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ScrapBusters: Soothing Eye Pillows

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Here's a fast and inexpensive way to create a wonderfully calming gift - your own soothing spa-style eye pillows. Each one uses just small amounts of pretty fabrics plus a bit of trim. We opted for fun, colorful combinations, pulling our prints from a Jolly Bar bundle from Fat Quarter Shop - a perfectly sized precut for this project at 5" x 10". You could certainly also go with luxury fabrics such as satin and silk. A lightly scented filling of rice and flax seeds gives them the perfect weight and aroma.

We offer a downloadable pattern below for the large “eyeglass” shape. It’s designed to comfortably cover the full eye area on an average adult.

A combination of rice and flax seed is recommended for the filling with just a light scent added from an essential oil. The rice absorbs and retains the oil while the flaxseed provides a smooth, soothing texture.

The weight of the rice and flax seed is very comfortable. And, it allows the eye pillow to sit securely across your face without sliding. 

We added little tabs at the top corners so you can adjust the position for your very best fit. 

If you are making several pillows with multiple scents, it's nice to label each one with the therapeutic properties of the essential oil and the appropriate times of day for use. For example: Lavender is calming and best used to relieve stress before bed; Peppermint is nice for daytime use as it perks up the senses and cools a headache. 

It was quite difficult to write these instructions, because once these beautiful, fragrant, soothing pillows were done... I didn't want to take them off my eyes.

Each eye pillow finishes at approximately 9” wide x 4” high (at the widest points) excluding the trim and tabs.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

Ingredient quantities shown below are for ONE eye pillow.

  • Scraps, Jolly Bars or ¼ yard cuts of two coordinating quilting weight cotton fabrics; we used a Jolly Bar from Fat Quarter Shop in Basic Mixology by Studio M for Moda Fabrics
    NOTE: Jolly Bars are a 5” x 10” pre-cut exclusive to Fat Quarter Shop
  • Scraps or ¼ yard cut of muslin or lightweight cotton for the inner lining
  • Scraps of narrow trims in colors to contrast with your main fabric prints – you need about 30” per eye pillow; we used standard packaged piping and rick rack, plus mini pom poms, all purchased locally or from our own stash
  • Scrap or ¼ yard of ½” twill tape or similar for the adjusting tabs
  • ½ cup flax seed
  • ½ cup white rice 
  • Essential oil; we used peppermint – lavender, eucalyptus, and sandalwood are also good choices
  • Bowl, spoon, and a measuring cup with a pouring spout or a funnel
  • All purpose thread to match fabrics
  • See through ruler
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Fabric pencil, pen or chalk
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Straight pins
  • Hand sewing needle
    SHOPPING NOTE: Essential oils, white rice and flax seed can be purchased from most health food stores. The oils can be expensive but a little goes a long way. Both rice and flax seed can be purchased in bulk for as little a $.50 per pound for rice and $1.50 per pound for flax seed (1 pound of each yields about four eye pillows).

Getting Started

  1. Download and print the ONE pattern piece: Soothing Eye Pillow.
    IMPORTANT: This pattern download 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 so you can confirm your final printout is to scale.
  2. Cut out the pattern along the solid line. 
  3. Layer your scraps as follows on your work surface: muslin, back print fabric right side up, front print fabric right side down, muslin. Your two print fabrics should be right sides together.
  4. Pin the pattern to the four-layer stack.
  5. Cut out the pattern through all the layers to yield one front, one back, and two lining pieces. 
  6. Remember to mark the position for the adjusting tabs. We clipped into the seam allowance at the pattern dots for our marking points. You could also use pins or a marking pen.
  7. Cut the twill tape into TWO 3” lengths. 
  8. Leave the trim as one length. It will be trimmed to fit below. 

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

  1. Pin a muslin piece to both the front piece and the back piece. 
  2. Fold the twill tape tabs in half so they are now each 3”. Align the raw ends and pin the tabs in place at each side of the back layered pair, using the marking points you made above. 
  3. Using a ¼” seam allowance, baste each front and back layered pair. This basting seam also secures the tabs on the back layered pair. 
  4. Starting at the top center of the back layered pair, pin the trim in place.
  5. Continue pinning around the entire perimeter of the back layered pair, carefully turning and folding at the upper corners and smoothly wrapping the bottom curves. 
  6. Baste the trim in place within the ¼” seam allowance.
  7. Overlap the ends of the trim within the ¼” seam allowance and trim away the excess.
  8. Place the front and back layered pairs right sides together, aligning all the raw edges and sandwiching the trim and tabs between the layers. Pin in place, leaving a 2" opening on one side for turning right side out.
  9. Using a ¼” seam allowance, stitch around the entire perimeter, remembering to pivot at each upper corner and to lock your seam at either side of the 2” opening. 
  10. Snip the corners and clip the curves.
  11. Press open the seam allowance. 
  12. Turn right side out. Gently push out the corners, using your finger or a long tool with a blunt end, like a large knitting needle or chopstick. Press flat.
  13. In a large bowl, mix the ½ cup of rice and the ½ cup of flax seed. Add a few drops of essential oil and stir. We used just two drops of peppermint oil for each cup of rice/seed.
  14. Measure one cup of the finished filling, and carefully pour it into the opening of the pillow. 
  15. Let the filler fall towards one end. Pin the opening closed. 
  16. Hand stitch the opening closed. 
  17. Lay the eye pillow flat and shift half the filler toward each side, leaving a fabric-only channel down the center. Pin through this center channel and carry to your machine, being careful to keep the filler from shifting towards the center. 
  18. Stitch down the center to divide the eye pillow into two even sections. 
  19. Remove any visible basting stitches. 


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



Comments (19)

Sheila Dahm said:
Sheila Dahm's picture

I love how these came out, but am glad I made a couple of test ones before giving as gifts.  The scent disappated after just one night.  Any suggestions?  I used 2-3 drops lavendar AND 2-3 drops eucalyptus  for each pillow.  It smelled strong initially, and I thought it may be too much- but after using overnight, I could barely smell the oils the following day.

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

@ Sheila - We've had no issues with the scent fading that quickly. The article below mentions "Olfactory Fatigue". I don't know if that could be it. There are also good quality and bad quality essential oils. They're expensive to make properly with tiny bottles costing $15-20, but a good quality oil is important. You could certainly try adding a little more actual eucalyptus and lavender, although these oils are the same thingthey put in potpourri, which lasts a long, long time. 


nikkieballinger said:
nikkieballinger's picture

Is there something else that I could use instead of flax seed as I am struggling to source it locally.

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

@ nikkieballinger - The flax adds a nice weight and flex but you could use all rice instead and it would still be fine.

Sarah Tron said:
Sarah Tron's picture

For additional headache relief, would these be ok to be popped in either the freezer or the microwave? (I'd likely leave the oils out if I were going to warm it.)

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

@ Sarah - It's just rice and flax seed and cotton fabric - so it would probably be fine. That said, we haven't tested either with these eye pillows so can't guarantee the results. Take a look at our microwaveable rice pads project (link below) - these are desgined to be heated and there are lots of good comments from others regarding fillers and heating/cooling that has worked.


ElizaM said:
ElizaM's picture

Just a quick question - do you think these would be able to be washed if they get dirty/sweaty?

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

@ ElizaM - As mentioned below, these eye pillows are meant for short periods of relaxation, so they really shouldn't get very dirty or sweaty. But if eye make-up or similar gets on them, they can be spot cleaned (best) or gently hand washed. You would not want to put them in the washer or dryer. As with all projects, be aware of the fabric used. We just used cotton, so it's resiliant. If you use a fancier fabric, like silk - stick with spot cleaning. In any event, make sure you give them plenty of time to air dry.

Cherie Stevens said:
Cherie Stevens's picture

What a great gift idea! This pattern looks quick and fun and useful--a real stash-buster.

P.S. I think this model is bright and perky, just like the featured fabrics! Love the red lipstick & nose rings. (Regarding a previous comment: Not sure that an 11-year old hasn't seen a woman with a nose ring before? I think she would love to make this eye pillow for herself and friends; I hope her grandma shares it with her after all.)

Kate H. said:
Kate H.'s picture

Hi Sew4Home,

I LOVE this project and I LOVE the model with the nose rings!  Not every sewer is an old fuddy duddy--many young sewers don't look like your stereotypical homemaker.  New sewers have piercings, tattoos, or hair styles, and that doesn't mean that they shouldn't be featured in sewing blogs.  For God's sake, your patterns are free...you are allowed to feature whoever you want modelling them!  Keep using this model, I love her!!!  I read your site every day and have made dozens of S4H projects.

dharrisc said:
dharrisc's picture

this is a wonderful project, well made and can be of great use ... i have shared many, many projects from this site both online and with my 11-yr-old granddaughter who sews, but because of the model's nose rings, there is no way i would forward this to her ... i would never want my granddaughter to think i agree with and advocate nose rings ... as a company, i think there needs to be more responsibility about what advertising strategy is used to "push" a project on this site ...

i'm very disappointed with janome and the other companies who sponsor this project ...

Anonymous said:
Anonymous's picture

I would like to respond to your position on the nose rings though. I have three granddaughters and I can assure you that if I sent them a sewing project, they would never think I was endorsing the jewellery or clothing that the model was wearing. They have seen women with nose rings and other piercings when we're out whether at the mall, on the bus or just on the street. I have told them my personal opinion of piercings and, if that's going to be over-ruled by seeing a picture, I haven't done my job very well. They also see other kids at school who have piercings and I'd be surprised if these photos were the first time your granddaughter would be exposed to them.

Linda L. said:
Linda L.'s picture

There's an easy way to get around the nose rings if you don't want your granddaughter to see them. You can copy the post and paste it into a Word document and then just remove those three pictures. I think most people could still figure out how to use the eye pillow without seeing a photo.

You could use these photos as a teaching opportunity by sending the pattern and attaching a note telling her how you feel about the nose rings. At the end of the day, she'll make up her own mind about piercings with or without your input.

Charlotte Kaufman said:
Charlotte Kaufman's picture

There is nothing worse than an 11 year old seeing a nose ring!!! NOTHING. She might be able to see and witness sexism, racism, homophobia, violence, and poverty EVERY DAY, but nose rings? UNACCEPTABLE. Granddaughters are special snowflakes. They must be kept in the dark about piercings as long as possible. Please let Janome know ASAP.

Diane Beavers said:
Diane Beavers's picture

Perfect for seasonal allergy sufferer's ...love the weight of flax and rice combined..just right for the delicate eye area. Thank you for all the tips!

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

@ Diane - Oh yes, they would be great for allergy sufferers. 

Sweg said:
Sweg's picture

Lovely idea; would dried lavender be a suitable alternative filling, and would you recommend an elasticated band to keep the eye pillow in place?

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

@Sweg - Dried lavender by itself would be to light. It is the mixture of the rice and flax seed that gives the eye pillow the perfect weight, so if you're resting on your back, you don't need elastic. This is not like an eye mask you would use for sleeping or travel (link to that below) but instead is meant for a short time to sooth and relax. You could experiment with other scent options. We did not test any alternatives because the essential oil works so perfectly.