Monday, May 14, 2007

How To Make A Quillow


Quillow: Etymological Note: quilt + pillow

Why make a quillow and not just a quilt?
With high school or college graduations quickly approaching, or for an unexpected birthday or even a great Christmas gift....what better gift to give from the heart than a quickly made 'quillow'? A cross between a quilt and a pillow, it can be as simple as sewing two pieces of 45" x 72" fabric together and adding a pillow section of 18" -20" square......or as complicated as any scrap or quilt pattern pieced design you might choose for the quilt top and pillow portions. Reverse the pocket opening to the top, add straps and you have a wonderful baby quillow for a gift. You can even add extra outside pockets for baby supplies, and use it as a changing pad or play mat!

I was needing a quick gift for a great nephew who graduates from high school in a few weeks, and I was fortunate to have some scraps of soft flannel which a focus fabric featuring cars. Many of the designs in this fabric are vintage Mustangs, one of which this young man owns and drives as a cherished possession.

Using a 'Turning Twenty" pattern, I was able to quickly piece a basic quilt top and add a simply pieced back section and pieced pillow and in very little time, I was then ready to machine stitch in the ditch, flip and turn it into itself for the magic quillow.

Quillow Instructions and Tutorial:
For those of you, who have never had the opportunity to make a quillow, I am including my own version of instructions, and then directions on how to fold it back up into a pillow, again.

Please note:
the appearing side of the pillow case on the back of the quilt will be the 'inside back' of the Pillow, itself by the very end of tucking in the quilt into the 'pillow' section.

So the 'right' side of the pillow is on the other side of this ivory section..inside the opening where you can't see it from this photo. As you turn it right side out...it pops out to the pretty 'right' side! And the opening...for folding and stuffing the 'quilt' inside...that is at the very edge of the quilt...here at the bottom of the quilt photo. Leave this open! Do not sew it down in anyway as you attach the pillow section to the quilt body!

Materials needed
4-5 yards total of assorted fabrics for piecing
or 2 yds. for quilt top and 2 yds. for quilt back
1/2 yd. for pillow pocket
thin batting of your choice ( a twin batt, 72" x 90" will make 2 quillows)

Step 1: Cutting Directions
For the "pillow pocket" cut as follows:
(1) 18 " to 20" fabric square or pieced square in color 1 for top
(1) 18 " to 20" fabric square or pieced square in color 2 for bottom
(1) 18 " to 20" fabric square of thin batting
For the "quilt" cut as follows:
(1) 45" x 72" piece (or pieced into blocks) of fabric for top of quilt
(1) 45" x 72" piece (or pieced into blocks) of fabric for back of quilt
(1) 45" x 72" piece of thin batting
*For a baby quillow, down size as desired, making pillow section 1/3 of total width of quilt

Step 2: Sewing the Pillow Pocket Together
1. Place batting on flat surface.
2. Place bottom fabric on batt, right side up.
3. Place top fabric piece on top of backing, right side down.
4. Pin together, stitch closed with 1/2", leaving an 8" opening.
5. Reaching into opening, pull out to turn pillow, shape corners and hand stitch opening closed.
6. Machine stitch a simple quilting pattern or hand tie to secure into a now flat pillow piece.

Step 3: Sewing the Quilt Body Together
1. Place batting on flat surface.
2. Place bottom fabric right side up on top of batting.
3. Place top fabric right side down on backing.
4. Pin, then sew closed with a 1/2" seam, leaving a 10" opening on one side.
5. Reaching into opening, pull right sides out, shape corners, hand stitch opening closed.

Step 4: Sew the Pillow Pocket to the Quilt Body
1. Lay quilt body, back side up.
2. Center the pillow pocket, flushed edges together, positioning at the center section of quilt,
wrong side of pillow pocket up, design nap pointing up towards outside edge. *pillow pocket final opening will be at the bottom of the pillow top, facing towards center of the quilt body as you look down at the backing. (View ivory pillow pocket in small photo below for spatial placement)
3. Sew only three sides of pillow down flat to quilt body, leaving lower pillow edge open (facing the center of the quilt, not the outside of quilt edge) to form pocket.
4. Secure the quilt layers together by either hand tieing or machine quilting every 9" apart.

Step 5: Folding the Quilt into the Pillow:
1. Place quilt with pillow pocket down on your flat surface.
2. Fold the quilt body into thirds. (the long way)

3. Fold this long section in half, and half again.
4. Pull the bottom of the pillow pocket up and over this folded section,
turning pillow pocket 'inside out', over the body of the quilt.
5. Turn and pull into a nice pillow shape,pulling out corners completely.

My tag along verse:
"Use me as a pillow, until you get cold.
Then pull me out and gently unfold.
I'm a lap quilt now, from head to feet...
Then tuck me back in, all nice and neat!"

Please Note: If you borrow my directions and copy this down, make it or use my verse, I would appreciate a link back for all of my hard work in creating and sharing. Thank you! Michele
Free Quillow Pattern and Tutorial Photos

And of interest: A quillow shaped to just fit a person in a wheelchair. Check out this link.

For another version of a quillow that is more recently created, check out:

Making a Quillow

No tme for a quilt? Make a Flillow!.......a Fleece Blanket + Pillow ;)

Make a Fleece Blanket or a Quilt that you Already Have into a Quillow!


Any quilt or fleece blanket can be made into a pillow quilt by simply creating a pocket on the back. 

For pocket: Cut out two pieces of fabric (or fleece) and one piece of batting about 18 1/2” square.  It can be smaller if your blanket is smaller as your pocket should be about 1/3 of the width of the quilt or blanket you are using.

Now, place the  fabric right sides together and place batting on top of fabric. 
Sew all the way around (with batting on bottom), leaving an opening of 4” - 5” on one side to turn - this is the same method used for making quilts envelope style. Some quilters call this birthing a quilt or make a envelope style quilt.
Trim corners of the pocket and turn right side out. Stitch opening closed.
Place pocket at end of blanket and then stitch to blanket on three sides, leaving the top of the pocket open and not stitched for packing the blanket into it when you turn it into a pillow!
Fold blanket into thirds - pocket will be on top, see photo tutorial above,  then fold blanket up and insert into pocket as you turn the pocket inside out.


  1. Thanks for this tutorial. I might try it soon.

  2. I'm saving this tutorial. I love quillows! I sent off a packet of VT blocks today... thank you!! ;)

  3. How cool - I've always wanted to know how to do these....
    My DIL has one hand quilted from Hawaii, with Hawaiian applique on the front, I keep threatening to steal it, but now I can make one!

  4. When all the nieces and nephews graduated, this is what I made. Great tutorial, BTW.

  5. I've always said I would make a quillow, but I haven't taken the step to actually turn one of quilts into a quillow. Thanks for the tutorial.

  6. Thanks for a great tutorial!!

  7. Your directions are the first I've read on making quillows that actually made sense to me! Thanks!!

  8. Anonymous10:52 AM

    Thank you for your generosity. I am making a lap quilt for a friend and your instructions for this finishing touch is just great:)

  9. Anonymous12:06 PM

    Thank you for putting together a concise,instruction tutorial, years ago my first quilt was a qwillow that I made with my mom, now I am hoping to make one with my daughter.Thank you for your refresher course. I look forward to many qwillows ahead.


  10. Your instructions were the easiest I found, thank you so much! And especially thank you for the "tag a long" it's perfect for gifts!


  11. Anonymous1:38 PM

    I have been searching for this pattern. thank you for sharing .

  12. Anonymous8:36 AM

    Thank you for the instructions. I am about to make the first one for each of my 6 grandchildren. I was surprised that I was unable to find instructions at my local patchwork shops in England.

  13. Anonymous12:23 AM

    Thank you soooo much for these easy-to-follow instructions! This is the best I have ever seen and this is going to be my next project, hopefully.

    Bless you,


  14. Anonymous5:17 PM

    These are GREAT instructions! Thanks for making them so understandable. I will be making a quillow for the first time this weekend.

  15. Anonymous6:55 PM

    Thanks for the wonderful photo tutorial on how to fold up a quillow as well as how to make one!

  16. What a wonderful tutorial. I can't wait to make one of these for my grandson!

  17. joyce sampsell8:36 PM

    Thanks for all your wonderful instructions but was wondering if I understand it right you make the pillow and just sew it to the back of the finished quilt right. I would think to keep the stitiching from showing on your quilted body you would sew the pocket to the right side of the backing before you sew the body together am I wrong about this of course the right side of pillow would be next to right side of backing sorry I'm so dense but would like to know which way is right j.sampsell@mchsi.com

    Thanks for understanding I'm excited about tring to make one.

  18. Joyce,
    Muito obrigada por dividir seu talento e sua criatividade.
    Lindo o seu trabalho e farei referencia sim a você na peça que pretendo fazer, serei sua seguidora e espero merecer seus ensinamentos.
    Lúcia Machado
    Thank you for sharing your talent and your creativity.
    Beautiful your work. I will make reference to you. I'll be your follower.
    Lúcia Machado

  19. Anonymous11:57 AM

    Catherine C and/or Mrs. "C" as my daughter in laws call me. Thank you, explained very nicely and simply language. I have made these in the past and almost forgot how to fold. Sharing is a wonderful gift that comes back to you two fold.

  20. Maryanne7:04 PM

    Thank you so much for the wonderful directions. Ever since my niece visited the Amish in middle school she has wanted a quillow. She will be 21 in February and now I can surprise her with her very own Quillow. Thank you again for your instructions.
    Maryanne from Pittsburg, CA

  21. Anonymous7:16 PM

    Years ago the ladies in our church got together & made quillows. I misplaced my pattern and I've been wanting to make one for my grandson. Thank you so much for the clear and easy to follow instructions!

  22. Anonymous1:25 PM

    Thank you so much for the great directions. I made two and they came out great the directions were awsome. Thanks!!!!!

  23. Anonymous7:02 PM

    Love IT!! I have been looking everywhere for an actual pattern and directions. Thank you. =)

  24. Anonymous9:11 PM

    Your directions look simple enough. I hope to make one for my "grand niece" in a princess motif.

  25. Thank you for the directions. I would like to make my grandchildren each one for Christmas. I don't have the time or space to make bed quilts but I thought they might each like a lap quilt from Gramma. Now just to get them each made...

  26. Anonymous4:48 PM

    thank you for the pattern! You made it really easy to follow. I appreciate it a lot!

  27. I had been looking for a long time an easy step by step say to make a quillow. I appreciate you sharing this one. I'm just a biginner at quilting and I would love to learn more. I love all your quilts. you are very talented.

  28. Michele,

    I realize you posted this blog about the quillow several years ago; however, about 19 years ago my grandmother made one for my oldest daughter upon her arrival. We have loved it all these years. Recently my grandmother passed away and as I was in her home during the days which shortly followed. I looked through a few of her patterns hoping to find this one, and could not. I asked my grandfather to please make me a copy if he found it or just forward it to me. He said he would, but as we live in Portland, TN (just north of Nashville) and he lives in Portland, OR and is elderly himself the chances I will see it are slim. So I was so elated to see your pattern on your blog and am eager to share it with others. *I will of course reference your link. Thank you for helping me in keeping the tradition of the quillows alive in our family.

    Jennifer Parker
    Portland, TN

  29. Anonymous12:42 AM

    Hi, Have just "borrowed" your Quillow instructions, so easy to follow. Thanks a million will now get to work............
    Betty from England Aug.2011

  30. Anonymous1:58 PM

    hi have just made my little niece a cat quillow using your instructions for her christmas presents and one for my sister in law thank you

  31. Rosemary from Wyoming4:16 PM

    Thank you so much for the easy instructions. I have made several quillows in past years but misplaced the directions. Thanks to you I am making them again! Your verse was very nice too and I'm using it too.

  32. Nel Walsh12:00 PM

    These "quillo's" are great! Last Christmas I made one for each of the Soldier's in my daughter's Army unit. When she was on deployment in Iraq...46 in all! I made them in different colors,mailed them to her in flat rate box's for her to hand out to everyone!..They loved them!

  33. Anonymous10:45 AM

    My mother in law lost her quillow pattern, thanks to you i can give her this one. just one thing. when she made ours, we used the pillow pouch to keep our feet warm. :-)

  34. Anonymous4:14 AM

    Our women's missions group at church are making these for a women's shelter. When the women leave, they get to take their quillow. I can barely sew a straight seam, but with these directions maybe I can even make one!

  35. I also would like to thank you! I've been looking through tons of patterns and keep coming back to yours!
    I'm hoping to make one in time to take it with me when I fly to Germany for my sisters wedding. I'm hoping it'll help me with my homesickness for my fiancé and dog. :)
    Thank you again!

  36. Many, many thanks. Living in Lancaster County, PA, I was introduced to quillows a few years ago. Thanks to your blog and these instructions this is now my go-to wedding present! I appreciate your post and especially the poem. - Sally

  37. I have been wondering what I could make this year for Christmas gifts. You have given me the answer. Thanks for printing the instructions!

  38. Thankyou so very much. I've be looking for a tute for a quillow for many years.

  39. Kathi F12:31 PM

    Thank you these are the best directions I have seen......

  40. many thanks. Today I will try to do for the present.


Michele Bilyeu blogs "With Heart and Hands" as she journeys between Douglas, Alaska and Salem, Oregon. Leave a comment and your blog will be visited, as well.