How to Make a Pretty Pouf

With a can-do attitude and $50, you can create an on-trend accent for your home. Our step-by-step guide shows you how to make a pouf that's charming and practical.

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Skim any home design magazine these days and you'll see that interior designers find poufs irresistible for their adaptability and practicality. Get in on this hot trend without breaking your budget with our easy-to-follow instructions. We'll show you how to make one of these stylish seats for well under $50.

To keep our project affordable, we used a $7-per-yard linen burlap and a 54-inch decorator fabric that is durable and easy to work with. If you prefer another look, select a fabric that fits the same criteria.

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What You Need

  • Pattern print-outs
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • 2 yards of 54-inch-wide linen burlap
  • 1 old lightweight solid-color bed sheet—any size (or 3 yards of 45-inch-wide muslin)
  • Straight pins
  • Sewing machine
  • 1 spool (125 yards) heavy-duty/upholstery thread to match burlap
  • 2 large garbage bags full of fabric items for stuffing (e.g. old clothing, worn towels, fabric scraps)
  • 1 5-lb. box of fiberfill
  • 1 roll fusible-web tape
  • Large embroidery or straight upholstery needle
  • 4 skeins embroidery floss to match or contrast fabric

Step 1: Prep Patterns

Download and print our free patterns (the number of copies of each shape you need is indicated on the pattern). Cut out the shapes. Using tape, piece together the larger pattern following the instructions. When pieced together, the pattern will look like a rectangle with a triangle on each end. Piece and tape together the endcap pattern.

Step 2: Cut Out Pieces

Layer the burlap over the bed sheet. Pin the pattern into place and cut around the pattern; repeat until you have eight sets. (You will have eight pieces of burlap and eight pieces of bed sheet total.) Using the endcap pattern, cut the octagon pieces for the top and bottom of the pouf. For each piece, fold a piece of burlap in half, pin the long edge of the endcap pattern along the fold, and cut out. Repeat to make the second octagon piece.

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Step 3: Pin Pieces

Layer one bed-sheet piece on the bottom, two pieces of burlap in the middle, and one piece of sheet on top. Pin the layers together along one side. Repeat to create three more layered sets.

Step 4: Sew Together

Using a straight stitch and a 1/2-inch seam allowance, sew along pinned side of the layered set, removing pins as you sew, to create pairs of panels.

Our Ultimate Sewing Guide

Step 5: Steam Seams

Open up each pair in the middle. Press the seams of each pair open on the sheet side so that a strip of the burlap (made from the seam allowance) lays flat on either side of the seam.

Step 6: Join the Pairs

Lay one joined pair on top of another with right sides together (burlap to burlap) and pin. Sew along one edge, unpin, and press open. Repeat with the other two layered sets. At this point, you will have two pouf halves. Turn one half right side out and the other inside out.

Step 7: Attach Halves

Nest one half inside the other with right sides together; pin around the outside edges. On each end of the pouf where the seams meet, make a mark 5 inches from the center on each side, leaving a 10-inch gap.

Step 8: Sew Pouf

From one 5-inch mark, stitch around the outside edge of the pouf, stopping at the 5-inch mark on the other side, leaving a 10-inch opening for stuffing the pouf. Reinforce the opening by sewing across the seam allowance at a right angle to the seam at the 5-inch marks.

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Step 9: Stuff Pouf

Turn the pouf right side out with the opening at the top. Sort your fabric pieces and scraps into heavy, light, and small piles. Start stuffing the pouf with the largest/heaviest pieces of fabric at the bottom center of the pouf. Heavy fabrics, such as denim, should be stuffed in as neatly as possible to avoid creating large gaps in the stuffing.

Once the pouf is filled about halfway, use softer and smaller pieces to stuff along the sides. A wooden spoon may be helpful to stuff pieces into place.

Continue filling with heaviest fabrics in the center and lighter/smaller pieces around the edges. The bottom of the pouf and the center should be stuffed with the heaviest fabrics to ensure good support. The lighter fabrics should go on the outside to give the finished pouf a smooth look.

Step 10: Add Fiberfill

When the pouf is about two-thirds stuffed, use fiberfill along the sides to fill in bumps and smooth the shape. The top of the pouf should have a good layer of fiberfill so the seat is comfortable. The tighter the pouf is stuffed, the better it will hold its shape.

Editor's Tip: Fiberfill can be pricey. Using a combination of fiberfill and fabric scraps helps reduce the cost of your pouf. The sturdier fabric scraps also give the pouf stability, which fiberfill alone could not do.

Step 11: Close Opening

Once you are satisfied with the amount of stuffing, use upholstery thread and a needle to hand-sew the seam together. The octagon piece will cover the seam, so don't worry too much about neatness.

Step 12: Prepare Top and Bottom

Using fusible-web tape to secure the fold and following manufacturer's instructions, press in the edges 1/2 inch on all sides of the two octagon-shape burlap pieces.

Step 13: Attach Top and Bottom

Line up the eight corners of the octagon piece with the eight seams on the top of the pouf as closely as possible. Insert pins straight down at the seams to make adjusting the alignment of the octagon easier.

Using a basting stitch 1-inch inside the edges of the octagon, baste one octagon to the top of the pouf. Repeat on the bottom of the pouf with the other octagon piece.

Step 14: Practice Decorative Stitches

Following our stitching diagram, sew the decorative finish along the seams of your pouf. Although the stitch is simple, try practicing on a scrap of cloth to get comfortable with the rhythm of the stitch and perfect your technique.

Step 15: Add Decorative Stitch

Starting at the octagon, use the decorative stitch along all seams of the pouf. Separate six-ply embroidery floss into two-ply pieces and work with 18 inches of floss or less at one time. At the top of one seam, push up through the fabric at the edge of the octagon shape about 1/2 inch from the vertical seam. Move your needle down 1/2 inch and over the other side of the seam. Push the needle into the fabric about 1/4 inch from the seam and up another 1/4 inch to the right. Wrap the thread under the needle. Draw the thread out over the loop made with the last stitch. Gently pull the thread tight to the right of the stitch. Gently pull the thread tight at an angle across to the left side of the seam.

Start your next stitch on the left 1/2 inch lower than the stitch on the right and about 1 inch below the stitch directly above it on the same side. Push the needle down through the fabric on the left side 1/4 inch from the seam and up 1/2 inch from the seam with the thread under the needle. Draw the thread out over the loop and gently pull it tight to the left. Cross over to the right side again and continue down the seam.

Repeat the chain of stitches on each seam. Once all of the sides are stitched, use the same decorative stitch around the edge of the top and bottom octagons.

Step 16: Remove Basting Stitches

When all sides of each octagon are complete, remove the basting stitches from top and bottom pieces to finish. Place your new pouf next to a chair in your living room where it can add a bit of color or stand in as an ottoman. If you're ambitious, make a pair of poufs and tuck them under a console table or on either side of the fireplace until you need extra seating.

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