Suffolk Puffs

A few weeks ago, I was asked to come up with a workshop at Nymans,  ideal for children and their parents to just drop in and make something they could take away.
So the Suffolk Puff  (or YoYo) was perfect for a simple, quick and very easy sewing project.

This technique dates back to before the Victorian era, 'Puffs' first recorded in 1601. They were made mainly from old worn out clothes and fabric scraps and seem to have originated in Suffolk, England around the 19th Century. Families of agricultural labourers were not keen to waste materials and would sew the pieces together to form quilts, hence the name 'Suffolk Puff' is used for this type of patchwork.

I found a prime example here as in the picture above on a bed at Shrugborough House.
The Suffolk Puff  can be used in various ways from patches, toys and jewellery.

I wanted to show people how varied the Suffolk Puff can be so I made a few examples.
I created a gorgeous necklace by making lots of puffs in different sizes.  
    First take a circle of fabric, with the wrong side facing you fold over about 5mm hem and with a thread and needle that you have knotted at one end, sew a loose running stitch all the way around the circle.
Now pull gently on the thread so that the circle is gathered. Then gently turn it so that the fabric is the right side out, pass the needle and thread through the centre to the back a few times to secure.

Then sew the puffs together by carefully tacking them at the edges.

They look so lovely bunched together and this would be how you would piece a quilt or cushion cover to form a larger area.

Then using some of this gorgeous 15mm Red and Midnight Blue Grosgrain Stitched Ribbon by Jane Means I added two strips at the bottom, then sewed on a longer Red 10mm Grosgrain Stitched Ribbon to create a simple tie for securing around your neck.

The ribbons were perfect for the project and really tied in with the red, white and blue theme!
Jane has recently opened a gorgeous little haberdashery closet in her studio so now you can go and see and feel all those lovely ribbons, my idea of heaven!

To finish it all off I added a few buttons in the centre of each puff.

Here is my mannequin Prudence wearing the necklace rather well....

...and it went down a treat at the workshop too, greatly admired!

So why not have a go with all your scraps,

It really is so simple, perfect for all ages.
I loved how grandparents remembered them from their childhood days and how fathers got involved too.

Even the National Trust staff got on in the act on their lunch breaks!

How cute was this one made by a really sweet little girl with her mother, they were from Australia and were embracing the Olympic phenomena!

Beautiful and simple!
What would you do with your Suffolk Puffs?


noodleBubble said…
This morning I LOVED Suffolk Puffs, bought a standard lamp & am spending the w'end covering the lampshade with suffolk puffs.

the lampshade is the size of suffolk.

have gone off Suffolk Puffs tbh.

fab post though(!) XXX
I do love Suffolk puffs and they are so easy and very therapeutic to make - love the colours.

Nina x
Adaliza said…
I make panels from them and pop them onto cushions. I take them on holiday - perfect sewing project that fits into the smallest bag! Love your brooches - great fun!
hausfrau said…
Didn't know that's what they were called, and you've got some lovely ideas for their use. I like the idea of a cushion, and the badges are fun.

Popular Posts