sewing 101: making a pouf


Add a burst of color to your room with this crafty pouf! At 17” wide and 10” deep, it’s large enough to serve as floor seating or a foot stool. (And if you have pets, I have a feeling they may want to make this their new favorite spot!)

This project is a little challenging to sew, but it’s not too difficult, so if you’re comfortable with the basics of sewing, give it a try. You can make a colorwheel effect with a range of solid colors, or choose a variety of patterned fabrics for a louder patchwork effect. Medium-weight cottons work well for this design (check out quilting shops for great selections of solids and prints).

I love the idea of making a set of these poufs in a range of sizes, for a sculptural stack of cushions that will become a room element in their own right. Or if a pouf isn’t your thing, you can make this in a smaller size for a cute throw pillow for the sofa or bed. Let’s get started! -Brett Bara

CLICK HERE for the full how-to after the jump!

Finished Dimensions: 17” diameter by 10” tall

What You’ll Need

¼ yard each 12 coordinating fabrics (I used quilting cottons)

1 yard muslin

3 pounds fiberfill stuffing

2 large buttons (approximately 1 ½”)

2 flat metal washers, slightly smaller than your buttons

12” upholstery needle (get this where upholstery supplies are sold)

fishing line

sewing thread

hand sewing needle

sewing machine

sharp scissors

iron

1. Print the template

DOWNLOAD TEMPLATE HERE

Download and print the template above. This template will work if sized to any dimension, so you don’t have to worry too much about getting it to print to the exact size specified. (And if you prefer a smaller or larger pouf, just size the template accordingly!)

2. Cut & Arrange the Fabric

Using the template, cut 2 pieces from each of the 12 fabrics, and 24 pieces of muslin.

Arrange one piece of each of the 12 fabrics in the order you plan to assemble them.

3. Assemble the Wedges

To stabilize the fabric and discourage stretching, a piece of muslin is sewn behind each piece of colored fabric. To do this, just align a piece of muslin on the wrong side of each piece of fabric, then sew them together as one as you assemble the pouf.

To sew the first two wedges together, make a little fabric sandwich with a piece of muslin, the first wedge right-side up, the next wedge right-side down, and another piece of muslin. Pin all four layers together along one side.

5. Sew the Wedges

Beginning at the wide end of the wedge shape, sew the layers together using a ¼” seam allowance. Sew a gradual curve along the angle at the base of the wedge (rather than sewing a distinct point). Stop the seam when you reach the point.

6. Iron

Iron the seam, pressing the seam allowance to one side.

7. Sew the Remaining Wedges

Place the piece you’ve just sewn right-side up on your work surface, and align the next color wedge right-side down, then place a piece of muslin on top of it. (Be sure to take a moment and double-check that you’re assembling the pieces in the correct color order; I found it was easy to get mixed-up and accidentally sew the pieces in the wrong order!)

Continue to assemble the wedges in this order until you’ve assembled six wedges for a half-circle. Then, assemble the other half circle separately. When both half circles are assembled, place them together along the straight edge, and sew them together. (Assembling them in this way ensures that you won’t have a hole in the middle where all the points meet.)

8. Sew the Other Half

For the other half of the pouf, you must arrange the colors in the opposite direction as you did for the first half. To test if you have the order correct, lay out the pieces in the reverse placement, then place the first half right-side down on top of the pieces to be sewn. If the colors are matched up, you’ve got it right.

Sew the wedges for the second half in the same way you did for the first half.

9. Join the Two Halves

Pin the two halves with their right sides facing together, aligning the pieces so that the seams meet.

10. Join the Two Halves

Sew the two pieces together around the perimeter, ¼” from the edge. Leave an 8” opening to stuff the pouf, backstitching at the beginning and end of the seam so that it doesn’t unravel during the stuffing process.

11. Iron the Seam Allowance

Turn the fabric under ¼” on each side of the opening and press. (Folding and pressing this edge will make it easier to sew the opening closed after the pouf is stuffed.)

12. Stuff the Pouf

Stuff the pouf, pulling off handfuls of stuffing and adding them in smallish clumps (to avoid a lumpy appearance, it’s best to add the stuffing little by little). Take care to spread the stuffing into the far edges of the pouf so that each nook and cranny is fully stuffed.

When the pouf is nice and firm, sew the opening closed using a hand-sewing needle and matching thread.

14. Make the Tuft

(SAFETY NOTE: Be very careful when working with the long upholstery needle. I nearly poked myself in the eye as I struggled to push the needle through the pouf while leaning over it to observe – yikes – NOT a good method! Always insert the needle AWAY from yourself, not toward yourself!)

In this step, flat metal washers are used to hold the tufting in place in the center of the cushion. The tufting is sewn with fishing line because regular thread is not strong enough to withstand the pressure of the tufting. The buttons, which are decorative only, are added later.

Thread an approximately 60” piece of fishing line (here I’m using heavy thread since fishing line wouldn’t show in the photos) through the long upholstery needle. Tie both ends of the fishing line onto one of the washers and loop it through the washer twice.

Insert the needle all the way through the center of the pouf, so that the washer lies flat against the center point of one side the pouf. On the other side, loop the thread through another washer.

Looping through the center and around the edge of the washer, insert the needle back through the pouf and out through the center of the other washer. Pull the fishing line tight while pressing down on the top washer to create the tufted effect. Keeping the tension, insert the needle around the washer and back through the other side. (It’s helpful to have someone else lend a hand at this stage, though it’s not impossible to do yourself!)

Make a few passes with the needle and fishing line, each time looping through and around the washers. Tie off the line on one side, knotting it onto the washer.

15. Add the Buttons

Cut an approximately 30” piece of matching thread and loop it through the upholstery needle, doubling it. Insert the needle through the pouf, going through the center of the washers. Next, loop it through a button, then back through to the other side of the pouf. Finally, loop it through the other button. Tie the threads in a knot so that the thread is pulled taut and the buttons are nestled against the washers.

And poof — you’re done!

  1. Sara says:

    Wow, I love it! I was going to make baby quilts for my nephews but I procrastinated too long and now they are in twin beds… this would be a great way to use the fabric and still make a gift they will like. I think they would enjoy these.

    I might try a patchwork one first. And Ms. Whitney, I love the idea about the zipper!

  2. SallyBear says:

    hey! i love this! i’m going to make one for my mum for Christmas cause she’s been looking for the perfect one (i know it’s a long way off but her birthday’s been already!)

    i was wondering exactly how much fishing line I would need to buy ??

    Thanks :)

  3. Gerdien says:

    Hello! I loved the idea aswell, so I made one myself (with just one color). It’s on my blog Lab Coco: http://bit.ly/aRluzq
    I just started the blog btw :)

  4. Sara says:

    OK, I made a “test” patchwork pouf out of some scrap fabric. You really do need the 12″ needle in order to do the center button – my 4″ upholstery needle was just too short. And you really should use the washers as show in the directions. I tried it without the washers and the results were not good. Since my first one was just for experimentation, I stuffed it with plastic grocery bags and let my dog sleep on it. :)

    I used the muslin backing and made the top & bottom in two halves each, but still had trouble with the pouf coming apart at the center point. I am thinking that perhaps I could cut out a circle about 5″ in diameter and sew it to the center on each side before sewing the top & bottom together.
    I’ll let you know how the next one goes!

  5. b.g. says:

    I’m a bit confused about how much fabric to buy. if i do the whole thing in one colour how much should i buy of that colour? because the pattern only requires one yard of muslin but what seems to be worded as 3 yards of fabric… maybe i’m doing my math all wrng or reading this wrong.

  6. ajjah says:

    i love this, will try this pronto!

  7. 1jaygirl says:

    Thanks so much. I made a different type of poof cushion, but the button kept popping off. Now I know how to attach it. Great blog!

  8. Aisia says:

    I love this..I remember my grandmother had a pillow just like this one..I can’t wait to make one.

  9. Halley says:

    Hey Brett,
    Thanks for the wonderful inspiration.
    I finished mine this weekend and I can’t stop cuddling it.
    Really well written DIY. Thanks again!

  10. Halley says:

    This is the post with photos of the Pouf in question:
    http://keascuriousity.blogspot.com/2010/09/25-somethings-make-pouf-pillow.html
    Next time the double rainbow.

  11. Emma says:

    This idea is so cute!
    I just started making a rainbow one for my sister, but I have a question:
    When making each half circle, should the points all meet exactly? Right now it looks like there is a very small circular gap where the 6 points are supposed to come together… Will this be rectified when I sew both halves together? Or is it something that I should re-do? :P

  12. Sarah says:

    I really need to make this!

  13. mae says:

    very unique design. I like it.

  14. mae says:

    amazingly beatiful nice collecton.

  15. Debra Wilson says:

    Definitely planning on making this, but a quick question. Can it be washed in the washer? I’ve never tried washing anything full of fiberfill before so not sure how the cleaning goes. We have two large dogs that love laying about on soft things so it will need to be washed periodically.

  16. Danielle says:

    this is so cute! i’m definitely going to make (at least) one, but i think i’ll try making a couple different colors, so i can easily wash them if they get dirty.

  17. Diana says:

    oh Dear Lord I love it! <3 you're brilliant! thanks for sharing this! :D

  18. Debra Wilson says:

    I noticed it said there is only one yard of muslin needed but the other fabrics add up to 3 yards? Which is correct? I am planning to make this out of some lightweight upholstery vinyl but would like to know the definitely amounts of fabric first. Is the 1/4 yard measurement per color just used because it is the smallest cut you can get?

  19. Lauren says:

    Oh my, I’ll need to work on my sewing skills for this but I think it will be well worth it! Love the idea :)

  20. letwin says:

    love it ,please send us more

  21. Kelsea says:

    Love this! My roommate and I are looking for cool ways to spice up our dorm room, and these are so much better than beanbag chairs!

  22. Þórhildur says:

    Wow I love this:) Something I wanna do – promise to send you photos if I do!

  23. Stephanie says:

    Has any one thought of a way to fill this more efficiently? Are there different types of batting? I finished the pillow but haven’t filled it yet. I would like mine to be kind of stiff like the bolsters you use in yoga. But don’t want to spend $40 on stuffing.
    I will say though, I love this project and it is SO easy! Don’t be intimidated to try it.

  24. Brittany says:

    I just made this pouf with my mother out of left over fabric from when she used to make me dresses as a kid – this was a great project (I’d never sewed before) although I have to admit the math did challenge me a little bit. I’m taking it to University with me this fall and could use the seating so we made it bigger. We filled it with a cut up old blanket and the stuffing from a huge stuffed animal we had sitting downstairs.

    This was a great project – Thanks!

  25. Seedra says:

    It’s an amazing project :”)

  26. Love this! I can see this with some really funky fabric for a super fun pillow! Had to pin it for a later project!! :)

  27. Hi y’all! Thanks for a great tutorial. I wanted to let you know I linked to this post on my blog today: http://welcometoheardmont.com/2011/06/join-the-pouf-a-long/
    We’re hosting a pouf sew-along (aka Pouf-a-Long) on July 20 and anybody with a DIY pouf project is welcome to link up.
    Thanks for the inspiration!

  28. Xenia Masis says:

    Gracias por compartir, muy lindo y muy util, gracias saludos desde Costa Rica

  29. Each of my kids would LOVE something like this in their room to hang out on. . . thanks for the great detailed tutorial.

  30. louisa says:

    Not only is your project beautiful, but the tutorial and pictures are outstanding quality. Wondering if between all that fiberfill there might be a way to recycle (cut in pieces) old stockings as part of the filling…I may be trying this

  31. Jess B. says:

    Love love love! Color choices are perfect. For those who are making this and know the pouf will see lots of action (and thus get lots of wear and tear), I’d definitely recommend using heavier upholstery weight fabrics. Otherwise, if it’s more for show or will only get light use, quilting cottons are perfect (and easy on the wallet, especially if you’re using Kona or Bella cottons)!

  32. Rachel says:

    Really well put together blog post & project, thinking may attempt this for rhe childrens nursey, thank you

  33. Sandi says:

    This looks like a great project which i would love to add to my to do list. I have looked at this project to try to locate a printer friendly button but to no avail. I found the same with many of the projects I recently viewed. Do you have a printer friendly direction sheet?

  34. Erica says:

    I love it! I’m replacing my bunk bed (I’m 16) with a loft bed and a few of these will be perfect for when friends come over!

  35. Hannah says:

    Very pretty, thanks for the tutorial!

  36. Nina says:

    This is really beautiful. What would I do to make a bigger pillow as a floor cushion? Thank u in advance. Nina

  37. ashley says:

    I just made a patchwork version and I’ve shared it on my blog! Thanks so much for this great tutorial! http://ashleylois.blogspot.com/2012/05/le-pouf.html

  38. Catherine says:

    Any tips on how I could resize the template for a standard round pillow form?

  39. Jewelry Rage says:

    Great tutorial now I mite have the confidence to try this.

  40. Stacy says:

    Made this for my granddaughter. She loved it Now I’m making one for my grandson. The only thing I had a problem with is the fishing line sliding around on the washer, and breaking. I think this time I will put some fabric around the washer first. Any other suggestions?

  41. Alanna says:

    I made this pouf a couple of years ago and I still love it. I posted a link to my creation about a year ago, but the link is broken, so here is the new one. Enjoy! http://fridaysoff.ca/my-patchwork-pouf/

  42. Kalpana says:

    this is really amazing..

  43. Sydney says:

    Is it possible to make this using different measurements, besides the given measurements in the tutorial, or does it have to be 17″ diameter by 10″ deep?

  44. ivanira, Tocanins says:

    amei ver essas imagens, uma amiga tinha um puof assim e eu sempre quis ter um, vou me atrever fazer um pra mim.

  45. jaquetta says:

    am i being simple why do i need 3 yards of colour fabric and only 1 yard of muslin

  46. Aly says:

    Jaquetta-
    New to sewing here, but I too was a bit confused. After cutting out the muslin “wedges” , I needed more than 1 yard it took nearly 3. Not sure if I did something wrong, but I followed the instrutions step-by-step and I certainly used more than 1 yard. Love this pillow, so thankful to come across this!

  47. Denise says:

    Just ordered 12 red bananas to make this look like a pin cushion in my sewing room. Fun!

  48. Yvette Klein-de Vries says:

    I will try to make this one out of leather, maybe big or small. Sturdy and nice.

  49. Betty says:

    These are neat and I would like to make one myself, but I wonder how the needle reaches all the way through the tuffet to the other side when sewing on the washers.

  50. Kari says:

    Very cute! Love this!

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