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Reading Cushion Project

Sew a reading cushion

Make a reading cushion with a pocket in the front for storing books. It’s a nice big cushion which will hold multiple books, and that children can lean on or rest books on whilst reading. There are also details on how to make a fat quarter version too. 

Our fabric was the Dragonheart Collection supplied by Makower UK.


20 inch cushion pad

1 fat quarter of Makower Linea in Grenadine

Half metre of main fabric

Half metre of contrast fabric

20 x 12 inch of feature fabric – we used the Dragonheart labels print (5 squares across and 3 squares down) – choose a similar style of fabric for your cushion

18 inch co-ordinating zip (I used green)

20 x 12 Vliseline F220 fusible interfacing

22 inch square of Vlieseline fusible fleece H640 (alternatively use wadding)

Gutermann 155 Orange thread for quilting

Fabrics to make a child's cushion

Fat quarter friendly version: You can make easily change the size of this reading cushion, just make sure your finished (after quilting) cushion panels are the same size as the cushion pad eg. 18 inches for a 18 x 18 cushion pad, and that your zip is 2 inches shorter – so 16 inch zip for an 18 inch cushion.  An 18 inch cushion cover can be made from fat quarters.


Cutting instructions

1 x 22 inch square of the main fabric for the quilted cushion back. We will be trimming this to a 20’’ square after quilting so don’t worry if your piece isn’t quite 22 inches.

1 x 20 inch square of the contrast fabric for the front panel.

A strip of the feature fabric which is 5 squares wide and 3 squares wide (approx. 20 x 12 inches)

20 x 12 inch strip of the red Linea fabric

21 x 2.5 inch strip of the red Linea fabric

Quilting for a cushion panel


Press all the fabrics.

Iron the interfacing to the back of the feature print.

Iron the fusible fleece to the back of the main print (or spray or pin baste your wadding to it).

Making binding from the 21 x 2.5 strip of red Linea. To do this fold the fabric in half length ways with the wrong sides of the fabric touching. Press. Open it up and fold the raw edges into the crease along the middle of the fabric. Press. Then fold the strip in half again with the inner folds tucked in and press one final time.

Quilt the back panel as desired. I quilted diagonal lines spaced 2.5 inches apart, I marked my lines with a Hera marker first, and used Gutermann 155 orange thread which matched the fabric. After quilting trim the fabric down to a 20 inch square removing any excess wadding or fabric.


Seam allowance – ¼ inch unless directed otherwise

Sew binding to a cushion cover

To Sew

Making the pocket

Place the two pocket fabrics wrong sides together with top edges aligned. Clip (I tend to use Wonder clips more than pins) or pin into place and baste along the top within the quarter an inch seam allowance.

Secure binding on front and back

Fold your strip of binding over the raw edge at the top, clip into place making sure both sides are even. Sew in place from the front, sewing approximately 1/8th of an inch from the bottom edge of the binding. This will catch the front and back of the binding as per the image above showing the back of my pocket. 

Childs' reading cushion project

Trim off any excess binding, fabric or interfacing from the sides and bottom of the pocket. Place the pocket on the front panel of the cushion (the contrast fabric) aligning the sides and bottom. Clip/pin into place and baste around the sides and the bottom (not the top!)

Sew a zipper tab

Sewing the zip

Using the offcuts from one of your fabrics (I used the contrast print) cut 2 rectangles 3 by 1.5 inches to make zipper tabs. Bring the two 1.5 inches ends together with the wrong sides of the fabric touching. Press or crease the fold. Repeat for the other tab.

Adding a zip to a cushion

Put the folded edge a quarter of an inch over one end of the zip tape (on the top side of the zip) and sew into place along the fold. Repeat for the other end (make sure you don’t sew over the plastic bump at the end of the zip).

Sew a reading cushion

Decide if you want your zip on the left or the right of the cushion, I opted for the right. On the side you want to place it fold the edge of that side of the cushion back by ¼ an inch and press, repeat for the back panel (put front and back panels wrong side together to figure out which side to press). The raw edges of the fabric will be hidden under the zip tape to prevent fraying, but if you are worried about fraying feel free to zig zag stitch or over edge stitch the edge before proceeding to the next step.


Zip closure on a cushion

Place on of the panels on top of the zip covering most the zip tape so the fabric edge is close to the zip teeth. This will conceal most of the zip. Sew into place close to the edge of the fabric using your zipper foot. Repeat for the opposite side of the zip with the other panel.

TIP – Centre your zipper on the cushion fabric, the zip tags will extend beyond the edge of the cushion panels.

Free cushion sewing projects

Increase the speed of your machine when you get to the bound edge of the pocket as this will help it feed through the machine. It will be quite thick at that point.

Place the fabrics right side together (folding the zip in half) aligning the bottom edges. Trim off any excess fabric, including the zipper tabs that go beyond the edge of the cushion.

Sewing the cushion together

Overedging to seal the edges of a cushion cover


I put that in bold to make sure you don’t miss it, please ensure your zip is open before you sew the rest of the cushion together.

Put the right sides of the fabric together and Wonder clip around the edges of the fabric (on the side with the zip). Over edge stitch, overlock or zig zag stitch around those 3 sides to protect the raw edges. Personally, I do a ¼ seam around the edges before overedge stitching to strengthen the seams.

Turn the cushion cover the right way around through the zip you left open (you did leave it open didn’t you….)

Sew a reading cushion

Put the cushion pad inside, it should be a fairly snug fit to ensure a plump looking cushion.

Buy some books, put them in the reading cushion and gift it. We highly recommend The Tickle Book shown in this reading cushion, it’s been my son’s favourite book for years.

Sewing projects for gifts

This project was written by Fiona Pullen from The Sewing Directory.