Thursday, February 12, 2009

Stuffed Fabric Bowls

First off, these bowls are not my idea. I learned to make them from a friend. I’ve searched high and low on the Internet to find something like them and have come up empty-handed, so I hope I’m not stepping on anyone’s toes by putting these instructions out there.

What you’ll need:
Round template (14 – 16” is a good start)
Two squares of fabric a little larger than the template
Iron-on interfacing
Batting about 1/2" smaller than the template
Some extra fabric for the binding
Fiber-fill stuffing
Circular sewing attachment (see below for a something that sets new standards for excellence…)
Notions: the usual suspects (needles, thread, scissors, markers)

I made a template from this pizza pan:

Iron interfacing onto fabric square.

Trace around template on fabric. Whatever you trace won’t show later.

Cut two circular pieces of batting about ½” smaller than the template.

Make a second paper template dividing a circle into 16 segments. You can fold the paper twice, mark those folds, then use a protractor (imagine that!) and mark the points that are at a 45 degree angle and a 22 ½ degree angle.

Put the template on top of the fabric circle and mark each point with something non-permanent that you’ll be able to see while sewing.

Make a sandwich of fabric, two pieces of batting and second piece of fabric. You can pin them together, but I’ve found the pins tend to get things out of sync when sewing. I’ve been spraying the batting VERY lightly with quilt basting spray, then making the sandwich.

Now you’re ready to sew!

With the first baskets I made, I started sewing at one side and ended at the other. The centers turned out pretty funky. Then I tried starting in the center and going to the edge. MUCH BETTER! The center is flat and sits quite well. You can always put some kind of embellishment in the center if it starts looking a little ragged.

Once the lines are sewn, it’s time to get out your circular attachment. Here’s mine:

I took some template vinyl and poked holes in it every ¼ inch. The partial eraser is a safety device. It sits on top of the thumbtack which gets poked through the center of the fabric sandwich.

Sew three or four circles using those great fancy stitches you never get to use. I’ve had some trouble on the inner-most circle when using stitches that are dense. The circle is too tight and the stitch patterns don’t show, so try something a little looser on the smallest circle.

I got all anal-retentive (of course it has a hyphen!) and made a sample of all my stitches using the circular attachment, so I could see what they look like in the round.

Except for the very center, it came out okay.

Anyway, the outer-most circle should be around 3” from the center. Of course, you can make it larger. I just haven’t experimented with that, so don’t know how firm the base will be.

Now for the stuffing. If you’ve used basting spray, you’ll have to coax the batting pieces apart. Take some fiber-fill and stuff it down inside each opening. You can use a chopstick to help get it down in there. Check both sides at the bottom to make sure they’re filled. The more densely you pack the openings, the more vertical the bowl will want to be. Stop filling about ½” from the top of the batting.

Take some very strong thread and hand stitch the top closed, gathering the edges together. Stitch about ¼” from the top. The gathering and the density of the fill will determine the pitch of the sides

Cut 3 – 3 ¼” strips of fabric, enough to go around the edge and overlap for the binding. Sew strips together as you would for quilt binding, fold in half and hand sew to the outside edge. (If your machine can do a decent job of sewing something this ungainly, go for it!) Since I can't do anything straight, I drew a line about 3/8" from the edge of the binding to follow when hand sewing.

The binding is wider than usual because you’re going to pad the binding with some batting. Take a ½” to 1” strip of batting and stuff it inside the binding before pinning the binding to the other side. (Tip: use fairly sturdy pins. I bent more than one glass-head pin on these bowls before I realized I should be using something thicker.)

After it’s pinned, I turn the bowl inside out and hand sew the other side of the binding on.

And that’s all there is to it!

Here are some photos of completed projects.

Here's a link to a .pdf document of this tutorial, if you'd like to print it:


  1. Wow, what a great idea! I saw your post on the Janome 6500/6600 group, thanks for posting this!

  2. Great idea! This may also make a great round pillow cover if I add less stuffing and add another piece of fabric for back of pillow. Thx for sharing.

  3. Now THESE are REALLY CUTE!! What a great idea!
    Thanks so much for sharing them with us!

  4. Great Idea! Thanks bunches for the tute!

  5. Thanks so much for this tutorial.I have just started making fabric bowls.Today in fact. I think your idea might be what I try next.I think I might be making quite a few of these!!

  6. These look great - I shall make one for my sister's birthday next month. Thanks for such a clear tutorial - easy to follow.
    Have a great Christmas...

  7. Thanks for posting the instructions. I'm making lots and lots.
    Judith Y

  8. I made one for may daughter for Christmas last year. She absolutely loved it -- and it is easier than it looks.