I had the best kindergarten teacher.
Her name was Mrs. Arnold. She taught me how to read and drilled phonics with our class. Because I went to a small Christian school, she was able to do a few special things with everyone (individually) in the class. I remember getting to go get ice cream at McDonald's with her and my best friend, Mary Katherine. We also did something called an M&M walk where we went to the local botanical garden, walked around, and periodically ate M&Ms. (I'm not sure what the purpose of this was, other than walking and eating M&Ms. But hey - isn't that enough?)
In addition to doing all these fun things in the classroom, she also made for all of her students, every single year, a pillow and pillowcase with each student's name on it in felt. We kept these pillows at school until the end of the year when we could take them home. I still have my pillow. Probably if you took a poll of everyone who she made one for, you'd find nearly everyone still has theirs. My little brother, a member of her last ever class before retiring, still has his.
Since I have always loved mine, as soon as I got pregnant I knew I'd be making one for my child eventually. And I realized that they make great gifts. They do require some sewing, but this could be easily done by hand if you wanted. To start, I bought some travel pillows from Target. They were around $5. Then I bought a pack of two plain white pillow cases. I got the king size. You could totally do this with just some plain white fabric, but the premade pillowcase made the project much simpler. I feel like this is a really easy project that doesn't need a tutorial, but maybe any beginning sewers out there might enjoy a few pictures to see what I did.
Next I turned the pillowcase wrong side out and sewed down both of the openings in the long side.
Turn right side out and now you have a nice, travel-sized white pillow case. (For some reason I didn't photograph it plain. Oh well.)
Now you get to cut out your letters. I used the font called "Century Gothic," sized to 440, which I printed and used to cut out my felt. So far I have only made pillows with five letter names or less, so if the name has more letters then you will need to shrink it down. I splurged and got some nice 100% wool felt since I want these to last. I bought mine from this etsy shop, and felt that they had pretty good prices and a wide selection of colors.
Sew around each letter. I used white thread because I didn't want to change between every letter, but certainly a coordinating thread would also look nice. You kind of have to go slow to make sure and stay close to the edge of the felt. I actually tried to use wonder under to iron the letters into place on the first one I made, but had a hard time getting it to work with the felt. Using the pins really seemed to work fine.
For Judah's I used all primary colors (you can kind of see it behind Jack's), and this one I made for my nephew Jack had a nice teal and orange. Honestly I think I like the more diverse colors a little better than just primary. I just made one this week for my other nephew, Caleb, and did his name in reverse rainbow order (Blue "C", green "a", Yellow "L", orange "e"...). This might be my favorite one so far. (I did not photograph it, though. But I'm guessing you all can use your imaginations.) Obviously for girls you can do it in really girly pinks and purples or whatever are the favorite colors of said girl.
It's a nice, fairly quick project you can do in an afternoon and end up with something very personalized that any birthday boy/ christmas girl/ valentine's day cousin would be happy to have.