How to Sew Fabric Yo-Yos

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No more than circles of fabric gathered in the middle, often with a button in the center, fabric yo-yos evoke a sense of whimsy and playfulness.

a bunch of fabric yo-yos

Yo-yos are simple and enjoyable to make and are a fantastic way to use up scraps.

Once you learn how to make fabric yo-yos, you’ll be able to crank them out.

They’re an easy project to take on the go or to keep your hands busy when you’re watching TV, visiting with friends, or just hanging out with the family.

After following the directions in this tutorial, you’ll know how to make fabric yo-yos.

Tip: Read all of the steps before you begin.

Preparation

Gather the Supplies

  • scraps of fabric
  • circle templates (These can be store-bought templates, handmade templates, or circular objects you have around the house.)
  • marking utensil (pencil, pen, water erasable marking pen)
  • thread
  • hand sewing needle (longer needles work better)
  • scissors
  • buttons or other embellishments when sewing yo-yos together (optional)

Prepare the Fabric

  • Press wrinkles out of the fabric scraps
  • Use the templates to trace circles onto the fabric. These can be store-bought templates like the ones pictured below, handmade templates, or circular objects you have around the house.
  • Cut out the circles from the fabric scraps.

Note: A finished yo-yo is about half the size of the original circle fabric.

Diameters of templates and finished yo-yos
Template Sizes: A=5-inches, B=4-inches, C=3-inches, D=2-inches
Diameter of TemplateDiameter of Yo-Yo
5 inches2.5 inches
4 inches2 inches
3 inches1.25 inches
2 inches3/4 of an inch

Construction

Video Tutorial

Photo Tutorial

Thread the needle and knot the end of the thread.

Fabric circle and threaded needle

With the wrong side of the fabric circle facing you, fold the edge of the circle in about 1/4-inch.

Insert the needle:

  • either under the folded edge between the two wrong sides (shown in the photo below)
  • or through both fabric layers (shown in the video linked above).

Push the needle to the right side of the fabric then pull the thread through. Make the first stitch a small one.

Pull thread to secure knot

Continue folding the edge of the fabric over 1/4-inch while passing the needle in and out through both layers of fabric. The stitches should be fairly equal in length. This is a running stitch.

Note: Shorter stitches will produce a larger hole. Longer stitches will result in a smaller center hole.

Running stitch along the edge of the fabric circle

You’ll use the running stitch around the entire edge of the circle. Tip: Take a few stitches on the needle before pulling the needle through.

Take several stitches on needle before pulling it through.
Running stitch around entire fabric yo-yo
Go around the entire edge of the circle with the running stitch.

Gently pull on the thread to gather the edges of the circle to the inside.

Pull the thread to gather the fabric of the yo-yo

Adjust the gathers so they are smooth and evenly spaced.

Secure the yo-yo by stitching over a couple of the gathers and pull the thread gently. Stitch through the gathers again, create a loop, and tie off the thread.

Secure fabric yo-yo pleats with a couple of stitches and a knot

That’s it…you’re done!

Size of the Center Hole

You can control the size of the hole by the length of the running stitches.

The yo-yo project will guide your decision on whether or not you want the hole to be small or large.

Fabric yo-yos can have a small hole or a large hole in the center.

Fabric Yo-Yo Projects

There are a lot of creative things you can do with yo-yos either in single or multiple layers.

Layered fabric yo-yos
Layered yo-yos

They can be embellishments on pillows, picture frames, tea towels, or headbands.

Use fabric yo-yos to create small projects such as wreaths, a wristlet purse, garland, key chains, ornaments, or a bouquet of flowers.

You can even sew them together and create large projects such as bed coverings, table runners, or clothing.

There are a few yo-yo project tutorials (each with FREE templates) on The Ruffled Purse:

Three projects using yo-yos. Christmas tree ornaments, garland, and a circle coaster with a plan on it.

Let’s Connect

My main goals are to support, empower, and inspire you to discover the joy of sewing.

Need help or have questions on this project, pattern, or tutorial? Send me an email at nicki@theruffledpurse.com and we can work together to get it figured out!

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