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How to make a reading pillow

Hi there! It’s Rachel Rossi again! If you loved the Timber! Quilt, then I’ve got a special treat for you; It’s a special little accessory to go along with your Timber! quilt that your little one is sure to love! It will take them for miles and miles of adventure without ever leaving your home: it’s a perfect little reading pillow. Complete with curious bears, singing birds, and pockets galore! This pillow not only gives you a place to lean and cozy up with your favorite book, but also a place to store your current books, pencils, bookmarks, and maybe even a few small treasures.

I’ve included a free downloadable version of this tutorial for you with graphics, rather than pictures. It includes all the fabric, tools, and measurements that you’ll need to get started. The tutorial below includes actual images of me making these pillows so that you can see what yours should be looking like along the way. You can download the pattern here for all the exact measurements, and follow along with the pictures below. Happy sewing!

What You’ll Need


  • Rotary Cutter & Mat
  • Quilting Ruler
  • Sewing Machine
  • Matching Thread
  • Pins
  • Iron
  • Erasable Fabric Marker
  • Stuffing
  • Your free pattern!


  • Main Print (Front and Back): 5/8 yard (If you’ve already made the baby size Timber! Quilt, you should have enough background fabric left for this)
  • Accent Print (Sides, Pockets, Bottom): 1-1/8 yards (I suggest non-directional fabrics)
  • Fabrics for appliquéd pieces: Always check your scrap fabrics to see if you have enough! If you’ve already made the Timber! Quilt, you should have enough left over for all your appliqué pieces
    • Dark Bear: 1 fat quarter
    • Light Bear details: 1 fat quarter
    • Bird: 1 fat quarter or scrap fabric
    • Tree: a single piece or various scraps sewn together to equal 20″ x 5-1/4″ (If you’ve already made a Timber! quilt, you should have enough left over from your trees to make this too)
  • Fusible Web
  • Light Weight Interfacing: 10″ x 20″

Let’s Get Started!

First, cut out all of your squares, rectangles, and appliqué pieces as listed in the pattern.

Creating the Sides

(1) Stack the (2) Rectangle E’s together, right sides together.

Draw a diagonal line from corner to corner and cut. This will leave you with two stacks: Stack 1 & Stack 2.

(2) Taking Stack 1, trim off the top 8″ (Image 2), discard the upper part of the triangle.

(3) On the short side of one cut triangle, fold over 1/4″ and press. Fold over 1/2″ and press again. Topstitch close to the 1/2″ fold. This will be the top of your side pocket. Repeat on the second cut triangle.

(4) Layer one cut triangle on top of a triangle from Stack 2, matching corners with right sides facing up, baste your pocket into place. Repeat on the second cut and whole triangle. Set aside.

Creating the Book Pocket

(5) Place your Lightweight Interfacing to the wrong side of Rectangle D. The interfacing should only cover half of the rectangle. Fold the remaining fabric over so that the interfacing is hidden. Iron a crease where you folded and topstitch 1/4″ away from the folded edge. This is your Book Pocket!

(6) Layer out your Book Pocket (from Step #5) on top of Rectangle B, matching bottom corners. Place appliqué pieces where desired and iron into place. Don’t know how to appliqué!? Never fear! I’ve got a great tutorial to help you learn here!

(7) Topstitch on your appliqué pieces to Rectangle B and Book Pocket.

(8) Layer the Book Pocket on top of Rectangle B, matching bottom corners, and baste into place.

(9) Draw a line up the center of your book pocket and topstitch on the line drawn. This will help make your pocket a bit more sturdy—this is the back of your pillow. Set aside.

Creating the Front

(10) Layer your appliqué pieces on top of Rectangle A as desired. Iron into place and topstitch.

Putting the Pillow Together

(11) Place Rectangle C on top of the pillow back, right sides together, matching bottom corners. Sew together along the bottom edge, and press seams out. If you’d like to add a zipper, I would suggest adding it along this seam.

(12) Place the bottom corners of the pillow front to the long, unsewn edge of Rectangle C, right sides together. Sew, press seams out.

(13) Match the longest side of one pocket to the front of the pillow, right sides together:

(Match top corners together. The bottom corner of the side pocket should hang over about 1/2″ as shown below). Pin and sew along the long edge, stopping at the seam.

(14) Match the short side of the same pocket to the bottom of the pillow, right sides together (Matching corners together. The corners of the side pocket should hang over about 1/2,” just like it did in Step 13). You will have to work the fabric a bit to get it where it needs to be. Pin and sew along the raw long edge, stopping at the seam, just as you did in Step 13.

(15) Match the remaining side of your pocket to the back edge of the pillow. Stitch along the raw edge, starting and stopping at the seam on the bottom just as you did in the previous 2 steps. Stop stitching when you reach the center of the side seam.

(16) Repeat steps 13-15 on the other side.

Your corners should be looking like this:

(17) Match the top back and front, right sides together. Pin, and draw a line from the end of the side seams.

Stitch along this line, remembering to leave an opening for turning and stuffing. Once sewn, trim the seam to 1/2″

(18) Turn the pillow right side out, poke the corners so that they are nice and crisp, and stuff. I like to stuff these pretty heavily so that they can support the weight of someone leaning on them.

Hand sew your opening shut.

Now it’s time to fill your pockets with bookmarks, pens, books, and other treasures! Grab your favorite book, and settle in for a good read!

I loved this pillow so much that I had to make another! This time, I just skipped the appliqué and used my favorite fabrics.



2 Comments to “How to make a reading pillow”

  1. Isa 07/09/2020 at 1:56 am

    Am I the only One that find the directions super confusing? Which of the squares/ rectangles makes up the front and back of this pillow?

  2. Yvonne Jordan 11/12/2020 at 12:56 pm

    Love this pattern! Making 2 for the grandkids!


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