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Camp Pillow Stuff Sack Tutorial

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It’s week three of the Summer Travel Series and today we’re talking about more sleep!

…Yeah, I know we just talked about sleep last week with the DIY sleep mask, but sleep is kind of one of the things I like to do the most. I love a good comfy bed, midday naps in sunbeams, bedtime cuddles with buddies – I’m all about sleep.

You may remember me mentioning in the car organizer tutorial that we have a small car. As in compact car small. And I’m not really sure at what point we decided it would be a good idea to get into camping with a small car, but we did, and somehow we manage to make it work.

So one of the major deciding factors in the game of Do We Bring It? is how big it is. Pillows sadly are some of the biggest offenders in the size category. Who doesn’t love a big fluffy pillow? But the problem is that they’re BIG AND FLUFFY.

I read a lot of tips about backpacking because they’re all about packing efficiently. One of their neat tricks is to stuff clothes into a stuff sack and use that as a pillow.

That’s exactly the sort of idea I need! Except we don’t actually have any stuff sacks. And most stuff sacks are made out of nylon. I’m not terribly fond of my pillow sticking to my face.

And this is where I came up with my Camp Pillow Stuff Sack Super Hybrid Thingie. (I think the name might need a little bit of work.) It’s a reversible stuff sack made from rip stop nylon for durability on one side and softer synthetic for laying your head on the other. It’s pretty quick to come together too!

Camp Pillow Stuff Sack Tutorial


  • 26″ x 18″ rip stop nylon
  • 26″ x 4″ rip stop nylon
  • 26″ x 18″ synthetic fabric such as microfiber or brushed polyester
  • 1 yard ⅛” polyester cord or lacing
  • Cord stop

Step 1: Fold the 26″ x 4″ rip stop nylon in half and baste along the edge.

Baste along edge

Step 2: Fold both short sides ½” down towards the same side and sew.

Fold and sew ends shut

Step 3: Fold in half the long way again. The raw edges from step 2 should be on the inside. Starting ½” away from the edge of the large nylon piece, pin the folded piece along the 26″ inch side with the raw edges together.

Fold and pin casing to large piece

Baste. This will form a double strength casing.

Baste casing

Step 4: Lay the synthetic fabric face down on top of the rip stop nylon. The casing should be in the center. Sew a ¼” seam along the same edge as the casing.

Lay fabric over nylon

Step 5: Open it all up and fold it in half so that the like fabrics are on top of themselves with the wrong side facing out, matching seams. Sew a ¼” seam all along the raw edges, leaving a couple inch gap for turning in the rip stop nylon. DO NOT accidentially sew over the casing.

Fold so like fabrics match
Leave gap for turning

Step 6: Turn right side out and sew the hole shut. Slipstitch if you want to hide the stitching or just topstitch it closed if you don’t care if the seam is visible.

Topstitched gap

Step 7: Use a safety pin to help thread the cord through the casing.

Safety pin on cord

Step 8: Push the ends of the cord through the cord stop and tie.

Cord stop on cord

Step 9: Use a flame to melt the ends to prevent fraying.

Melting ends to prevent fraying

Now, you may have noticed I melted the ends before step 7. I didn’t notice until after I was done that the instructions for the cord stop said to flatten the cord to thread it through. I will say it was a complete pain in the butt trying to get the ends through the cord stop after melting the ends, so don’t be like me – read instructions first.

Now you’re ready to stuff your sack with soft and comfy clothes! We’ll be mainly using our coats as they’re pretty fluffy.

Stuffing coat in camp pillow stuff sack

The best thing about these is they take up nearly no packing space, and they’re handy places to store out coats when we’re not using them. I even made us each one in a different color so we know whose is whose without having to open up the bag!

Four colors of stuff sacks

Happy travels and have a good night’s rest!

Sleeping on stuff sack pillow
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