Make a fun quilt that can be old fashioned or funky, you decide! In homespuns, ginghams and vintage prints, yo-yos can look country or shabby-chic. In fun novelty prints or bold colors, they can create a mod spotty-dotty look. No special equipment needed!* Shown below is a table runner made with a gradient rainbow pattern of yo-yos.
*No offense to those who use yo-yo makers but I simply see no point to them. Sewing yo-yos by hand is so simple, I can't imagine it being made any easier!
Step 1: What you'll need
Pen for tracing-air-soluble markers work very well, but a regular pen will work on everything but the lightest fabrics.
Template (An old CD works great or a cardboard circle cut to your choice of diameters depending on the size yo-yo you want to make.)
Fabric-yo-yos are a great way to use up scraps!
Thread-regular cotton or cotton blend thread to match fabrics or mono filament for invisible stitches
Needle-for hand sewing
Step 2: Cutting your fabric circles
To cut the fabric circles needed to create yo-yos, trace your template with pen or air-soluble marker.
Then cut out the circle.
I find that I like to do yo-yos in stages so I trace a whole bunch of circles, then I cut them all out, then I sew them all.
Note that if you are using a CD as a template, ignore the hole in the middle and only trace and cut around the outside edge. :)
Step 3: Sewing your circle's edge
Looking at the wrong side of your fabric (the back side or the side without a print on it) you want to create a 1/4" hem around the entire outside edge.
Create a knot in the end of your thread. I like to use a doubled thread for strength. Fold over the edge of the fabric 1/4 " to the wrong side. Starting from the wrong side, insert your needle through both layers of fabric to create your hemmed edge. (In this example I have used contrasting thread but you'll want to use matching thread or mono filament thread.)
Continue to stitch around the entire circle. I like to use an up and down motion with the tip of the needle while creating an accordion look with the fabric while I sew by using my other hand to press the fabric onto the needle.
TIP: Your stitches do not need to be exactly the same size but the key is to keep the fabric folded under the same amount around the entire circle so that when you have completed several yo-yos, they end up the same size.
Step 4: Create your yo-yo
Once you have stitched the entire edge, pull the thread tight to draw in the fabric and create a gathered pouch.
Flatten the pouch so that a disc is formed.
Holding the yo-yo so that it doesn't unfold itself, stitch a few extra stitches through the first few gathers. Tie off the thread with a knot.
You have created a yo-yo! Repeat over and over until you have piles and piles of yo-yos!
TIP: When flattening your yo-yo, spread out the gathers so that they are nicely aligned and even before stitching through them to secure.
Step 5: Linking your yo-yos
When you've made a pile of yo-yos, you'll want to connect them to create something!
To link two yo-yos, simply stack them on top of each other with their gathered sides together.
Knot your thread and whip stitch along one side for a short distance. I usually sew for 1/4-1/2". Knot to secure. (Again, I have used contrast thread so you could see but matching or invisible thread works best for a nice finish.)
TIP: It is best to have a large pile of yo-yos made before you start sewing them together so that your colors and patterns are evenly dispersed
Step 6: Ways to arrange
When making larger yo-yo items like quilts, it is best to create rows and then attach those rows to each other.
There are several different patterns you can use to put your yo-yo items together. For my table runner, I aligned the yo-yos squarely. You can also attach rows in a staggered fashion.
Yo-yo quilts are usually left open and used as a coverlet or decorative item. You can also stitch them to a backing for a more substantial quilt. Or you can use single or grouped yo-yos as decorative elements on pillows and other items. Think of how cute a hexagon of yo-yos might look on a throw pillow!
You can also sew your yo-yos and rows so closely together that there are no spaces, giving them a more square shape.
Step 7: Special problems
Sometimes, despite out best efforts, yo-yos come out misshapen or different sizes. When this happens, you can adjust the seam allowance when you sew them together. If one of your yo-yos is a bit bigger than the one you're sewing it to, overlap that yo-yo over the smaller one by a bit and sew together folding the excess edge over the smaller yo-yo. You can also adjust the width of your stitched area, stitching for 3/4"-1" will use up more fabric and shorten a yo-yo so that your rows meet up again.