A Serendipitous Pouf for Scraptember

I am one of those people who hoard scraps. I blame my mother, who used to fetch things that might still have life in them from rubbish tossed by my siblings and me. She’d rescue tossed and torn clothing for rags, half-used notebooks, and unwanted other things, stored in one room of the house, with our supply of toilet paper for when the apocalypse happened and you really needed the loo. I blame my father, who used to take me to garage sales at ludicrous pre-dawn hours (my father was *that garage sale customer*; I was his interpreter) to buy a miscellaney of things for the house. He used to store his treasure under the roof of our car-port. We got new kitchen and laundry sinks regularly, but he would not toss out the replaced one (they often became garden pots). My favourite of his scrap(sorry,treasure)-made items was the chicken coop made from old wire bed springs, old doors, and old kitchen sinks.  It was the most wonderfully creative riot of rusty wire and crumbling wood, just demanding you go off to have tetanus shots.

I now have a lot of fabric scraps. I find them really difficult to throw out. (I blame my mother.) If a garment might still be made from leftover fabric (1 metre plus), it remains stored with the fabric stash on my shelves. The larger potentially useful, scraps I wrap up, tied with their selvedges, and store in a plastic box, which lives under my sewing tables. After I have cut up fabric, I slice off selvedges and keep them as ties (they make great, and wonderfully colourful, garden ties). The completely not useful scrap (i.e., you cannot make a garment or a tiny drawstring bag out of these …) go into two drawstring bags, one for knits and one for wovens.

Both drawstring bags were overflowing, and I was on the brink of just throwing them in the bin, except … I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. (I blame my father.)

Recently, I discovered the blog of someone who uses fabric scraps in a delightful way: Minki keeps every little itty bitty scrap and turns them into gorgeous fabric art and useful items, like decorated tote bags. I am not that artistic, but I am inspired! Inspired to NOT throw out my scraps, which is not helpful. Not helpful at all, Minki. But goodness, the gorgeousness. I love the idea of embroidery but I passionately despise hand-sewing. I might give free motion machine embroidery a try. I need more hobbies, just like I need those tetanus shots.

My other idea was to use the useless scraps as stuffing for Something. I had no idea what. We have a lot of cushions in the house already, including four awesome floor cushions made by my partner’s mother. These have been with us wherever we have lived, and I adore them. They are covered in patchwork from scraps made from my partner’s mother’s sewing projects! So they will never be replaced. Refilled, yes. Replaced, never.

Eventually, I came up with two ideas (pathetic, no?) and polled my partner for the one that was more useful in the near future. Out of (1) pouf and (2) armrests for the sofa-bed, he chose (1) pouf. My constituency had spoken, so I set about working out how to make one by googling and googling and googling some more.

Here are some useful tutorials I found:-

I decided I wanted a round, drum-like pouf, with a zipper somewhere and a handle somewhere else.

A zipper was necessary so as to have no hand sewing in the project (in addition to hating hand sewing, I’m nervous that a hand sewn closure will not hold in all the stuffing) and for adding stuffing (and continuing to add stuffing when the stuffing gets compacted, as it invariably will.) The placement of the zipper was what flummoxed me the most. Eventually I settled on having it at the base of the pouf. However, we have wooden floors and I did not want the zipper pull scratching the floor, so I resolved to work out how to install a lapped zipper.

I think a handle is necessary too, for moving it about the place, but my partner thought it superfluous. Whatevs, I’m the one making it, not him.

Here’s what I did:

  1. Make Pattern Pieces: Basically you are making a cyclinder, so the pattern bits you need are two circles and a rectangle.
    • I made a pattern piece – a really large circle – using the lid from a saute pan, and then adding an inch all around. I sat on the pattern piece to be sure it was big enough. It was.
    • Add seam allowance: I added a half-inch for my seam allowance because I like half inches and 3/8 seam allowances. I don’t like 5/8 seam allowances so much. Just a thing.
    • Cut two of these but not yet
  2. Work out the pattern piece for the sides of your drum (the rectangle)
    • Measure the circumference of your circle, not including the seam allowance, this is the length of your rectangle
    • Work out what height you would like it. I wanted mine so I could sit at the coffee table, so I trotted off and measured the distance from the floor to the underside of the coffee table.
    • Add seam allowance
    • As it’s just a rectangle, I didn’t bother making a pattern piece; I simply notLed down the measurements.
  3. Work out which scraps you have that are suitable for the pattern pieces. This might involve destroying your beautifully organised stash, requiring commencement of that favourite game of OCD seamstresses everywhere: Time to Tidy! I am very good at this game.
  4. Block fuse everything now. (That is, fuse interfacing to fabric before cutting it out.)
    • I find block fusing much easier and more palatable than fusing pieces individually.
    • The kind of interfacing you use will depend on the fabric you have. The end result you want is something pretty stiff. I was using upholstery weight fabric that was fairly thick already, so I fused medium weight interfacing to it. Not to all of it because I did not have enough medium weight interfacing so I fused two layers of lightweight interfacing to some bits. No one will ever know. Except the internet.
  5. Cut pieces
    • 1 x rectangle piece
    • 1 x smaller rectangle piece for the handle. I just eyeballed this. You want the piece as long as you like and four times as wide as you want the finished piece to end up. Mine was approximately 12″ x 10″ but I did not measure it.
    • 1 circle piece for the top
    • 1 rough square at least two inches wider than the diameter of the circle piece for the base
  6. Make the base
    • Cut your large square in half, making sure that more than half the circle piece will fit on it.
    • Sew pieces together with a zip in between.
      • I am not going to give you instructions on how to do a lapped zipper, because I don’t think I did it right, and you may want to insert a different type of zipper. Zippers are not hard to insert! They’re just fiddly.
      • Google how to insert a zipper. You’ll find lots of excellent tutorials. My personal favourite is Erin’s of Dog Under My Desk.  She designed the Two Zip Hipster, and she can really insert a zipper! I don’t like any tutorial that tells me to cut things and fold things back and blah blah blah. The easiest way I find to insert a zipper is when you have two separate pieces and it is inserted flat.
      • I also added a zipper guard to make it easier to close the zip when the pouf is filled.  To do this, I simply sewed the zip right side up onto a strip of lining fabric before sewing the zip onto the base pieces.
      • For the ‘lap’ (the bit that overlays and hides the zipper pull) I sort of followed instructions in Christine Haynes’ book and also kinda winged it. Tip: if winging it, use basting stitches. Just sayin’.
    • Once you have joined your two pieces together with a zipper in the middle, cut out the circle base. Unzip partway, and pin the lap down, to make sure you do not accidentally cut off your zipper pull!
  7. Sew handle & Attach to rectangle
    • Fold rectangle in half (right sides together) and sew short ends
    • Flip right side out and halve it again by tucking the raw edges inside
    • Edge stitch all around, and sew a few lines of stitching parallel to the long edge
    • Sew onto the rectangle piece approximately halfway along and halfway up. Sew boxes for security and strength and because boxes with crosses in them make you feel like maybe you could do freehand motion embroidery. What hubris.
  8. Attach circles to rectangle. This bit is fiddly. Pin and wrangle and ease and swear under your breath.  Swearing makes it work.
  9. Finish your seams: I had cut my pieces with pinking shears, but the fabric was still fraying like nothing else so I bias bound everything with scrap bias binding. The insides look a bit … harlequinesque.
  10. Stuff!
    • I did not actually have enough stuffing! It now sits open, waiting for more until I can get it nice and full and firm. Might need to go sew some more dresses. (Oh, the cruelty.)

Zipper plus lining.

Harlequin bound insides.

I think, once this is filled, I may as well make another one and fill it with scrappy fabric scraps as I go.  And another.  And another, and so on forever and ever.

I am not a hoarder. I have turned my hoard into something useful.  It is therefore necessary to keep things in case I can find a use for them. I am not my mother. I am not my father.  Well, I am always worrying about running out of toilet paper and I do loves me a garage sale. 



  1. Love this idea for using up the scraps! I have a gigantic unseemly plastic bag of scraps in my closet that I can’t bear to throw away for some crazy reason, and I am now convinced that they will find a use at some point LOL. I blame my mother too, although her hoard is much worse than mine, only because I also inherit my father’s trait of occasionally suddenly and vehemently throwing everything away, for better or for worse haha ^__^


  2. Oanh, you are queen of the fabric maximisation! Hoard on, rockstar, because creations like this are choice!


  3. Ohhh I’m getting quite a collection of scraps as well. I don’t think mine would coordinate well for a pouf, but that just creates…character? Right? Looks like a fun project!


    1. All my scraps are hiding *inside* the pouf! But a characterful mismatched scrappy pouf could be pretty awesome… Will you do it?


  4. That’s a brilliant use for scraps! It all makes me feel better about collecting useless scraps (including little pieces of wool from when I’m weaving in), which I’m going to use to stuff the hexipuffs in my bee keeper quilt. There’s no point in throwing it away! Plus, as you’ve shown, scraps can become something amazing AND useful with a bit of effort.


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