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Pocket Reading Pillow Sewing Pattern

The ORIGINAL Reading Pillow Sewing Pattern!

Today I’m going to share with you one of my very favorite sewing tutorials of all time. The tutorial for this On The Go Pocket Reading Pillow first appeared on this blog way back in  2011, way before many of you were readers. If you like this project you may also enjoy this Pocket Pillow Sewing Project and this Giant Pillow Cover Sewing Tutorial.

Sewing Pattern for an "On the Go Reading Pillow" a cute pocket pillow for kids

Summer is right around the corner and I don’t know about you, but the thought of keeping my kids entertained is starting to give me cold sweats.   It’s a sad day when the least offensive thing you can think for them to do is sit and watch tv all day.

If you’re also worried about keeping kids entertained for the summer, why not stitch them up a special reading pillow? They can tote their books and treasures around with them in the yard, the car or wherever else their adventures may take them this summer.

You can now purchase a PRINTABLE PDF Copy of this pattern in 2 sizes.


You can also order a printed copy which will be mailed to you. This version includes two different sizes of pillows.

Free Pocket Pillow Sewing Pattern:

Sewing Pattern for an "On the Go Reading Pillow" a cute pocket pillow for kids

This project is 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:

Supplies for Pocket Pillow:

Sewing Pattern for an "On the Go Reading Pillow" a cute pocket pillow for kids

Step One, Cutting the Fabric:

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.

Also, 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″.

Sewing Pattern for an "On the Go Reading Pillow" a cute pocket pillow for kids


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. To create the READ I used my Cricut machine. You can also embroider it on the pillow front if you have an embroidery machine, or use Iron on letters that you can buy at the craft store.

Attach the Piping:

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.

Assemble the Pillow:

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.

Sewing Pattern for an "On the Go Reading Pillow" a cute pocket pillow for kids

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

Sewing Pattern for an "On the Go Reading Pillow" a cute pocket pillow for kids

To 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 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.

Sewing Pattern for an "On the Go Reading Pillow" a cute pocket pillow for kids

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

Sewing Pattern for an "On the Go Reading Pillow" a cute pocket pillow for kids

To add piping to the pillow front (you can skip this step if you’d like):

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

Sewing Pattern for an "On the Go Reading Pillow" a cute pocket pillow for kids

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 the pillow back along the same stitching line you used to attach your piping.

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

Sewing Pattern for an "On the Go Reading Pillow" a cute pocket pillow for kids

If you would prefer to add a zippered back to your Reading Pillow, just CLICK here to follow this tutorial.

21 Handmade Gift Ideas for Teens from Project Teen
Sewing Pattern for an "On the Go Reading Pillow" a cute pocket pillow for kids

More Fun Pillow Sewing Projects:

More Pocket Pillow Sewing Patterns

An Easy Way to Sew a Pillowcase

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  1. i made these for my 3 nephews for Christmas. Total hit and as an avid beginner, a project I was really proud of! Love these!

  2. Pingback: Pocket Pillow Tutorial - Sewtorial
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  4. I love this idea, it’s a great gift for kids! Although I wouldn’t mind having one for myself! 😉 Thanks for this great tutorial.
    I linked to it from my blog today, click here to see it.

  5. I love anything that promotes reading, I love your tute, thanks for sharing. I use to make and sell these at craft fairs about 15 years ago. I called them ‘Book Nappers’ – “Read a book, take a nap.” was printed on the tags. I sold hundreds of them, never thought to market them (I saw a pattern in my LQS recently for them), guess that was silly but I was in no position back in those days to undertake such an endeavor anyway. I think the pillow makes a great gift with a book or two tucked into the pocket. I like how you put READ on yours, a very nice touch! Your tute has rekindled my interest in making a few of these for gifts this Christmas. Best, Ann in NC

  6. Pingback: 25 coolest things to sew for kids {DIY gift ideas!} - It's Always Autumn
  7. Just love this site. My first project is the On The Go Reading Pillow. Has anyone else had trouble placing the 10 inch ribbon on the top front, placing each ribbon end three inches from each end. I just know I’m missing something. Any suggestions or just improvise.

  8. Hi Melissa,
    I’m making 7 of these for Christmas gifts!!…..grandkids, niece, and nephew. What a great idea. Question…? About how tall are the letters for READ? 2″? I don’t have a Silhouette or Cricut, so I’m going to make a template and heat transfer letters that I cut out.
    thanks so much…..

  9. This looks great, I’m going to try it. Just one question, do I need to add something for seam allowances when I’m cutting out the material (so it is 18 inches when complete), or is it correct that the cover is a bit less than 18 inches so it fits really snugly round the 18 inch pillow form?

  10. Hi, Do you add any seam allowance? Because if the form is 18″ and the fabric is 18″, the finished cover will be smaller than the pillow.



    1. I had the same thought which made me think then you would have to increase all measurements 1 inch? Im a beginner thats why Im asking. For eg the navy blue dot would then be 19×12 ?

      1. no, you don’t. The “trick” to getting a pillow case to fit a pillow snugly is to make the case (or cover) the same size as the pillow. The little bit you lose towards seam allowance gives the pillow a nice look when it’s finished!
        I hope this helps!

  11. Hi Melissa Am I seeing it right when you are tying the envelope back together ? When you said the piece should be on top it confused me. ( it doesn’t take much to do that ) I see the carry strap on top but if you make an envelope back do you need to tie it closed ?

    1. I added the ties because even with an envelop back sometimes it doesn’t stay closed all the way. If you didn’t want to add the ties then just make your envelop back pieces larger.

  12. Love this cushion, will be making one for my grandson now! Where was the rocket launch fabric from please, its lovely!

    1. The rocket launch fabric is Sarah Jane by Michael miller.. you can find it on most fabric websites.. or Google Sarah Jane fabric 🙂

  13. I just finished my first pocket pillow. Your tutorial is so easy to follow, it was a breeze to make. I didn’t add the piping to the pillow, just across the top of the pocket. I’ve always had trouble sewing piping. It turned out very cute, nonetheless. Thanks. I look forward to more projects.

  14. Hi, I love this project. But I did find two errors in the instructions. You say to add piping to the top of the pillow when you are referring to the top of the pocket, and when you add the ribbon for the handle, you say the ribbon should be 3 inches from the sides of the pillow. I think you mean 6 inches.

  15. Great post – I made one a couple years back for one of my nieces and she uses it daily.
    I’ll be featuring this page on my upcoming blog post, DIY Christmas Gifts, over at hampersandhiccups.com


    Katelynn, hampersandhiccups.com

  16. I am working on these for my Granddaughters for Christmas 2017. I ran in to a bit of a problem, not your pattern or your fault. I picked up fat quarters at JoAnn and they are very crocked, of course and they have the selvage on them. There was no way to get 2 pcs. 18″X11″ for the pockets, luckily I sew a whole lot and have a pretty good “stash” so I was able to just pull out some material the same color for the inside (lining) of the front pocekt. If I were to buy material again, I think I would get 1/4 yard. No wonder they have great sales on fat quarters because they are not a true cut.

  17. Hi I wanted to know if I buy the pillow pattern am I able to print out the actual pattern? I’m not too good at cutting a straight line so I would like to able to trace the pattern.

    1. No, since it is just big rectangles, and won’t fit on one piece of paper, the printable is just for the photos and directions

  18. This is sooooo cute! i want to try to make some for xmas! I’m wondering if the back can be made as an envelope so that you wouldn’t need to tie the ribbons [i am worried i won’t get the ribbons in the right place!]

    thanks for this fun idea!

  19. Where it says to
    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
    That is wrong. Pillow is 18” across so if you come in 3” on each side w a 10” ribbon; even if you stretch the ribbon straight across 10” of ribbon + 3” + 3” is only 16”. That leaves no room to make a handle as shown in your picture. I came in 6” on either side and made the handle 6” across (outside edge of ribbon pieces).
    Wasn’t sure if you realized this. Using a 12” piece of ribbon would also work if you come in 3” on either side
    I love this pattern though. The pillows are turning out so cute and it’s very easy to put together and sew. Thank you for sharing.

  20. Hi Melissa – I love this project!! I’m gathering materials to make these for Christmas- what kind of piping do you use and where can I buy it? Looking online I’m finding the kind you cover with your own fabric. Thank you.

  21. My husbands mother just passed away. Often people making grieving teddy bears out of their loved ones old clothes, but we are going to make one of these for each sibling out of grandmas clothes instead. We will fill them with books grandma loved and children’s books that have a plot that are as sassy as she was. Thank you for sharing this gift!!

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