Christmas, Sewing + Quilting

Reading Pillows: Create a Cozy Gift in Just 3 Easy Steps

Reading Pillows green fabric stars pink fabric nutcracker elements white fabric llamas gold Christmas trees Barbie story book novel planner

** This post may contain affiliate links.  What does this mean?  It means that if you click on one of my links and make a purchase, I will earn a small commission or fee, at no extra cost to you.  For further information, please read my full Policies page. **


Reading pillows are so great, and let me tell you why!  Not only are they cute and cozy, but they make an awesome easy sewing project!

In this post, I’ll guide you through the process of making your own reading pillow in just 5 easy steps.



Step 1: Gather Your Materials and Tools

Before we dive into the sewing, let’s make sure you have everything you need for your project.


For this project, especially if you are a beginner, I would recommend good-quality quilting cotton.  It’s easy to sew with, and the options are practically endless.  If you are gifting your reading pillow with a book, consider using fabrics that match the book – Harry Potter, Anne of Green Gables, etc.  So cute!  For some amazingly cute fabrics, be sure to check out the selection at the Fat Quarter Shop!

Fabric requirements:

Pocket: ⅓ yard (.3 metres) or 1 Fat Quarter
Pocket Trim: ⅛ yard (.1 metres) or 1 strip of a Jelly Roll
Pillow Front: ½ yard (.5 metres) or 1 Fat Quarter
Pillow Back: ½ yard (.5 metres) or 1 Fat Quarter  ** Note: if you are making a 16″ pillow cover or smaller, one Fat Quarter will work for the back.  Any larger and you will need two.

  • Pillow insert
  • Rotary cutter and mat – You can absolutely use a good pair of scissors, but I do find that you get the most accurate cuts using a rotary cutter.
  • Quilting Ruler
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
  • Iron and ironing board or pressing mat
  • Pins or clips
  • Spray starch – this is optional for this project.  I have recently started starching my fabrics, and I love the difference.  A note of caution, however: starching precuts may not work out well, as the starch can shrink your fabric in one direction only.  Your squares will no longer be squares!

You can also consider adding embellishments like ribbon, buttons or applique. 


Here is where you can watch these reading pillows come together in no time at all!  Be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel so you’re always notified of new videos and projects!




Step 2: Measure and Cut Your Fabric

This is where the fun starts.  We are making a cover that will fit a 16″ x 16″ pillow form.  Start by measuring and cutting your fabric as follows:

Pocket Fabric – 17″ by 10″

Pocket Trim – 17″ x 2 ½”

Pillow Front – 17″ x 17″

Pillow Back – cut TWO (2) 17″ x 10 ½”  (these measurements assume you are using one Fat Quarter for the back.  If you have enough fabric, you can cut them wider.)

If you plan to starch your fabrics, be sure to do so BEFORE you begin cutting.  Starching can lead to a small amount of shrinkage.


Step 3: Sew Your Pillow Cover

Once all your fabrics are cut and pressed, it’s time to start sewing!

We’ll start with the pocket.  With wrong sides together, fold the pocket trim in half and press.  Then line it up along the top edge of the pocket fabric.  Be sure you are paying attention to any directional fabrics.  Stitch a ¼” seam along the edge.  Press towards the bottom of the pocket.  This prevents your book from getting caught on the seam when you slip it into the pocket.  Remember, you can refer back to my Reading Pillow YouTube Tutorial at any time!

Next, we’ll prepare the back.  We will be using an envelope-style closure for this reading pillow, which means no zippers!  I know many of you love a good zipper closure, but not this gal!  Start by turning under one long edge of each of the back pieces approximately ¼” to ½”.  If the fabric is directional, be sure you are turning under the top edge of one and the bottom edge of the other.  Press this fold and then turn under one more time, approximately ½”, so that the raw edge is not visible.  Stitch a ¼” seam along each edge.  



Now we can layer and finish our pillow.  Place the pillow front face up on your surface.  Next, place the pocket front face up on top of the pillow front.  You can baste these two pieces together at this stage if you choose.  The next piece to layer is the top section of the backing.  Align it with the top of the pillow front, with right sides together.  Lastly, place the bottom section of the backing right sides together with the pillow front.  Pin or clip your layers in place. 

Stitch a ¼” seam around the entire pillow.  Clip your corners and turn the pillow cover right side out.

Insert your pillow form and you’re good to go!


Personalizing Reading Pillows

This is where you can really have fun with your gift.  Here are some ideas that the recipient of this reading pillow might love:

  • Appliqué designs: Add a touch of whimsy with fabric appliqué of your favourite book characters or symbols.
  • Embroidery: Stitch a name or a meaningful quote onto the fabric for a personal touch. 
  • Fabric paint: Get artistic and paint a unique design on your reading pillow cover.
  • Personalized labels: Sew on a label with your name or a special message to make it extra special.
  • Embellishments:  Buttons, ribbons or any other decorate item adds personality and fun to this project.


Now go ahead and slip in a book or magazine, or maybe even a colouring book and crayons.  For creative types, you might want to add a journal or sketchbook.  You could even give a planner as a gift!  This is the planner that I personally would LOVE to find under the tree, but the possibilities really are endless.



No matter what you choose to include with your gift, you’ve just created a cozy reading pillow in 3 easy steps. This easy sewing project not only brings comfort to a reading nook but also allows you to showcase your creativity. Whether you’re a seasoned seamstress or a beginner looking for a simple handmade gift idea, a reading pillow is just right.



Want to remember this?  Save this Reading Pillow Tutorial to your favourite Pinterest boards!


Reading Pillow green fabric stars white fabric gold Christmas trees vintage cars striped planner


Related Posts

Hi! I'm Tanya

I’m so glad you’re here!  Let’s get started on creating YOUR Little Handmade Home!

Shop Fabric at Fat Quarter Shop
300 X 250 banner
JOANN Stores
Free Shipping for orders over $30