How to Sew a Comfy Neck Pillow

How to Sew a Comfy Neck Pillow

Pattern: Neck Pillow Pattern

I always fall asleep in the car on trips. Travel Neck Pillow No, not when I’m driving. But my husband drives 90% of the time, and I get an achy neck 100% of the time that we take a trip because I fall asleep in the car.

So, I finally decided to learn to make neck pillows. The typical horseshoe shaped type was what I had in mind, but then I saw this one from Sew4Home and it looked so different, and so comfortable. It’s a bone-shaped pillow, how cool is that? Plus, it looked like it could be great for tucking under a baby bump or maybe even to use as a nursing pillow. Right now I’m not pregnant or nursing, so I can’t speak from experience on those uses.

But, I know as a mom, I like to sleep whenever I get the chance, even if I’m sitting up. So this would make a great gift for yourself or anyone else you know who wants to travel comfortably.

I altered the pattern from Sew4Home to make a slightly smaller pillow (you can print the pattern scaled to a larger size if you want a bigger one). For one, I’m a smallish person, and for two, I wanted to make it from a minky crib bumper. I was given a beautiful, plush minky crib bumper when I had my son, but unfortunately the American Academy of Pediatrics warns against using them because apparently they are a safety/SIDS risk. But there was no way I was going to let go of that lovely minky fabric and batting, so I’ve kept it just waiting for the right re-purposing opportunity.

On the off chance that you also have a soft crib bumper lying around that you want to use for just such a neck pillow project, you should know that this pillow can be made from a crib bumper measuring at least 9 ½ inches wide (tall) and at least 34 inches in length, assuming it has the desired fabric on both sides. If for some reason it only has soft fabric on one side, you need 52 inches in length.

So without further ado, here’s how you do it:

Materials needed:

  • Download and Print the Pattern: Neck Pillow PatternPrint 4 copies, actual size (100%) on 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper*. Do NOT scale to fit the page. Cut out along dotted and solid lines, place pieces edge to edge and tape together to form a bowtie-shaped pattern.
  • A sewing machine. A walking foot is nice with stretchy fabrics, but not essential. I don’t have one and did fine with minky.
  • ½ yard of soft fabric such as minky, microfleece, or strong cotton
  • 1 foot of ¾ to 1 “ ribbon
  • One medium bag of polyester fiberfill
  • Thread
  • Fabric Scissors
  • Needle for hand sewing
  • Straight pins

*If you want to make a larger or smaller pillow, you can scale the pattern size up or down when you print it. For example, under printer properties, print at 110% of normal size, or 95% of normal size, etc.


  1. Print 4 copies of the Neck Pillow Pattern (at actual size, 100%, on 8 1/2 x 11 paper), cut the pieces out along the solid and dotted lines and tape them together so that the lines connect and form a bowtie-shaped piece. Don’t overlap the pieces; just place them edge to edge.

*If you are using a crib bumper for your fabric, carefully cut the binding off of the edges, then cut the fabric away from the batting/lining at the seams by sliding your scissors between the batting and the fabric.*

2. Pin the pattern to your fabric and cut around the edges, cutting notches into the fabric along the small marked triangles. Repeat this step two more times so that you have 3 bowtie-shaped fabric pieces. I don’t recommend cutting through more than one layer at once if you are using a stretchy fabric like minky. If you are using cotton, you should be fine.

How to Sew a Neck Pillow

  1. With right sides together, place one layer on top of another, matching raw edges, and pin from one notch to the other notch. You will only be sewing the seam on one side of the piece, as shown. Use extra pins with stretchy fabric to prevent it from shifting as you sew.
  1. Sew from notch to notch where you pinned, using a ¼” seam allowance. Remove the pins as you go.

How to Sew a Neck Pillow

  1. Place the third pillow piece right sides together with one of the other pillow pieces, and pin along the unsewn edge from notch to notch. Be sure not to catch the remaining layer; you are only pinning two layers together. Keep in mind that the pillow will be forming a triangular shape.


  1. Cut your ribbon into two 1-foot lengths. Fold each piece in half to form a loop. Remove the pins by the notches and insert the ribbon between your fabric layers, matching the raw edges of the ribbon with the raw edges of the fabric. The center of the ribbon’s width should line up with the notch in the fabric. Do this with both pieces of ribbon, pinning the ribbon in place.

neckpillowstep6How to Sew a Travel Pillow

  1. Sew along the pinned seam from notch to notch. You are only sewing through half of the ribbon’s width at this point (end at the notch). Backstitch over the ribbon at the beginning and end of your seam to reinforce it.
  1. Pin the remaining raw edges of the pillow, right sides together, and sew from notch to notch, again backstitching over the ribbon. Be sure to leave a 3” opening in the seam so that you can stuff the pillow (and be sure to backstitch at the beginning and end of the opening). Leave the opening somewhere in the middle of the seam so that you are machine-stitching over the ribbon and to make the pillow easier to stuff.

How to Sew a Travel PillowHow to sew a travel pillow

  1. Turn your pillow right side out. Use a long, thin object, like the blunt end of a pen, to reach inside and make sure the seams are turned out completely.
  1. Stuff your pillow with the polyester fiberfill. Use small balls of fiberfill at a time, teasing them with your fingers rather than leaving them in hard clumps.

How to Sew a Neck Pillow

  1. When your pillow is comfortably stuffed, slipstitch the opening closed.

Enjoy your comfy pillow!

How to Sew a Comfy Neck Pillow

Linked at: Living Well Spending Less, The Weekend Retreat, Flour Me With Love


2 thoughts on “How to Sew a Comfy Neck Pillow

  1. Susan says:

    These pillows are perfect for sleeping in a Tensil(tree tent) as well. Since a Tensil is basically three hammocks with a roof, I’m guessing it would also be perfect for other hammocks. Thanks Carolyn!

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