Today I had a go at bubble quilting, also known as puff and biscuit (USA name for bun) quilting as each piece is a puffed up, bubble shaped bun. I think they look like particularly plump ravioli or scoops of ice cream.
Whatever you call it I recommend it strongly, it’s a great way of using up scraps and lots of fun. I chose to make a chair pad for a tiny chair for my first attempt to establish how tricky or time-consuming the process is. I have added cushions to my ever-increasing to make list now.
I first saw this technique in action in a small quilt in a gift shop in Norfolk a few years ago but had no idea what it was called. I recently saw a photo of a babies cot bumper made using the same process. It looks so comfortable, I would love a big rug or bed roll made of bubbles but fear it would not get completed.
I used a cheats method, of course, trying to reduce as many steps as possible, there are detailed tutorials available explaining the correct method and other shorter versions.
- Fabric for the top squares – these are visible so use your fave stuff
- Fabric for backing squares – this won’t be seen so use up ugly stuff or random bits and bobs
- Fabric for the backing – it depends on the creations final destination, a rug backing would need to be robust. Whereas a blanket backing should be snuggly, I chose fleece for a seat pad backing.
- Fabric for edging – again the intended purpose will dictate this, shop bought bias binding could be used.
- Stuffing – polyester, wadding, snipped up tights or a collection of overlocker tails, if it’s for a baby blanket consider the usual rules
- Pins, I also use hair clips although not essential I find them quick and easier than pins to use.
- Sewing machine – could hand sew if that rocks your boat
Cut out the required number of squares, the same number of front and back but the back squares are smaller.
I used a handy coaster I had on my desk as a template and reduced the backing square by 2.5 cm all round. How many and of what size depends on your desired outcome, I used four rows of three for mine (12 in total). Finished size = 16 x 20cm, square size =, 10 x 10 cm (backing square = 7.5 x 7.5 cm). Have a play around laying out your squares until you are happy with your design. Take a quick photo or make a rough sketch of your ‘pattern’. Note that my squares have been folded and pinned in the image below.
Folding & Pinning
The aim here is to create a folded pleat in your squares making them the same size as the backing squares. I suggest making a cardboard template of the backing square and one cut in half. I used a backing square but a template would make the process quicker and more accurate.
Place your template next to the square to be folded, pinch a pleat horizontally making the square the same height as the template. Clip (clamp) or pin in place and apply the same process making a vertical pleat/fold. Use a straight pin to hold both pleats/folds in place in the middle of the square. The hair clips can be removed now they have done their clamping duty.
I pinned all 12 squares ready for assembly but you could pin as you go if you prefer, I like to set up an assembly line of sewing.
Place the folded square wrong side down and place the backing on top, do this with three sets (or how many squares your project will have in a row). Join two squares then another to create a strip of three squares.
Place the strips right sides together on top of each other and join the long edges together, for a 3 x 4 quilt I joined three strips.
Dont worry about the perimeter seams as these will be stitched together when you add the backing and edging.
The photo above shows the right side after the pins have been removed but the blocks have not been stuffed. I fancied a ruffled skirt edge on my seat pad so I attached it now (I should have left the pins to avoid catching any pleats but forgot!)This closed all the little block pockets (blockets?).
I stitched just to the side of the stitching that made the ruffles, if I was not a lazy bones I could have used my ruffle foot. I have misplaced my tiny screw driver and its a long way to the Wolf Lair to fetch another.
I attached ribbons here to tie the pad onto the chair, fold ribbon in half and place against edge. Fold skirt diagonally so it doesn’t become caught up when the backing is attached, and clamp in place. Stitch across the ribbon holding it in place, do a few rows for extra strength.
Snipping and stuffing will transform this baggy sad sack to a pleasant plumped pillow!
Now for the fun, stuff each blocket
As each blocket is plumped it starts to look really nice, in my excitement and I got carried away and didn’t think the backing application through. I won’t bore you with the details but my lapse of concentration included unstuffing, re stuffing, poking, prodding and swearing!
Here’s the thing, stuffing the blockets makes stitching the backing on closely difficult but stuffing it afterwards requires borrowers like hands.
I suggest either hand sewing it on, sandwiching it together with bias binding & use a binding foot. Or slightly understuffing the perimeter blocks and fixing the backing like below leaving a gap for turning.
Turn it inside out, after stitching up, re plump the blocks as required and hand sew the gap closed.
all the odd ugly fabric squares are hidden, the slits should be hand sewn up and seams finished prior to closing the gap. (I didn’t do any of these of course)
Here it is finished
If you are feeling inspired here are some links for two great detailed tutorials that show how it should be done.