Sunday 15 May 2011

My fleece quillow tutorial

I’ve made quite a few fleece quillows over the years. We have maybe four or five around the house of varying sizes. The kids have one each, there’s a baby one from Dinoboy’s toddler days, Mr CraftyAdy has one and I have one too. I love making them to give as gifts. It’s a really quick sewing project – especially if you use a store-bought fleece blanket or throw.

In case you don’t know, a quillow is a blanket (or a quilt –hence the name) with a pocket. The blanket folds up into the pocket, creating a pillow. You can pretty much make a quillow from any blanket or quilt. All you have to do is attach a pocket with a finished width which is a third of the width of your blanket plus roughly 1 inch for seam allowances and a length of about a quarter of the length of your blanket plus 1 to 2 inches again for seam allowances.

Now the pocket isn’t just for tucking your blanket into. When using the quillow, the pocket makes a really nice foot-cosy for tucking your feet into.

Here’s the quillow I made over the weekend.

Actually, I made 3 identical ones. I had recently purchased 3 fleece throws from a local warehouse sale. I then bought a metre of the purple floral print fleece off Ebay. It probably took me just over an hour to make all 3 and I was working slowly (with lots of interruptions from Missy Moo). The fleece throws I bought measured 140 cm by 200 cm.

When finished, the blanket tucks into the pocket. See?

There are lots of tutorials on the internet which tell you how to make a quillow. I thought I’d add my own photo tutorial to the list.

So – to make one of these, you’ll need:
1) a fleece throw or blanket
2) a contrasting piece of fleece for the pocket
3) matching thread

I like my quillows a little fat. This means more folds of the blanket inside the pocket. Most tutorials say to go for a pocket that is a quarter of the length of your blanket. For this one, I’ve gone for a sixth. So I measured my fleece blanket again to be sure and determined it was indeed 140cm by 200cm. I then cut a pocket from the printed fleece measuring approximately 49cm by 36cm. I pinked the edges of the pocket piece with my pinking shears to make the edges pretty. You don't have to use pinking shears if you haven't got a pair. Fleece fabric doesn't fray.

(So - just to recap, whatever size your blanket is, you'll need a pocket with a finished width which is a third of the width of your blanket plus roughly 1 inch for seam allowances and a length of about a quarter of the length of your blanket plus 1 to 2 inches again for seam allowances.)

I then turned down one of the wider edges by approximately 3 cm and pinned it.

Then using this stitch on my machine …

…. And my walking foot … (By the way, I'm using my walking foot because my sewing machine is not very keen on sewing fleece material with a regular foot. No idea why. I've found that it's easier to sew fleece on my sewing machine using my walking foot.)

I sewed a line of stitching all the way along to the end.

This forms the top edge of the pocket. You can use any stitch you like really. I like this one as it’s kind of decorative and matches the hemming stitches in the blanket.

Take the blanket and fold one of the narrower sides in half. Make a chalk mark to note the center point. My blanket didn’t really have a right side or wrong side. If you are using a blanket which has a right and wrong side, you should make your mark on the wrong side of your blanket.

Fold the edge at the bottom of the pocket in half, right sides together. Locate the middle point and make a chalk mark. Remember that this mark should be made on the right side of the fabric.

Spread the blanket out flat. Placing the pocket right side down onto the blanket, match up the two chalk marks. The edge of the pocket should sit along the edge of the blanket. Smooth the pocket down with the palms of your hands to ensure both the blanket and pocket lay flat. Then pin in place.

Following the direction of the arrows, sew down one side of the pocket using a half inch or 1.5 cm seam allowance, starting from the red star (back-stitch a few times at the beginning to strengthen the corner of the pocket) down towards the bottom of the blanket. Then sew across the bottom of the pocket and back up the other side until you get to the top of the pocket where the little red heart. Back-stitch a few stitches to secure and strengthen that corner of the pocket.

Remove your pins and you’re done! Now to fold your quillow:
1) Turn your quillow so the pillow is underneath the blanket.
2) Fold in each side so blanket is in thirds.

3) Then fold the blanket over in half, bringing the one end up to meet the other end where the pocket is.

4) If you have made your pocket so it’s a quarter the length of your blanket, then you just have to fold over in half again. If like me, you’ve decided to make your pocket one sixth of the length of your blanket, then you have to fold it in by a third …

… and then fold again.

5) Now flip the quillow over like this …

6) Stick your hands into the pocket and grabbing the blanket ends, turn the pillow right side out tucking the blanket into the pillow.

Here you have it – your quillow.

I hope you find this tutorial helpful.
Happy sewing, friends!


  1. Wow...this is a great idea! Thanks for sharing your tutorial!!
    I cannot wait to try this!


  2. Quillows are new to me ... great idea though (as someone who is always cold!). Andy kept threatening to get me a Snuggie (fleece blanket with sleeves) when we lived in Canada and always added that he's disown me if I ever wore one! Maybe a more normal blanket wouldn't offend his sensibilities quite so much!

  3. THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU...for all of your fantastic blogs, tutorials and "patterns". I've done tons of googling since I took up sewing and quilting 2 years ago. You have some of the best practical use items I've ever seen compiled on one blog. I think I've looked at everything on your site at least twice. My daughters have been asking for quillows, and with an upcoming road trip across the USA, I think I'll make these for them to use in the car. Thanks again...I book marked your blog site and plan on checking back regularly! Happy stitching!

  4. That's a great idea, Ady! Too bad my husband just bought me one cocoon fleece for my B'day today! Maybe I will make one for him for his b'day in Oct! lol!

  5. Hi Ady,
    I was wondering if you have any tips for sewing with fleece. I was attempting to make a fleece hat but the machine kept "eating" the fabric.

  6. Oh that is so clever!!! What a fab idea!!!

  7. Thanks everyone!

    Wendy, I'm not sure why your machine might be doing that. Do you have a walking foot you can try? Maybe lighten up a little on the foot pressure if your machine has adjustable foot pressure?

  8. how awesome are you!!! i love this pattern and i'm gonna print this and make it tonight for my son starting JK. your the best and SSSOOO great and showing hte step by step....

  9. Thank you! My mom used to make quillows for everyone. She passed away right after my daughter was born. My daughter is now 6 and has asked me to teach her to sew, our first project will be a quillow using your instructions. :-)

  10. How much fabric did you use

  11. Thank you for the comments. :-)
    I'm glad folks are finding this tute helpful.

    I actually used the ready-made fleece blankets you can find cheap in homestyle stores. They normally measure 200cm x 140cm. Ikea do some which are 170cm x 130 cm. I've used those before and added a pocket in printed fleece fabric.

    But I have also bought fleece fabric and made my own. We have quillows of varying sizes all around our house - small ones from when the kids were little. Many manufacturers make fleece fabric which is 150 cm or 60 inches wide. I normally buy a metre's worth or 36 inches roughly to make the body of the quillow. That is more than big enough really. Then buy a smaller amount of a complementary printed fleece to make the pocket - maybe half a metre. You will have leftover fleece - you can make no-sew scarves maybe with the leftovers or save them for future quillow projects.

    Once you have decided on a size, measured, marked up and cut out your blanket from your fleece fabric (if bought off the roll from a fabric shop), fold your blanket up as if it was already a quillow ... so fold in thirds along the shorter side, then fold your strip of blanket in half and then half again. Measure this resulting square. This measurement will be your guide as to how big a piece of fleece fabric you will have to cut for your quillow pocket. You will need to allow for seam allowances and a folded top edge to your square (which forms the pocket). I normally add half an inch to each side, half and inch to the bottom and between one and a half to two inches to the top depending on how wide you want the hem at the opening edge of your pocket to be. Hope this helps. let me know if you need more information. x

  12. Thank you I was able to follow your instructions so much easier than others I have seen. I did use fleece and made it but with your help.

  13. Thanks for the tutorial. I made two to leave in my car. My son always falls asleep on long trips and needs something to cuddle in . This is ideal :)

  14. EXACTLY what I have been hunting for FOR DAYS & DAYS

  15. Thank you! These instructions were the easiest to follow I found...and the best photos.

  16. Excellent step-by-step instructions & photos. Easy to follow and I love the idea of making it from a store-bought blanket. So easy! I'm definitely going to make a few of these for my family members. Thanks for the great tutorial.

  17. Have you ever used a blanket between the 2 pieces of fabric?
    Can I just use 2 pieces of fabric and no batting or filler?

    1. Hi Louise. You could probably use two pieces of fabric with no batting. I used fleece - so there was no need for a filler or batting. I am sure I have seen quillow tutorials that use cotton fabric.

  18. Thanks all. Apologies for not replying sooner.

  19. Very clever! Perfect for the kids to use while traveling in the car.

  20. My stepmother made me one of these about 35 years ago!! We loved it! The best thing about this is that you can use the pocket to put your feet into when covered with the blanket!
    I'm planning to make these as Christmas gifts this year ��


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