These little bow-tie shaped neck pillows are super for proppin’ up your noggin as you watch TV or read in bed or do a little browsing on your favorite device. They’re also great for supporting your neck while sleeping. This is one of our original designs, and it remains a perennial favorite. They have the perfect contour and softness to cradle your head and neck in comfort. In fact, this project comes with a warning: once you make one and share it with friends and family, you’ll be on the hook to make many, many more. Good thing you can finish one in under an hour.
Reactions are likely to run the gamut from “love it” to “get your own” to “gentle snoring.” If you make one for everyone, they’ll be less of a struggle.
We’ve made countless of these as gifts, and use them ourselves every night. If you like a cool, crisp pillow, use a quality 100% cotton décor fabric. If you’re looking for warm and cozy, try flannel or plush fleece. Overall, we recommend a slightly heavier fabric for the best, longest-lasting results, although our samples in quilting weight cotton have also turned out nicely.
Many people tell us how well-received this pillow is by seniors or those who must spend many hours seated or in bed. It offers therapeutic support for the neck, allowing those hard-working muscles to relax.
Despite the complex-looking shape, our bow-tie pillow is super easy to make. As mentioned above, this thoughtful gift only takes only about 30 minutes, start to finish.
The optional loop handles at either end are the perfect length to grasp and adjust the pillow into your perfect position.
These pillows are surprisingly easy to launder. Pre-wash the fabric you are choosing to use, then when finished, they can be popped in the washer on cool/gentle and tumble-dried, also on cool, plus throwing in a bath towel helps. We’ve tested this on several of our own pillows – even a couple that had gotten quite dirty – with excellent results.
Each pillow finishes at approximately 16″ with a 14″ circumference at the center and a 22″ circumference at the ends.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing Machine and standard presser foot
Fabric and Other Supplies
- ½ yard* of 44″+ wide fabric per pillow – we recommend a slightly heavier décor weight, although we have made options with standard quilting weight cottons. We’ve also done successful sets in cotton sateen and plush fleece.
NOTE: * While ½ yard is sufficient for one pillow, if you select a fabric with a large motif as we did for these samples, we recommend getting ¾ to a full yard for the very best fussy cutting options. The photo below shows how we carefully mapped out the cuts for one of our pillows.
- ⅔ yard of ¾” to 1″ ribbon or tape per pillow; we used a twill tape in natural for this set, you could also use grosgrain ribbon, suede or even make a matching tie from the same fabric
- ONE medium bag of premium polyester fiber fill; we used Polyfil® 100% Premium Polyester Fiberfill by Fairfield
- All-purpose thread to match fabric
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Iron and ironing board
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Straight pins
- Hand sewing needle
Getting Started and Pattern Download
- Download and print FOUR copies of our Neck Pillow Pattern.
IMPORTANT: This pattern is ONE 8½” x 11″ sheet. You must print the PDF file at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page. There is a guide line on the page to confirm your printout is the correct size.
- Cut out the pattern pieces along the solid lines.
- Butt the four pattern pieces together, flipping over two of the four pieces, to make one bow-tie shaped pattern piece. Do NOT overlap. Tape in place.
- Using the assembled pattern, cut THREE pieces.
NOTE: As mentioned above, a careful fussy cut is a good option, but also remember to pay attention to whether your fabric has nap (like fleece or suede) or any directional print to insure everything is oriented correctly.
- You’ll see a red ✱ on either end of your assembled pattern piece. On each of your three pieces, make a small V-shaped cut, about ⅛” in depth and width, at these two symbols. These are the points where you start/stop stitching and attach the center of your ribbon handles. While you can use a marking pencil, we’ve found this V-clip is easier to spot while sewing.
- Cut the ribbon/tape in half into two 12″ lengths.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
- This pillow is essentially a chubby triangle, which is helpful to keep in mind as you are assembling; you need three sides to create the correct dimension.
- Pin two of your three pieces of cut fabric right sides together along one side, from one V-clip to the opposite V-clip.
- Using a ⅜” seam allowance, stitch from the precise center point of the V on one side to precisely that same point on the opposite side. The other side remains open. Because of the narrow seam allowance and the curves, sew slowly to assure your stitching line is even and accurate. You might want to slightly reduce your stitch length for a smoother curve and tighter seam. For more about this technique, check out our full tutorial on Sewing Smooth Curves Every Time.
- Loop each 12″ length of ribbon/tape in half to form a handle, aligning the raw ends. Pin the raw ends in place at the center of each V-clip with the loop falling to the inside.
- Place your third fabric piece into position against one of the remaining raw edges of the original two pieces, matching all the curves and sandwiching the loops between the layers.
- Stitch a second seam, again from V-clip to opposite V-clip.
- You are starting and stopping the seam to include half of the ribbon/tape as shown below. Backstitch over the ribbon/tape to give it extra security to hold up to its job of tugging the pillow into position.
- Pin the two remaining raw edges together in the same manner but leave a 3″ – 4″ opening along the inner curve, as shown in the photo below, for turning right side out and inserting the filler.
- Stitch this third and final seam from one V-clip to the opposite V-clip. As before, remember to backstitch over the ribbon/tape for strength and remember to lock your seam at either side of the 3″ – 4″ opening.
- Turn the cover right side out. Use a long, blunt-end tool, such as a chopstick, knitting needle or point turner, to gently round out all the curves. Pull the loops out into position at either end.
- Press in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam.
- Stuff with filler until pleasingly plump but not so rock hard it’s uncomfortable.
- Pin the seam allowance at the opening …
- … and hand stitch closed, using tiny stitches so the filler doesn’t poke out. We suggest a slip or ladder stitch.
- When finished, a comfortably stuffed pillow looks about like this:
Project Design and Instructional Outline: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Debbie Guild