There certainly is a lot confusion online and in print regarding a Puff stitch vs Bobble stitch, and for good reason. They are “mechanically” performed the same way and often erroneously defined exactly the same. Plus each designer has the freedom to describe how they choose to use the term within their patterns. However, there are in fact some guidelines to type of stitch employed for each to look like a puff or bobble, as well some common convention in identifying a puff vs bobble stitch.
Let’s compare their similarities and differences
* A Puff Stitch (puff) is distinguished as stitches joined at a single base (location / stitch) and also joined at the top of the stitches. The stitch employed is almost exclusively the Half Double Crochet (hdc) stitch to give it the slightly “puffy” look.
* A Bobble Stitch (bo) is distinguished as stitches joined at a single base (location / stitch) and also joined at the top of the stitches [the same as the Puff stitch] but employing only the long stitches, such as Double Crochet (dc) and Triple Crochet (tr).
Therefore, with Cali Chic Baby patterns, I denote a puff stitch as 2 hdc stitches or more and a bobble stitch as 2 or more dc or tr stitches. For both, 3 to 6 stitches are most common. I include a 2 stitch bobble in my Honey Bunny Pattern #82, even though 2 dc don’t create a significant “bobble,” because it still adds interest to the design.
I show both the 2 and 3 stitch tutorials, as they appear in the pattern, below for comparison:
How to make a 2-dc Bobble stitch
Follow the steps below by making 2 “half finished” dc, resulting in 2 + 1 loops on hook.
Yarn over and pull through all 3 loops.
How to make a 3-dc Bobble stitch
Make 3 “half finished” dc, resulting in 3 + 1 loops on hook. YO, pull through all 4 loops.
Now let’s look a more developed 5-dc bobble tutorial taken from my Sugar Baby Pattern #12. The bobble stitch is a great way to add eye popping “dots” or bumps to your crochet work.
How to make a 5-dc Bobble stitch
Follow the steps below by making 5 “half finished” dc, resulting in 5 +1 loops on your hook. Yarn over and pull through all 6 loops.
Bonus Information: Popcorn & Cluster Stitch
The following two stitches often get lumped in to the puff stitch vs bobble stitch confusion so I include them here:
* A Popcorn Stitch (pc) is distinguished as stitches joined at a single base (location / stitch) and also joined at the top of the stitches (again like the puff and bobble) — however this stitch is completed by joining together the top of the first stitch with the top of the last stitch. The stitches employed are the long stitches, such as dc and tr.
* A Cluster Stitch (CL) is defined as all stitches having a different base (spanning multiple stitches) but are all joined at the top of the stitches. This is also known as a “decreasing stitch” and can employ any stitch (sc, hdc, dc, tr, etc.).
For more on this topic, and a definitive source for all things crochet, visit the American Crochet Association.