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Relaxing, Therapeutic Neck Pillows-A Fan Favorite!

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These little bow-tie shaped neck pillows are super for proppin' up your noggin as you watch TV or read in bed, as well as for supporting your neck while sleeping. This is one of our original designs and remains a perennial favorite. They are simply the perfect shape 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, no one will want to give it up. 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 Minky fleece. Overall, we recommend a slightly heavier fabric for the best, longest-lasting results, although our quilting weight cotton samples 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 loop handles at either end are the perfect length to grasp and adjust the pillow into your perfect position.

Each pillow finishes at approximately 16" with a 14" circumference at the center and a 22" circumference at the ends.

Our thanks to Fabric Depot for providing the gorgeous cotton/linen blend fabrics from the Echino collection by Kokka. The drape of this cotton/linen blend fabric is wonderful to work with, and the rich colors and dramatic motifs were fun to fussy cut.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

  • ½ yard of 45"+ 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 Minky fleece and cotton sateen.
    This colorful set uses three beautiful cotton/linen blend fabrics from the Echino collection by Kokka Fabrics from Fabric Depot (yardage is limited, order soon for the best selection):
    Zebra Stripe
    Lemur and Leopard Patchwork Collage
    Parakeet Chevron in Fuchsia
    NOTE: While ½ yard is sufficient for one pillow, if you select one of the same fabrics we used, or any fabric with a large motif, 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, purchased locally
  • 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

  1. 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. 
  2. Cut out the pattern pieces along the solid lines.
  3. Butt the four pattern pieces together, flipping two of the four pieces, to make one bow-tie shaped pattern piece. Do NOT overlap. Tape in place.  
  4. 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 any directional print to insure everything is oriented correctly.
  5. You'll see an ✱ 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.  
  6. Cut the ribbon/tape in half into two 12" lengths. 

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

  1. 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.
  2. Pin two of your three pieces of cut fabric right sides together along one side, from one V-clip to the opposite V-clip. 
  3. 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.
  4. 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.  
  5. Place your third fabric piece into position against the remaining raw edges of the original two pieces, matching all the curves and sandwiching the loops between the layers.
  6. Stitch your second seam, again from V-clip to opposite V-clip. 
  7. 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.
  8. Pin your remaining open seam as shown, leaving a 3" - 4" opening for turning right side out and inserting the filler. 
  9. Stitch the 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.
  10. Turn the cover right side out. Use a long, blunt-end tool, such as a chopstick or knitting needle, to gently round out all the curves.
  11. Press in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam.
  12. Stuff with filler until pleasingly plump but not so rock hard it's uncomfortable.  
  13. Pin the seam allowance at the opening ...
  14. ... and slip stitch closed. 
  15. When finished, a comfortably stuffed pillow looks about like this: 


Project Design and Instructional Outline: Alicia Thommas   
Sample Creation: Debbie Guild


Comments (91)

Farber@Neck Pillow said:
Farber@Neck Pillow's picture

this is such a simple DIY, I loved the bow tie neck pillow most.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Olena - great! It's one of our favorite patterns. 

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ nainaimc - You are the boss, so you get to fill it with whatever you'd like. But, I'm not sure this is the very best choice for that type of filler. Buckwheat hulls seem to work better in situations where they have a bit of room to shift and settle. This design is meant for a firm finish for the best soft support. 

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Hélène - Very creative version! Thank you so much for sharing. 

Laurena said:
Laurena's picture

Great tutorial! I just finished this. Great quick project. Made it after I put the kids to bed and finished so I could try it out tonight. Love how east it was. Thanks

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Laurena - So glad to hear you had such success. This is one of our most popular patterns so you're in good company!

Betty bias said:
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I am having trouble putting the pillow together.  The end are not neat.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Betty bias - Sorry your ends are not turning out like you'd like them to. Sewing into the "V clip" is important to getting everything to match up. And, don't be afraid to use lots of pins. When made this popular design in fleece in another tutorial, which had some additional close-up photos that may help you see how everything lines up: 


Reginka said:
Reginka's picture

I love this project!

I'm novice in sewing but I already sewn it for myself and as a gift for my brother in law

Now, I want to sew this pillow for my grandpa 90's birthday.

I would like to make it with pillowcase so that he could wash it. Do you have any hints? Maybe you already done pillowcase for these project?

I will be grateful for any suggestions:)

PS I hope i didn't make too much mistake in English (I always have problems with using correct time :)

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Reginka - that is actually an entire separate project to make a case for the pillow, so I don't have steps for you that would fit within a comment reply. However, if you choose a fabric than can be easily laundered and use a quality filler to stuff it, your grandpa should be able to wash the entire finished pillow - in cool water on a gental cycle - similar to how you might wash a child's stuffed toy. Remember to pre-wash all your items prior to starting. 

Caroline from France said:
Caroline from France's picture

This is a lovely pillow, just the right size and shape for supporting an arthritic neck! Because the seams are narrow, I used an overlock-type stitch rather than a straight stitch - so you get the straight stitch with a zig-zag at the same time. This has the bonus of making the stitching stronger. For my fabric, I just used an old pillow (with a paisley pattern) that was still in good condition - the existing hemmed edges, cut close to the sewing line, made my two loops.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Caroline - Glad you like our pillow; it is definitely a fan favorite. Thanks also for your tip about how you did your seams.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Elizabeth - You are welcome! Enjoy the project. 

AmberC said:
AmberC 's picture

Love love love these pillows. Wish I could attach mine to show you.. took me an hour to make the first. Thanks for the pattern.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ AmberC - glad to hear! We don't offer a way to embed photos here in the comments, but would love to see a photo via email (info@sew4home.com) or post a picture on Instagram (sew4home_diy) or on Facebook if you use either of those social media venues. 

Carolyn H said:
Carolyn H's picture

I've broken a frustrating 'Sewers Block' by making one of these oh so clever little pillows .I'm over the moon with it! It's far simpler to make than it looks and I can already see that I will be making many more as gifts. Thanks for the inspiration x

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
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@ Carolyn - Yay! Congratulations. Yep... these little pillows are like potato chips; you can't make just one!

Patrici S said:
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Can you show better how to insert the 3rd piece of the pillow, I just cannot figure it out.  The pics dont show exactly how the 3rd piece is attached.


goodkitty said:
goodkitty's picture

Think of it like this: You have three pieces A, B, and C. each piece has two long edges so you have A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2.  Sew A1 to B1, Sew B2 to C1, Sew C2 to A2. All right sides together. If you mark the A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2  on the back of your fabric and follow the order above - you should get it right - of course leave that opening when you sew C2 to A2 and follow all the other directions for putting in the loops and such. 

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
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@ goodkitty - another dandy way to think about it. Thanks!

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Patrici S - We don't have any additional information/photos other than what is shown above. Remember, as mentioned above, you are working with three pieces and so are sewing together with three seams. As we mention, the shape is like a chubby triangle. You sew two pieces together to start, place the loops, then you'll need to kind of open up that sewn piece so you can set the third piece into position. Align the remaining raw edge of each of the two sewn together pieces with the raw edges of the third piece. It's 3-sided, not flat. There is a link above to a version in minky. It is the exact same process, but there are is a bit of variety in the photos. Perhaps that will help you as well: http://www.sew4home.com/projects/pillows-cushions/quick-cool-holiday-gif...

Wendy H. said:
Wendy H.'s picture

I finished sewing several of these up to give as Xmas gifts this year. Absolutely love them, soooo easy to make and they are super quick to complete as well (always a huge plus at this time of year, lol). Thank you ever so much...just as a little helper hint, I knew I'd be making several of these, so I went ahead and traced the pattern onto see-through heavy-gauge template plastic. Saves me cutting everything out with scissors and I'm able to just use my rotary cutter instead (I have arthritis, so using the rotary is always easier on my hands).

Thank you again, I have no doubt these will be a real hit come Christmas morning ;)

hisgal2 said:
hisgal2's picture

This is fabulous!!!  I've been looking for a nice pattern for a pillow like this!  Would I keep the same size for a child's pillow?

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ hisgal2 - Thank you! This is a very popular pillow pattern. Sizing the pillow is a personal choice. As you can see, it's not super large, so should be fine for a child... it kind of depends on the child. You could always make one at the regular size and see how it works for you. 

Leara B said:
Leara B's picture

I have also made a "pillowcase" for our pillows!  Works wonders, then you can just wash the pillowcase, and not the whole pillow as often!

Liz N said:
Liz N's picture

Thanks for this great pattern and instructions! I'm not a sewer by any means, but still made this with no major problems and it only took 2 hours! 

Roselyd said:
Roselyd's picture

Hello, I am new to Sew4home. What a beautifully put together site with clear pictures and instructions..I am making the neck pillow and since I do not have access to a printer, I have drawn the pattern (dog bone or bow tie shape) and cut 3 pieces of fabric. Just to make sure I have the right dimensions, I have made 16 inches for length, the 14 inches circumference and 22 circumference I have divided by 3 when measuring for the 3 panels, and of course allowing for seam. Would this be correct?

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Roselyd - Thank you for your kind comments about the site! We can't guarantee the results with a hand drawn pattern but your measurements are close to correct. However, you have taken the finished measurements from the introduction notes above, so you do still need to account for the 1/2" seam allowance around the entire piece.

Northwoods Ann said:
Northwoods Ann's picture

This is a delightful pattern easy to follow. Great directions. Made it out of gold brocade with dragon flies on it. What a hit it was as a hostess gift. Received a call from my friend saying it has really helped support her neck while she does her exercises. I love it because it helps me line up my bifocals while reading or watching TV. Everyone in the family is getting one this year having fun finding appropriate fabric for each one. Tho the girls in the family want the gold  brocade. 

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
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@ Ann - Thank you - so glad you are enjoying this pattern. It sounds like they'll be a lot of happy family members this year!

Deb of Detroit said:
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Just finished making the pillow for my 94 year old mother. My mother thanks you and I thank you for this dynamite pillow pattern and tutorial. Easy to follow instructions with good results.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Deb - Thank you so much for letting us know - we love knowing your mother will be enjoying this pillow! We hope you'll be back for another project.

stephanie chalmers said:
stephanie chalmers's picture

i made one of these but it seems alot shorter than yours,i made it at 13" aswell..what have i done wrong??

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Stephanie Chalmers - We're not sure what the "13" as well" refers to in your question, but it sounds as if your pattern was not the correct size when printed. As we mention, it's important to make sure your printer is set to print actual size. There is a guide rule at the top of the pattern page. Did you confirm its length as 8" -- arrow point to arrow point? If so, the top straight edge of the pattern should be 8-3/4". This means once you butt together the four pieces as shown on the pattern diagram, you should start with a center line that measures 17-1/2". 

stephanie chalmers said:
stephanie chalmers's picture

sorry i meant i made it at 13" long as i don't have a printer and did the pattern free-hand,it worked well just too short :)

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ stephanie chalmers - oh dear  well that would explain it. Well - now you know the real measurments for the next one. 

BethK said:
BethK's picture

Hi, I'm making this pillow for my mom, as she has a bad neck, and has been asking for something similar for quite a while now. I do have a question for the placement of the ribbon handles. I'm not understanding it.. When sewing the seams, it says precisely from the center points of the 'v', but also, this is where we place the ribbon loops? Can you possibly post a close up of this part of the construction, please? I'm following along on my phone, and my eyes are bad, so I can't make out the already provided images very well. Thanks in advance! Also, thanks for this pattern/tutorial! 

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ BethK - I don't have any additional photos other than what is included with the article. All the photos in the article are set up to allow you to double click on them to show an enlarged view. This should work as well on your phone. There are several photos that show the stitching-in-to-the-point process. The ribbon loops do go at the V so you would sew to the middle of the loop where it is covering up the V mark. I hope that makes sense. 

Min Martin said:
Min Martin's picture

Thank you for sharing this pattern! It's a keeper! I did struggle a bit with getting the printed size close to yours, but worked it out after a few trials. Have made six neck-rolls so far and have several more to do for family gifts. Then I want to make some to donate to my local Veteran's hospital and some for our local Cancer facility. I did make my job in constructing these a bit more comprehensive, by making matching fabric adjustment tabs, since I cannot find Twill tape locally. I do appreciate the clarity of the directions in the tutorial! Thanks again for all you do to help us!

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Min Martin - Sounds like you're on a roll. We have made several versions with the fabric tabs; they do work great as well. Glad you are lovin' the pattern, and being so generous with your finished pillows!

Beth L said:
Beth  L's picture

This looks great! Thanks for the tutorial. 

Could each of the three pieces be cut out of different, coordinating fabrics? I'm trying to use up scraps! 

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Beth L - You could certainly use three coordinating fabrics; it wouldn't affect the construction. But we would recommend that all the fabrics be of the same relative weight/thickness.

Filippa said:
Filippa's picture

Thank you so much for this pattern. I can't stop sewing these pillows... It's an quick and easy pattern - even my 12 year old son sewed one with almost no sewing experience.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
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@ Filippa - Thanks for letting us know about your success, including your son's success! We especially love hearing stories of young people (boys!) sewing up a storm.