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Sew a Suffolk Puff Tablecloth!

Updated on September 18, 2010

Suffolk Puffs

Easy to sew and economical to make, traditional Suffolk Puffs can be stitched together to create colourful and surprisingly beautiful tablecloths.

They are great for anyone new to sewing or textile crafts, as they require only basic skills.  They are also very portable, so it's a craft you could do on a train journey or while half-watching TV, for example. 

If you are looking for economical gifts for family and friends, Suffolk Puffs may be the solution, as they can be sewn into any shape.  So if a tablecloth seems like too big a project, how about making a table runner or a cushion cover instead.  The method of making Suffolk Puffs does not differ for any of these projects.

Suffolk Puffs can be sewn into any shape.
Suffolk Puffs can be sewn into any shape.
A mug is the perfect size for making Suffolk Puff templates.
A mug is the perfect size for making Suffolk Puff templates.

How to Make Suffolk Puffs

 You will need:-

  • cotton fabric
  • a large cup or mug
  • paper
  • pen
  • scissors
  • sewing pins
  • sewing needle
  • cotton thread

Soft cotton fabric works the best for  making Suffolk Puffs, though satin can be used too.  End-of-roll cuts are fine for crafting projects like this, and will prove more economical too.  The fabric in the photographs depicting how to make Suffolk Puffs came from a manufacturer's sample which had four pieces of the same pattern but with different colours predominant in each.  The pattern did not appeal to my tastes but the range of colours did - and once the Suffolk Puffs are made then patterns are obscured anyway.

Your choice of colours is entirely down to your own taste (or the fabric available.) 

Take a large cup or mug and place it upside-down on paper, then draw round to rim.  You can use old magazines or re-use typing paper if you wish.  Using newspaper isn't such a good idea as the newsprint rubs off onto the fabric. 

Pinning paper disks to fabric.
Pinning paper disks to fabric.

Cutting out Suffolk Puffs

Cut out your paper circles, then pin these to the fabric and cut them out.  You can cut out several layers of cloth at once to reduce time, and if you use two or trhee pins per circle then the cloth won't skate around so much when you're cutting.

How many to make is up to you.  Most Suffolk Puff projects require a large amount of individual Puffs.  On the unlikely chance you make too many, store these safely then use them in another project later.


Cutting out the fabric for Suffolk Puffs.
Cutting out the fabric for Suffolk Puffs.

Creating the "Puff"

Paper blunts scissor blades over time, and so it is advisable to keep a pair of scissors solely for cutting fabric. Sewing needles go blunt after a while too, and a sharp point makes sewing easier.

Once you have cut out a small pile of fabric circles, you are then ready to begin making Suffolk Puffs, which is an incredibly easy - though time-consuming - process.

Take one circle of fabric, and turn over a small hem. Cast on, then sew the hem down using loose running stitches. Don't make your stitches too small.

An easy running stitch secures the hem on Suffolk Puffs.
An easy running stitch secures the hem on Suffolk Puffs.

Get Ready to Puff!

Once the hem is stitched, gently pull on the thread to pucker-up the fabric. Gently tease it into place if you need to, to create a "puff" of fabric.

Cast off carefully - then make a hundred more!

Drawing tight the hem to form a Suffolk Puff.
Drawing tight the hem to form a Suffolk Puff.
Stitching Suffolk Puff together to form a tablecloth.
Stitching Suffolk Puff together to form a tablecloth.

Joining Suffolk Puffs

When you have created a large pile of individual Suffolk Puffs, now it is time to begin joining them together. This is a very easy process. Take two, hold them face-to-face then cast on, do a few tight stitches on the same spot, then cast off.

Link them together in rows, then link the rows, and you find the body of the tablecloth grows rapidly. You might choose to make a pattern using rows of colour, like I did with the tablecloth photographed at the top of this page, or you may prefer to simply revel in a myriad of chaotic colour - the choice is totally yours.

Care for Suffolk Puffs

Never put any Suffolk Puffs project in the washing machine. Launder by hand, and you will enjoy your Suffolk Puff tablecloth for many years to come.

© 2010 Adele Cosgrove-Bray


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    • AdeleCosgroveBray profile imageAUTHOR

      Adele Cosgrove-Bray 

      9 years ago from Wirral, Cheshire, England.

      That's true; I've got another Suffolk Puffs project on the go, and this is easily stored in a plastic lunch box.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      What a fun way to make a project you can sit and sew these at night when your relaxing and you won't have things scattered from one end of the table to the other.EXCELLENT job on the instructions you made them so easy to follow I now have one more project to do thanks.Have A Good Day !

    • AdeleCosgroveBray profile imageAUTHOR

      Adele Cosgrove-Bray 

      10 years ago from Wirral, Cheshire, England.

      Thank you, Icbenefield; I'm glad you enjoyed ths page. Yes, they're easy to make - a child could do them readily.

    • lcbenefield profile image


      10 years ago from Georgia

      I enjoyed reading your piece. My mom makes these and calls them yo-yos. She's made vests, dolls, pillow covers, etc. They are fun to make and very easy.

    • AdeleCosgroveBray profile imageAUTHOR

      Adele Cosgrove-Bray 

      10 years ago from Wirral, Cheshire, England.

      Oh, I agree, Tracy - for nearly all my patchwork projects, I use end-of-roll pieces at bargain prices.

    • profile image

      Tracy Monroy 

      10 years ago

      Great instructions here. Depending on how large your tablecloth is, you can probably just use fabric samples! Check out for fabric.

    • AdeleCosgroveBray profile imageAUTHOR

      Adele Cosgrove-Bray 

      10 years ago from Wirral, Cheshire, England.

      My list of creative projects is endless too. I'm glad you enjoyed this page.

    • RNMSN profile image

      Barbara Bethard 

      10 years ago from Tucson, Az

      this is a wonderful instruction on making the puffs!! makes me want to jump right up and do it....then I "membered" my quilt is still waiting on me and my latest gourd I am burning...its an hawaian leaf pattern :) so puffs will have to wait but I have added this one to my favorites!!! thank you and love you!!


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