Fabric yo yos can make any project feel cozy and vintage. They are unmistakably handcrafted, and while very simple to make, manage to be impressive. In the 30s and 40s women sewed them together in quilt-like patterns to make beautiful bedspreads and pillow covers – and even mantle scarves and doilies. They could be cut from scraps and were small enough to carry around on errands and visits making them an ideal needlework project for otherwise idle hands.
Decades later, yo yos haven’t lost their charm. These scraps of cloth make delightful embellishments on every sort of project, and if you’ll follow the directions below you’ll have a jarful on the shelf in no time, inspiring all sorts of creative ideas.
How to Create Your Own Fabric Yo Yos
The first step is to cut circles. The finished yo yos will be approximately half the size of the original circles, so if you have a specific project in mind, plan accordingly. I like to trace around caps and cups for easy, perfect circles that are uniform in size. You can also use a compass with a pencil for more precise circle sizes. This is a fantastic way to use up fabric scraps from sewing projects! I like to keep a stack of circles around to work on when I have a little spare time.
Once you have a fabric circle, the next step is to sew around the edge with a running stitch. When knotting the thread I like to leave about a 1 inch tail to make it easier to knot the ends together when the stitching is done.
For a traditional finish, hem the yo yos by folding over the edge of the circle before stitching the edge. (See photo below.) If you’re going to cover the middle with a button or bead you can stitch around the raw edge instead, creating less bulk and a tighter gather.
Next, gather the fabric by pulling on the thread while gently guiding the cloth toward the knot. Tie a knot in the loose end, or knot the two ends together to secure the edge.
Once the thread is securely knotted, trim the thread.
Finally, shape the yo yo by pinching it between your finger and thumb. With your thumb on the gathers, rub in a circular motion until the fabric flattens out and the gathers are distributed fairly evenly. Work with the fabric by pinching and pulling until the gathers lie flat and you’re happy with the shape.
So easy. So adorable. You’re going to wonder why it took you so long to start collecting yo yos.
The blossom-like circles are a perfect addition to the embellishment stash of paper crafters and card makers. Add a button to the center to transform them into a flower, or a rhinestone or bead in the middle to create a soft snowflake. They’re equally adorable on embroidery and sewing projects, and make delightful pins and hair clips.
These products may spark a few ideas of your own:
Drawstring Bag – think gift cards or prettily wrapped sweets!
Buttons – have I mentioned my button obsession lately?
Digital Stamps – the homey feel of hollyhocks are a perfect fit.
If you simply can’t get enough of these little charmers, watch for part two in a few weeks for more project ideas!