How to Make Puff or Biscuit Quilts

Bundle of colorful patchworked comforters with unicorn and stars design on white background - three pieces
annie_zhak / Getty Images

Puff quilts are often called biscuit quilts. To make one, plan out a puff quilt pattern on paper using a grid of nine squares across and 11 squares down before choosing fabrics. Fill in the blanks with colors or shades-of-gray color values to design the layout. A finished puff quilt will measure about 32 inches by 38 inches.

This technique differs from the traditional method used to make the quilts so before you begin, read the pattern to get a feel for the entire assembly process.

Fabric and Supplies

  • 3 yards of fabric for top squares (can be orderly or scrappy)
  • 2 yards of muslin or another fabric for back squares (will not be visible in the finished quilt)
  • 1 yard of fabric for (final) backing
  • 1 1/2 packages double fold bias tape (or make your binding)
  • Thread
  • Embroidery floss and needlepoint needle
  • Polyester fiberfill (one bag or a little more)
  • Safety pins or tacks

Cutting Instructions

  • Cut 99 6-inch-by-6-inch top squares
  • Cut 99 5-inch-by-5-inch squares of muslin (or other fabric used for back squares)

Yardage Helper

Assume the fabric has a usable width of at least 40 inches:

  • You can cut 6 six-inch squares from a six-inch-wide strip of fabric cut from selvage to selvage (possibly seven if the usable width is 42 inches).
  • You can cut 8 five-inch squares from a five-inch-wide strip of fabric cut from selvage to selvage.

How to Pin Quilt Squares

Quilt squares with pins
Mary Jane Cardwell
  1. Pin a top fabric square to a smaller muslin square (the wrong side of the top square should be against the muslin). Match all corners and center the top square's resulting pleats as shown. Leave one side of each pocket unpinned for stuffing later.
  2. Repeat, pinning all top squares to a muslin square.
  3. Arrange pinned squares into rows, orienting all pleats in the same direction.
  4. Use a 1/2-inch seam allowance to sew square pockets in each row together. Do not remove pins from unsewn edges.
  5. Sew a 1/2-inch seam along the sides of outermost pockets.
  6. Place each row back into its place within the layout.
  7. Sew a 1/2-inch seam along the bottom edge of each row, orienting short seam allowances to flow in opposite directions from row to row so that they will nest together nicely when rows are joined. Remove pins from row bottoms after sewing.
  8. Use the openings along the tops of rows to stuff each square with fiberfill. Fill squares nicely, but avoid over-packing—too much stuffing will make it difficult to pin and sew rows together.
  9. Sew a 1/2-inch seam allowance along the open edge of the top row.
  10. Pin and sew rows together, nesting seam allowances.

How to Make Backing

Puff Quilting
Mary Jane Cardwell
  1. Place the puff quilt's backing fabric right side down on a table. Place the quilt on top, right side up.
  2. Use safety pins or tacks to hold the layers together.
  3. Thread embroidery floss through a needlepoint needle and tie each corner of a pocket with a square knot. Move from the upper right to the lower left.
  4. Remove tacks or pins and trim backing even with sides of the puff quilt. Baste or zigzag stitch around the edges of the quilt.

How to Sew Binding

Finished puff quilting
Mary Jane Cardwell
  1. Pin bias tape around the quilt.
  2. Sew binding to the quilt with matching thread, using a wide zigzag setting and short stitch length. You could also bind the quilt with double fold mitered binding.
  3. Launder the puff quilt.

Change the Quilt's Dimensions

  • To make puff quilts with squares of a different size, cut the back squares one inch smaller than the top squares.
  • When making miniature puff quilts, try cutting the back squares 1/2 inch smaller than the front squares, and use a 1/4-inch seam allowance for all seams.
  • Experiment with sizes to see what works best.