Introduction: Upcycled Patchwork Pouf
This project started because my teenage daughter wanted a pouf for her room, but the ones I found were pricey so, of course, I decided to make one. But what to use? Poufs aren't just floor pillows. They are sturdy, hefty things and can be used as a soft ottoman or a low seat. It’s perfect as a meditation cushion, or a footrest, or for cat napping. After taking inventory of my household, I realized I had a full garbage bag of clothes I was planning to discard/donate, so I devised a way to upcycle them for this project instead. I also used a few worn out throw blankets and old sheets.
Why not just donate old clothes, you may ask? Well, some items that can't be donated due to excessive wear, stains, or other damage. Also, a LOT of donated clothes don't end up where you think they do.
According to a 2016 Fashionista article, "Only a small portion — about 20 percent — of Americans' used clothing, including those sent to consignment shops, are being sold at secondhand retail outlets and thrift stores in the U.S. Far more are being shipped to developing areas like sub-Saharan Africa, South America and China — in fact, the U.S. sends away a full billion pounds of used clothing per year, making it our eighth largest export — where clothes are bought in 1,000-pound bales, sorted and then resold to the local populace, sometimes wreaking havoc on local industries by taking jobs away from local textile workers. Another 45 percent is recycled through one of the U.S.'s 3,000-odd textile recycling facilities. And the rest? That ends up in landfills." (https://fashionista.com/2016/01/clothing-donation)
Since I do a lot of home, art, and crafting projects, I had all of these supplies on hand. The only thing I purchased for my daughter’s pouf was five 1 yard sections of fabric that my daughter picked out. I definitely didn’t need all five yards, but the idea was to use extra fabric for some matchy throw pillows. I ended up using the same fabric for this second pouf and still have enough left over for some small pillows.
When finished, the pouf for this project ended up measuring appx. 25”l x 23”w x 12”h, and I used a total of appx. 1.75 yards of cloth to create the outer patchwork shell.
For this pouf, the fill was made up of used old clothing and fabric scraps from other projects. I used a 96” sheer curtain panel for the first wrap, an old throw blanket for the inner shell, and a “t” shaped quilted piece of fabric that must have been the cover for some box shaped thing. I had extra upholstery thread from a previous project and used about 1 1/2 – 150 yd. spools for this.
Tools and Materials
A large trash bag or two of used clothing/fabric scraps
Worn out/old throw blankets/sheets/curtains
An old pillow or fiberfill stuffing (NO down pillows)
Jute cord or heavy twine
Appx. 2 yards fabric for the patchwork shell
Heavy duty upholstery thread
Curved upholstery needle
Rotary cutting tool
Optional - Assistant and/or Supervisor cats (not all that helpful, but a cat will keep you humble)
Step 1: Scavenge and Stack Your Fill Fabric
The first thing I did was remove buttons, zips, and any interesting embellishments with the seam ripper & scissors. I wanted to avoid having any hard bits that could possibly protrude. I plan to re-purpose these for future projects. Then I started folding and stacking the clothes in a general rectangular area on top of an old curtain, with the heavier fabrics, like denim, on the bottom. I put all of my fabric scraps loosely into an old pillow case and added that to the pile. I built up the rectangle until I had a good sized pile – guessing it was about 14” high. Since I had a specifically sized outer shell, I used this as a guide for how big to make the pile.
Step 2: Wrap It and Truss It
The next thing to do is the first wrap. I used an old sheer curtain panel for this, but an old sheet would work as well. I laid the curtain centered over the top of the clothes pile and tucked as much as I could under the edges of the pile. The tricky part was flipping the whole thing over to get the sheer curtain wrapped all the way around. I used the bottom curtain to help with this, but it was a little messy. Once it was flipped, I mushed things back together and started trussing it up with the jute.
I wrapped jute around multiple time first one direction, and then going the other direction so it crossed over. I did a few diagonal passes as well. I wrapped it up as tightly as possible, tucking and adjusting here and there to keep it in a generally squarish shape. I tied it up securely and flipped it back over. At this point, I confirmed that I was still within the limits of my outer shell.
Step 3: Add Some Fluff and an Inner Shell
I used the innards of half of an old pillow and some scraps of batting and piled it on top. It’s not a lot, but it will make it a lot more comfortable to sit on if it has a bit of squish. It’s now time to wrap it up again! I used an old throw blanket for this step. I ended up chopping off all the fringe because it just kept getting in the way. Like the previous wrap, I centered the blanket on top of everything and then flipped it back over. You will use the upholstery thread and the curved upholstery needle for this step. If you’ve never used an upholstery needle before, this is your chance to learn. It doesn’t really matter how ugly the stitching is as long as it’s secure. Make sure the bottom (which is now facing up) remains as flat as possible so when it’s right side up it doesn’t go all wobbly.
Step 4: The Patchwork Outer Shell
Using the rotary cutter, I cut a few pieces in random 4 or 5 sided shapes and arranged them on top of the pouf to get an idea of where to start, then I laid out the outer shell fabric and started pinning it down from the middle working out. You will want to overlap the fabric so that you don’t see any of the fabric you are sewing onto. The long crossbar of the “t” outer shell is 74”l x 22”w and the shorter crossbar was 65”l x 21”w and about 15” from the top. As you can see from the pictures, I did not need to use the whole area. I ended up cutting off all of the black areas.
Once I had all the fabric pieces laid out and pinned down, I laid the whole thing over the pouf to make sure I had enough area covered. To sew all the pieces together, I was planning to use the slant overedge stitch, but I forgot to adjust the stitch width properly and ended up with the blind hem stitch, which worked just as well, it just has a slightly different look. Make sure you sew every edge of fabric that is laying on top of another one. There is a lot of twisting and turning and scrunching at this point since you’ll be sewing in every direction. It’s a bit tricky and I got poked a few times, but this is not unusual for me on any sewing project. I then used a general purpose polyester thread to add a straight stitch around the edges to hold everything in place.
Step 5: Sew the Corners
There is a bit of winging it in this step. I laid the outer shell over the pouf form and pinned the corners so that I could stitch them on the sewing machine. Once pinned, I used a fabric marker on the wrong side of the fabric to mark where the fabric met. This gave me a general idea of where to stitch when I took out the pins. It did take a little trial and error to get this right, but I turned the shell right sides together and, using the upholstery thread and a straight stitch, sewed up the sides first and then sewed the top to the sides in a rounded square shape. Make sure you are stitching inside the stitching along the edge as you don’t want this to show when you flip it right-side out. I then fitted the outer shell onto the pouf form and flipped it over.
Step 6: Hand Stitching the Outer Shell
I pulled the side flaps up and over tightly and pinned them into place. I sewed the edges down using the blanket stitch. Once the sides were in place, I pinned up and stitched the short front flap up. Finally I pulled the long flap up and over, pinning and stitching into place. Flip back over and it's done!!
Step 7: Add Top Edge Stitching (optional)
There were a couple of places where the tapered ends of the corner seams pooched out just a bit, and I wanted the top to be closely fitted, so I decided to stitch around the top “edge” of the pouf which allowed me to pull in any of these spots and also give it a nice decorative finished look. I pinned down the entire top edge first so I had a guide and then did another blanket stitch all the way around.
Thanks so much for reading my very first Instructable! Please let me know in the comments if you have questions or feedback. If you make your own pouf, I would LOVE to see pictures!!
Participated in the
Fiber Arts Contest