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A pouf is the ottoman’s casual cousin. Where an ottoman is all about traditional structure and tautness, a pouf is laid back and soft around the edges. Kind of like a sleek business suit versus your favorite pair of comfy sweats. We pushed the slouchy style even farther, taking a cue from poufs we spotted at West Elm and Pottery Barn that were almost more like a square bean bag (not to mention being insanely expensive!). That type of filler didn’t seem very functional to us, and we think you’ll like our foam and batting solution, which allows the pouf to take on both sitting and footrest duties as well as being able to hold a tray as a substitute table.

We originally used a 100% linen home décor fabric called Lightfoot Garden in Cinnabar from the Waverly Williamsburg collection. Any home décor weight fabric would work, although we do recommend looking for a softer texture with a bold motif. Super crisp upholstery options won’t give you the same wonderfully “cushy” look.

We show you how to create a muslin insert from a block of foam wrapped in several layers of high-loft batting. If you’d prefer a different structure, either more firm or even softer, we invite you to experiment with your own options: all foam, pellets, polyester fiberfil or…? If you do choose another method, make sure to comment below; let us know what you used and how it worked out for you. We always love to hear how Sew4Home visitors make our projects their own.

Our pouf finishes at approximately 24″ x 24″ x 14″.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

  • 2 yards of medium to heavy-weight 54″+ linen or similar home décor fabric
    NOTE: The yardage above allows extra to carefully fussy cut each panel, using – as we did – a bold directional motif. 
  • 1½ yards of 54″+ muslin or similar inexpensive cotton for the interior lining cube
  • ONE approximately 72″ zipper or Zipper by the Yard cut to fit; we used Zipper by the Yard – you could also use a sleeping bag zipper
  • ONE 21″ x 21″ x 12″ foam block for interior structure; we used a standard high-density upholstery foam
    NOTE: As you’ll see in our images below, we made our cube from two 4″ blocks, one 3″ block and one 1″ block – items on hand at our local “foam dude” and glued together with a standard fabric spray glue. If you don’t have a local foam dude, this might be a good time to check out the slabs of Fairfield Project Foam.
  • 4 yards of 54″+ high loft polyester batting; look for the thickest batting possible – ours was approximately ½” – something similar to Quilter’s Dream Puff Batting would work well
    NOTE: Batting is available both off the bolt and pre-packaged in a great variety of densities and widths. The yardage shown above is the minimum width required to wrap the foam as described in the instructions below. As mentioned, you want a super lofty polyester batting
  • All purpose thread to match fabric
  • See-through ruler
  • Measuring tape
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Straight pins
  • T-pins (optional)
  • Hand sewing needle

Getting Started

  1. From the exterior fabric, carefully fussy cut the following (keep track of the direction of the motif):
    TWO 25″ x 25″ squares for the top and bottom
    FOUR 25″ wide x 16″ high rectangles for the sides
    NOTE: As we mentioned above, big and bold motifs are best for this pretty pouf, so take the extra time to do a nice fussy cut for each square, centering your design(s). Each panel must be cut separately; to create the proper cube shape, you need the side seams.
  2. From the muslin, cut the following:
    TWO 25″ x 25″ squares for the top and bottom
    FOUR 25″ wide x 15″ high rectangles for the sides
  3. If not done for you, glue together your foam to create a 21″ x 21″ x 12″ cube.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Wrap the foam cube

  1. Cut a 21″ x 45″ piece of batting. Wrap it up the side, across the top, and down the opposite side of the foam cube. There is no batting on the bottom of the cube.
  2. Cut a second piece of batting, making it the loft height x2 wider and the loft height x1 longer. This is to account for wrapping over the first layer. Our second piece of batting was cut 22″ (½” loft x 2) x 45½” (½” loft x 1).
  3. Wrap this second piece of batting up and over the cube, covering the opposite sides.
  4. We repeated this layering, adding extra inches each time to our cuts as needed, to create double layers of batting on each side and four layers on the top.
  5. Finally, measure your “marshmallow” – ours now measured approximately 50″ up and over. We cut ONE 50″ x 50″ square from the batting.
  6. Lay this final square batting blanket over the entire top of the cube, wrapping it down the sides, like a piece of fondant over a cake. Pinch and fold in the batting at each corner. Trim away the excess batting to create a smooth corner.

    NOTE: We found the foam and batting easily stuck to itself as we layered. We didn’t need anything else to hold our layers in place while we wrapped. If you have trouble with your marshmallow holding its shape, you could use a light fabric adhesive spray between layers. 
  7. Set the finished marshmallow of foam and batting aside.

Create the muslin lining

  1. Find the four 15″ high side pieces of muslin.
  2. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch the four pieces together along the 15″ sides to create a loop. Start and stop each side seam ½” in from the raw edge.
  3. Find the two 25″ x 25″ top and bottom squares.
  4. Set one square into the side loop (this will be the top panel), aligning the corners of the square with the seams of the loop. The ½” free at the top of each side seam allows you to easily set each corner in place.
  5. Pin in place all around. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch in place. Starting in the middle of one side, stitch into the corner, stop with the needle in the down position and pivot, then stitch into the next corner. Repeat to sew all the way around.
  6. On the remaining square (this will be the bottom panel), stitch it in place along just ONE side.
  7. Turn the lining right side out and slip it over the foam and batting marshmallow.
  8. Flip over the interior cube. Fold in the raw edges of the three un-sewn sides of the muslin so they are flush with sewn seam. Pin in place all around.
  9. Hand stitch closed along all three sides.
  10. Set aside the finished interior cube.

Create the exterior side panels, attaching the first half of the zipper

  1. Find three of the four 16″ side panels.
  2. Keeping track of the motif direction of each panel, pin the three panels together end-to-end to create one long, flat strip.
  3. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch the three panels together. Start each of the three seams ½” from the top raw edge, but stitch all the way to the bottom. 
  4. Press the seam allowances open and flat.
  5. Find the long zipper. Place it right side together with the bottom raw edge of the three sewn panels. The bottom edge of the zipper’s insertion tape should be flush with the bottom raw edge of the fabric. The zipper should extend end to end across the panels.
  6. Attach a Zipper foot, stitch the zipper in place along its entire length.
  7. Run your seam as close to the zipper teeth as possible.
  8. Fold the zipper along the seam line so the zipper teeth are now facing right side out and the remaining raw edge of the zipper’s insertion tape extends along the bottom.
  9. Roll down the edge of the fabric along the seam until the folded edge of the fabric just covers the zipper’s teeth. Press in place. Then pin in place.
  10. Still using a Zipper foot, topstitch along the length of the zipper, running the seam along the inner edge of the zipper teeth, to secure this “zipper flap.”
  11. Find the remaining un-sewn side panel. Pin this panel in place between the raw 16″ edges of the sewn panel. Align the top edges of the panels. The bottom edge of this last panel will extend below the zipper. Pin in place.
  12. As with the other seams, start your stitching ½” in from the top. You are still using a ½” seam allowance.
  13. Stitch the remaining two seams, forming a loop.
  14. As mentioned above, the bottom edge of the fourth panel will extend below the zippered panels a bit.
  15. Trim this bottom edge flush with the zipper tape.

Insert the exterior base, attaching the second half of the zipper

  1. Find the 25″ x 25″ base square.
  2. Find the exterior loop. Along the zipper’s insertion tape, mark a guide line at each of the seams.
  3. With the zipper closed, set the base square into place, right sides together with the side loop. Pin in place along the one side without a zipper and stitch corner to corner, using a ½” seam allowance.
  4. Open the zipper and pin the remain three sides of the panel in place against just the zipper tape. Remember to align the corners of the panel with the seam marks on the zipper tape. Stitch into the corner, stop at the mark with your needle in the down position.
  5. Curve the zipper around the corner. Do not clip into the corner, just curve around with the zipper. You will need to stitch slowly, easing the fabric at the corner. This is definitely a bit of a tricky part, but for the zipper to curve properly to match the lap of the first half, it is important to create an unbroken curve. Remember, do-overs are okay. Always stop with the needle in the down position so your layers are held in place, and re-adjust as needed.
  6. When the base panel is stitched in place all around, with the zipper still open, turn the cover right side out through the open top end. Fold the zipper tape to the wrong side of the fabric so just the zipper teeth are exposed along the three sides.
  7. At this point, your zipper is technically in place. However, we added one additional step because we were working with linen, which loves to ravel. Still using a Zipper foot, we topstitched all along the edge of the zipper. This keeps the linen nice and flat against the zipper and provides a double line of stitching that will stop any raveling in its tracks. This step is optional, but recommended if working with a fabric prone to fraying.
  8. The base panel is now in place.

Insert the exterior top panel

  1. With the cover wrong side out, open the zipper all the way.
  2. Find the remaining 25″ x 25″ top panel, set it down into the open top of the side panel loop. As with the muslin box above, there is ½” free at the top of each side seam which will make it easy to set each corner of the top panel into place.
  3. Pin the top panel in place around all four sides.
  4. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch around all four sides, pivoting at the “V point” of each corner.
  5. Turn the completed cover right side out through the open bottom zipper. Press well.
  6. Insert the interior cube and zip closed.


Project Concept: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Kathy Andrews, What Sew Ever

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Susan Montgomery
Susan Montgomery
1 year ago

Thanks you for your excellent instructions. I just finished my ottoman and love it. I added piping around the top edge.

Liz Johnson
Liz Johnson
1 year ago

Great news, Susan. We LOVE hearing about your project success! The piping at the top sounds like an excellent addition.

Laura A Scheffer
Laura A Scheffer
2 years ago

Can this pattern be re-fabricated to make a cover for an old beat up ottoman? Any tips?

Liz Johnson
Liz Johnson
2 years ago

Hi Laura – that would take quite a bit of noodling to figure out. We do have an older project for an ottoman cover that you could take a look at.

4 years ago

We are still furnishing our

We are still furnishing our new much smaller home and projects like this one help enormously.  This one is a must-do, as we will soon say goodbye to our recliners for new, clean-lined chairs.  Hubs still want to put his feet up, though, and you just gave me the way!  Sewing for home is richly rewarding.  Thank you so much!  You are amazing!

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