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

NOTE: 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
    NOTE: Jolly Bars are a 5” x 10” pre-cut exclusive to Fat Quarter Shop and there are LOTS from which to choose.
  • 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
  • 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 (1 pound of each yields about four eye pillows).

Getting Started and Pattern Download

  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 the wrong side of 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 – so quite close to the raw edge.
  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 and smooth the curves, using your finger or a long tool with a blunt end, like a large knitting needle, chopstick or point turner. Press flat.
  13. In a large bowl, mix the ½ cup of rice and the ½ cup of flax seed (per eye pillow). 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 eye 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

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1 year ago

Can this be placed in a plastic bag and put in the freezer for a cooling effect?
Should I also place a warning not to place in the microwave?

Liz Johnson
Liz Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  Bonita

Hi Bonita — if you use all-cotton fabric and trim, they could be placed in the microwave as well as chilled in the freezer. They key is to not use any elements that could react badly in a microwave. Click through to the very end of our Therapy Neck Wrap for a good summary of best practices for heating, cooling and washing these kind of pads:

Staci Pope
Staci Pope
1 year ago

This will make a great gift for my office sisters. Thanks so much.

Liz Johnson
Liz Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  Staci Pope

Hi Staci – they will love them! You are so welcome 🙂

2 years ago

Question: when I attach the front to back, do I sew inside the basting? I made this yesterday and when I turned it inside out, some of the basting showed. The end product works, but doesn’t look super neat.

Liz Johnson
Liz Johnson
2 years ago
Reply to  Tara

Hi Tara – yes, if you look at the pictures above – steps 9 and 10, you can see the trim basting stitch near the edge and the actual 1/4″ seam inside that. You probably know it already, but when you see an instructional step that says to do something “within the XX” seam allowance” that means it should be a smaller seam allowance/stitch than the final seam allowance so that the final seam allowance conceals the first step. Since it is just basting, you can carefully remove any visible stitches with a seam ripper.

2 years ago

This is so cute. Thanks for providing the pdf pattern to print. Thats very thoughful, this is on my to do list.

Liz Johnson
Liz Johnson
2 years ago
Reply to  Soumya

Hi Soumya – You’re welcome! Let us know how the pattern turns out for you.

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