous about your cutting abilities buy 4 so you have an extra just in case).
  • 2 yards 1″ wide ribbon
  • Fusible Fleece
  • 1 package piping
  • Letters- I cut mine out of fuzzy fusible vinyl with my Silhouette machine… if you don’t have one, don’t worry you could also appliqué the letters on or buy iron on letters at the craft store.
  • 18″ pillow form


Cut one Fat Quarter to 18″x 18″ for the pillow front, then cut the scrap from this piece to 2 1/2″ x 18″ for pillow back

Cut one Fat Quarter (the navy blue dot for the pocket) into  2 pieces each 18″ x 11″

Cut another Fat Quarter for the back into 2 pieces each 18″ x 9″


Attach fusible fleece to the back of the Pillow Front piece (18×18) and the pocket front piece (11×18)

Iron “READ” onto the front pocket piece.

Using a piping foot attach 1 piece of piping to the top of the pillow.  The raw edge of the piping will match up with the raw edge of the pocket piece.

Place pocket lining piece (your 2nd 11×18 piece) right sides together with your pocket front piece.  Stitch along the top seam, along the same stitching line you just used to attach your piping.  This will ensure that your piping looks good on the outside of your pillow.

Turn pillow pocket piece right side out and press.

Pin pocket piece to Pillow front piece. Baste pocket to pillow front. Set aside.

Place about 12″ of ribbon in the center of one of your pillow back pieces along the 18″ edge.  Stitch in place.  Take your scrap piece from your pillow front and sew it to this same edge of the pillow back piece.  (as shown in the photo above) Turn under edge 1/4″ and hem.

Take your 2nd 9″x18″ pillow back piece and turn under the seam 1/4″ and sew in place. Sew another piece of ribbon to the center of this piece.

Attach a piece of ribbon about 10″ long to your pillow front at the top.  Each end should be 3″ in from the side of the pillow.


Using your piping foot attach piping to the edge of the pillow front.  Raw edge of the piping flush with the raw edge of the pillow front.


Pin the 2 pillow back pieces to pillow front piece. The ribbons should be matching in the center and the piece with the extra piece sewn onto it should be on top (the photo is wrong, learned that one the hard way *wink*).

Using your piping foot sew pillow front to pillow back along the same stitching line you used to attach your piping.

Clip corners, turn right side out and you’re done!

2013-11-11 14.21.31

If you like this project, you may also like the sewing projects in my book. Click here for more information




21 Handmade Gift Ideas for Teens from Project Teen


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Melissa Mortenson is the author of the Polka Dot Chair blog which is in its 7th year of sharing fresh and creative ideas with readers. She is the author of “Project Teen, Handmade Gifts your Teen will Actually Love”. Her first fabric line “Derby Style” debuted in January 2015 through Riley Blake Designs. A mom of 3, she considers herself lucky to be living in Kentucky.

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  1. says

    This is adorable! I love it and am very tempted to make one for myself! And the idea of gifting with a flashlight is so cute! My year 4 teacher told us that everyone in her classes loved reading so much they all had torches so they could read past their bed time – I thought it was the cutest thing! Hope you have a great day!

  2. becky derry says

    Thank-you for sharing your tutorial I saw it posted on craft gossip now I shall look around and join your site.Thanks

  3. Okle Miller says

    Great pillow! As a school librarian I can’t think of a better gift idea to go with a good book, I like the flashlight idea too.

  4. elsa says

    Oh, this is a great pillow! I love to give books to the littles in my life and a pillow to go with them will be wonderful! Thanks so much for the tutorial!
    I found your blog through ‘the long thread’ blog.

  5. Christie Harris says

    “How I became The Stinky”
    I completely love this, and have a couple of kids who would appreciate a reading pillow. Thanks for posting!

  6. Susie Kasper says

    Our elementary school has “Reading Under The Stars” each year where parents and students go in the evening dressed in their PJ’s and all gather in the grounds and read books. The PTA serves hot chocolate and popcorn to go along with the reading. This is just perfect for this event.

  7. Elizabeth V. says

    I made four of these for my nieces and nephews as Christmas presents. Thank you so much for sharing the great tutorial and helping me get a few more Christmas gifts completed!

  8. says

    This is sooo cute and my youngest is a book fiend! I just learned how to sew- I’ve only made a bag, a skirt that’s a just a big bottomless bag and an eye pillow. I wonder if I can pull this off? Either way, thanks for the idea- I’m pinning it for when I get courageous enough to try it!! :-)

  9. Texas mom in Missouri says

    Do you happen to have pictures of the back of the pillow? I’m a little confused as to how the back is constructed with the ribbon and two pieces. Thanks!

  10. nicky says

    Hello, I’m also a bit confused about the back and about the strip of fabric underneath the ribbon. Where does that end up? I have the fabric and cushions ready but i just cant get my head around that bit.

    • says

      The fabric strip covers the back of the pillow. When you tie the ribbons to close the pillow there is still a gap and you can see the pillow form. This strip allows you to get a clean look on the back of the pillow. I’ll upload a photo of the back today.

  11. Kim says

    I had to comment not only because the pillow is adorable, but the second I saw ‘The Stinky’ I recognized that book from my childhood! I now feel the need to go find The Stinky Cheese Man and read it again for memory’s sake!

  12. Staci says

    Thank you for a wonderful idea! I have a question about the ribbon. In e supply list it stats 2 yards. I think I must be missing something because I inky see where we need one 10″ piece and two 12″ pieces. I am attempting to make 9 of these before Christmas…. Thanks again for all of your continual inspiration!

  13. Arael says

    What a fabulous idea! My daughter will just LOVE this :-) I might customize the front with her name instead of the word ‘read’, but we’ll see.


  1. […]  My friend Beth stepped in and rescued me.  She said she was planning on making her kid an “On the Go Reading Pillow” and when she forwarded the tutorial to me, I thought they would be perfect for Henry and […]

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