Puffy Quilt Tutorial

Puffy blanket

Yesterday I told the story of my epic puffy quilt crafting project that spanned nearly 3 years. While that doesn’t exactly fit the criteria of this site about craft projects that can be completed quickly and easily in the spare time you can find, I thought it would be good to do a quick tutorial in case you would like to try to make the best blanket ever.

The hardest part of the whole thing (and really any sewing project) is picking out the fabric. I spent the longest time in the fabric store choosing the 10 coordinating designs needed for this pattern. I love blues and greens, so I went with those, and mixed patterns and solids for a more tame design. Once you have your amazing fabric colors chosen, get them cut.

Total project time: 3 years and counting

Actual work time: who knows? I work on it for an hour at a time and go months without doing anything at all. This is a back of the closet project for me, but I’m so glad I finished it because the finished product is well worth it!

I honestly don’t remember how much of each fabric I got, but I do know that I have a ton left over, so here is an approximate shopping guide:

Front pattern – 10 coordinating fabrics – 1 yard each (to be safe) You could probably get away with 1/2 yard each if you’re feeling risky.

Back of each “puff” – 1 fabric – 1 1/2 yards (get the cheapest fabric you can find… this will be 100% hidden in the finished blanket) You can even use any scrap fabric you have from other projects. Like I said… it’s going to be completely hidden.

Blanket Backing – 1 cozy fabric (I picked a solid tan fleece to match my living room) – 1 yard (or enough to be the finished size of your blanket)

Stuffing – 1-2 bags

Step 1 – Wash the fabric. (1 hour) I hate this part because I’m always so excited to get started when I get home from the fabric store, but if you don’t wash your fabric first, you could have weird shrinking issues with the finished quilt if you try to wash it later. Plus, you want your cozy quilt to be ready to snuggle in right away. Don’t skip this step. Oh… and don’t forget to iron the fabric after you wash it. (The worst! But totally necessary.)

Step 2 – Cut the squares. (several hours – spread this out over a few days) *Take the blanket backing fabric and fold it up and put it away somewhere before cutting fabrics. This will be a solid piece at the end.

Having the right tools really does help in this case. I used a rotary cutter and fabric cutting board marked with the measurements. I also used a quilting square to keep my cuts straight. My cut squares are 5 1/2 inches for the top fabrics and 4 1/2 inches for the back fabric. (You want the back fabric to be a bit smaller, so that when you line up the edges of the two to sew them together, you will have room for the filling.) Make this choice wisely. If you have bigger squares, you will not need as many… I chose relatively small ones and felt like I would be cutting fabric forever. That being said, I cut ALL of the fabric I bought into tiny squares (mistake). You only need 10 squares of each fabric if you follow my pattern. I would have liked larger scrap pieces to make coordinating pillows or something. Now I have stacks of tiny squares of my favorite fabrics that I can only use to make more awesome puffy quilts. (Maybe I’ll have them finished in time for my boys to give to their kids!)

Step 3 – sew the puffs. (3 minutes per puff if you’re on a roll) Align the bottom fabric with the top in one corner. Sew across the bottom edge, making sure to make a tiny pleat halfway across. Then sew the next two sides in the same way, keeping the edges lined up as you go. Before sewing the final side, stuff the puff with a bit of poly-fil stuffing and sew the puff shut. No need to be neat about it, because you’ll be sewing the puffs together and the raw edges will be hidden.

Step 4 – create rows of puffs. (45 minutes per row) Once you have your first two puffs, put the right sides together and sew across the edge to attach them on one side. Keep adding more puffs until you have a row of 10.

Step 5 – attach completed rows together (5 minutes per row) After you finish the first two rows, you can sew them together. If you want the diagonal pattern like mine, you should rotate the order of fabrics so the first fabric in row 1 is the second fabric in row 2 (see pictures below). Don’t worry about getting the corners to line up exactly – the puffs will hide your sloppy sewing skills (if you sew like I do!) The best part of doing the project one complete row at a time is that it packs up nicely. You can add a row a day (or week, or month, or year!) and then pack the quilt-in-progress away with the stacks of cut squares. If you sew all of the puffs first without attaching them, you will have a closet of loose puffs, and nobody wants that

Step 6 – add the backing fabric. (1 hour) Give yourself a pat on the back because you finished the hardest part! Now, in order for this to become your favorite cozy thing, you just need to hide the ugly back. Place your quilt right side up on the floor (or whatever work surface you have available). Dig the blanket backing fabric out of the very safe place you stored it. Then, place the blanket backing fabric right side down on top of the quilt. (The sides you want facing out should be facing each other at this point.) Sew completely around 3 edges of the quilt. Stop about halfway through the last edge and turn the blanket right side out. Finish sewing the final section shut. With this design, there’s no need to iron the seams because it’s so puffy!

Step 7 – Take a nap. You deserve it!

Quilt Blanket Saga

Before I had my 2 boys, I had at least 3 craft projects going at a time. I would spend a Saturday afternoon sewing a new outfit or making curtains for my office.

When I was pregnant with my first baby, especially toward the end, I went into nesting mode. This involved reorganizing my pantry. I still have the color coded and labeled bins and the magnet board for “meal planning” that hasn’t been touched in at least 3 months. It’s a beautiful thing and even now I think about how wonderful it was to have the time to spend an entire weekend organizing just one tiny space in my home.

The best project of that pregnancy, however, was the tufted quilt blanket I planned and started in the last month. (Inspired by Pinterest, of course.) My due date was July 15, so after the school year ended mid-June, I thought I would have all the time in the world to finish the project while I binge watched episodes of “A Baby Story” on TLC. I carefully cut all of the pieces… that took a whole weekend. I started stuffing the quilt and sewing it as I went, which was a tedious process, but I loved every minute of it. This was going to be the most glorious lap blanket in the world.

And then my son was born two weeks before my due date.

At first, I would set him on top of the cozy tufts of finished blankie while I worked, but inevitably, the sound of the sewing machine wasn’t as soothing to my infant son as it was to me. Alas, I had to abandon the blanket. I had stacks of cut fabric and no time to make anything out of it.

Fast forward 2 1/2 years to the end of my second pregnancy. Again, I was feeling that nesting urge as most pregnant women do. This time, however, I wasn’t starting from scratch. I didn’t have thousands of fabric squares to cut. I did have half of an amazing quilt in all of my favorite colors that promised to be the center of the cozy universe, I had a toddler running around, and I had a strong determination to finish it before baby 2 arrived (knowing this time that after baby, nothing was going to get done).

I originally planned on the blanket being 10 squares across by 20 squares long, but settled to make it 10 x 10 instead to “just finish the darn thing already.”

I am proud to say that I DID finish that blanket, and I backed it with a soft fleece fabric. It is amazing, and soft, and warm, and one of my favorite craft projects… even if it did take the longest to complete.

Quilted blanket
This is the tufted blanket that took over 2 years to finish, thanks to the birth of my son.