How to Sew a Neck Pillow: A Comprehensive Guide

Creating your neck pillow is not just a practical project but also an enjoyable and satisfying experience. 

A homemade cervical neck pillow can be customized to fit your comfort needs and personal style. 

This guide provides detailed, step-by-step instructions to help you sew a neck pillow, ensuring a successful and rewarding outcome.

Materials Needed

Gather the following materials and tools before you start:

  • Fabric: Choose a soft, comfortable fabric such as cotton, fleece, or minky. About half a yard should be sufficient. Cotton is breathable and easy to work with, fleece is warm and soft, and minky offers a luxurious feel.
  • Filling: Options include polyester fiberfill, memory foam, or microbeads. Polyester fiberfill is lightweight and easy to stuff, memory foam provides excellent support, and microbeads offer a flexible, moldable feel.
  • Thread: Select a high-quality thread that matches your fabric color to ensure durability and a seamless look.
  • Pins: Essential for holding fabric pieces together during sewing.
  • Fabric Scissors: Sharp scissors are crucial for cutting fabric accurately without fraying edges.
  • Sewing Machine: Speeds up the sewing process and provides stronger seams, though hand sewing is also an option.
  • Pattern: You can download free neck pillow patterns online or create your own using paper and a pencil.

Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Prepare Your Pattern

  1. Find or Create a Pattern: Search online for free neck pillow patterns or draw your own. The classic U-shape, which cradles the neck, is a popular choice.
  2. Adjust the Pattern: Ensure the pattern fits your size and comfort preferences. You can scale it up or down using a photocopier or by hand drawing.
  3. Transfer the Pattern: Lay your fabric flat, place the pattern on top, and trace around it with a fabric marker or chalk. Cut out two identical pieces.

Step 2: Cutting the Fabric

  1. Prepare the Fabric: Wash and iron your fabric to prevent shrinkage and remove wrinkles.
  2. Pin the Fabric: Align the two fabric pieces on the right sides together, pin the pattern in place, and cut around the pattern using scissors. Accurate cutting ensures the pieces will fit together well.
  3. Cutting Tips: Use sharp scissors and steady hands to avoid jagged edges. If your fabric has a pattern, align it properly for a uniform look.

Step 3: Sewing the Pieces Together

  1. Pin the Pieces: With the right sides facing each other, pin the fabric pieces together around the edges.
  2. Sew the Fabric: Using a straight stitch on your sewing machine, sew around the edges with a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Leave a 3-4 inch opening for turning and filling. Backstitch at the beginning and end to secure the stitches.
  3. Clip the Curves: Carefully clip notches into the seam allowance around the curves without cutting through the stitches. This helps the fabric lay flat and smooth when turned right side out.

Step 4: Filling the Pillow

  1. Turn the Pillow: Gently turn the fabric right side out through the opening. Use a blunt object like a chopstick to push out the corners and curves.
  2. Fill the Pillow: Start stuffing the pillow with your chosen filling. Add small amounts at a time, distributing it evenly to avoid lumps and achieve your desired firmness. For the memory foam pillow, cut it into small pieces for easier stuffing.
  3. Check for Comfort: Continuously test the pillow’s firmness by pressing on different areas. Adjust the filling as needed until you achieve a balanced and comfortable feel.

Step 5: Closing the Pillow

  1. Pin the Opening: Fold the raw edges of the opening inward and pin it closed.
  2. Sew the Opening: Use a slip stitch or ladder stitch to sew the opening closed by hand. These stitches are nearly invisible and will give your pillow a professional finish. Ensure the seam is tight and secure to prevent the filling from escaping.

Customization Tips

  • Removable Covers: Make an additional cover with a zipper or Velcro closure for easy washing. This is especially useful for travel pillows that may get dirty.
  • Handles or Pockets: Sew small handles for easy carrying or add pockets for storing small items like earplugs or an eye mask.
  • Embellishments: Personalize your pillow with embroidery, applique, or decorative stitching. You can add your initials, a favorite design, or use contrasting thread for a decorative edge.

Care and Maintenance

  • Cleaning: Follow the fabric care instructions. Most cotton and fleece covers can be machine washed on a gentle cycle. For the pillow itself, spot cleaning is recommended.
  • Storage: Store your neck pillow in a cool, dry place to maintain its shape and freshness. Avoid compressing it for long periods.
  • Repairs: For minor damages, hand stitch any small tears or re-stuff areas that have lost firmness. If the pillow becomes too flat over time, add more filling.


Sewing your own neck pillow is a fulfilling project that results in a custom, comfortable travel accessory. By following these detailed steps, you can create a neck pillow tailored to your personal preferences, providing both style and support. Enjoy the process and the satisfaction of a handmade item that enhances your travel comfort


  1. What type of fabric is best for making a neck pillow?

Soft, comfortable, and durable fabrics like cotton, fleece, and minky are ideal. Cotton is breathable, fleece is warm, and minky offers a luxurious feel. Choose a pillow  based on your preferences and use.

  1. How much filling should I use for my neck pillow?

Use about 10-16 ounces of polyester fiberfill for a standard-sized pillow. Add filling gradually, checking for comfort. The amount varies with memory foam and microbeads due to their density.

  1. Can I sew a neck pillow without a sewing machine?

Yes, you can sew by hand using a strong stitch like a backstitch for main seams and a slip stitch or ladder stitch to close the opening. It takes more time but can still be high-quality.

  1. How do I make a removable cover for my neck pillow?

Create a second fabric piece using your pattern, sew it, and add a zipper or Velcro closure along one edge. This allows you to remove and wash the cover easily.

  1. What should I do if my neck pillow gets lumpy after use?

Massage and fluff the filling to redistribute it. If it has a removable cover, take out the filling to re-fluff or replace it. Add more filling if needed for a smoother texture.