5 Little Monsters: ASL Reading Pillows

ASL Reading Pillows

I made these pillows as a gift for my son's teacher for Teacher Appreciation Week last week. I hadn't really planned to blog about them so I don't have a lot of pictures. Last year I made gifts for the teachers of both of my kids who were in school. This year I have three kids in school and I really couldn't think of any great ideas of something to make. A couple of weeks ago the PTA sent home a paper asking the kids to do certain things each day and it also included a wishlist for each of the teachers. I decided that rather than getting things they didn't really want or need I would just pick something off of each of their lists. My youngest daughter's preschool teacher got the super exciting gift of a bunch of Clorox wipes. My first grader brought a bag full of little cheap toys to her teacher to put in their class store. When I looked at the list for my second grader I saw that his teacher wanted some pillows for their reading corner. I decided that I wanted to try to make something and pillows were something I knew I could do pretty easily.

I wasn't sure what kind of pillows I would make, my first thought was maybe something out of fleece so it would be soft. Then I remembered that I had gotten some sheets of vinyl from Snap. Expressions Vinyl was one of the sponsors and they were giving out vinyl at their booth, along with water bottles with our blog names on them in vinyl which was also kind of cool. Anyway, they had a couple of options either adhesive vinyl or heat transfer vinyl and they gave me the choice of which one I wanted. I don't have a vinyl cutting machine,  I think it would be cool to have one but they are pricey and it has just never been a high priority for me. When they asked if I wanted some vinyl my first thought was what will I do with it, but when they mentioned the heat transfer I thought I like to sew and make stuff with fabric, I'm sure I can think of something simple that I can cut out with scissors and iron onto something made of fabric. So I went with the heat transfer vinyl. There were three sheets of vinyl- black, white, and glittery gold.

My three kids who go to school are all deaf and they go to a special deaf school where everything is done in ASL. I had the idea to put a silhouette of a hand on the pillows and the first handshape I thought of was the I love you sign. It is easy to recognize and make, but I wanted to make 2 pillows and I wasn't sure what to do for the second one. Then I thought, they are for the reading corner why not do the sign for read on one and the sign for book on the other.

I first cut some hands out of cardstock to use as templates and to see if it would even work and look like the signs. My son came home from school shortly after that and I showed him the the cardstock cutouts. He knew immediately what they were supposed to say so I felt pretty good about the idea. Then I asked my daughter and she had no idea what they were supposed to mean. Johnny had to pick them up and use them to make the signs before she figured it out. Then I started to question my idea a little. I hoped they would make sense.

I decided to go with it anyway so I cut some squares of fabric and used my cardstock templates to cut out the vinyl. I ironed the hands on the center square and then sewed the borders on. The first one I made was the sign for book. Book is signed by opening your hands like a book.

For the pillow I cut two hands out of black vinyl and ironed them onto a white square. I added a red border around the square.

The next pillow was the sign for read. Read is signed by holding one hand flat, palm up (like it is the page that you are reading), with the other hand you use to fingers to "read".

This one was a little bit more complicated because the hands overlap. If I made both hands out of black, to get the silhouette look I was going for, you wouldn't be able to see the two fingers reading so it wouldn't work. To solve that problem I decided to make one hand black and one white and put them on gray fabric. I am not sure I loved the way it looked but it worked. I used a light purple fabric for the borders on this pillow.

I had some colorful pieces of flannel that I used for the back. The ABC print seemed especially appropriate. I finished the pillows with a flap closure. 

I only made 14 inch pillows and afterward I wished I had made them bigger. I think a bigger size just would have been a little nicer for the kids to use but this size worked. It was fun to try out the vinyl on a project and to find a way to use it even with out a cutting machine. My daughter has already decided that the glittery gold vinyl will be used on something for her. I will have to think of something fun to make with it for her.


  1. I love the idea of this! I am on my way to becoming an Elementary teacher. I minored in ASL and I love it! I love the ideas for the pillows that you made and they look absolutely stunning. Honestly, I wish I could have thought of that myself. This does give me an idea though. Although I don't teach yet, someday I will have my own classroom. I am now trying to find a way to crochet the pillows that you have made! I'm only a beginner, so it may take a while.

    I'm sure that the teacher will love these pillows! I envy her to get such beautiful gifts.

  2. I love it!! I am deaf mom and i teach ASL to my hearing 3 years old.

  3. If you crochet, there are Crochet By Numbers sites that allow you to design a picture where every square is a stitch (in single crochet) so that you can print out and follow the pattern. You can use Google to find them.

  4. My son is a sign language interpreter. What a great idea to make pillows like this.

  5. My son is a sign language interpreter. What a great idea to make pillows like this.