Pouf ottomans are one of the most versatile small-furniture pieces around. They are a stool, a footrest, a table. They are soft and comfortable, yet structured and on-trend. They amp up the friendliness of a space immediately, and we just love them.
This tutorial will demonstrate how to make your very own pouf ottoman cube in part of an afternoon, including tips and tricks to maneuvering the parts that seem, at first glance, tricky. Soon you’ll be enjoying your very own pouf ottoman cube!
Ready to begin? Let’s go.
DIY Level: Beginner to intermediate sewing skills
- 1-1/2 yds durable (e.g., upholstery or outdoor) fabric, cut into two (2) 19”x19” squares and four (4) 19”x15” rectangles
- 6 yds piping (brief description on how to make your own included in this tutorial)
- One (1) zipper at least 15” long
- One (1) bag of 100L polystyrene balls (or 3-4 cubic feet)
- Upholstery thread
If you haven’t already, begin by cutting out your heavy-duty fabric. I strongly recommend upholstery or outdoor fabric due to its durability and hardiness. This tutorial shows an upholstery in a classic herringbone weave. Remember, you’ll need two 19”x19” squares (these will be the top and bottom of your pouf) and four 19”x15” rectangles (these will be the sides, so make sure they align the same way if your fabric has a pattern).
You can purchase pre-sewn piping, ready to go, or you can quickly make your own. Although this is not an in-depth description of how to make your own, simply put, you may cut strips of the fabric of your choice about 3” wide; sew several together to make a long (about 6 yards) strip. Lay cording (purchased at a craft/fabric store or through a local upholsterer) down the center of the WRONG side of your piping fabric, then fold so the right sides are showing and sew tightly together using your sewing machine’s zipper foot.
Take two of your side pieces (19”x15”) and lay them on top of each other, RIGHT sides in.
Use your sewing machine’s largest stitch (called a baste stitch) to sew one piece’s short (15”) side to the other piece’s short side.
Press the basted seam open with an iron. (Sorry, I forgot to mention you’ll want an iron.) Even if you hate ironing, don’t skip this step – it’s important for your zipper’s success.
With the RIGHT sides facing down, place your zipper face-down so the zipper itself lies directly on the seam. Your zipper pull should only be about 1/2″ down from the top of the seam-edge.
Pin zipper into place. Note: This tutorial uses a heavy duty metal zipper, so I unzipped part of it for easier sewing. It’s easier, and better, if you leave your zipper closed during sewing.
Use your zipper foot to carefully sew the zipper into place. (This is why you wanted a pressed-open seam; so your zipper would attach beautifully.)
When your zipper is attached, use a ripper to rip the baste seam open. Tada! A working zipper. Easy, right?
Grab your other two side pieces (19”x15”) and, placing right sides together, sew the short sides together and then to the two zipper side pieces. You should have a tube of sorts, with all the short (15”) sides sewn together.
Lay your tube down, RIGHT side up, then lay your piping on top of the edge with the raw edges together and aligned, then grab one of your 19”x19” squares and stack, WRONG side up, on top of the piping. Make sure raw edges are all aligned for all three components (side-tube, piping, and square), and make sure the corners of your 19” square lines up with the corner seams of the tube. Leave yourself about 4” of piping, just dangling, before starting to pin the piping. Pin into place, all the way around (until you get to the end of the piping; just leave the last 4” for now – but DON’T cut your piping yet, just let the extra 3 yards dangle for now). If you find you need more or less length on a particular side, you can adjust a side seam on your tube, if necessary.
Corners can be tricky, but here’s what you do: curve your piping around the right angle of your 19” square (think of the curves on a race track – they’re not going to be right angles, but they’ll be close curves), then have your tube seam split ever so slightly (like 1/2″ in) to follow the curve of the piping. Pin into place, then sew together. Sew the three pieces together (tube, piping, and 19” square) all the way around the edges, minus about 4” from the beginning and 4” from the end of the piping.
Remember how you left the piping start and end dangling about 4” out? We’re going to finish up the piping before you complete the seam. Pull one end of your piping fabric down so about 1-1/2” of cording is exposed. Cut off JUST the cording here; leave the piping fabric. Pull the other end of your piping past the piping fabric’s edge, up to the cut end of the cording itself, and cut the piping so that it will just exactly touch the cut end of the cording.
Now focus back on the cut end of the cording, with excess piping fabric. Fold down the top 1/2″ of the extra piping fabric. This will be the exposed edge, visible on your pouf ottoman.
Insert the other end of piping into the extra piping fabric (that extra piping fabric will be kind of like a hard taco shell for the other piping end). The two ends of cording should touch – not overlap or gap too much.
Pinch the raw sides of the extra piping fabric together to sandwich the other piping end inside. Pin the now-seamless piping ends into place with your tube and 19” square piece.
Sew up the raw edges as though it’s just a regular ol’ piece of piping under there, not the stressful bane of your sewing existence. (Just kidding – I hope it wasn’t that terrible.)
Flip your tube right-side-out so you can see your piping. Isn’t it beautiful? Make sure the piping is nice and taut all the way around before moving on; if it’s loose or unattached somewhere, such as a corner, simply flip it back wrong-side-out and re-sew the seams.
When everything looks good, run a zigzag stitch (or use your serger) all the way around the raw edges of your tube/piping/19” square seams, particularly if your fabric is as fray-ish as my beautiful herringbone fabric is.
Repeat piping attachment steps for the other side of your tube, using the rest of your piping and the other 19”x19” square piece. Be sure to keep the right sides of the tube and square piece facing each other, and the piping sandwiched in between. Also, take care to unzip your zipper at least a little bit about halfway through sewing this side, so you can access the zipper pull and open it to flip your fabric right-side-out when it’s all the way sewn up. Turn it right-side-out.
Snip any errant frayed threads close to your seams, taking care to avoid snipping your fabric or piping. That would be sad.
Open up your bag of polystyrene balls carefully – these things fly everywhere, and “static” is their middle name. Or, at least, it should be.
I used a wide-mouth funnel to pour the balls into the pouf. Shake your pouf every so often to settle the balls; you can fit more into your pouf ottoman than you might first think. I only had a little bit left over from my 100-liter bag of polystyrene balls. (You can do what you want with any extra balls you have; I simply added mine to this DIY kids bean bag chair, which benefited from the supplement.)
Plump it out the way you like it. The zipper probably won’t get used a lot, but it’s nice to have so that you can refill polystyrene balls as needed over time.
Congratulations! You did it! You made your very own DIY pouf ottoman cube.
This DIY pouf ottoman is a wonderful addition to the form and function of your space, whether it’s a bedroom or living room or home office.
Of course, one of the great things about DIY projects is their customization – you can make this any size you want, really. This size works great for our space. My family especially loves how it comfortably fits small bodies…
…as well as larger ones. It really is comfortable on all counts!
I hope you thoroughly enjoy your pouf ottoman and get tons of daily use out of it.