Reading pillow tutorial: A quick and easy toddler gift.

9 July 2019 Gold Coast QLD, Australia

Reading is high on my things-I-love-to-do list and, as a retired English teacher, reading is something I want to encourage in my step grandchildren and my grand nieces and nephews. Reading takes me to far away places, to worlds of adventure and crime and fantasy. It lets me meet strange and unusual characters and wonder about their psyche. It leads me into the realm of Book Club where often the wine and food are more important than the book. So, what better way to spread the love of reading than by making it comfortable and fun with a cute reading pillow to relax on and to store your favourite books and maybe even your iPad.

It was almost MLP's granddaughter's Number Three birthday and we'd already donated my old iPad mini dressed up in its new cover to the mum and dad gift cause. 

Apparently that's what three year olds ask for these days ... their own iPad!

So what to make for our gift was on my mind. 

A reading pillow was the perfect answer.

It took no time; was so easy to make ... in an afternoon.

And it made the prettiest and cutest gift.

I decided to use fabrics to compliment the iPad cover, so it could be stored in the pocket too and still look pretty.

I like my pillow covers to be a little tight to make the pillow look full and comfy. So, I cut my pillow pieces the same size as the insert, 42cm (16 ½") square, and used the .6cm (¼") seam allowance to create the firmness I like.

So, what do you need?

PILLOW INSERT: 42cm (16 ½") square
FABRIC 1: 42cm (16 ½") square
FABRIC 2 + CALICO: 42cm x 25cm (16 ½" x 10")
FABRIC 3: Two pieces, 42cm x 22cm (16 ½" x 8 ½")
FABRIC 4: 2.75ms (3yds) of bias binding
ZIPPER: 40cm (16")

Let's get started.

STEP 1: Adding binding to the top edge of the pocket.

Place Fabric 2 and calico WRONG sides together.

Cut a piece of bias binding approximately 25cm (10") long.
Pin onto the top edge of calico side of the pocket, stitch using a .6cm (¼") seam.

Iron binding towards top and turn to right side.

Place so that folded edge of binding just covers stitching from back, pin and edge stitch into place.


Place pocket on top of Fabric 1 and pin into position. If needed, trim to a nice square shape.

STEP 3: Adding zipper to back pieces.

I chose to have an exposed zipper to add some colour to the back of the pillow.

Overlock or zig zag one long side of both pieces of Fabric 3.

Pin zipper, face down, to right side of overlocked edge of fabric.

Using zipper foot, stitch zipper to fabric.

Turn and press fabric away from zipper, top stitch along edge of zipper. I always use a slightly lager than normal stitch length for top stitching.

Pin second piece of Fabric 3 to other side of zipper and repeat the stitching, pressing and top stitching process.

STEP 4: Adding handle.

Find the centre point of the top of the front of the pillow (pocket side), measure 5cm (2") either side of the centre point, mark and pin grosgrain ribbon in position.

Overlock or zig zag around edge of front (pocket side) of pillow.

STEP 5: Basting front and back of pillow together.

Pin front (pocket) side of pillow and back (zipper) side of pillow WRONG sides together.
If needed, trim to a nice square shape.

Pin the slider ends of the zipper in place, then UNZIP a little so that you don't break your needle when basting.

Choose a long (basting) stitch length and stitch close to the outer edge of the pillow.

STEP 5: Binding the edges.

I always work with French Fold bias binding as I find it easier to work with. 

I make my own by cutting bias strips 6.5cm (2 ⅝") wide and folding edge to edge. 

(Maybe I need to do a blog post about my bias binding techniques that I love because they work?)

Pin bias binding to the back (zipper) side of the pillow. Start just past half way towards the bottom corner (Here the join will be less noticeable.)

Begin stitching about 15cm (6") from the end of the bias strip.

Stop stitiching .6cm (1/4") from the corner, fold the tape up into the corner then start stitching .6cm (1/4") from the corner. This will create a nicely mitred corner.

Continue stitching around all edges, mitring corners as you go.

When you come to around 15cm (6") from the original end of the bias binding, stop stitching.

Join bias strips. I always use this technique to join the ends of bias binding together.

Stitch the final section of bias binding to the edge of the pillow.

Iron binding towards the outside and turn to front of pillow.

Pin into place with folded edge of binding just covering the stitching from the back.

Use pins to secure mitred corners in place.

Using a slightly longer stitch length than normal, edge stitch the binding to the front (pocket) side of the pillow.

Fold the grosgrain ribbon handle towards the top as you edge stitch.

View of stitching from the back (zipper) side of the pillow.

Place the insert inside the pillow cover, zip it up and you are done!

Ready to relax and read.

Carry your pillow, books and iPad wherever you may wish to go.

Let me know if you make some reading pillows.
I'd love to see photos of your creations.
Tag me in your photos on Instagram.

Our Miss Three loves her reading pillow.
And, I think I'll make one for my grand nephew
who just LOVES to be read to every night.

Catch up again soon.

Kennie, who is no longer a kitten, 
but will always be referred to as Kennie Kitten, 
has taken to spending an inordinate amount of time in this box.  
It's his fav, so it seems.

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