The yo-yo is a thrifty way to use up scraps of fabric, or to re-purpose old fabric from garments or linen. It can be used individually or en masse for embellishing everything from hand-made stationery to jewellery

Yo-yo History

The use of the simple yo-yo for decoration and craft dates back many centuries. Yo-yo quilts were very popular in art deco times, when yo-yo making was particularly well-liked for its portability – little rounds of fabric could be whipped into a yo-yo anywhere, any time. The yo-yo toy was also very popular during the art deco 1920s and 1930s, which could help to explain the popularity of making yo-yo quilts during this period, according to the Alaska State Museum.

Whatever the origin, if you’ve never made a fabric yo-yo, you’re in for a satisfying treat. It should also be noted that it’s virtually impossible to just make one yo-yo. You’ll find yourself just wanting to make one more. Then another… and another. That quilt might not be impossible after all!

Yo-yo Uses And Children

Consider yo-yos as a great way to teach a young child needle skills which will, in turn, help to improve their fine motor skills or coordination. The yo-yo is easily achievable by a child, who will also gain a sense of satisfaction at completing the item, probably within 20 minutes or less.

Think outside the square when offering a yo-yo project for a child. You could make one of sturdy paper using a blunt needle, for example, or string a row of yo-yos made from crepe paper together as decoration for a party.

As a gift for a child, those readers born in the 1950s might recognize the yo-yo as the limbs of fabric rag-dolls, and they’re easy enough to make.

How To Make A Yo-yo

To make a yo-yo, first choose some interesting fabric. Experiment with fabrics and textures such as denim, silk, knit – or even a round crocheted doily. The finished size of a yo-yo is approximately half the diameter of the fabric circle.

  1. Trace a circle on your fabric with dressmakers’ pencil, and cut it out. A CD is a good size template for your first yo-yo trial.
  2. Select some sturdy thread and a long sharp needle. With the wrong side of the fabric facing you, stitch a running stitch around the circumference of the fabric circle. Leave the end of the threads loose.
  3. Draw the threads together to gather the fabric and form the puff, and finish with a knot.

Hints And Tricks

  • Make a tight yo-yo, that is, one with a barely visible opening in the finished product, by using a long running stitch. A short running stitch will result in a yo-yo with a hole, which may be the effect you desire.
  • If you are unhappy with the raw finish of the yo-yo, turn under the edge as you work the running stitch.
  • Thread your needle with a long length of thread if you intend to make many yo-yos and just pull through what you need for each.
  • If the back of the yo-yo won’t be seen in your finished product, consider using up flawed scraps of fabric.


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