a day of suffolk puffs and yo-yo’s

Sewing room secrets suffolk puffs

What’s in a name? Well,  I guess it depends which side of the pond you are on. American’s call these little gathered circles Yo-Yo’s (and it’s easy to see why), whereas we Brits refer to them as Suffolk Puffs.

sewing room secrets suffolk puffs

In the sewing world, a Suffolk Puff (or Yo-Yo) is simply a circle of fabric which is gathered around the edge so that it turns in on itself in a ‘puffy’ kind of way. The technique has a long history and references to ‘puffs’ appear as far back as 1601.  It is thought that they originated in the county of Suffolk when people would re-cycle worn out clothes and fabric scraps.  Very often the puffs would be sewn together to make quilts. 

sewing room secrets suffolk puffs

At my sewing group this week I spent the afternoon chatting with my lovely stitching buddies, eating far too many chocolate biscuits and making a whole bunch of these little cuties.

sewing room secrets suffolk puffs

(Confession: Some puffs are not featured in this photo due to the accidental smudging with chocolate 🙂 )

I will admit that I’ve got a bit of an obsession with these wonderful little fabric flowers at the moment – I can’t stop making them, they’re so pretty!  Best of all, they are super quick and simple to make – even kids and total beginners can master them with ease.  Want to know how to make one?  Easy peasy ……

1.  Make two circular templates from card about twice the size that you want your puff to be. My circles were about 3½” and 2½” in diameter.

2.  Draw around the templates on to the wrong side of your chosen fabrics and cut them out on the drawn line.


4.  Tie a knot in your thread and sew a running stitch all around the circle quite close to the edge.


5.  Pull the thread to gather the fabric into the middle.


6.  Flatten the puff between your finger and thumb and secure the centre with a knot.


6.  Lay one puff on top of the other and secure with a couple of stitches.  Attach a pretty button and your done!

sewing room secrets suffolk puff

You can now use these simple puffs to adorn all manner of things.  Try attaching a brooch pin to the back, sew them on to a hair clip or cover a whole cushion with them…. the list is endless! I’ll be showing you what I did with mine in a later post, but until then go puff crazy!

Happy stitching!


26 thoughts on “a day of suffolk puffs and yo-yo’s

  1. Thank you for the explanation of the name. I too am addicted to making these lovely fabric yo yos ( I like the American name for them). I am very new to crafting and had never heard of these and my daughter and I needed a simple fabric flower so we made this up lol without ever realising it existed. Since then I discovered the yo yo makers and now can’t stop making them. The fun is using any fabric and seeing the completely different result.

  2. Hi Natalie
    Found your website looking for Suffolk puffs, love all the lovely things you make, so inspiring.
    I also live in the Cheshire countryside and wondered if you do classes ?

  3. Hi Natalie
    love all the lovely things you make, really beautiful.
    Just wondered if you do classes or have a sewing group as I live in the beautiful Cheshire countryside too .
    Keep making and posting your lovely projects as they are inspiring.
    Thank you

  4. Well how wonderful these are to make, so addictive. I came across then from my nice friend Helen. Who owns The little Fabric Store in Louth. She was making a throw and now I’m hooked.

  5. Hi, I was looking for instructions on making a puff clown doll (I made one at school years ago) and just wanted to refresh my memory, and then saw your blog and photos and gave me another idea, thank you so much for sharing 🙂 lovely website – take no notice of negative comments 🙂

  6. These Yo-Yos brings me back to childhood memories of my Aunt who loved making these and I was intrigued watching her make them.

  7. These are soooo cute and so easy to make too. Thank you for sharing ur talents with us. Just happened to bump into your blog and it’s really inspiring, I must say. Love.

  8. I have to admit, I’ve been sewing for years and have never attempted to make one of these cuties. I’m completely enamored by them now and will try my hand at them today for some coffee cozies I’m making.Thank you for putting this tutorial together in a delightful and simple manner, your pictures are beautiful.

  9. I didnt have a clue how to do these as a newbie sewer. Just what I needed to adorn the sewing cover I’ve made for my machine. Thank you.

    • Thank you for your comment Maurine. It’s really great that you know how to make Suffolk Puffs 🙂 However, there are lots of people who don’t. I was one of those people until a few months ago and I have been quilting and sewing for about 14 years! There are more intricate and demanding projects on here for the more experienced, but I will always try to offer some inspiration for the beginner too.

  10. You’ve inspired me to try one of these, it’s been years since my sewing kit was out but I thought I could do something simple,well my puffs didn’t quite come out as lovely as yours, but not to be beaten, tried again, 1 out 3 wasn’t bad. LOL

Thank you so much for visiting and taking the time to leave a comment. I love to hear what you have to say - it really does brighten my day! Natalie x

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