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How to Sew a Reading Pillow

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Once you learn How to Sew a Reading Pillow, you’ll be wanting to make a reading pillow for every child you know!

Hooked on Sewing

First, let me tell you that you’ll find the full tutorial on HOOKED ON SEWING.

Why is the tutorial on Hooked on Sewing? Because Hooked on Sewing is the sister site to The Birch Cottage. It’s where I share beginner-friendly sewing patterns, like this Reading Pillow, as well as all things pertinent to beginner sewists.

Please visit Hooked on Sewing and be sure to subscribe to the Hooked on Sewing newsletter so that you’ll be the first to know when new patterns or tutorials are available.

I’m sharing the information here on The Birch Cottage to help grow awareness for Hooked on Sewing. And so you are made aware of a really fun sewing pattern, just in case you’re interested!


Video Tutorial – How to Sew a Reading Pillow

If you learn best my watching, be sure to visit the Hooked on Sewing YouTube channel to watch the detailed sewing tutorial on How to Sew a Reading Pillow. While you’re there, be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel (THANK YOU!). Just click on the below image to go straight to the video tutorial!

Hooked on Sewing video tutorial

If you prefer, you can watch the video on The Birch Cottage YouTube channel. Simply click on the below image!

The Birch Cottage YouTube Channel

Below I am sharing all the details, frequently asked questions, and even recommended supplies for making a reading pillow. Again, for the pattern and full tutorial, please visit Hooked on Sewing!

What is a Reading Pillow?

You may be asking yourself, “What is a reading pillow?” Well, a reading pillow is a pillow that has a pocket on the front of it that is big enough to hold book. It also has a handle (although the handle is optional) that makes it super easy to tote around.

I made reading pillows for our grandkids this past year for Christmas and they loved them!

Each pillow had a theme and color (because colors are important to little kids). We also purchased a reading book to go along with the theme of the pillows. For example, one of the reading pillows featured unicorns. So, we bought a story book about unicorns and a unicorn coloring book and put them in the pocket of the pillow.

Some people even include a small colorful flashlight with the reading pillow. I mean, what kid doesn’t like to read under the covers with their flashlight at night?

two reading pillows


Besides learning what exactly a reading pillow is, you might also have some other questions. I’ve been sharing some of my reading pillow makes on Facebook and Instagram and have gotten quite a few questions.

So, let’s take a look at those questions. If you have more questions, just leave them in the comments below!

How Big is the Reading Pillow?

I have made reading pillows that fit 20″, 18″, and 16″ pillow forms. You can literally make your pillow any size. Just keep the user in mind and make sure the pocket is big enough to hold a book.

reading pillow with books

What do You Put in the Pocket of the Reading Pillow?

The pocket is design to hold a reading book. Thus, the name “reading pillow”. You actually don’t have to put anything in the pocket. But it is made large enough and sturdy enough to hold a couple of books, coloring books, or even a e-tablet.

Like I said, the original reading pillow that I saw a couple of years ago included a book and a flashlight. Combine the two for a fun little gift!

Do You Have to Embroider the Pocket?

No, you absolutely do not have to embroider the pocket. It’s just a fun and creative way to add a personalized decorative touch to the reading pillow.

In fact, for our older grandson, I didn’t put anything on the pocket – just filled the pocket with some of his favorite comic books and a box of candy.

two reading pillows

How Do You Put the Name on the Pillow Pocket?

I have used both applique and machine embroidery to put names on the pocket of the pillows.


For the applique, I actually used my Cricut Maker to create and cut out my letters. I don’t YET have a tutorial prepared to show you how to do this, but there’s a great tutorial on Jennifer Maker.

You could also use an app like Word or even Canva to type your names, like CORA. Then print out the letters, cut them out like a stencil, and trace them onto your fabric and then cut out the letters.

Just be sure to apply fusible web to the back of the fabric BEFORE you cut out the letters. And, if you reverse your letters before printing, you can trace them onto the bonded side of the fabric.

reading pillow with applique

Machine Embroidery

If you have an embroidery machine, there is so much you can do as far as decorative elements on the reading pillow pocket. You can embroider names, characters, quotes, and more.

Most of the designs I have used on my pillows are from either Embroidery Library or Designs by JuJu.

reading pillow with embroidery

Do I Have to Quilt the Pillow Pocket?

No, you do not have to quilt the pillow pocket. However, I do think it is a touch that just takes your pillow to the next level. And it adds stability to the pocket.

But, I have made them without quilting. The quilting technique is easy to do and takes just an extra 5 minutes or so. I like to use my Quilting Guide Bar because it saves so much time and helps me to sew super straight lines. If you don’t have a guide bar, you can use a ruler and fabric marking pen to mark your stitch lines.

Or skip the quilting! The choice really is yours. (Although, I encourage you to give it a try!)

dragon themed reading pillow

How is the Back of the Pillow Finished?

I use an “envelope” closure for the back of the pillow. So, it’s totally zipper-free and very beginner friendly. What is an envelope closure?

An envelope closure is sometimes called an “overlap closure” and is commonly used in pillow shams. But, it’s where the fabrics in the back overlap. In fact, my pillow cover patterns have a generous overlap because I hate it when the pillow cover gaps in the back and you can actually see part of the insert. That won’t be an issue with my pillow cover patterns.

envelope closure

How to Sew a Reading Pillow

Alright, let’s take a look at How to Sew a Reading Pillow. The pillow can be made in any size. I’m going to provide you cutting instructions for making the pillow in 16″, 18″ and 20″ sizes.

Like I said, the pillow cover is an envelope style pillow cover with a pocket and handle. Let’s take a look first at the materials and tools/equipment that you’ll want to have on hand before you begin this sewing project.

And PLEASE read through ALL instructions on Hooked on Sewing before beginning.

Materials Needed

Tools Needed

More Sewing Ideas from Hooked on Sewing

I do hope you enjoyed this Reading Pillow tutorial. You’ll find not only sewing patterns, but lots of sewing tips, tutorials, and sewing tool ideas right here on Hooked on Sewing!

More Sewing Ideas from The Birch Cottage

Don’t worry, there are PLENTY of sewing patterns, tutorials, and fun ideas right here on The Birch Cottage. In fact, you might enjoy these sewing ideas:

And be sure to save this Reading Pillow tutorial to your favorite Pinterest board to save it for later or to share with family and friends!

two reading pillows

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