How To Make An Aromatherapy Chemo Port Pillow

In honor of World Cancer Day, I have created another chemo port pillow tutorial. Many people use essential oils as a complementary treatment to relieve the side effects of chemotherapy. So, having a chemo port pillow that includes aromatherapy is a nice option for people who find using essential oils alleviates some of their discomfort.

Before getting to the construction of the pillow, some “go to” essential oils to use with the port pillow are:

  • Lavender – for relief from stress and anxiety, and to help with relaxation
  • Roman chamomile – for relief from stress and anxiety, and to help with relaxation
  • Peppermint – to help with nausea

Disclaimer: Make sure the person using the aromatherapy chemo port pillow has consulted with a physician regarding the use of essential oils as part of their treatment plan while undergoing chemotherapy.

Make An Aromatherapy Chemo Port Pillow

The pattern (if you can call it that) for this aromatherapy chemo port pillow comes from my original chemo port pillow tutorial.

Here is a “basic pillow” refresher: the main two pieces of fabric are rectangles that measure 4″ x 7″. Add some 3.5″ long hook-and loop-tape. Stuff with polyfil. And there you have it, a standard chemo port pillow.

The materials and the design for this aromatherapy port pillow, however, are different to allow the flexibility of adding essential oil when needed. This time, I added a little front pocket where someone can place scented wool felt.

I decided to cut the felt into a heart because it will serve as a constant reminder that the recipient is loved. It is also the perfect combination of World Cancer Day and Valentine’s Day.

Pro tip: This project continues to be a great scrap buster because it uses small fabric pieces. So make sure to peek in your scrap bin before you get started to see what you already have that could work.

Aromatherapy Port Pillow Materials

For this aromatherapy chemo port pillow you will need:

  1. Lightweight denim fabric or duck canvas.
  2. Sew-on hook-and-loop tape (*affiliate link)
  3. Polyester fiberfill (or yarn scraps!)
  4. Rotary cutter or scissors
  5. Sewing machine (which should go without saying)
  6. Wool felt (you can use wool felt squares or even a sweater you’ve felted).
  7. Heart pattern (you can download it here)

Construction of An Aromatherapy Port Pillow

1. Cut fabric and hook-and-loop tape to size.

This chemo port pillow has three main pieces of fabric: two rectangles for the pillow sides, and small patch for the pocket. For this project, I used denim both for the aesthetic of the contrast of red heart against the blue (jean) background as well as the sturdiness of denim over time.

Cut your materials as follows:

  • Two rectangles that measure 4″ x 7″
  • One (almost) square that measures 4″ x 3.5″
  • Hook-and-loop tape that is 3.5″ long

2. Cut out wool felt hearts.

It’s very important only to use wool felt here, not polyester or acrylic, because you want a natural fiber to hold the scent of the essential oil. You can use precut felt or a wool sweater that you’ve felted.

If you have to purchase felt, I will forewarn you that wool felt is considerably more expensive than the polyester or acrylic craft felt. Since you only need a small square or two, though, it shouldn’t break the bank.

To get the perfectly sized heart for the aromatherapy chemo port pillow, I created a template for you to use. For this tutorial, I used the largest of the three (pictured above). Download the heart template here.

You’ll need a piece of wool felt about 4″ x 4″ (it’s easier to grasp and cut at this size). Then it’s as easy as placing the template on the felt and cutting around it.

I cut out a couple of hearts and made them slightly different so that the person using the port pillow can have a dedicated felt heart for each essential oil.

3. Finish the pocket edge.

You’ve already cut the three main fabric pieces for the port pillow. All of the seams will be enclosed in the pillow except for the edge of the pocket. So, the next step is to finish that edge to make it look nice as well as help with the longevity of the pocket due to wear and tear.

This pocket ‘patch’ is 4″ wide and 3.5″ tall. The 4″ width matches the width of the main pillow fabric and those edges will get sewn together with the pillow.

To stitch the pocket edge, fold over the top edge 1″ and stitch away. The choice of where to place the stitching is partly functional, partly aesthetic. In this case, I stitched just below the fold and just above the raw edge.

4. Secure the hook-and-loop tape.

Baste the hook-and-loop tape to the right side of the fabric to secure its placement for when you’re sewing all of the fabric pieces together.

Pro tip: You’ll want to trim one edge of each piece of the hook-and-loop tape so that they don’t line up perfectly. There should be a gap (as shown above) where the tape does not line up. Leaving this gap ensures that the hook-and-loop will work as planned (open and close, that is). If not, it will end up sewn into the seam with all the port pillow pieces. (Yes, I suffered that fate once when I didn’t trim them enough…)

5. Sew the fabric pieces together.

To sew all of the pillow pieces together, start by placing the pocket on top of one rectangle. The wrong side of the pocket will be against the right side of the rectangle.

Then, take the second rectangle and place it on top of the first rectangle with the right sides of the fabric together. (It’s a pocket sandwich!)

Pin or clip the pieces together so nothing slips while you’re sewing.

Sew all four of the edges, but at the top edge (on the opposite side of the pocket) leave a large hole so that you can stuff the pillow.

6. Stuff the chemo port pillow and close the opening.

To stuff the port pillow turn the pillow inside out so that the right sides of the fabric are facing out. You can use standard pillow stuffing, but I chose to use polyester yarn scraps I had leftover after making mini yarn hats.

Sew the opening closed once the pillow has enough “poofiness”.

How To Apply Essential Oils To Port Pillow

Place the essential oil directly onto the wool felt heart. Because it will be applied “neat” (i.e., with no dilution) the scent will be strong. So, I don’t have a recommendation for how many drop should be applied. The person using the aromatherapy chemo port pillow will have to gauge what works best.

Pro tip: Start with fewer drops then build up to more.

Applying the essential oil to the wool felt will leave a mark, but it will dry and fade away over time.

After the appropriate amount of essential oil has been applied to the heart, place in in the pocket and it’s ready to go!

Aromatherapy port pillow attached to a car seatbelt.
The port pillow can be used on seatbelt or bag strap.

Donate Aromatherapy Port Pillows

If you are looking for places to donate, you can find a list of hospitals dedicated to treating cancer patients here.

The World Cancer Day site also provides some useful links and resources if you are looking to learn more.


Disclosure: I included an affiliate link in this post meaning that if you click on the link and purchase a product from that vendor within a set amount of time, I would receive a small commission for the referral. There is no additional cost to you, but it does help keep the lights on here at Create To Donate. Thank you.