DIY Travel Pillow




Introduction: DIY Travel Pillow

Last year I had the opportunity to travel through Europe. It was a grand adventure and I was able to see a lot of places. I also spent a lot of time travelling to get to each place. Between the planes and trains and buses I have to say I did my share of sleeping on the road, and one of the most lifesaving items in my carry on pack was my trusty travel pillow.

Travel pillows are good to pack for a few reasons:

They are small: They won't take up much space in your carry on luggage. Especially compared to an average sized pillow

They are comfortable: Travel pillows are very comfortable when you are trying to rest while sitting up (like in an airplane)

They can help you sleep: Getting comfortable on a plane or a bus is almost impossible for me to do, but with this pillow I was able to get some sleep while I was on the road so I was rested and ready when I got to my destination

Step 1: Supplies

Here are the supplies that you will need for making your own travel pillow

Pillow Pattern - I found my pattern online here

Fabric - You will about 1/2 yard of fabric.

Polyester Fiberfill - You can find this at any craft or fabric store. I found mine on sale at JoAnn Fabrics

Sewing Needle - for hand stitching

Thread - This can be found in any craft store

Sewing Machine

Step 2: Cut Out the Pattern

Begin by cutting out your pillow pattern

1. Lay out your pattern on the fabric - The fabric should be folded in half and the flat side of the pattern should be flush with the fold of the fabric. Notice on my pattern there is a side that shows "fold" most pattern pieces will have this type of indication.

2. Pin pattern to the fabric - this will guarantee the pattern won't move as you cut the fabric

2. Cut fabric out - Carefully cut around your pattern to get your pattern piece. Be sure not to stretch the fabric while you cut or your piece will come out misshapen.

3. Repeat. - to make the pillow you will need two U shaped pieces. So repeat steps 1 - 3 to get the second piece.

Step 3: Sew Pieces Together

Now that you have the two U shaped pieces you can start sewing them together

1. Prep for sewing by laying out pieces - You'll want to lay out the pieces so the right side of the fabric is on the inside and the wrong side of the fabric is facing up.

2. Sew together pieces - Time to go to the sewing machine and start sewing your two pieces together. You want to give yourself about 1/4" seam allowance with your fabric. This means that your stitch will be about 1/4" away from the end of the fabric.

NOTE: Every time you start or stop a stitch its good to back stitch about 1/4". This will help keep the thread in the fabric, and keep it from pulling out easily

3. Leave about 2" of fabric unsewn so you can stuff your pillow - DO NOT SEW ALL THE WAY AROUND! you will have a very flat pillow

Step 4: Stuff Your Pillow

1. Flip your pillow right side out - Now your stitching seam will be on the inside of the pillow

2. Use fiberfill to stuff your pillow - Use your polyester fiber to stuff the pillow to your desired softness. I liked that the pillow I had on my trip was firm so I put a lot of stuffing in this pillow.

Step 5: Hand Stitch Closed

Once you have your pillow stuffed its time to finish stitching your pillow closed

1. Fold your fabric about 1/4" to give your the same seam allowance - You will notice your fabric will want to fold into the pillow naturally because of the seam you already made.

2. Thread your needle - Thread your needle and tie the two ends of the thread together. Using two strands of thread to stitch will add extra strength to your seam

For this closer you will be using a ladder/blind stitch

3. Pull the needle up and through one of the folded seams, from back to front, and pull the thread tail completely through. The knotted end of your thread will be hidden on the inside of your pillow

4. Go directly across from your last stitch. push the needle in and then back out of opposite seam crease to create a stitch.

5. repeat this process until your get to the end of hole. You will notice the stitch will create horizontal lines between the two pieces of fabric. (kind of like rungs of a ladder)

6. To finish the stitch pull your needle through a small amount of fabric on the opposite side of your last stitch. As you pull the thread tight you will notice it creates a loop. BEFORE PULLING the tread tight, pass the needle and thread though the loop to create a knot.

Step 6: Travel!

And now you are ready to go! So go out and have an adventure!

“Not all those who wander are lost.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

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    2 years ago

    A thought: you could make the pillow in muslin, and then make covers using zippers so that they could be removed and washed. Maybe try to enlarge the pattern just a tad. I haven't tried it, but thought I'd throw out the suggestion. I was able to download the file from the site you linked to. Thanks for this!


    3 years ago

    I am unable to download


    6 years ago

    As someone who spends a fair amount of time on a bus or riding a
    shotgun, I can certainly appreciate the usefulness of this invention.
    It may look a bit goofy, like one of those peculiar inventions -

    - but it is much better than pounding your head against the window
    for several hours or making some makeshift pillow from a sweater.
    Once we were traveling in Europe on a bus trip for quite a while -
    - and I didn't sleep really well before that, so I just that
    traveling time to get some sleep, although the real rest is always in
    a good bed, in my opinion.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Very attractive final pillow! I've been needing one of these and may try making my own. Is your fabric cotton? I usually see the ones in stores have a stretchy synthetic fabric and I wonder which would be more versatile.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    The fabric I used is cotton. If you use a stretchy fabric you could have more flexibility on how the pillow moves. You'll also notice that the stretchy synthetic pillows are often filled with those little foam pellets which really makes those pillows more versatile. The downside of using a stretchy fabric is that it is very difficult to work with if you're wanting to make your own. I have always used a cotton pillow and they have all worked great for me so far.