101brett baraDIYdiy projectssewing 101

sewing 101: making a pouf

by Grace Bonney

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


1. Print the template


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!

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  • Great job! I like the color wheel effect. Very original.

    I made a pouf last year and I appreciate the work involved just figuring out the math for the size of the wedges.

  • that is absolutely adorable. i haven’t sewn anything since I was in Girl Scouts a loooong time ago, but this makes me want to start again. very cool.

  • Wow, so intense. I would love to do this (one day) and I appreciate the easy instructions!

  • Thank you so much for this! I’ve been wanting to make a pouf for quite some time now. Great!

  • coolest pouf I’ve seen! thanks so much for this tutorial… even if I know I could never use it (the cat would claim it as his own)

  • this is way beyond my sewing abilities, but i love it. will someone make one for me? ;)

  • What a fun idea and a great way to use up scrap fabric! Time to root through the collection :). Thanks!

  • This is so awesome! I’m a student and moving house soon so I can’t have too much heavy furniture – I also have tons of fabric scraps so this is going to be a great project to lighten the load of the cloth stash and give me something to sit on!

  • Wow! I just made one of these last week for my daughter. We’re on the same wavelength. I like the addition of the button- it gives a nice touch.

  • Ah! Frickin adorable! And looks easy enough that I can handle it! Its going on my “Post Wedding To Do List”!

  • So nice! I have an old one like this that I received as a gift many years ago made of a leathery type fabric. Mine has a zipper in it and I initially had it stuffed with old newspapers. These compress after a while, so it’s handy to have a zipper so you can add more paper as it compresses.

    I’ve taken to stuffing it with my smaller unusable fabric scraps so I don’t have to throw them in the garbage. It’s getting full though, so it’s high time I make another one.

    I love the shape of this one, and plan to add a zipper in the seam between the two halves (it’s tempting to put it on the bottom, but it can scratch your floor there, so better on the sides).

    Thanks for the template!

  • Brilliant — I can’t believe it! I have been looking for the perfect pouf for so long. NEVER thought of just making one myself.

  • This is so helpful. I wanted to make one but i didn’t really know how… i surely didn’t think of muslin for lining! Thanks!

  • Thanks all! I hope you give the pouf a try. :)

    The rug is from Ikea – I think it’s a brand new item in stores now, I just got it last week.

  • Im going to make one out of old denim,different shades.
    And I think ill stuff it with fabric scraps and ratty clothes,instead of chucking them out.I try to recycle everything.thanks for the idea!

  • I love it! I have one in my Living room that I made into a Coffee Table, it needs to be done over and I was stressing about how to do it correctly. Thank you for the directions. Mine is made out of leftover Toile and my funky fabric collection. Will submit a pic when I get to it!

  • Så fantastic pillow, and really so cute:o)

    Thanks for showing us this project,

  • This is fantastic! I have been wanting to make one for a while, and this does all the thinking ahead for me. Thanks so much for this tutorial!!! :)

  • Adorable! What do you think of instead of attaching the top to the bottom, that I insert a band of fabric to go around the outside middle? I am thinking of doing this to increase the height of the pouf.

    *Kelly: I think the idea of doing it in different faded colors of denim is awesome. I may need to copy that. . .

  • Been wanting a poof for SO long, thanks for the gentle kick in the bootay. Can’t wait to get started, want to use some old dupioni I have stored away. Would also love to do one side the blue-green analagous colours, the other side the red tones…mmmm. Thank you so much!

  • You have put together very nice colours, they perfectly suit with the curtains in my “kingdom” in the attic., even alltogether. Thanks a lot for the tutorial. Nice to meet you. Loredana.

  • 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!

  • 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 :)

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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!

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

  • 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!

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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?

    • I would cut the pieces out of the 1 yard of Muslin first. The main fabric most likely adds to 3yards because it’s different colors so you need atleast the width of one of those pieces.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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!

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

  • 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

  • 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)!

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

  • 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?

  • 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!

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

  • 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?

  • 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?

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

  • 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!

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

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

  • 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.

    • Thank you soo much its so well explained here. Looks easy but dont think I will get the same results as yours ha. Will definitely try it out. Thank you again for your time.

  • Thank you for taking the time to give us this tutorial. Really appreciate your efforts.


    Rocky Mountains of Colorado

  • Thank you for the great tutorial! When searching for how to make a pouf it was surprising to find so many ideas. I think I can make this one with your instructions. I bet the dog will be happy to get my tootsies
    out of his bed, too.

  • Thank you so much for your generousky detailed instructions! I rescue fabric swatches from an interior designer when they oull the discontinued ones. I am going to try your pouf with these! (By the way, most designers are thrilled to have someone take this abundance off their hands so they don’t have to throw the pm away.)

  • This is so beautiful – I’m definitely going to try it out, especially if I can finally find somewhere that sells bags of random fabric leftovers! The circular shape makes me a little nervous, but I think I can handle this!

  • Help please. I’d like to make this but the pattern doesn’t have a measurement for the centre side and for the straight edge at the top. Can you give me these two measurements please?

  • I love this! I am getting a new LazyBoy living room but all of the coffee tables (everywhere) are too big for our room.

    Most of the directions seem perfect but I am unsure of: “Sew a gradual curve along the angle at the base of the wedge (rather than sewing a distinct point). ” I believe that I understand it but I want to be sure before I mess up my good fabric. Is there another way to state it. Or maybe make a drawing to make it so that I would be able to sew them all the same.

  • Awesome!! You did a great job of explaining your process! I want to make this with bohemian style fabrics :)