How to Sew a Puffing Strip

"Blue Linen" quilt

“Blue Linen” quilt

Fall has officially arrived, and I can’t think of a better time to stitch up a nice, comfy quilt for the cold months ahead. The blocks on this beautiful “Blue Linen” quilt from Martha Pullen’s book Heirloom Quilts include a treasure trove of heirloom techniques, including lace shapes, puffing, lace weaving and more. Below, follow our step-by-step guide for creating a puffing strip using your gathering foot, as seen on one of the quilt blocks. And, be sure to check out Heirloom Quilts for the complete guide to creating this lovely quilt:

1. The speed of the sewing needs to be consistent. Sew either fast or slow, but do not sew fast then slow then fast again. For the beginner, touch the “sew slow” button (if available on your machine). This will help to keep a constant speed.


2. The puffing strip should be gathered with a 1/2-inch (1.3cm) seam allowance, with an approximate straight stitch length of 4, right side up (fig. 1). Remember that you can adjust your stitch length to make your puffing looser or fuller. Do not let the strings of the fabric wrap around the foot of the machine. This will cause the fabric to back up behind the foot and create an uneven seam allowance, as well as uneven gathers. Leave the thread tails long in case adjustments are needed. One side of the gathering is now complete (fig. 2).


3. Begin gathering the second side of the strip, right side up. This row of gathering will be made from the bottom of the strip to the top of the strip. In other words, bidirectional sewing (first side sewn from the top to the bottom, second side sewn from the bottom to the top) is allowed. Gently unfold the ruffle with the left hand allowing flat fabric to feed under the foot. Do not apply any pressure to the fabric (fig. 3). The feeding must remain constant. Leave the thread tails long in case adjustments are needed. The puffing strip is now complete.

Heirloom Quilts

Heirloom Quilts

Heirloom Quilts is on sale now as part of our National Sewing Month celebration! Learn heirloom quilting techniques while creating two beautiful quilts – the “Blue Linen” quilt as well as the “Pink Tulip” quilt!


We have 30 specially selected products on sale for $9.14 the entire month of September in honor of National Sewing Month — click here to see a list of all products included in this offer!