Suffolk Puffs/ YoYo’s Since 1601!

Just east of London, the County of Suffolk has a rich and long-standing history on the East Coast of England.  (For full details, see Wikipedia.)  It’s an account that details how the Angles that England is named for became the northern folk (shortened to Norfolk) and the southern folk- which eventually became the county of Suffolk around the 5th Century.  The area is one that archaeologists like to frequent for artifacts from the Stone Age, Iron Age, and Bronze Age.  Charles Dickens found it so interesting that he chose this area as the setting for his well beloved tale of David Copperfield. So, it’s no surprise that Yosaic/ Yo-Yo/ Suffolk Puff Quilting can trace it’s history here as well.

There are mentions of Suffolk Puffs as early as 1601 in England.  Among the rural farming families that produced many of the textiles of their day, Suffolk Puffs sprang up out of the frugality and ingenuity of hardworking housewives determined to use every last scrap of fabric and puff of stuffing material.  Suffolk Puffs, as they came to be known, were used to make scrap-work dolls for children as well as for decorating clothing, making “patchwork” coverlets, pillow shams, and the like.  Often children and beginning sewers were called upon to create these puffy circles out of worn out clothing, scraps of fabric, and stuffing materials (such as sheep’s wool) that the economical homemaker saved and put to use.  By the 20th Century, it was widely known as Suffolk Puff Patchwork Quilting and was particularly popular in the Victorian era.

In America, they’re called (fabric) Yo-Yos.  It is widely assumed that the name comes from how similar the fabric circles look to the popular toy by the same name which arrived in the US around 1921.  They were just as popular in the west as they were across the Atlantic.  McCall’s patterns for Yo-Yo dogs, clowns, etc. date back to the 1970’s.  Today you can find Yo-Yo templates to aid in making various shaped Yo-Yos such as hearts or flowers.  They’re just as easy to make by hand in any size you choose without the template and one of the most portable quilting projects you’ll ever have!

There are SEW many things you can make from Suffolk Puffs or Yo Yo’s that one quickly becomes addicted to making these fast and easy scrap busters!

  • Yosaic™ Quilt Blocks
  • Yosaic™ Quilts
  • Yosaic™ Jewelry
  • Yosaic™ Purses
  • Yosaic™ Shawls
  • Yosaic™ Scarves
  • Yosaic™ Belts
  • Yosaic™ Clothing
  • Yosaic™ Aprons
  • Yosaic™ Accessories
  • Yosaic™ Ornaments
  • Yosaic™ Decor
  • Yosaic™ Bridal Wear
  • Yosaic™ Hats
  • Yosaic™ Facinators
  • Yosaic™ Hair Accessories
  • Yosaic™ Holiday Decor
  • Yosaic™ Little Sewers Early Learning Projects
  • Yosaic™ Paintings (The new Impressionism!)

From tiny scraps the size of a bottle cap to giant circles the breadth of a yard of fabric, any piece of fabric can be your Suffolk Puff!  You can use a variety of circles you may have around your home to trace a pattern or for more precise measurements and cutting simply purchase a rotary circle cutter.  Your finished Yo-Yo/Suffolk Puff will be about 1/2 that size.  (If you want to create a specific finished size, the circle you cut out should be 2 1/2 times that size.)

For more ideas on what you can make out of Suffolk Puffs/Yo-Yo’s, check out my Yosaic™ shop page for patterns!

Here’s a great link for: Everything Suffolk Around the World.  You’ll be surprised at how many places and things have originated from Suffolk, England!




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