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Buckwheat Pillows

Martha Stewart Living, February 1998

Nothing beats a good night's sleep, so it's important to find the pillow that will support and pamper your neck in just the right ways. Most pillows are filled with feathers, fiberfill, or foam. In Japan, however, people sleep on buckwheat pillows. The small buckwheat hulls shift inside the case to match the exact contour of your neck and head. The even support means no more cramps or muscle tension -- both of which are known to contribute to headaches.

Natural buckwheat filling is ideal for people allergic to feathers and synthetic materials. Since they're small and easy to carry, these malleable pillows are also a great present for friends who travel a lot -- a handmade buckwheat pillow will make anyone on an overnight flight feel more comfortable. An 18-pound bag of buckwheat hulls will make about six 14 1/2-by-21-inch pillows.

Tools and Materials
Soft fabric, such as oxford cloth, preshrunk
Straight pins
6-foot length of 1/4-inch contrasting piping
Sewing machine
Ironing board
Buckwheat hulls

Buckwheat Pillows How-To
1. Measure and cut two 14 1/2-by-21-inch rectangles of fabric.

2. Pin piping, finished edge facing in, 1/4 inch from the raw edge of one of the rectangles, all the way around its perimeter. Then sew in place, as close to the cord as possible. To join the two ends of the piping together, remove about an inch of the stitches that secure the piping's fabric covering. Push back the covering to reveal the cord. Trim the cord so that it just touches the cord on the other end of the piping without overlapping. Roll the covering back over the cord, and let it overlap slightly with the other end of piping. Hand-stitch to secure.

3. Pin the second rectangle to the piped rectangle, right sides together. Sew the pieces together, stitching directly over the piping stitches of the first rectangle. Leave a 5-inch opening on one of the narrower sides. Turn right side out, and press.

4. Fill the pillow generously with buckwheat hulls, leaving just enough space for the hulls to move so the pillow is malleable. Turn under the opening's seam allowance, pin open edges together, and whip-stitch the pillow closed.

Comments (3)

  • woodstar 29 Jan, 2011

    If you're not particularly interested in locating all the materials etc. to make these. simply type "buckwheat pillows" into a Google search engine, and you will find plenty of buckwheat pillows to choose from. The better ones include a concealed nylon zipper which allows you to adjust the volume of hulls to suit your own particular comfort level.

  • Zig 2 Sep, 2008

    I've been sleeping on a buckwheat pillow for many years but making THESE are sooooo much nicer. The smaller size makes for a better sleep experience since they are easier to "shift" during the night and are lighter weight. My head stays cool and I experience a more fitful sleep. Thanks for the nice directions here.

  • jencooper 11 Apr, 2008

    Where do you find buckwheat hulls? I think these pillows would be great for my children to take to camp so they can sleep better.