How-To: Make a Personalized Reading Pillow

Giving gifts at Christmas-time has always been a favorite of mine and a few years ago I had a goal to make all of the gifts I was giving. I made custom shirts and family name plaques with wedding dates. But my favorite gift I gave was a reading pillow for my niece. I personalized it with her name using heat transfer vinyl. My sister tells me it’s her favorite pillow!

Now that my daughter has a new outer space room, I decided to make one for her as well! It’s an easy sewing project, even if you don’t want to use an iron-on decal. However, I totally recommend adding it because it’s simple, and who doesn’t love a personalized project?

What You’ll Need

  • 2 – 17in x 17in of the main fabric (I used the planet fabric)
  • 17in x 17in fabric (8.5in x 17in folded in half and ironed so there is a crisp fold) for the pocket (black with white polka-dots)
  • Custom Iron-On Decal
  • Iron or heat press
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
  • Poly-fil (stuffing for the pillow)

Because I picked black fabric with white polka-dots, I knew the name would be difficult to see. I added an outline of the name in white. Once I layered the decals, it would make the name very easy to read!

I folded the fabric in half and ironed it so it had a crisp line. If you want you could sew about 1/4 inch from the fold to make sure it stays folded. It’s not something that I did and it worked just fine for me!

I wanted to put the decals on the fabric before I started sewing. By doing this, I wouldn’t have to worry about ironing it on while it full of stuffing.

I placed the outline of the name decal on the pocket leaving enough room on the side and bottom of the fabric to be sewn. Then I used my heat press to iron on the decal. You can use an iron if you don’t have a heat press. My heat press machine was set to 305°F and I do each layer for 12 seconds.

Iron Instructions:
Set the iron to ‘Cotton’ and use medium pressure to push the decal on the fabric for about 25-30 seconds. If the decal doesn’t adhere completely to the fabric, place the decal back down and iron again. Peel back the clear lining to reveal the design on the fabric.
TIP: Use a piece of fabric like a tea towel to lay on top of the decal and clear lining to make sure the lining doesn’t stick to the iron.

Check out another project post where I go into more detail on how to use an iron.

After the first layer was on, I placed the name I cut out in metallic purple in the middle of the white outline. I wanted to make sure there was about the same amount of white on all sides of the writing. Once I had it in the correct location, I put the nonstick sheet on top and press down the machine.

Once it was done I peeled up the clear lining. It was now ready to be sewn.

First I laid one of the main pillow fabric down with the printed side up. Then I placed the fabric for the pocket with the decals on top, with the folded part in the middle.

Then I put the other piece of fabric with the printed side facing down (so the right sides together). After everything was lined up, I pinned all around the edge to keep the layers in place.

About 2/3 of the way to the right of the top of the pillow, I started sewing. I wanted to start at the top because there is less fabric compared to the bottom (the pocket adds extra layers). I sewed all the way around the pillow back to the top, stopping about 1/3 of the way. This will leave a gap about 1/3 of the length.

I used that gap to flip the pillow inside out so the printed side is facing out.
Tip: Use a pin to help pull the corners all the way out or you may have rounded edges.

Now it was time to fill the pillow with the poly-fil! I didn’t fill it completely so it still is soft enough for my daughter to lay on as she reads her books.

Using pins I carefully pinned the gap closed and sewed along the pins to finish off the pillow.

All done!!! Pillows are really easy and perfect for someone who isn’t completely comfortable using a sewing machine. I hope your little cutie loves it as much as mine does!

If you would like a custom decal for this project or many others, feel free to contact me! I’d love to work with you to make your project Pinterest perfect!

Tag @LaciesDesigns or use #LaciesDesigns on Facebook or Instagram of your finished projects!

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