Reading Pillow with Pocket Tutorial – A Great Gift Idea for Book Lovers

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In today’s sewing tutorial, we’re going to show you how to make your very own Reading Pillow, also known as a Book Pillow. This charming and functional pillow is the perfect companion for bookworms and cozy reading sessions. 📚✨ I’m using my Happy at Home fabric from Riley Blake Designs.

If you prefer to have a printable PDF pattern, you can find it in my Etsy Shop >


  • Fabric 1: (Panel)
    ½ yard or Fat Quarter if not using the panel
    A – (1) 16½” square
  • Fabric 2: (Aqua Main)
    ½ yard or Fat Quarter
    B – (1) 16½” square
  • Fabric 3: (Lemon Vignettes)
    ½ yard or Fat Quarter
    C – (1) 10” x 16½”
  • Fabric 4: (Teal Dots)
    1/3 yard or Fat Quarter
    D – (1) 10” x 16½”
    E – (1) 2” x 16½”
    F – (1) 4” x 8”
  • Fusible Fleece
    ½ yard or Fat Quarter (I use Pellon® 987F)
    A – (1) 16½” square
    B – (1) 16½” square 16” Pillow Form or Stuffing



00:00 introduction
00:15 cut fabrics
02:45 using fusible fleece
04:13 make reading pillow handle
04:51 how to use a quilter’s clapper
05:27 make pocket bias tape
07:01 attach handle

07:57 Sew pocket to pillow front
08:48 Pin front to back
09:43 Sew front to back
09:48 Add pillow form
11:26 How to ladder stitch pillow closed
14:20 Finishing knot tip


Follow the manufacturer’s directions for your fusible fleece and apply it to the wrong side of the Pillow Front Piece and Pocket piece. I use Pellon® 987F.


Right sides together, pin or clip the pocket front (C) and pocket lining (D). (fig. 1) Stitch along the top edge of the pocket using a ¼” seam allowance.

Turn and press. Topstitch 1/4″ from the sewn edge or add an optional bias tape. (fig. 2)

pin or clip book pillow pocket together
figure 1
sew bias tape to top of the pocket
figure 2


Fold the handle fabric (F) on your ironing board, wrong side up. (fig. 3) Fold in half lengthwise and press. (fig. 4)

Open the fabric (fig. 5) and press both raw edges into the center fold you just pressed. (fig. 6)

Press in half again (fig. 7) and sew to make a fabric handle. (fig. 8)

sewing a handle - step 1
figure 3
sewing a handle - step 3
figure 5
sewing a handle - step 5
figure 7
sewing a handle - step 2
figure 4
sewing a handle - step 4
figure 6
figure 8


Cut a piece of 8″ long ribbon & finish off the ends with a bit of fray check or clear nail polish.


Pin the ribbon or fabric handle to the top of the pillow front (B) so that it’s facing down and centered on the pillow.

The farther you move the handle from the center, the wider and shorter the handle will be. The closer to the center, the skinnier & taller the handle will be. I placed the inside edge of the handles 1″ from the center point. (fig. 9)

Stitch the handle in place 1/4” from the edge of the pillow top.

figure 9


Pin the pillow pocket to the pillow front so that the bottom of the pillow and the pocket are lined up. Baste the pocket in place along the side seams and bottom. (fig. 10)

Pin the front / pocket to the back fabric and stitch around the square with 1/2″ seam allowance, leaving about 8-10 inches open to insert the pillow. (Fig. 11)

Backstitch where the top of the book pocket meets the pillow back for more stability as books are put in and out of the pocket.

Clip the corners and turn the pillow cover right side out. Insert a pillow form. (fig. 12)

Fold the seam allowance in on the open section of the case and pin or clip. (fig. 13)

sew pocket to pillow front
figure 10
figure 12
figure 11
figure 13

(NOTE: The written version in my Etsy shop also includes directions to make an envelope back so you can remove and wash the case. Learn how to do that in this blog post)

Use an invisible stitch (also called a ladder stitch or blind stitch) to sew the opening closed. It’s called a “ladder stitch” because if you pull it open a little you will see straight lines of thread going across between the two fabrics – resembling a ladder. (fig. 14)

Thread your needle, and tie the two thread tail ends together in a knot. Using two strands of thread will give extra strength to your finished seam. Pinch both sides of the fabric together as you sew to pull things nice and taut.

Push your threaded needle up and through one of the folded seams, from back to front, and pull the thread tail completely through. The knotted end of your thread will now be concealed on the inside of the project. Directly across from the point at which your thread emerges at your starting point, push the needle down and then back up through the opposite seam crease to create a stitch that is between 1/8- 1/4” long. (fig. 15)

Directly across from the point at which the thread emerges from the seam crease, make another 1/8-1/4” stitch through the opposite seam crease: down, through, and up. (fig. 16)

Repeat until you have closed the pillow.

To finish, use your needle to pick up a tiny section of the opposite seam leaving a small loop of thread, put the needle and thread through the loop and tighten to make a knot. (fig. 17)

Push the needle into your project and out a few inches away. Press to mush the pillow and cut the thread. When you release the pressure the tail of your thread will be safely inside the pillow.

ladder stitch sample
figure 14
figure 16
figure 15
figure 17

buy the reading pillow pattern on etsy


Be sure to save it to Pinterest and follow me for more ideas and resources for sewing, crafting and creative living.

If you make this or other projects and post on Instagram, be sure to tag me (@artisttarareed). Follow my YouTube channel for new sewing projects and tips every week.

📚 Tara Reed

P.S. Is there a sewing tutorial you’d love to see? Leave me a comment and I’ll add it to my idea list!


How to sew a Quillow (a quilt that turns into a pillow!)>

How to sew an envelope pillow cover >

More free sewing projects >

My favorite sewing supplies >


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