diy

Social Saturday | December 16 (Christmas Crafting)

mini handmade book ornament with a plaid cover and red ribbon hanging in the christmas tree

Is everyone in the Christmas spirit yet? I wasn’t really feeling like it this year, because we’ve had unusually warm weather and no snow, but when the calendar turned over to December, I decided to start making some Christmas crafts to put me in the mood and it worked! I’m hoping to share my Christmas decorating next week, but today I wanted to share some of the crafts I’ve been making over the past few weeks.

First up, I decided to make my own Christmas crackers for a party my mom and I hosted. All of the crackers at the store had stupid prizes that no one would want (and would honestly just end up getting tossed in the trash) so I decided to craft my own with things that people would actually want! I settled on making ornaments. Originally I was going to do several kinds of ornaments: mini trees, and toques and stockings and some of these books, above. However, after I made a couple of these book ornaments, (each with different fabrics for the covers) I decided I had to make one for each cracker, because they were just so cute. That may have been an error of judgement, because they took soooo long to make (11 books in total!) but I loved how they turned out and they were a big hit at the party.

homemade christmas crackers with stamped kraft paper and red ribbons, and a mini stocking made of green toile with lace at the top

Here are what the aforementioned crackers looked like! I bought the “snaps” from this shop on Etsy. I also was inspired to sew a tiny stocking after seeing the stocking advent calendar Lisa from Farmhouse on Boone put up. I just made one for now, but I might make more later on.

folded paper stars and an embroidered felt gingerbread ornament

We also made some more paper stars! I made a few different kinds this year, and I really like how these turned out. We followed this tutorial, but added another piece to make it a six pointed star. I also made this sweet little felt gingerbread ornament for a friend. I would definitely like to make some more in the future as well.

cardboard quilled paper stars/snowflakes painted gold and hanging in a window at night

Finally, my favourite crafts of the year, are some quilled style cardboard snowflakes or stars. To make them, you simply fold a cardboard tube lengthwise and cut it into strips about 3/8″ wide, like this. With these small pieces you can fold them and arrange them into many different star shapes. I made some of these a few years ago with toilet paper tubes, but painted them each individually white, which took forever to do. I didn’t love the look of the plain cardboard colour, because the colour of the tubes I had wasn’t kraft coloured. However, this year I had the idea to spray paint them gold and I love how they turned out. The look like brass, not cardboard, and using spray paint was so much easier than painting them each with a brush.

So those are the things I have been enjoying over the past few weeks. Next week our plan is to do some Christmas baking, which will really bring on the holiday cheer!

Have you made any Christmas crafts yourself this year? Have you tried any of these ones? 

Easy DIY Recovered Hatbox with Fabric or Wallpaper

stack of hatboxes with a straw hat sitting on top of them

When you collect hats, you soon discover you also need a way to store them. Back in the day, this used to be easy since most hats came in a hatbox. However, most of my hats, either vintage or new, have not come in a conveniently sized box. I used to display them by hanging them on the wall or placing them on hat stands, (I rotate my wardrobe for fall/winter and spring/summer, and only put out the current season) but they always got so dusty. I now only keep out a couple of my really wide brimmed hats that are too large to fit in boxes and keep all the rest in labelled boxes. (I use hanging chalkboard tags so I know at a glance what is inside)

About 10 years ago, round boxes were a very popular trend for storage boxes, and you could find them readily at stores such as Michaels and Home Sense, but at some point people realized that round boxes don’t make the best storage boxes for things other than hats! It’s too bad that I didn’t stock up at the time, because it’s almost impossible to find round boxes now.

black and white printed hatbox before re covering

Anyways, to get to the point of this post, every once in a while I do still come across a hatbox at the thrift store. They are usually in very ugly colours, or have seen better days. However, it is very easy to re-cover a box with either wallpaper or fabric, so that’s what I did to transform this one!

Supplies You Will Need

a hatbox with a lid

fabric or wallpaper of your choice

Mod Podge or other decoupage medium

tacky glue to secure edges, optional

masking tape

knife and scissors

ruler and measuring tape

foam brush to spread the glue/decoupage medium

lace or ribbon for the lid, optional

supplies needed for recovering the hatbox sitting on top of the desk

I used an unbleached canvas for the outside of my hatbox, and some Art Nouveau wallpaper I had leftover from this antique dresser refinishing project. I chose the canvas because it is neutral and doesn’t clash with the other boxes I’ve done with vintage map printed wallpaper. The thickness of this fabric did lead to a few challenges, but I still like how it turned out.

First, the key to covering a box, is that you need to take into account the thickness of the fabric or wallpaper, which will add bulk. Depending on how tightly the lid fits onto the box already, 2 layers of fabric may add too much width for the lid to fit on afterwards. If you need to make your box a little bit smaller to fit the lid, then remove the wall of the box from the bottom by sliding a blade between them. Cut a vertical line along the seam.

cutting the box open to make it smaller

Next, cut a piece out of the side/ring of the box, to make the box circumference smaller. I took out 3/8″ for this box. My canvas fabric was pretty thick, so if you have a thinner fabric or paper, you will probably not need to remove quite that much. Take out a small sliver, and then figure out how much you need to remove by wrapping the top edge with the fabric and testing it. Once you’ve made the side wall smaller, tape it back together with masking tape.

making the box smaller

Then, trace the new circle onto the bottom piece and trim away the excess so the bottom will fit back inside the smaller box walls.

cutting off the excess cardboard and placing the bottom back into the hatbox

Before you tape the box back together, take a moment to trace the circle onto your fabric and lining pieces. It’s much easier to use the deconstructed ring to trace your lining pieces first, rather than after you’ve reassembled it into a box. (I know this because I didn’t remember to do it this time!)

Trace one inside circle for the bottom lining of your box.

Trace one inside circle for the bottom fabric of your box.

Trace one outside circle onto the lining for the lid.

sanding the outside of the hatbox and then reassembling it

Tape the bottom of the box back to the ring by wrapping tape around the outside, notching it and folding down the tabs. Don’t worry about taping the inside of the box, because the fabric/wallpaper will reinforce that seam.

One more step, if your box is plastic coated, is to sand it lightly so the glue will adhere better. Also, if your box has a bold pattern, like this one did, you may want to check to see if it will show through your fabric. If it does, then cover the box with a coat of white paint before you move on to the next step.

covering the outside of the box

Cut a piece of fabric the length of the circumference of the box plus 1″ and the height of the box plus 1″Using Mod Podge, glue the fabric to the outside of the box, folding under the raw fabric edge where it meets. If the Mod Podge won’t hold it in place, you can use glue to secure the edge.

notching and glueing edges

Cut triangle shaped notches into the fabric all the way around and fold the tabs down gluing them to the bottom of the hatbox.

covering bottom of box with wallpaper

Take your bottom fabric piece, or you can do as I did and use a piece of neutral coloured wallpaper, and glue to the bottom of the box to cover the tabs/raw edges. Smooth the bottom, and weight it to hold in place so it won’t curl as it dries.

covering top edge of the box

Turn the box back upright, and simply fold the fabric to the inside and glue in place. Use clothespins if you need to hold it in place until it dries.

lining the inside of the hatbox

Measure a piece of your lining the exact length of the circumference and height of the box wall. Now take your piece and mark a line 1/2″ from the edge. Cut notches up the line. Fold the notches along that line. Coat the inside of the box with Mod Podge and then place the lining on the inside of the box walls. Once you’ve pressed and smoothed the lining and notches into place, you can place your bottom lining circle over top to finish the box.

Now the lid can be done it two ways. I used a thick canvas fabric, so I had to cover the top of my lid with this method, below. If you’re using wallpaper or thin fabric, cover the lid using the same method as for the box- covering the sides first and then using the lining and top circle to cover the notches and raw edges.

If you’re using a thicker fabric like me, then continue with this method.

covering top of the lid

Trace your lid onto the fabric, and then add 1/2″ all the way around. Attach your fabric piece to the top of the lid and then notch and fold down the 1/2″ along the rim of the lid.

Cut a piece of the fabric the length of the circumference of the lid + 1″ and the height of your lid plus 1″. Glue this piece around the outside of the lid to cover the notches. I cut my top edge very precisely since it was going to be exposed and not folded under. If you have a piece of ribbon the width of your lid, this would be a nice alternative, but I didn’t have a coordinating ribbon.

outside edge and lining of lid

Now trace your lid onto your lining and add 1/2″ all the way around. Notch the edge of the circle in the same way you did the fabric for the top. Glue in place on the inside of the lid and then fold your fabric to the inside covering the notches with the fabric.

inside of lid

Mine ended up a bit messy where the two meet since I left it with the raw edge, because I didn’t want to add any more bulk. If you have a thinner fabric you will be able to cover those raw edges much more neatly, or you could even cover them with a ribbon.

adding lace to outside of the hatbox lid

My fabric also ended a bit lumpy on the outside, since the notches showed through, I glued a piece of lace over the top to disguise it. I really like how it looks so I might even add lace or ribbon around the lid as a detail in the future, even if I don’t need it for disguising purposes!

hatbox finished with the lace around the lid

And then with that, your hatbox is done. Once you let it dry for 24 hours or so, you can start using it.

How do you store your hats? Do you like to have them out on display or tucked into a hatbox? 

finished fabric covered hatbox sitting on an antique dresser

finished fabric covered hatbox sitting on an antique dresser. The lid is off and you can see a hat inside.

Upcycled Christmas Card Gift Tags

diy wrapped gifts with upcycled christmas cards turned into gift tags

I love Christmas cards! Whether I make them myself, or buy them (usually the year before on-sale after Christmas) I love picking out a sweet design and mailing them to friends and family far away. Traditional Christmas cards seem to be a dying tradition, with many people opting for photo cards or e-cards these days, but I do still receive a few old fashioned cards in the mail.

There are some really pretty card designs, and I always hate to recycle them after the holidays, so last year I saved all of the cards I and my family received, and upcycled them into gift tags to use this year! I love wrapping gifts, and it was nice to be able to reuse the cards, coordinating the wrapping papers and ribbons to go with each tag. This was such a quick and easy DIY, it’s can’t even be called a tutorial, yet I did want to share the idea with you, in case you also hate to toss greeting cards!

supplies needed for the craft all laid out on the cutting mat: templates, blades, hole punch and greeting card

I used my Creative Memories oval templates and blades to cut the tags. This is the cutting system I got a long time ago…maybe 18 years? After all these years, it’s still going strong and I love it!

lining up the template and oval cutting guide

Centre the template onto the artwork and cut it out.

lining up cutting system template and blade onto old greeting card

Punch a hole in the top of the card, and then string a piece of twine or ribbon through. I used the Fiskars small holepunch. A few of the cards had writing on the back, so I cut out an oval the same size out of green paper and then glued the two ovals together to cover it up.

Punch a hole in the top of the card and thread a string through

That’s it! As I said, not really a tutorial, but more of an inspiration for gift wrapping. I know Fiskars makes some large tag punches, so that could work if you don’t have oval/circle cutters. Or, if you don’t have any punches, you could cut the fronts of the cards off, measure a 45 degree angle across the top corners and cut them into traditional tag shapes.

I wrapped all of my gifts this year in reused kraft paper bags and wrapping paper. I also reused old pattern paper as tissue paper.

finished upcycled christmas card turned into a gift tag

I even wrapped one gift in an old parchment paper document. And all of the ribbons were saved from previous years as well…these are very zero waste packages!

Do you like wrapping gifts? How did you wrap yours this year?

zero waste christmas wrapping

kraft paper wrapped gift with twine and an upcycled card tag

How to Sew Felted Wool Slippers Out of an Old Sweater

green and grey felted wool slippers with an embroidered button on top

I’ve never been much of a slippers person. Usually in the winter I go around barefoot in the house because I’m in danger of being too warm, not too cold. However, there have been a few cold days so far this winter where the house has felt rather chilly and I’ve been trying to bundle up rather than turn up the thermostat. I don’t have any super warm socks, so I decided that the next item I would make would be some felted wool slippers out of a sweater. So far I’ve made mittens, a beret, and some baby boots and shoes, so it follows that the next item to make would be slippers.

I actually ended up making five pairs of felted wool slippers, so the technique was pretty well perfected by the time I got to this pair. I didn’t love how my first attempt turned out, so my sister took that pair. Then I made a pair for my mom. Then I attempted another pair for myself, but they ended up too small, so I donated them to the women’s shelter. Then I made a pair for my brother-in-law. Finally I made this pair and, after all that practice, they turned out pretty nice.

I estimate that they took about 1-2 hours to sew, so they are a relatively quick afternoon project. (Not including the time to felt the wool) If you’re looking for a Christmas gift for someone, then these would be the perfect handmade option!

finished felted handmade wool sweaters

To Make Your Own Felted Wool Slippers, You Will Need:

  • A 100% old wool sweater. Make sure it is real wool content, so it will felt for you. I know you can also use blends that have a high wool content, but I’ve never done that myself, so am not sure whether they felt differently or not.
  • Needle & thread/ sewing machine
  • Button to cover, or a decorative button of your choice 
  • Elastic to make the slipper fit tighter around the ankle, optional

folded shrunken april cornell green wool sweater

The first step is to felt your wool if it isn’t already. You can put it in your washing machine on hot, with a bit of detergent and then wash as normal. If you put in a few sweaters, they will felt faster, because of the agitation. Check your wool once washed, and see if it is felted enough- if not you can repeat the process until it is. Then let it dry.

I would not recommend that you take a perfectly good wool sweater and felt it, because it always seems like a waste to cut up something in good shape that someone could actually wear the way it is. However, there are so many wool sweaters in thrift shops that are no longer in good condition. Whether it’s due to the previous owner accidentally shrinking them, or they are full of moth holes and runs, the thrift shops are full of them. This project is a perfect way to recycle and refashion those sweaters that are completely ruined and useless into something new! I’m using a green boiled wool coat and the binding from a grey cardigan.

pattern with dimensions for slipper

To make your pattern, trace your foot and then round out the curve. You can make a “left” and “right” sole if you’d like, but it isn’t really necessary because the wool will mold to your foot. You can make one pattern piece with 1/2″ seam allowances and one without, or you can simply trace the pattern piece, adding the seam allowances on your fabric. My sole pattern piece measures 3.75″ wide by 9″ long.

The slipper top pattern is shaped like a “U”. Measure across your foot at the widest part and draw a semi-circle with that width. My foot is 5.5″, so my pattern piece is 6.5″ across with seam allowances. For length, I made it the same as my sole, plus 1/2″ for seam allowance (finished length 10″). You can double check the measurements of the outside edge of the piece with the outside of the sole. This isn’t super exact and the wool is a rather forgiving material to experiment with (if you make it a bit too long, you can always shorten it). Make the “U” cutout inside the semi-circle piece the width of the opening you want for your foot. Or, measure how high up your foot you want your slipper sides to be, and make your “U” in those dimensions. My upper pattern piece measures 10″ long and 6.5″ across. The cutout inside measures 5.25″ long by 1.25″ across. I’m a size 8.5 for reference. These dimensions include a 1/2″ seam allowance around the outer edge of the upper pattern piece. (For the pair I made my brother-in-law I added an inch to the length of the sole and then replicated that length onto the top piece.) Also note, I angled the back edge a little bit so it would slope into the heel.

Cut 1 upper piece for each slipper.

I’m sure you could make the slipper soles with one layer, but I did two layers of wool for extra warmth. Cut 2 insoles using your pattern with no seam allowance added. Cut 2 outer soles with the seam allowance added- see the picture below.

Felted wool doesn’t have a grain, so you can cut your pieces wherever they fit.

pieces of felted wool cut into pattern pieces

Place your insoles (the grey pieces) on top of your outer soles (the green pieces), smooth them flat and pin around the edge. Using a zig zag setting, stitch the two pieces flat around the edge to create one piece.

sewing the insole and outsole pieces together

Next, stitch the top heel ends together. I lapped mine rather than using a normal seam, so as to reduce bulk.

stitching the top of the slipper heel together

Now take your top piece, and pin it to the sole, easing the fabric around to distribute the bulk. Make sure that the right sides are pinned together: this means that your insole is facing outward. I made my mom’s with the smaller insole on the outside, but I think they look better with that raw edge flipped to the inside of the slipper.

Once you’ve pinned the life out of them, sew around the edge with a zigzag stitch, following the edge of your insole. (I realized when looking at these photos that I added a 1/2″ seam allowance to the pattern, but sewed my seam at only 3/8″. It turned out OK though.)

sewing sole to the top of the slipper

Turn the slipper inside out and try them on to see how they fit. If they fit well, then you can grade the seam a bit to reduce bulk.

slipper top and bottom sewn together

If the slippers fit well as they are, depending on the thickness of your wool, you might be able to finish the slippers off at this point with a blanket stitch along the top edge. If they are too loose to leave like that, then you can move on to the next step which is adding a cuff to the top.

I cut the binding off of the collar of a sweater to create a cuff at the top of my slippers. You can also use the hem of a sweater. (I used all of the hems we had on the other slippers, so all I had left was this one grey piece!) Cut the binding piece 1-2″ smaller than the opening of the slipper.

cut binding off of the collar of a sweater

Stitch the ends of the binding together to form a loop.

stitch binding/cuff into loops

Next, with right sides together, pin around the top edge and stitch the binding to the slipper top.

pin binding to the top edge of the slipper and stitch together

Then, fold the seams to the inside and pin it liberally! (If you think that you will want elastic around the top, you can add it now, which is a bit tricky, or you can thread it through at the end like I did.)

Now, for the trickiest part of the process, from the inside, stitch the pieces “in the ditch” or slightly onto the top slipper piece. This is hard to describe, but if you look at the photo, it should make sense. If your binding has a finished edge, you don’t have to fold your seam under, which makes this step a bit easier. However, my binding was a cut edge and I didn’t have enough length to felt it, so I decided to fold the edge under for neatness. I probably could have left it raw, but this worked out OK.

topstitching the cuff to the slipper with raw edges encased

It isn’t perfect in all places, and the stitches show through on part of the cuff on the front of the slipper, (it must have shifted during sewing) but it is sturdy. And as my brother says, quoting one of the creators he follows, “It’s not just good, it’s good enough.” I’ve been trying to embrace that philosophy a bit more in my projects. I tend to be a perfectionist, but sometimes that means that projects don’t get done. I’d much rather that there are a few stitches showing, but I have usable slippers, than a pile of unused felted wool in a basket on my shelf.

slippers sewn together with some stitches showing on the front of the cuff

Once I put the slippers on, I realized that the cuff was a bit too loose for my foot. While I could have tried wetting the slippers and shrinking them a little bit, I was afraid that they’d end up too small again, so I decided to instead add a small piece of elastic to the top of each slipper. I cut two pieces of this small round elastic, and then threaded them through the top of the slipper. I simply sewed the ends of the elastic together and then hid the end inside the seam.

threading elastic into top cuff to make them fit better

Then for the final step, because this sweater had all these cute embroidered buttons, I decided to add one to the top of each slipper, just for fun!

embroidered wool buttons and elastic added to the finished felted wool slippers

And there are my cozy warm felted wool slippers perfect for the cold days this winter! Of course we only had a few really cold days since I’ve made them, but I’ll be ready for the next cold snap! They’ll be perfect for Christmas morning too.

I’m really enjoying making projects out of felted wool; it’s such a great way to use up old sweaters. We’ve had a bin of sweaters for years, and making all of these actually used up quite a bit of them- what will I do when they’re gone!?

Are you a slippers person? Do you think you’ll try making your own felted wool slippers? What project should I make next out of the wool? What other projects have you made with felted sweaters?

finished felted wool slippers details

green and grey handmade felted wool slippers

Sewing a Zero Waste Pouf (And Using Up Fabric Scraps!)

zero waste pouf made out of a recycled white quilt with vintage books sitting on top of it

The sewing project I’m sharing with you today has taken me years to complete…literally, and there were two things that sparked the idea for this project. One, I read a news report several years ago, right when the Canada Goose winter coats were super popular, about a company making counterfeit coats filled with factory floor textile sweepings instead of goose down. Aside from the fact that they were scamming people, I thought that using up fabric scraps as insulation was actually a pretty ingenious idea. Then, right about that same time, I saw a blog post by Brittany of Untitled Thoughts (I can’t find the specific post) about a pieced scrap pouf which had been filled with cotton quilting fabric to use as a means of storage in your sewing room. So, I melded the two ideas and now several years, and a LOT of scraps, later I have finally finished my (almost completely) zero waste pouf!

What exactly is a pouf and what makes it different than an ottoman or a footstool? Well, an ottoman or a footstool has legs or is made of a frame with a padded top, whereas a pouf is just like a giant pillow, without any kind of base structure. So are you interested in making your own? Here’s how I did it!

a giant pile more than a metre long of textile scraps

First, you will need to start saving scraps, and this is the longest part of the project. I saved everything including synthetic fibre clothing such as t-shirts, hoodies, jeans and pantyhose which couldn’t be used for rags. I also saved the seams out of the garments that we did cut up for rags. And, of course, I saved sewing scraps of all sizes, like I mentioned in my post last week. I saved these textile scraps in a giant black garbage bag and though I initially thought I had way too many scraps, I actually ended up using all of them plus more. In the image above, that is a metre stick for reference.

Once you’ve gathered about 1.5 times the amount of scraps you think you’ll need, it is time to start readying your pouf lining!

drawing of the dimensions of the fabric for the lining

Figure out the dimensions of your pouf. I made mine 20″ across, so the circumference was approximately 63″ around. I mapped out my pattern pieces on a grid paper determining what size of pieces with seam allowances would fit exactly into the fabric I was going to use. Also note, depending on which kind of fabric you’re going to use, you might want to make the bottom out of a more durable (and affordable!) fabric like canvas since it won’t be seen anyway. Originally I was going to make my pouf out of mustard velvet, and pleat the top into the centre like a vintage round pillow, but once the fabric arrived (from Etsy)…it was not the right colour of yellow, so I ended up changing my plan.

Cut out 2 circles, with seam allowances, to use as the top and bottom and then either one piece or 2 pieces for the sides.

lining fabric cut and ready to sew

I used cotton canvas as the fabric for my lining bag, and I did a double layer with an old worn out mattress cover to prevent any lumps from the stuffing from showing through. You could use fleece, a wool blanket or towel as an interlining. If you are using a thick upholstery fabric, I don’t know if this step will be as important, but if you are using a thinner outer fabric, then I would definitely add that second layer. Sew the two layers together and then work them as one piece.

Sew the side piece together at the ends. Then measure the bottom circle and side piece into 4 even quadrants and pin together at those points and sew together. Do not sew the top circle on, because it will be added later.

unstuffed canvas lining bag sewn with top not attached yet

Now it is time to stuff the lining bag! You don’t want to just wad the fabric in, otherwise it will get very lumpy and misshapen. Here is the method I used to avoid as much lumpiness as possible.

textile scraps cut into tiny pieces

First, sort your scraps into piles of soft materials like fleece etc. that you will use to smooth out lumps, bulky and heavy or large pieces of fabric, and any tiny scraps. This step of sorting through and cutting the scraps will definitely make you feel like you are one of the children in the pawn shop in the 1951 movie “A Christmas Carol”. Take your small scraps and cut into 1″ or smaller pieces. I did this over several days to avoid my hand cramping.

textile scraps cut into tiny pieces and layered several inches in the bottom of the lining

Once you have a large batch of shredded pieces, place a layer several inches thick across the bottom of the bag.

folding and stacking larger textile pieces in the centre of the lining

Then, take your larger scraps and fold them. Lay them flat in the centre of the pouf and keep stacking until you have a layer several inches thick. Take more of the small shredded scraps and sprinkle them in between the centre folded “pillar” and the lining bag to create a bit of soft insulation. (Folding the pieces into the centre means that they won’t compress too much over time, so you won’t end up with a lopsided or deflated pouf.) Keep folding pieces into the bag and adding the small scraps around the outside. Once you’ve reached the top of the lining bag, it is time to attach the top.

hand sewing the top of the lining to the sides

Again, make sure to pin on four equal quadrants like you did for the bottom and pin the top circle to the side piece. Hand stitch the pieces together. You can use any colour of thread for this since it won’t be seen; I used up a bunch of old spools of red thread that had only tiny amounts left on them not enough for a larger projects.

Once you’ve stitched the “lid” halfway around the circumference, knot your thread because it’s time to start stuffing again!

stuffing the top section of the pouf with more soft stuffing

This is the time to use any fleece, batting or other soft materials, so you’ll get a nice smooth top to your pouf. Fill in any gaps with more shredded pieces. Keep pushing scraps into the bag; it will take more than you think you need. Once you’ve got the one half pretty well full, then sew another quarter of the top closed and with that final small section, push as many scraps as you can into the bag. Then finally stitch the last section closed.

lining all stuffed with textile scraps

You are not quite ready to cover your pouf, though. It is time to sit on it and squish it down and punch it into shape and let the pieces settle for a while. It will be pretty solid, but after while of use, it will slightly deflate and then you can add more scraps to the top. I left mine for a couple of months (because I was trying figure out how I wanted to cover it once the velvet didn’t work out) but it actually worked out perfectly that way, because it really gave time for the scraps to squish down. I would recommend leaving it for a few weeks, making sure to sit on it every once in a while to press it down.

Once the scraps have settled as much as they are going to, open up a quarter of the seam in the top and add more scraps! Use more tiny shredded scraps to fill in the top and then once it is stuffed to overflowing, stitch the top back together. You will now have a very solid (and heavy) pouf form ready to be covered.

There are lots of ways you can make a pouf (like a Morrocan style or gathering the top like I mentioned earlier) but I ended up doing a simple 3 piece top, side and bottom since I chose to cover mine with a quilt!

white mattelasse quilt with frayed edge

This was the quilt that I had on my bed for about 14 years, and it has started to show it’s age. Now that I have a new quilt, it was time to retire this one. At first I was debating dyeing it, but then I realized that white would actually be the perfect colour for my very light and bright bedroom. Maybe if I eventually get the sofa of my dreams (vintage yellow and cream floral) I will recover the pouf in yellow velvet and put it with my sofa, but in the meantime it works quite nicely in my bedroom beside my closet. And since I’m not actually putting my feet up on it, like if it was in front of my sofa, the fact that it’s white should be all right. (I hope!)

cover pieces cut out of white quilt and ready to be sewn

My quilt had a border pattern which I utilized as the side piece- I cut one long strip 15″ wide the full length of the quilt. Then I cut the top and bottom circles out of the middle diamond quilted section. (PS. There was just enough fabric to use the end pieces of that strip to make a square cushion cover too!)

sewing outer fabric pieces together

Cut your outer pieces the same dimensions as the lining. Sew the top and side pieces together, again pinning in even quadrants and easing it all the way around.

Once I placed my cover on the pouf, I realized that the fabric had stretched out quite a bit and the top edge was hollow, so I brought it back to the sewing machine and sewed a 1″ seam allowance all the way around, instead of a 5/8″. Make sure to test the fit of your outer fabric, just to make sure that it fits well.

machine sewing 1" seam guide around the edge

Next stitch a seam guide along the edge of the bottom circle and the side pieces (in the same colour of thread as your fabric) so when you hand stitch them together, you will have a guide to follow. I stitched a 1″ seam allowance guide from the edge.

NOTE: This time we are sewing the top and side pieces by machine, not the bottom and side pieces as we did with the lining, because we are going to hand stitch the bottom this time, not the top. If you are using a fabric other than your upholstery fabric for the bottom, then that is the piece you will be hand sewing later.

measuring and fitting outer fabric onto pouf form

Again, measure your 4 quadrants on your bottom circle and side pieces and mark with pins or chalk. Place your cover onto your pouf and then flip it upside down. Now, line up your 4 points and pin together. Then work your way around between the 4 points and pin together, easing as you go.

Your stitched seam guide will help here because now you’ll know how much to fold under for your seam allowance. If, once you’ve pinned the pieces together, it looks like it’s going to be too loose then you can fold it more as needed. It’s OK if your bottom circle is a bit smaller than the top, because then the seam will tuck underneath the pouf and be hidden.

hand stitching bottom of outer fabric to side pieces

Now it’s time to start hand sewing again. This is best done while listening to an audiobook or podcast (I listened to A Tale of Two Cities)! When stitching, don’t start at one point and work your way all the way around, but instead start at one point, sew about an 8″ section, then rotate the pouf 180 degrees and sew a section directly across. Again, sew a section and then turn 90 degrees and sew a section and so on, until all of the sections meet. This way you can ease your fabric pieces together without ending up with bubbles, and, if needed, you can make adjustments- pulling the fabric in tighter etc.

Once you’ve knotted your last thread and turned the pouf right side up…then you are done. Congratulations, you have managed to save a huge amount of textile waste from the landfill and turn it into something both useful and beautiful!

finished pouf made from a worn out white quilt and fabric scraps sitting in my bedroom

recycled pouf made out of a white quilt sitting in front of the closet

I love how this project turned out and I had a lot of fun making it. It fits perfectly into my bedroom, and I am very pleased that I was able to use mostly salvaged materials; it was the perfect way of using up fabric scraps! The worst part about finishing this project is that I already have a bunch of new textile scraps…what on earth am I going to use them for?

Do you think you’ll make a project like this? What fabric would you use to cover it with? Do you have any other ideas for ways of using up fabric scraps?

vintage blue books sitting on top of the white quilted top of the pouf

zero waste salvaged pouf made out of a white mattelasse quilt with vintage blue books sitting on top of it