yo-yo or suffolk puff?

by craftapalooza on 25/03/2006

in Whip Up Tutorials

Here it is on request! Thanks for the enthusiasm you guys have shown for these whipup tutorials.

I haven’t been able to find out where the term “Suffolk Puff” comes from, but that is what “The A-Z of Quilting” book calls yo-yo’s. Anyone have any further info please do comment.

So…to begin. Get your fabric circles. The pink fabric on the right is approximately 5inches (130mm) in diametre. You’ll end up with a yoyo that has a finished diametre of approximately 2.5inches wide (60mm).


Grab your needle and thread, use doubled thread and knot the end. Pick up your piece of fabric and with one hand fold over a 1/4 inch (5mm) hem, slip your needle under this hem and between the back of the fabric and bring it up through the hem. This is to prevent the knot from peeking out . Then start a running stitch around the edge, the whole time sliding your hand around and pinching the hem.

the beginning

The longer your stitches the smaller the opening will be and using tiny stitches you will get a larger opening.

Whilst you’re stitching around the edge, gently pull the thread so your yoyo starts to pucker and gather.

in progress

in progress

Once you’re back around to where you started stitching, pull the thread tight (not too tight, you don’t want the thread to snap) and then knot it off. Then give your yoyo a bit of a working over to get the desired finish you’d like. I tend to pull my yoyo’s nice and tight however I’ve seen others that aren’t as tight in the centre, personal preference I guess.


Experiment with different fabrics. There are silk and cotton fabrics below, the silk ones are the solid colours. I love the way the silk reacts, makes a nice flat yoyo.


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{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

1 lisa s March 25, 2006 at 2:32 am

ms palooza you ROCK my world!! i love yo-yo’s…. :)
great tutorial…. you are so on it!


2 liz March 25, 2006 at 3:07 am

Hi, I love your blog. It’s fantastic. I’m now addicted.

I have been driving around Central Victoria and chatting to people about a craft that seems to have been so common around Australia, Ireland and elsewhere from the 1930s to 1970s that no one can tell me the name.

Baskets, toilet roll holders, etc. made from greeting cards.

The cardboard panels are lined with clear plastic, holes are punched through all three layers, and are then crocheted or sewn together with blanket stitch. I’m told you used to be able to buy ready-made wicker handles, and plywood bases.

I got talking to the woman who runs meg mog, a patchwork shop in Rushworth, who said she grew up with her grandmother making hideous creations, replete with blue ruffled nylonlace, and she’s appalled the technique is making a comeback! and says she saw a pattern recently in a craft magazine but can’t remember where…

sounds ripe for reinvention with a contemporary twist –


3 Katie C March 25, 2006 at 3:41 am

I love the yo-yos I think that they are so cute.


4 Zoe March 25, 2006 at 4:41 am

Thank you! I never quite understood how yo-yos were made, and this tutorial made it all seem quite easy and clear. What a good way to use up little bits of fabric too!


5 Shar March 25, 2006 at 5:17 am

Thank you!!


6 KnottieKnitter March 25, 2006 at 5:35 am

maybe i missed something, but what exactly are they used for once they’re completed? like a yo-yo cozie? or is “yo-yo” a term used in quilting too and it’s coincidental that its the same word?


7 Emily Dimov-Gottshall March 25, 2006 at 6:03 am

This is bizarre…exactly what I was going to look for…yo-yo’s!

Thank you!


8 heather March 25, 2006 at 6:14 am

My mom has a blanket made of yo-yos inherited from a great-grandmother, I think, I’m not sure, anyway, it’s gorgeous, all these little mandala-like circles of scrap fabric sewn together. :) Thanks for the tutorial, I’ll have to let her know about it.


9 Lynn March 25, 2006 at 9:11 am

On the Carol Duvall Show today, she showed how to make yo-yo’s. A viewer had sent in bottle caps that were covered with the yo-yo’s, then sewn together to make coasters and trivets. They were rather cute. You can see them here: http://www.hgtv.com/hgtv/cr_needlework_knitting/article/0,1789,HGTV_3263_4423956,00.html


10 keri March 25, 2006 at 10:50 am

Thank you so much! =)


11 Lavender March 25, 2006 at 11:18 am

In the “old” days, yo-yos are made from old worn out clothes and fabric scrapes…a way to not waste anything. The yo-yos are sewn together to make quilts. My friend has one that was made by her great grandmother that had fabrics from old clothes the kids had worn. Each yo-yo had a special memory for her great grandmother. As much as I appreciated the sentiments of such a quilt, I always thought they were kinda fuddy duddy. But using the beautiful silks and fabric that you did, they are absolutely gorgoeus!


12 johanna March 25, 2006 at 10:02 pm

Funny this should come up at the time it did… I’m making yoyos and using them as a stylized flower applique. I’m not turning under the little seam as I go, as I plan to sew on a button as the flower centre. Plus, without turning the seam, they sew up really fast, though that opening needs to be finished in some way.


13 Kristin March 26, 2006 at 5:30 am

Thanks for that great tutorial! I had actually been looking for good instructions, because I’m in love with these dolls:

Of course for $24 I should just buy one, but why take the easy way out, eh?!


14 jenny March 26, 2006 at 10:04 am

I’m in the same boat as knottie knitter. at the beginning of the tutorial i thought…a yo-yo from fabric? it didn’t make sense…and i still don’t know what a yo-yo of this variety is or what i would need one for. but this sounds too critical…i love whipup!


15 Kristen March 27, 2006 at 9:29 pm

I’m into Suffolk Puffs at the moment after seeing a Yo-Yo Pillow by Vicki at Turkey Feathers:

She inspired me to enthuse about Puffs / Yo-Yo’s on my blog (including links to a pattern for a dragon doll, and others):


16 polo March 27, 2006 at 9:49 pm

thank you for this tutorial!!


17 Krawuggl March 28, 2006 at 12:30 am

Thank you so much for your tutorial. I have seen these yoyo´s so often and wanted to make them on a curtain, but for not knowing how to make them the curtain is still plain. But from now on there is no excuse anymore for having no yoyos on it. And Lavenders idea of making a blanket is great. Can I please ask how to sew all this yoyos together – with the machine or better with hands, overlapping or neat side by side? Does anybody knows where to have a look on such a blanket?


18 Lavender March 28, 2006 at 2:37 pm

If anyone’s interested, I found lots of pictures of yoyo quilts on ebay. Some of these are really beautiful! – Not trying to get people to buy but it’s a great place to look at the yoyo and the placement.


19 admin March 29, 2006 at 2:26 pm

what is the next tutorial? maybe those button bracelets I see everywhere or how about some jewellery! or what about a knitted flower????


20 Krawuggl March 29, 2006 at 3:53 pm

Knitted flowers would be great!


21 pavlova April 6, 2006 at 10:22 pm

I am guessing that the name “suffolk puff” indicates the origin of the object; Suffolk England. They look quite like the ‘hats’ that peasants or laborers would wear during Tudor times. Suffolk was an area for agriculture…


22 Allison June 12, 2006 at 5:32 pm

I am searching for the origins of the term ‘suffolk puffs’. The only info I can find is early 20th century ‘yoyo’ quilts in the US- but presume they originate in England. Anyone know more…?


23 robin June 21, 2006 at 3:25 pm

Hi have just become fasinated with these little puffs. searching for some creative outlet for them. will tryt the ebay as someone else suggestd thanks.


24 Kathryn August 19, 2006 at 1:41 pm

Was so thrilled to find your website on how to make Suffolk Puffs.
Had been searching for the last hour and finally found you! Thank you!


25 Rachel September 7, 2006 at 11:14 am

I don’y know if I am meant ot be submitting anything on this site,,,,but I have just started working for a quilt & bag designer. She uses Suffolk Puffs in some of her designs. A bit biased but they are really nice! Lovely lady, she taught my son in kindy last year. Being a teacher has given her the ability to write easy to understand patterns. Sorry if I’m sprookn & if I’m not meant not meant to be here.(no Commission tho!)


26 Rachel September 7, 2006 at 11:17 am

Der. the web site is http://www.materialpossessions.com.au
Sorry first timer!!


27 Elizabet September 14, 2006 at 5:47 pm

Hi. Was searching on how to make these and can tell you why they are called Suffolk Puffs. This style of patchwork developed in the Rural agricultural county of Suffolk, England and became its signature patchwork for a period of time.

How do i know this? I was born there, we learnt about them at school and we learnt to make them.


28 arlee September 30, 2006 at 1:16 am

Remember you can use the wrong side of the fabric as well!!!! Sometimes the faded or less glitzy side is more interesting–and scale, remember scale–they can be huge or tiny!!!


29 Patty October 18, 2006 at 3:17 pm

I read the information on the yoyos and it was great info. However, When I was younger I had a yoyo doll, and I was just wondering if you had any ideas as to how to connect the yoyo so I can replicate the doll I had as a young girl.


30 carol Hickman February 14, 2007 at 2:01 am

Hi Hi,,,I too looked for ages, lots of suffolk puffs mentioned, but could not actually see any,,,so thank you very much for taking the trouble to show them……..I am making a little sample quilt and thought a few puffs would look lovely done like flowers in a basket…cant wait to try them.in silk – very good idea.


31 Yo-Yo quilt February 22, 2007 at 6:05 am

I have just complete over 250 8″ yo-yo’s!
This is for our king sized bed.
I have the yo-yo clown pattern from the 1950’s if any one wants it.
I bought it on eBay…
I had one of these cute clowns when I was little…
cold Maine


32 kathi April 2, 2007 at 10:26 am

Wonderful description on making yo-yos. Many thanks for the tip on the length of the stitches and how long and short ones will make small or large openings on your yo-yos. Now my yo-yos will be consistent.


33 Vita April 28, 2007 at 10:07 am

Does anyone have a picture of the yoyo doll and quilt with the instructions.
Thank you so very much.


34 Cheryl Little October 10, 2007 at 11:18 am

Febr 22nd, 2007, Yo-Yo quilt said she had the o-yo clown pattern from the 1950’s if anyone wanted it. I would love to have it.


35 Alison May 11, 2008 at 4:08 am

I made my children (now 31 and 36) clowns fron circles of fabric . I had a patters all those years ago and would like to replace it. Do you still have a pattern for a clown?


36 english person June 9, 2009 at 2:15 pm

suffolk is a place in england, so im guessing a person in suffolk made them (:


37 Nancy Ward July 11, 2009 at 3:08 pm


Today I posted an entry on my blog with a link to this tutorial.

Would you let me know if that’s OK?


Nancy Ward


38 katy April 17, 2010 at 2:51 pm

it dont tell me alot about it but itz cool


39 Conni August 19, 2010 at 11:28 am

Yo-Yo Quilt Gosh I know it’s 3 years later but hopefully I can still get a response… I would like the YOYO CLOWN pattern you offered to share. THANK YOU SOOO MUCH… my email is ConniM1@hotmail.com and if anyone also has PUFF YOYO instructions? THANK YOU!



40 graca October 9, 2011 at 10:45 am



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