January 13, 2012

DIY Fabric Yo Yo Projects

Every year, I forget how busy the shop gets during the holiday season - and how much time I need to recuperate afterwards! The time off, however, gives me the freedom to create again purely for fun.

Lately, I've been experimenting with fabric yo yos. I first encountered yo yos while perched on my parents' bed, running my fingers over the ancient yo yo quilt that adorned it. It had been lovingly hand-sewn by my great-grandmother, an immigrant to this country who had a large family and not much money. Nothing went to waste. I'd stare at the quilt for hours on rainy afternoons, wondering where each scrap of fabric had come from and what it had been before - a shirt, curtains, a dress?

I never did find out, but I remember the vivid colors of that quilt to this day. (And one day, I vow to make my own version!)

It's very easy to make yo yos. Pick a round object to trace around - a spool of ribbon, a glass, a plate - and cut circles out of the fabric of your choice. The completed yo yo will be much smaller than the stencil you use, so don't go too small. For these small ones, I used spools of ribbons and thread.

I like to use a doubled length of thread for strength, but you can use a single one if you'd like. Thread through a needle, knot the end, and then go around the outside of your circle using a running stitch. Keep your stitches even, and fairly close to the edge (about a 1/4" from it).

When you get all the way around, pull your thread tight to gather the fabric. Stitch through the nearest folds and knot to secure. Cut your thread as close as you can to the knot, and hide any ends by tucking them into the middle.

If you use cotton, your yo yo will look like this - very flat and thin and even.

If you use silk, it won't be quite so even or round on the outer edges, but it will have more free-form charm and seem a bit more rustic.

Make yo yos of various sizes, and then stitch them together to create pendants or bracelets. You can use different colored thread - like I used red here - to add a bit of contrast, or match your thread to the predominant fabric color to hide it.

Three yo yos like this would make a great bib necklace - just attach chain or ribbon on either side so you can tie it around your neck!

Yo yos also make great snowmen adornments for decorating your home in winter.

Use three different sizes, each slightly larger than the last. Make your yo yos. Now it's time to stitch on a face and other details!

I used seed beads for the eye and mouth, embroidery thread for the carrot nose, and festive red pearls for the buttons.

For hanging, attach a loop of ribbon or thread to the top of the back of his head.

Yo yos also make lovely flower rings. I used silk for these, in yellow and scarlet.

I made a leaf out of a triangle of velvet - use a running stitch across the longest side, and pull tight to gather. Knot, and trim the ends.

Attach the leaf using fabric glue, and then use jeweler's epoxy or another strong glue to attach the flower to the ring base.

These would make great gifts for your friends for Valentine's Day, or for bridesmaids!

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