Facebook Twitter Sew4Home RSS Feed Follow Me on Pinterest Instagram


Relaxing, Therapeutic Neck Pillows-A Fan Favorite!

Printer-friendly versionPDF version

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)

Filippa said:
Filippa's picture

Hi Liz,

today I made a template for these pillows with my compass saw from a thin wood pannel I found in my cellar- so I can sew A LOT of more pillows (my paper template is ruined after long use)! Everyone from my family and friends wants to have AT LEAST one Once again: Thank you very much for this pattern!

Greetings from Germany/Europe!

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

@ Filippa -- what a great idea. Sounds like you are the most popular sewer!

Teresa Lawrence said:
Teresa Lawrence's picture

I received a pillow like this as a graduation gift over 20 years ago!  I still LOVE to use it on road trips - but it's starting to get a little flat.  :)  When my sister passed away I inherited all her fabric....I'm planning to make one of these for all the nieces and nephews for Christmas this year using her fabric.  That way it will be from both her and me.  :)  Thanks for the great tutorial.  I can't wait to get started!

maminou said:
maminou's picture

merci pour ce tuto, je vais le tester dès ce soir pour ma lecture au lit ...

Vicki J said:
Vicki J's picture

This looks like a great pattern.  I would love to make these for my yoga class. Do I have permission to sell these using your pattern?

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

@ Vicki J: You can make small quantities for sale if you make the items yourself. They cannot be manufactured by others or sold through a third party. We simply ask that on the tag and/ or somewhere within the display or packaging and/or within the sales description online, credit is given for the item being created from a copyrighted design/pattern/tutorial from Sew4Home.com.

milpeg said:
milpeg's picture

My best projects are all from Sew4Home.  I owe it to Liz Johnson tutorials with her great step by step photos and well written instructions.  I made this neck pillow and completely finish it today. Thank you

Maria do Carmo Ribeiro said:
Maria do Carmo Ribeiro's picture

Oi! adorei o trabalho de vocês! vou estar sempre entrando e procurando artigos úteis que me inspirem e que deixam a nossa vida com mais qualidade! obrigado!!

Margaret Moffat said:
Margaret Moffat 's picture

made one of these yesterday love it! It was sew.. easy taking it with me on my visit to CA in April.

Great pattern and true to form Sew4Home easy to follow instructions. Thanks to all your team.

Mabelita said:
Mabelita's picture


Diane C said:
Diane C's picture

Another hint to print>  I did a Mirror Image on my second piece...this way I only have to print 2 pages instead of the 4 to save on prints...just reverse pieces for opposite side cuts of pillow...worked great!!  :) 

Thank you so much for this great pattern!!! 

Diane C said:
Diane C's picture

Ooppps ...adding my name to comment..

Another hint to print>  I did a Mirror Image on my second piece...this way I only have to print 2 pages instead of the 4 to save on prints...just reverse pieces for opposite side cuts of pillow...worked great!!  :) 

Thank you so much for this great pattern!!! 

Brenda Gail Miller said:
Brenda Gail Miller's picture

I have made approximately 35 of these pillows and gave them as gifts. I try and personalize my fabric and sometimes embroider their names on the pillow. My family and friends love them especially for the recliner. Good with yur regular pillow, for traveling, helps to relax the neck. I am enjoying making them, especially in the winter time. I have had problems wilth neck pain for years from an accident so I have one in the car and at my recliner too. Great project! Great Gift!

alice findlay said:
alice findlay's picture

made it,  thanks for the pattern. Instructions about not sewing 3 layers toghether  need to be clearer for the beginner please.Your editor corrects this in comments.

Janet Curtis said:
Janet Curtis's picture

I really haven't sewn before. But I really would like to try this! Thinking this might really help me. Wish me luck.

DebInHouston said:
DebInHouston's picture

This is a wonderful idea!  Thanks for posting.  I printed and cut one copy, folded a piece of heavy interfacing into 4ths and traced the pattern on the center fold to make a complete reusable pattern.  I'm planning to make a pocket on one of the three sides - to insert a cold/heat pack. 

Harriet said:
Harriet's picture

RE: sizing the pattern.  I didn't have to download the pdf, just printed right from the website after selecting "Borderless".  
1.  Select print and it opens up a modified version (i.e. less "options") than is available to me when I print from my own computer system using my Epson printer.  "Borderless" does not appear on the "Print" page that opens with less options when using the website.
2.  Under the menu selections on the left side of the page there is this statement "Print using system dialong..." and beneath it is the shortcut (Ctrl+Shift+p).  Select this option.  Continued next 'reply'

Harriet said:
Harriet's picture

3.  This will open up whatever printer dialog box for the printer that is hooked up to your computer.  In mine I selected "Preferences" which took me to all my options.  Under the tab marked "Main" I needed to select BORDERLESS.  My Epson doesn't allow that for plain paper, so I needed to open the "Paper Type" option and select something else.  In my case it was a photo option.  That made that borderless button active and I selected it.  Granted, it uses more ink since the computer thinks you are using photo paper even though you aren't.  But it came out at just a hair over 8" from arrow tip to arrow tip.  Now I will just photo copy that page, cut out and align the pieces as per instructed on the directions (which means flipping pieces, but that's no biggie.)   

Hope this helps those who are struggling to get it to print accurately! 

Harriet said:
Harriet's picture

BTW, I have no idea how or why all that jibberish printed.  Webmaster, help?

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

@ Harriet - it was picking up code -- possibly from a cut and paste you did - we fixed it. Thanks for adding your input to the printing discussion.

Harriet said:
Harriet's picture

ah...thanks!  I was having to divide what I wrote to work within your word count limitations and I did drop the last half into a word doc, then put it back into the 2nd reply.  I've already taped the pieces together, hand wrote the directions on the pattern itself.  May not get to making one today as the call of the laundry is strong in this house. ;-)  I would suggest to others that downsizing the pattern might get them sales at their dentist's office.  Mine likes to use dogbone pillows that are about 10" long and they can't always find them for sale.

amie said:
amie's picture

I'm new again to sewing.  I somehow did something wrong.  i only have a two-sided pillow when I turn it inside out after sewing.  I can't figure out where I went wrong when sewing sides together!  Help!  

Harriet said:
Harriet's picture

Sounds like you only cut 2 of the 3 pattern pieces?  Once you connect the 4 paper pattern sections into one complete pattern, you then need to cut out 3 pieces of fabric.  Hope that helps :)

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

@ amie - carefully read through the steps again - you are working with three pieces and so are sewing together with three seams. As we mention, remember that 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. 

Anitaranade said:
Anitaranade 's picture

can you pl explain how to set the third piece in to position? Insert in to two pieces? 

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

@  - Anitaranade: I don't know that I can add anything else to the clarification above: you are working with three pieces and so are sewing together with three seams. As we mention, remember that 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. 

Kathleen Ann said:
Kathleen Ann's picture

It's true! Everyone wants one of these. I've made six already, since the pattern first came out. One of my daughter's is still waiting for hers (she has confiscated the one I made for her husband in the meantime . . .). And I have two other family members who want one. 

Sylvia K. said:
Sylvia K.'s picture

Thank you for the pattern, I will make a pillow insert & add an invisable zipper closure for the pillow cover.

Gerry386 said:
Gerry386's picture

I really need this pillow and was glad to find the pattern.  But, the pillow pattern does not print out at the size it should no matter how I print (actual or 100% ).  What should I do?

Valerie46 said:
Valerie46's picture

Are you printing the pattern directly from the web page?  It may not print correctly if you are.  You need to download it to your computer as a pdf file, then print it from there.

GrannyTo8Boys said:
GrannyTo8Boys's picture

I had the same problem.  Mine prints out to exactly 8" to the end of the black arrows, not to the end of the "line" like it says.  But, I am thinking as long as all four pieces print out exactly the same size  it will still sew up right.  Good luck.

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

@ GrannyTo8Boys - you are correct, the "guide line" we refer to is the line with the arrows. All graphic programs measure from arrow point to arrow point. Sorry if there was any confusion. 

SunnieMitchell said:
SunnieMitchell's picture

Are you printing four copies at 100% each copy, and then assembling the four parts of the 'dog bone' into one full pattern piece? 

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

@ SunnieMitchell - yes, you print four copies - each one at actual, 100% size, and them assemble these four to create the four pattern as shown in the photo above.

Gerry386 said:
Gerry386's picture

I really need this pillow and was glad to find the pattern.  But, the pillow pattern does not print out at the size it should no matter how I print (actual or 100% ).  What should I do?

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

@ Gerry386 - The pattern is correct as posted and checked on numerous browsers. As noted, the pattern does print landscape - your print window should show you that as an option or default to it. Do print actual size as you say you have. And, measure from the tips of the arrow to double check. Other than these steps, I'm afraid I cannot troubleshoot what might be happening with your printer. I'm sorry, but the pattern itself is posted for download at the correct size. 

Linda Crawford said:
Linda Crawford's picture

Make sure you set the printer to "landscape". That is how it worked for me. 

Elizabeth said:
Elizabeth 's picture

My husband prefers small pillows and this looks perfect for him! I will also make pillow cases for it because he will probably use it every night. Thanks for all the creativity.

Gwen Blouse said:
Gwen Blouse's picture

I made one of these a few years ago from your original post in minky fleece for my elderly mother. She sleeps with it every night, and has told all her friends at the Senior Center how much she loves it!