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Reading Book Pillow Tutorial

Book Pillow Tutorial

Ok, so we have seen tons of people doing these fun pillows but how in the world is it done?!

I am not an expert when it comes to sewing...but this works really well for me and I hope it will for you too!  These are so fun for any age.  You can do them ANY size.  For my example I am doing it for a 16" x 16" Pillow I purchased at JoAnn Fabrics.  I'll go over figuring out the size fabrics you need for other size pillows at the end of this.  

For this example we used this design:  Tale As Old As Time



  • (1) 16.5" x 16.5" Piece of fabric - this will be your front (Beauty & the Beast in my ex)
  • (1) 12" x 16.5" Piece of fabric - this will be your book pocket
  • (2) 11" x 16.5" Pieces of fabric for the back "envelope" style
  • Scissors, iron, thread, ruler and sewing machine

Let's start!  So for my example I embroidered a design on the front pocket.  If you aren't going to embroider anything just skip that section :)


Take your 12" x 16.5" piece for your pocket.  We are going to sew a hem for that raw edge.  To do this; lay your fabric so it's 16.5" wide and 12" high in front of you.  You are going to fold that top edge down 1/4" and press it.

Next, we are going to fold that over and another 1/4" and iron it.  This keeps the raw edges nicely concealed.

You might want to stick a few pins in to keep it even and flat for sewing.  

I'm more of a "wing it" girl so I just took it to the sewing machine like this and held it in place.

Once at your sewing machine you are going to sew the flap down.

We are going to do the exact same thing with both of your 11" x 16.5" pieces.  Lay them out 11" tall and 16.5" wide.  Fold over 1/4" down from the top.  Press, then fold another 1/4" down and press.  Sew the flaps down on both of those.

Now, if you want to embroidery something I suggest doing your front pocket hem first.  Hoop your pocket piece and embroider it while you work on the back two pieces.

Now, I sometimes tend to do the lazy thing with embroidery.  I have been doing embroidery for business for 8 years as of now (2017).  I feel comfortable doing this but if you don't PLEASE do the way that feels right to you!

So, I get my pocket piece that has the top hemmed.  Fold it in half width wise and line that up with the center part of my hoop.  Once I have it lined up I gently unfold it keeping it centered and pin it in place.  I put it on my machine and baste it.  Not all machines have this feature.  Basting is to make a quick, temporary stitch around the entire design area.  It just holds the fabric in place to help minimize puckering or shifting.  So I baste the fabric and do my stitching.  

Now.  At this point I would go and do the hem for both back pockets while my machine is running beautifully.

Once the hem is done on all 3 pieces of fabric and my embroidery is done I am almost done!

Lay your large 16.5" x 16.5" piece down facing right side up.

Next, lay your pocket piece (12" x 16.5") on top, right side up.  Line the bottoms up.

Now, lay the first 11" x 16.5" piece with right side facing DOWN.  Line the tops for this one.

Now, we are going to lay the last back piece (11" x 16.5").  Right side facing down (this will overlap the top back piece you just did in the step before.  This is correct).  Line this piece up along the bottom.

Once all your pieces are there you are going to pin all the way around.

Once pinned, take it over to your sewing machine and sew all the way around using a 1/2" seam allowance.

When you are finished sewing take a second to clip your corners.  This just helps to get the corners to flip nicely.  Next your turn it inside out from the envelope opening.  Make sure you gently push those corners out.

Press it and stick your 16" pillow in!  You are finished!

Few side notes....

  • How do you add handles if you want them?
    • Handles are an easy addition.  Cut ribbon that matches to about 12" in length.
    • Once cut your are just going to place them on top of your front pillow piece (the 16.5" x 16.5" one) and under your back pieces.  The ribbon should be tucked into the pillow as shown below.  Pin them in place and they will be sewn in during the step where we sew all the layers together.

  • What if I want to do another size pillow?  What sizes do I cut the fabric then?
    • To figure out what size to cut your back pieces it's a little math.  The width will always be the same size as your pillow.  For the height of each back piece you do the height of the pillow + 6" and then divide by 2.  So for an 18" pillow it would be 18" x 12" for each (18" + 6 = 24 /2 = 12").

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