In the 1930s and 40s, it was popular to make entire quilts from a series of hand-sewn yo-yos. Those quilts are not only beautiful, but insanely huge accomplishments. Today, I’m pleased as pie to have sewn nine yo-yos on a hot pad. It’s a smaller accomplishment, but it looks just like Granny’s!
If you’ve never sewn a yo-yo before, read on. It’s easy and you can make them anywhere, without a sewing machine and without any fancy tools at all.
How To Make a Fabric Yo-Yo:
First, you’ll want to make a circle template out of card stock. Just remember that the finished yo-yo will measure roughly half the diameter of your template, minus 1/4 inch from seam allowance. If the math doesn’t seem to add up, you’re right: it would be 1/2 inch less from seam allowance — were it not for the hole in the middle of the yo-yo, which adds back about 1/4 inch.
Trace your template on the wrong side of fabric and cut out the fabric circle(s).
Cut a piece of thread long enough to go around the circle twice, plus an extra 10 inches. Now fold the thread in half, and thread your needle so that there’s a loop at one end and two tails at the other end.
Folding back a scant 1/4 inch at the circle’s edge, send the needle through until the loop appears. Send the needle back through from the other side — close to the loop — then pull your needle through it. This forms your “knot.”
Folding back fabric as you go, make even stitches that are about 1 centimeter in length.
(If you make smaller stitches, the hole in the middle of the yo-yo will be bigger.) When you get to the end, overlap by one or more stitches.
To form the yo-you, gently pull on the thread tails until all the fabric has gathered at the center and make a few extra stitches to secure (this will create the hole in the middle). Tie a knot and hide the thread tails inside the yo-yo. Finished!
Yo-yos are great for making quilts, coverlets, and for embellishing pillow tops, tote bags, clothing, hair accessories, soft toys and kitchen accessories — you name it, a yo-yo can improve it.
To make your own “Granny’s Yo-Yo Hotpad,” make nine yo-yos in coordinating fabrics and pin them onto a hot pad — store bought or handmade. Using the blind stitch, sew each yo-yo to the hot pad and hide the thread tails inside the yo-yos. That’s it! Your hot dishes will never feel more cushioned and your table will thank you!
Photo credits: Amy Sinibaldi