How to Make a Neck Pillow

Traveling, reading or watching television may put pressure on your neck and shoulders, making them stiff or painful. Trying to sleep when riding in the car or on an airplane can be uncomfortable as well, whether you go without a pillow or try to use one with a standard shape. When you know how to make a neck pillow, however, you can eliminate many of those aches. You can even make a scented neck pillow that will lull you to sleep or pep you up.


  1. Image titled Make a Neck Pillow Step 1
    Make a horseshoe-shaped pattern on tracing paper. The pattern should be at least 6 inches wide (15.24 cm) to allow for proper seam allowances, and it should reach around your neck with 1 1/4 inches (3.175 cm) of extra space.
  2. Image titled Make a Neck Pillow Step 2
    Fold your fabric in half with the right sides together. Most fabrics will work for this project, but softer textiles will be more comfortable on your neck. Flannel or soft knits work well; recycle an old shirt for a "green" option. Cottons and denims also work, but you will need to pre-wash the fabrics to remove the sizing before making your neck pillow.
  3. Image titled Make a Neck Pillow Step 3
    Lay the pattern on the fabric. Pin them together. Cut out the pattern.
  4. Image titled Make a Neck Pillow Step 4
    Remove the tracing paper pattern, but keep the fabric pieces pinned together. Stitch around the pillow, leaving one of the short ends open.
  5. Image titled Make a Neck Pillow Step 5
    Trim the seams to 1/4 inch (0.64 cm). Turn the pillow right side out.
  6. Image titled Make a Neck Pillow Step 6
    Mix uncooked rice and herbs together for a filling in the pillow.
    • For a calming, sleep-inducing blend, add 1 cup of dried lavender and chamomile flowers to the rice.
    • For an energizing blend that stimulates mental acuity, add 1/4 cup of cinnamon chips and cloves to the rice. You can also use 1 cup of dried peppermint leaves.
  7. Image titled Make a Neck Pillow Step 7
    Pour the rice mixture into the neck pillow, stopping about 2 inches (5.08 cm) from the top.
  8. Image titled Make a Neck Pillow Step 8
    Fold the seam allowance from the open seam inside the neck pillow. Hand-stitch the opening closed.


  • You may also choose to fill your neck pillow with Polyfil stuffing or with a foam pad cut in the horseshoe shape for a firmer pillow. This is especially comfortable for sleeping while traveling.
  • To use your neck pillow for achy joints and muscles, place it in the microwave for about 2 minutes on each side. Be careful when placing the heated neck pillow on your skin; if it seems too hot, put a washrag or hand towel between the neck pillow and your neck.
  • If you're thinking about washing your pillow in the future, then make it with foam fillings. You can't wash a pillow with rice in it, because it will ruin the pillow!

Things You'll Need

  • Tracing paper
  • Tape measure
  • Fabric
  • Quilters' pins
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine
  • Rice
  • Herbs or spices (optional)
  • Needle
  • Thread

Article Info

Categories: Making Pillows and Cushions