A Puff Quilt on the Longarm!

Friday, December 23, 2022

A couple weeks ago, Karlee Porter shared on Instagram how she was making a puff quilt on her longarm. I instantly thought, "Why didn't I think of that?!" So I HAD to make one! (Check out the one Karlee made HERE!)

A puff quilt made with the Nordic Cabin fabric collection by Cherry Guidry for Benartex

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I had gotten a pack of charm squares from Cherry Guidry at Quilt Market of one of her upcoming collections called Nordic Cabin, and it was perfect for a snow day sew day experiment!

Nordic Cabin fabric collection by Cherry Guidry for Benartex

I laid out all the 5" squares on my design wall (a flannel backed tablecloth pinned on my wall) so I could overthink their random placement. I had just 40 squares, so I added two more from my stash to make an even 6 x 7 layout. This isn't going to be a very big quilt, but it's an experiment, so I'm okay with small quilts for that!

Fabric squares laid out and ready to sew

Then I just used my 1/4" foot to piece them into rows.

Sewing fabric squares into a row

And then the rows into a quilt top. When sewing rows together, I press all the seams in odd numbered rows to the left, and the seams in even numbered rows to the right. This allows the seams to "nest" and make for nearly perfect corners!

Sewing rows into a quilt top

I've been using SewTites magnets to hold my backing fabric onto my longarm leaders for awhile now. I love that they hold minky fabric well! And they're SO quick and easy to put on and take off.

SewTites magnets holding minky fabric onto the longarm

I used a light blue dot minky that I had in my stash, then some 80/20 batting from Batting Super Sale. I was using up batting scraps, so you can see in the photo below how the batting doesn't reach all the way to the bottom of the quilt. More on that later.

A patchwork quilt loaded on the longarm and ready to quilt

Once the quilt was loaded on the longarm, it was time to find the Poly-Fil. I *swore* I had a huge bag of Poly-Fil in my stash, but after an hour of hunting, I just couldn't find it. I was making this quilt on a snow day with temps well into the negatives, so I was not going to run to the store. As a last-ditch effort to keep this project from becoming a UFO, I messaged my neighbor to see if she had any. And behold! A brand new bag! Some people ask their neighbors for eggs; I ask mine for craft supplies!

Poly-Fil stuffing for making a puff quilt

Now it was time for the good part! A few years ago, I learned a "one start, one stop" technique of quilting from Dorie Hruska from her book Making Connections. I've used it several times when quilting, but it never occurred to me to use it for making a puff quilt! If you can see in the photo below, it shows the first line of stitching. You quilt up the left side of the first square, across the top, then down the right side. Then you repeat this "up, right, down" pattern all the way across the first row.

One start one stop quilting on the first row of a patchwork quilt

Then you make snowballs of Poly-Fil stuffing...

Snowball sized Poly-Fil for making the puffs of a puff quilt

...and lift up the quilt top to stuff them under each square to create the puffs!

Adding Poly-Fil under each fabric square of a patchwork quilt during quilting to make a puff quilt

Then starting on the right side of the quilt, you quilt all the way across the bottom of each block of the first row. Then you repeat the "up, right, down" pattern for the second row, stuff them, then quilt across the bottoms of the squares. Rinse and repeat.

Quilting a patchwork puff quilt on my longarm

When I got to the end of my batting scrap, I laid another piece just overlapping the first one and just kept going.

Frankenbatting - two scrap pieces of batting overlapped

The process was very quick and easy! And it created the BEST texture!

The puffs of my puff quilt still on my longarm machine

I used minky for the back, and Karlee used fleece on the back of hers. I like how those fabrics have a bit of stretch to accommodate for the puffiness while the quilt is on the longarm frame. Also, if you have side clamps for your longarm, I'd use those to help keep the whole thing square as you quilt.

The puffs of my puff quilt still on my longarm machine

After taking it off the longarm, I cut off the excess batting and backing. This required a bit of pressure on my ruler to flatten the puffs so I could cut a straight-ish line.

Trimming off the excess batting and backing fabric using a ruler and rotary cutter

I found a gray fat quarter in my stash that had white dots like snow, so that became my binding. I still cut my usual 2 1/4" strips, and it worked great! I made sure to squish the puffs if needed so I could get the binding lined up well along the edge.

Sewing quilt binding on by machine

I remembered to sew one of my satin quilt labels into the binding too! This is my 37th quilt finish for the year, and my 445th quilt finish of all time!

A puff quilt made from winter-themed fabric designed by Cherry Guidry for Benartex

I braved the below zero temps outside to get a few pictures of the quilt in the snow.

A puff quilt made from winter-themed fabric designed by Cherry Guidry for Benartex

Look at the back! Can't you just feel how soft and comfy it is?!

A light blue minky-backed puff quilt

I absolutely love trying new things, and this worked out fantastic! I would do it again, but I'd make more squares so the quilt would be even bigger. The technique does make the quilt turn out smaller than a traditional quilt would, so this one is only about 24" x 28". It's great for a lap quilt for my kids, but it would need to be bigger for any useful lap quilt for an adult. I'd even suggest using 6" squares instead of the 5" ones if you planned to cut your own squares. I think that would work great too!

A puff quilt made from winter-themed fabric designed by Cherry Guidry for Benartex

Overall, I'm very pleased with how it turned out, and I'd definitely make another one!

A puff quilt made with the Nordic Cabin fabric collection by Cherry Guidry for Benartex

P.S. If you were to inspect this quilt up close, you'd find that my stitches aren't perfect and my quilting lines aren't exactly straight. I learned a lot, and I know for a fact there will be no quilt police coming to arrest me for a few imperfections. And we will love and use this quilt just as we would a perfect one! With anything you try for the first time, give yourself grace. Life lessons there, not just for quilts! :) 

8 comments:

  1. Thanks for the in depth tutorial! I've always wanted to make a puff quilt but the process didn't seem like any fun. This seems very fun! Merry Christmas!

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  2. Thank you for the tutorial. I have always wanted to try this..

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  3. I want to make one, but want to use wool for stuffing. I have 33 sheep, so I want to use what I have.
    I love your fabric!

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  4. That is one interesting technique. I will link it up to my Tips and Tutorials for the month if you don't mind. You are a brave woman to go out into the cold like that for a photo shoot. I stayed in as much as possible during our deep freeze!

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  5. Thank you for the tutorial. The quilt is absolutely adorable.

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  6. I went over and looked at Karlee's too. You two have really nailed this one! That is a much better construction method than the traditional one. I just might try that! Squirrel, squirrel, squirre! LOL

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  7. Using a long arm helped keep the sandwich somewhat taut and lined up, how would you modify the technique to use on a domestic machine?

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