A quillow is a wonderful item for home or for travel. It is great for kids when travelling because it can be folded up into a pillow when not in use but easily opens up to make a warm, soft blanket for naps. At home, quillows can be decorative throw pillows by day and cuddly TV blankets by evening. The instructions here actually include making a regular pillow, which can also be tucked into the pocket or displayed along with the folded quillow, so you end up with a blanket and matching pillow.
This is the quillow folded (right) along with the matching pillow.
This shows the pocket sewn on the bottom of the blanket.
And this is the quillow opened. The pocket is on the bottom with the matching pillow in the middle.
The term "quillow" originally was coined for a project in which a quilt was made with a pocket that, when the quilt was tucked and folded correctly, made a pillow. With the advent of the widespread use of fleece material for crafts and sewing, quillows have now come to include pillow/blanket combos made with fleece rather than a quilt.
I have made these for so many friends and family members that I have lost count of the number. One thing I enjoy doing is to match the fabric design with the person. For instance, my mother reads constantly so the material I used for her quillow was books on bookshelves. For my sister who makes beautiful handcrafted quilts, I chose a fleece design that had old Singer sewing machines on it. One of my sons chose eagles as he loves them and for another I made one with purple and gold Viking team design. There are SO many different fleece patterns that come out each fall that it is easy to find just the right one to make a blanket for that special person.
Fleece can be found at sewing and craft stores, regular or online, fabric outlets or on eBay. For this project you will need three yards of material. (these are extra long size which everyone loves!) The price ranges all over the place. The most expensive fleece I have seen was about $10 a yard but I look for coupons and sales and can get it for much less. End of the year clearances will offer some great bargains, too.
I love to make them in the winter as the material is warm and soft covering my lap. I have never timed one to see how long it takes to make one but it really goes fast as they are very easy to make. They make wonderful gifts! One of the comments I have heard about them is that they are nice for both warm and cool weather. When you just need a light blanket they are perfect but, when it is very chilly, they are quite warm, too.
For one friend, I asked her to visit a branch of a craft store in her area and find several fleece patterns she really liked. Then I had her write down the name and item number and email it to me. I went to the same store here and chose one of the fabrics from her list. You could do the same thing on eBay or through an online store if you want the person to choose a pattern he or she likes.
I have folding instructions I include along with info on cleaning. I also let people know that they can tuck their feet in the pocket if they have it over their lap. Sewing the reinforcing nylon thread along the seams helps keep that area strong.
- 3 yards of fleece material
- 4 skeins of embroidery floss (choose an accent color from the fleece material) - you will use all six strands of the floss
- embroidery needle, large with big enough eye for the floss
- polyester stuffing for pillows and stuffed toys - how much depends on how stuffed you want your pillow
- clear nylon thread on bobbin and spool
Note on choosing a floss color: You need to have the material with you when you purchase the embroidery floss so you can make sure it matches your material. I find, however, that the lighting in the store is not always strong enough to be sure of a match. Some materials are very hard to match a certain color. What I do in that case is I buy several skeins of various shades of the color I want to use. I take it home and lay it on the material in the sunlight. In one case I even sewed on 3 different colors about 6 inches each so I could see what they would look like. You want a contrasting color so the border shows up clearly. For instance, in the example pictures I used a Tigger material where Tigger was on a blue/green background. I chose a matching orange color for the blanket stitching.
Prepare your material:
- Fleece has a border on each side that will need to be removed. Spread your material out on a table and carefully cut off that part on both sides. (I take those long strips and fold them to make yarn pom poms for our cats to play with!)
- If your material has a recurring pattern, spread it out and check to make sure it was cut straight across and not at an angle. Most times you will have to cut to adjust slightly and make it straight. Cut both ends to make it as straight as you possibly can. Measure and mark off 18" off the bottom. I use a white marking pencil and a yardstick. Measure carefully. This will be your pocket and the matching pillow.
- From that rectangle piece you have just cut off, measure 21 1/2" and cut. That is the pocket. Take the remaining piece of material and fold in half cutting along the fold line. That is your pillow.
- Fleece DOES have a right and wrong side, sometimes it is very subtle and sometimes very obvious. Make sure you figure this out before starting as it does matter as far as how you put the pocket on and do the corners with a blanket stitch.
- It doesn't really matter where you start working on the blanket as long as it isn't a corner. To keep the areas where it is tied off to a minimum use as long of a piece of floss as you can handle. On both sides and the top of the material sew a blanket stitch. Tie off and start a new piece of floss whenever you need to. Cut ends of the knot off neatly.
- When you have completed the three sides, lay the material right side up. On the bottom, center the piece of pocket material laying it right side DOWN (right sides should be together.) The bottom of the pocket should be matched up with the bottom of the blanket. Pin together on all four sides making sure the pocket is smooth and even.
- Finish adding the blanket stitch on the bottom of the blanket. When you get to the pocket make sure you add a stitch right on the corners of the material so they lay flat.
- Now, using the blanket stitch, sew around the other 3 sides of the pocket. On both sides you will need to sew both pieces of material together. The needle will go through the top above the edge of the pocket. Bring it in from the backside through both pieces of material and then through the loop as usual. When you get to the top edge, be sure to only sew along the top of the pocket - NOT the blanket. This part needs to be open.
- When all blanket stitching is completed, sew a seam of nylon thread all around the top edges of the blanket stitches about 1/2" in. Again, make sure you leave the top open on the pocket and just sew on the actual piece of pocket material, not the blanket. However, on all 3 of the other sides, sew both pieces of material together.
- Make sure your edges are even. You may need to snip off a little to adjust it. Put the squares wrong sides together making sure the pattern on both pieces goes in the same direction. Pin together. Start your blanket stitch (see instructions below) about halfway along one side. Continue sewing the blanket stitch all the way around until you have just a small opening left. Fill the pillow with polyester stuffing as desired. One you have it as fluffy as you want, finish stitching up past the open area and tie off. Machine sew a seam with nylon thread just where the blanket stitching ends - about 1/2" or so along the entire border.
How to do a blanket stitch:
Bring the needle through from the backside of the material.
Pull the floss through on. This will form a loop. Insert the needle through the loop and pull the floss taut but not too much. Just enough to make a nice square stitch.
You do the corners the same way except go around the corner to the other side. The example on the left is a view from the right side of the material and the one on the right is the back of a corner stitch.
This is what the edge will look like after you add the blanket stitching.
This is what I include with all quillows I give as a gift:
The word "quillow" comes from combining "quilt" and "pillow." These blankets use fleece rather than being quilted but are still the same design. It is recommended that you wash your quillow in cold water on delicate and tumble dry on low using some type of fabric softener. The pillow is stuffed with 100% polyester fiberfill and so can be washed and dried, too. This is how you fold your quillow when not in use:
Step 1: Lay the blanket with pocket facing down. Fold over vertically 1/3 of the blanket to match the stitching on the pocket. Fold the other third over the same way.
Step 2: Starting at the top, fold the blanket over and over the size of the pocket all the way to the end.
Step 3: Flip the folded blanket over to the pocket is facing up. Turn the pocket inside out over the folded part of the blanket. Your fleece quillow is not in its pillow form. The regular pillow may be kept separate or will fit inside the pocket when the quillow is folded up.
NOTE: When using your quillow, you can insert your feet in the pocket for extra warmth and comfort. The sides have been reinforced to accomodate the extra stress. Enjoy!
If there is any part of this you don't understand please feel free to email me.
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Special thanks to Ruth for sending me a pic of her completed quillow made using these instructions!