Create a fun handmade gift for a little one with this FREE On the Go Reading Pillow Pattern! This is the ORIGINAL reading pillow pattern.
Table of Contents
Why I Designed the Reading Pillow Pattern
A few years ago, I decided to revamp some pillows I made for my nephews a few Christmases ago. I did them quickly (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.
Today I’m excited to share with you the improved finished project. These reading pillows feature one large pocket on the front to hold books or other treasures and a small handle on top to make it easy to carry around.
How to Get a Printable Pattern
If you prefer, you can now purchase a PRINTABLE PDF Copy of this pattern. The purchased pattern includes instructions to create both the small and large reading pillow, along with applique patterns of the ENTIRE alphabet so you can spell whatever you’d like on the front of your pillow.
You can also buy a printed pattern that will be mailed to you.
NOTE: These pillows feature piping, if you’re not comfortable sewing piping, just leave it off. The pattern works great either way.
This pattern is designed to work with fat quarters! If you want to make it from yardage you can. If you do that you may want to use this tutorial to add a zipper to the back of the pillow, instead of the closure that I created.
- 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. You can also use a Cricut 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
Reading Pillow Cutting Instructions
- Cut one Fat Quarter to 18″x 18″ for the pillow front, then cut the leftover fabric from this piece to 2 ½″ 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″
STEP 1: Create the Pocket
Attach fusible fleece to the back of the Pillow Front piece (18×18) and the pocket front piece (11×18).
If desired, 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. (Piping instructions can be found here)
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.
STEP 2: Attaching the Pocket
Pin Pocket Piece to Pillow Front piece. Baste pocket to pillow front. Set aside.
STEP 3: Create the Pillow Back
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 ¼″ and hem.
Take your 2nd 9″x18″ pillow back piece and turn under the seam ¼″ and sew in place. Sew another piece of ribbon to the center of this piece.
STEP 4: Piping & Ribbon
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.
STEP 5: Assembly
Using your piping foot attach piping to the edge of the pillow front. The raw edge of the piping is flush with the raw edge of the pillow front.
Pin the 2 pillow back pieces to the 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 the pillow back along the same stitching line you used to attach your piping.
Clip corners, turn right side out and you’re done!
If you like this project, you may also like sewing projects in my book. Click here for more information
In the years since I first wrote this tutorial, I’ve made DOZENS of reading pillows. I’ve learned a few things along the way. Here are some of my recommendations.
- If you are making this project from fabric yardage instead of Fat Quarters you can cut your pillow back pieces to 10″ x 18″. You can then eliminate the “strip” in the center of the back of the pillow. The strip was added because Fat Quarters do not yield enough fabric for two pieces each 10″ x 18″.
- I recommend adding a Zippered Back to this pillow since it is designed to be given to a child and will most likely need to be washed repeatedly. I have free instructions to add a zip back to a pillow on the blog.
- Make sure that you backstich when you sew over the seam where the pillow pocket attaches to the pillow front. This is a high tension point and a bit of extra stitching will help the pillow stay in place for years to come!
- There are so many cute book themed fabrics on the market right now. You could easily gift this pockeet pillow made with fabric that matches the book you give as well!