Happy New Year to you all and I hope you enjoyed Christmas and that Santa was kind.
I quite enjoyed the cold, frosty weather over Christmas but I'm thoroughly fed up with the -6 and -7 0C tempertures and the snow of the last few days. Living on a hill has taken on a whole new dimension in the 'standing up' stakes, I can tell you.
Do you remember the 'gathering of yo-yo's', which eventually became a Christmas ornament?
Well I thought I'd write a little tutorial about how to make a simple fabric yo-yo without the aid of a Clover Yo-Yo maker. There is no disputing that they make yo-yo making easy. They're great if you want to make a great many yo-yo's or you need them to be a consistent size, but sometimes it just seems silly to invest in another sewing gizmo when you just need the one yo-yo because it would be just perfect, right here.... just to add a little..... (I wonder if you can really stop at one.....ummm) Anyway, they're not difficult to sew, without a lot of fuss - honestly!)
Mostly, I'm writing this because I've got a yearning to explore all (perhaps I should say as many as I can find.....) different things you can do with yo-yo's and this seemed a logical place to start. So, I apologise because this post is a little self-indulgent.
The history lesson Did you know that the fabric yo-yo has another life where it is also know as a suffolk puff. Whatever you wish to call them though they have many uses; as a method of constructing quilt blocks to make quilts, or cushion covers, bags, table runners, placemats, coasters .... anything you'd do with any quilt block really, as well as pretty embellishments.
Just think of the thousands of yo-yo's you'd need for a quilt! Yo-yo quilts were particularly popular during the 1930's and 940's using thrifted fabrics and those bits and pieces left over from other projects.
How snuggly and cosy could a yo-yo quilt could be?
copyright Indygo Junction website
Yo-yo quilts can be constructed in two ways; one where the yo-yo's are attached to a fabric backing thus making a quilt top and then finished in the usual way with wadding/batting and a backing fabric. The other way involves sewing yo-yo's together into quilt blocks and then sewing the blocks together resulting in something more akin to a fabric throw than a cuddly warm quilt.
The yo-yo has also been widely used as a pretty, textural embellishment on quilts, for soft toys, as jewellery, and as embellishments on clothes and cards. For me, it's the embellishing aspect of the yo-yo which I like most.
'A pattern from Indygo Junction' A bear made using lots of yo'yo's. The sewing lesson
The yo-yo is a little gathered piece of fabric. The fabric you use will change just how the yo-yo will look when you've completed it; for example a yo-yo in a very light cotton will have a very soft, light, floaty look to it whereas those made with felt take on quite a different appearance. Different ways of completing the gathering and applying them to other fabric will also give them very different looks from dainty little flowers finished with buttons or beads, to something which more closely resembles 'barnacles' or sea anemones.
Basically though a yo-yo begins as a circle of fabric.
The completed yo-yo will be half the diameter (width) of the 'starting' circle or to put it another way if you want a yo-yo that's 3cm wide when it's finished, you'll need to draw a circle with a diameter of 6cm plus 5mm for a seam allowance.
- fabric - cotton, felt, velvet, polyester cotton, sheers, denim - what else can you think of...
- sewing thread to match the fabric
- paper or light card (to make a pattern with)
- Something circular to draw around - like a bowl or jam jar lid or get technical with a compass.
- non permanent fabric marker (to draw around template) or pins
First of all create your circle template. Using your card and pencil, draw around your tin lid, bowl, coffee cup to make your circle. Then add a seam allowance of 5mm.
Using your pattern/template, either draw around it with the non-permanent fabric marker or pin the template to the fabric if you prefer. (Sorry, you can't see the mark very well in the photo.)
Cut out the fabric circle.
- Thread the needle with enough thread to allow you sew all the way around the outside of the circle I usually use a double thread because it needs to be quite strong to gather up the fabric. It's a bit frustrating if the thread breaks just as you get to the fun part.
Tie a neat knot in the end of the thread. Holding your circle of fabric with the right side facing away from you turn over your 5mm seam allowance and begin to sew using a simple running stitch.
Sew around the circumference turning over the seam allowance as you go. Once you've sewn around the outside (I usually take one stitch past where I started so that the circle gathers up nicely.)
Gently pull the thread so that the circle gathers up into a gorgeous little puff.
Note: The length of the stitch determines the finished gathered effect. The longer the stitch, the more defined the gathers and the tighter the centre of the yo-yo will be. Small stiches create a more open yo-yo.
You may want to space your gathers out a little bit. Once you're happy that it's even, secure the gathers and fasten off the thread.
I usually take the thread through to the back of the yo-yo to fasten off the thread. It's quite neat that way.
Felt is another lovely textile to make a yo-yo out of. You don't need to turn under a seam allowance with felt to get a nice neat centre. you just sew around the outside of your circle. Beware of sewing too close to the edge, you don't want the thread to pull out of the felt when you gather it up.
The completed felt yo-yo. Pretty, softly defined gathers don't you think.
The three yo-yo's...
Three different fabrics; velvet, cotton and felt. Look at how open the velvet yo-yo is in the centre. I don't think that's very pretty but maybe if the finished size was larger..... it wouldn't look quite so odd... something to think about.
I hope you like this and maybe try out some yo-yo's. They're a great way of using up odds and ends which is in tune with the make do and mend, upcycle, recycle, reuse, re-purpose times we live in.
How do you fancy heart shaped yo-yo's next?