Thanks, Cable Guy!

cable spool
can't you see the potential here?

A few months ago we had cable installed in our house. Either by accident, forgetfulness or laziness, the cable guy left behind the empty spool used to keep the cable wrapped up.

You would think I’d have thrown this piece of junk out a long time ago, but … “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure” and I was sure I would be able to make a treasure out of this little gem some day. Turns out someday came a few days ago when I thought about how I’d like to have a small pouffe (ottoman)/table that would be a good height to use when I sat on the floor.

While researching ottomans and pouffes on the internet I had that all familiar thought  leap into my head; “I could make that”. I remembered the spool left behind by the cable guy and I realized; “I could so totally make that.”

Of course, mine was not likely to be as beautifully crafted as those advertised on-line or for sale in department stores. For one thing, I don’t own a sewing machine and the thought of hand sewing a hundred scraps of fabric together was enough to squelch my enthusiasm. The other option was patchwork printed fabric. Too many of these looked ‘shabby chic’ or ‘country cottage, which wasn’t what I wanted. So patchwork was not really an option for me. No, my pouffe was to look nothing like those sweet little beauties I find so charming, but they did inspire me to get creative with what I had on hand and see what I could come up with.

The cable spool was the perfect support. First, I used old pillows to fill in the center space of the spool. Also, because bolts protruding from the top (and bottom) of the spool would have made for an uneven table top, I cut a piece of scrap wood to place over the top to create a smooth table top surface.

Here is the skeleton of the pouffe. I used tape to hold the pillows in place while I stapled them to the to the spool. I also used the tape to hold the cut top in place.

So then the transformation began. I covered the top with an old white sheet, then covered that with the sheer white fabric I’d used for subtle accent in other parts of the room. I also covered the bottom with a scrap of aqua blue fabric I cut from an old bed skirt. I had left over fabric from the window treatment I made for the sliding door and used it to cover the pouffe. I did this with a staple gun. I also used a glue gun at the seams as I didn’t have the patience to sew the seams together.

I liked the look it was taking on, but I definitely needed to do something about the top edge. I had this old clothes line rope and started to braid it, thinking I could add a thick braid around the top edge to dress it off. I didn’t like that, it was too nautical looking. I played around with different twists until I came up with this up and down pattern.  I really like it and think it is a good complement to the pattern of the fabric. I attached the rope with a glue gun.


Let me tell you, glue guns produce extremely hot glue. I recommend not using this tool within ear shot of young children –  or even,  quite possibly, drunk sailors. With each inadvertent application of one million degree glue to my tender finger tips, pain manifested itself into an acute form of Tourette’s.  I’m sure I invented a few colorful phrases that might even make a sailor blush. OUCH!

I thought I’d be done after the trim was applied. I know my blistered fingers should have been enough for me to announce the project complete,  but I wanted to embellish a bit. I thought a few beads and some texture would make the piece a little more interesting. I used yarn to add a textured design to the white space on the fabric. Again I used the glue gun for this and again my expletives sent the dogs running for cover with their tails between their legs. (That glue gets damn hot I tell ya). I added beads to the trim. The possibilities are really endless. You could add tassels, appliques, sequins – anything. I may add more to it another day, but for now I think I am satisfied with the way it is. Maybe when my fingers are done healing.


Total cost for this ottoman: $2.65 for the yarn. I had all the other supplies on hand. I know it looks nothing like the patchwork pouffes hand crafted by highly skilled artisans,  but I like it.

And to think, I owe it all to the cable guy.

If you think you might make a pouffe, and I think you really should, I would suggest adding handles. I wish I would have done this as it would have made it easier to scoot it around. I could probably add them now, but I think it would be much easier to add them from the beginning because they have to be sewed on, which would best be done from the back side of the fabric.

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