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  • Writer's pictureLonda

Hassock Gift Sewing – Updated Full Tutorial

Now that I have completed TWO of these great HASSOCKS (Bolster, Tuffet – whatever you care to call them)as gifts for my dear adult children, I feel there are some details of the construction and design process which, in addition to the pattern I (kinda of) used, Auntie’s Two “A New Take on a Tuffett”, that will prove helpful.  BTW – I sell these great dense foam forms on my website (small:  14″ hi x 12″ diameter) or Large as I utilitzed:  (18″ tall x 15″ diameter).  They are definitely firm enough for seating as well as putting your feet up on.

Strip quilted hassocks


Warning:  If you are not a quilter who enjoys doing the same small thing over and over and over (That’s ME!), then do NOT follow the directions as I did for the aqua hassock, but rather more likely follow what I did for my son’s Star Wars version – creating panels of various sizes – and even with varying techniques.

Firm Foam Bolster + Patternading

Step 1.  Making the Strips or Panels

The directions call for cutting strips AND batting 2.5″ wide.  Then, you center the batting on the wrong side of the strip, fold each long edge in to meet at the center, then fold in half lengthwise and straight stitch down the folded edges.  With one reading, I knew that with ‘turn of the cloth’, that the batting did not need to be the same width, so I cut my batting strips 1.75″ wide.  I’m glad I stopped cutting strips, because from the queen sized batting called for, I sure did NOT need it all cut up! (And I still have some left over!)  The making of all those strips (which end up .75″ wide) drove me nuts.  For number of fabrics, yardage needed, etc., consult the pattern.  I am grateful for the pattern though because without it, I certainly would NOT have come up with this on my own.  One might think that ‘padding’ the fabric with the batting would not be necessary, but I definitely feel it gave the pieces – regardless of width – the extra ‘OOMPH’ they needed for the ultimate good look.

sections of quilting for hassock covers

For the Star Wars Hassock, I based my strip pieces on what I thought looked good.  For one thing, I could not cut the strips of the storm trooper or the star wars fabric crossgrain, as their design went the lengthwise of the fabric.  I cut each of the panels a healthy 1″ wider than the finished width I desired, and the batting the width of the finished desired panel.  Then I folded the fabric around the batting edges and straight stitched along each folded edge.  The red print strips were made more like the pattern directed.  They came into the design because my DS sent me a text of the curtains he added to his apartment – the same maroon red.    I love what the red did for it  -as they say, “Made it ‘Pop’.

The other advise I would give is to cut the strips or panels 2” longer than the height of the hassock form.  I didn’t, and that led to some patching to get the needed length.  The different grains and fabrics – and ‘handling’ – just made them all turn out different lengths.  But then, I readily admit that I am NOT a quilter – it’s very very hard for me to do the same thing twice, let alone over and over and get the same results!

Step 2.  Design of the Panels

I designed by working in sections – which was suggested in the pattern as well.  I would create groups, then join them, and did the math to see if then I’d end up with the  needed length to go AROUND the hassock form.  It could certainly be just a random design.  Another idea:  This would be a great Men’s Tie project! I would advise leaving them put together, and alternate the ‘up’ and down’ of the ties.  I just may have to do that!  

Step 3.  Joining the Panels

Whatever width you decide on and make them, the panels need to be joined.  The pattern called for zigzagging them together, which is what I did.  I used a regular zig zag, with settings as I snapped a photo of on my Brother Quattro.  Whoops – you can’t see the width, but it was 5.5.  Length of 4.0.  Do what you think looks good, and holds the strips together firmly.  If you look closely at the right side of the maroon red strip at the left below, you’ll see that it is not straight stitched on that folded side.  That is what you’ll have if you follow the directions – each strip will have straight stitching on only 1 side.  With the technique I used on the Star Wars black strips, there was straight stitching down both sides of the panel.  I’d aim for a zig zag width that would just encompass the straight stitching of each panel.  But, that’s more detail than I generally aim for in projects like this……  Again, I am NOT a quilter!

zig zag panels together

Step 4.  Evening out the panel height.

As already stated (admitted), my panels definitely varied in length!  I did so some ‘bossing around’ of those strips and sections with some good steam as well.  It’s amazing how much I could ‘grow’ them in length with some good steam!  However, in places, I did have to ‘patch’ some length in – hence my advice to cut each panel 2″ longer than needed.  In case you experience the same ‘challenge’, here’s a photo of what I had.  HOWEVER, I can tell you from dong this TWO times, that the total width you end up with (or height – what goes up and down along the hassock form), only needs to be 1/2″ (.5″) taller than the form!  With a straight edge and marker in hand ( I always grab my favorite Chakoner!) , it was easy to straighten them out.  You can see that the Storm Trooper (Is Darth Vader a Storm Trooper??), really played out importantly here – to get 3 of them per panel.

straightening up the hassock panels

Step 5.  ‘Fit’ the Cover to the Hassock

I really imagine that every one will have to do this – make the cover a bit longer than needed, then pull it tightly around the form and pin marking the final joining point.  Every fabric will just have its own amount of ‘give’ I think.   Once marking, removing from form, and zigzagging it together as marked, it became obvious to me that I needed to reinforce some of the cut edges of the strip joinings.  After doing that, I also stitched with a small stitch length (2.0) 1/8″ from each of the edges

Fitting cover to hassock form

Step 6.  Create Handles

I didn’t like the ‘bow’ around the project as directed in the pattern, so I created handles out of a padded strip and added them approximately 6″ down from the upper edge.  I made them 10″ long and inserted them into the strip joinings very securely with a bit of slack so they looked like handles.  I also placed them opposite from each other.

Creating handles for the hassock cover

Step 7.  Dress the Form and create top and bottom pieces.  


BEFORE dressing your form with your labor of love, take a minute to set it on the fabric selected for the top and bottom pieces.  Trace around the exact circle of the top and bottom (the same) of the form.  You will cut your Top and Bottom exactly to fit.  The pattern has these ALSO quilted strips, but as you can imagine, I’d had enough of THAT by now!

I found it was important to work on making sure the cover was not only snug around the form, but also that the strips were going straight up and down the height of it.

For the top of the Star Wars Hassock, I cut a square of Darth and stitched it onto a circle of the dotted fabric, then appliqued that to the top.  I think a non-directional fabric is best design-wise for the top and the bottom.  Working in the basement ‘Studio’ as I call my corner, I wandered around the basement looking for the right size circle and found a paint can worked great.

paint can for circle and top view of Darth Vader Hassock.

Step 8.  Bind the Top and the Bottom.

Directions say to use a 2 1/2″ strip for the bindings as well and did not designate bias grain.  Hmmmmm.  As I didn’t have enough fabric to do it bias for my daughter’s form, I did use a straight grain piece, but knew all along that if it had been bias, it would have been easier – as it definitely was when I did use bias for my sons’s.  I would recommend cutting it a full 3.5″ wide.  You just need to figure out how wide of a ‘border’ you want and triple that measurement plus add another generous 1/2″ or so to ‘catch’.  Stitch to the right side of the top (doing the same for the bottom) at the width you designed for.  You can see in the photo below that I stitched about 1″ from the edge.  I LOVE to use needle position to set my needle stitching EXACTLY where I want it, given the edge of fabric is guided along a certain mark on the throatplate.  Be sure to figure out how to move your needle a smidgen to either side of center and USE that feature!  Usually it is hiding in the width adjustment on a straight stitch.

stitching on the bias for top and bottom borders

Note that I just work with a piece plenty long, turn it back a bit as I start, then overlap at the end rather than stitching it into a circle and making it fit.  Once stitched, press outward, then around the cut circle edge.  Then, stitch in the ditch from the right side to hold in place.  The bias just steams into the perfect shape.  Not so for the straight grain as directed – though it does mention you can use bias.  I just don’t understand why she didn’t direct for bias in the first place.

Step 9. Attach Top and Bottom with Hand Stitching 

This part is VERY important!  Locate the center of your top (and bottom) pieces, and the center of the form.  Pin together with a stabbed pin.  Then, start pulling nice and tight and pinning, doing opposite sides.  As you can see in the photo below, I have pinned at 12, 3, 6 and 9 (if you think of a clock).  Then, I’d pin in between those, pinning one spot, then the spot across from that.  Really PULL the fabric tight.  The edge of the border will go down, around the side a tad.  I found that as I then slipstitched (double thread), that I pulled it down even further.  This is a good 1 hour TV show worth of work.  Do the bottom first to get the ‘hang’ of it – then you’ll be a pro for the top one.  Boring, but fun to see it all come together.  HERE is a YouTube Video on my ‘sidewalk method’ for slipstitching.  HERE is a YouTube Video for how I tie a knot in thread for hand stitching.  I know – basic, but I learned this from a student after I’d been sewing for 30 or so years – works GREAT!  The picture below on the right shows how much I pulled the border down, around the side edges.

really tautly stitching top to sides

Like them?  Well – my children better – quite a labor of love!  Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas in my heart without stitching something and praying every stitch of the way for my kids! 

Remember to send me YOUR projects for sharing!

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