Fabric yo-yos—those little circles of fabric that, when gathered, result in puffy rounds of charm—have many fans in the quilting world. Yo-yos are so easy to sew, you can claim proficiency after stitching only a few. And just like making English paper-piecing shapes, making yo-yos can be addictive. It’s fun to watch the stacks pile up!
One famous fan of yo-yos is our best-selling author of 2014, Kim Diehl. In her book Simple Graces, Kim shares how to make fabric yo-yos for her jaw-dropping quilt, “Welcome Wagon” (right). Learn below how to make yo-yos just like Kim does—once you get the hang of it, you can whip up yo-yos in any size!
How to make fabric yo-yos
from Simple Graces by Kim Diehl
Cut out an approximate 4″ fabric circle. With the wrong side up, turn a portion of the edge toward you a scant ¼" to create a hem. Using a knotted length of perle cotton and an embroidery needle, bring the needle up through the hem from the wrong side of the folded fabric to bury the knot between the layers. Sew a running stitch through all of the layers, near the folded edge. Continue turning the hem to the front and stitching as you work your way around the circle to your starting point.
Gently pull the threaded needle to gather the yo-yo edges into the center. Insert the needle under the gathered edge, just to the side of the center opening, and bring it out on the back of the yo-yo. Knot and clip the thread from the back, keeping the gathers taut.
TIP: I’ve found that keeping my running stitches approximately ¼" in length helps to produce tightly gathered yo-yo centers. If your centers look overly large even after your gathers have been pulled tight, it could be that your stitches are too small, resulting in too many gathers—try adjusting your stitch size and you’ll likely be happier with your yo-yos’ appearance.
Once you have a pile of yo-yos to play with, you can appliqué them to a background fabric, as Kim does in her “Welcome Wagon” quilt from Simple Graces:
Kim also appliqués yo-yos onto this springtime table runner from Simple Seasons:
New to yo-yos? Start with a small appliqué project to get into the groove.
“Welcome Wagon” door hanger from Simple Graces
Or, skip the appliqué entirely and simply sew yo-yos together with a few tacking stitches, as in this lacelike table topper designed by Country Threads:
Choose forty 5″ charm squares to make the yo-yos for this beauty from Country Threads Goes to Charm School.
What’s your yo-yo experience: made a million, made a few, or going to make some now? Tell us in the comments!