My Yo-Yo Quilt

Posted on February 4, 2018 by prairiemoonquilts in Handstitching, Quilts

One of the projects I put on my list this year is my Yo-Yo quilt. I’m planning to do a lot of handwork this year, and my Yo-Yo quilt is a big hand stitching project that I’ve had going on for years. I’ve decided that this is the year I’d like to try and finish it.

I guess I should call it a coverlet, since it’s not technically a quilt, but I’m so used to calling it a quilt, I’m gonna stick with that.

Since I’ve posted a pic or two here on the blog and on Instagram lately, I’ve been getting asked lots of questions about it. So I thought I’d do a blog post to show what I’m doing!

When I started this quilt years ago (I don’t know how many years exactly, but well before 1999), to make my circle template, I drew around a teacup of my grandmother’s. So my circle template is just a hair shy of 3 1/4″ in diameter (real scientific).

I drew around the template on my fabric (not adding a seam allowance) and cut them out by hand on the line I drew. I keep piles of the circles in this little carton to grab and go for a quick carry-around project.

I’m using scraps of every kind — I’m not being choosy. Just using up all sorts of old scraps. The quilt is going to have an all-over dark look about it, but there are pops of real bright colors throughout. And it will have a wide border of all dark purple yo-yos around the outer edge (on the sides and bottom only).

Did I mention it’s going to be queen-sized? Yep! I didn’t wanna go small with this one. I have lots of scraps to use up! It will be approximately 87″ x 92″ when I’m done, but when I’m all finished, I’ll have to measure it again to see what size it really ends up.

I’m not using a yo-yo maker for my yo-yos. Here’s how I make one . . .

I turn the edge of my circle under 1/4″ (just eyeballing it), and start a running stitch around the edge to hold the turned-under edge in place.

Use fairly large stitches here — this is no time to be trying to make tiny little even stitches, because if you make tiny stitches, the result is too many gathers, and the yo-yo won’t pull up in the center neatly. So  — big running stitches all the way around the edge, turning the raw edge under as you go.

When you get back to where you started . . .

Pull the thread to gather the edges all up into the center tightly.

Then tack the thread in place so it won’t come loose, and cut your thread. Smoosh the yo-yo out flat, so the gathered spot is right in the center. My yo-yos are coming out real close to 1 1/2″ finished, but not exact, since my beginning circle isn’t exact.

To join the yo-yos together, hold two of them front sides together, and run your needle through just the edges, just enough to catch them good. I don’t tie a knot — you can see I’m holding the tail end of my thread between my two back fingers.

Then I take several tacking stitches, and once I’m sure it will hold, I cut both tails off.

Then you have two joined together! Repeat approximately a million times!

I keep all my finished yo-yos in a bigger carton, so they’re all together when I get ready to set some into a section.

I’ve been joining mine in little sets of 9.

Then joining the sets of nine into bigger blocks of 9 x 9 yo-yos. These sections are coming out to approximately 12″ x 12″. It doesn’t really matter that they’re not exact, just that they’re all alike! So that makes this a very forgiving project. You can start with whatever size circle you want — make them bigger or smaller — whatever you want!

I have 15 sections put together, so I still have a long way to go.

My quilt will have a total of 4352 yo-yos in it when I’m finished. 950 of those are the purple ones for the border, so 3402 of them are the scrappy ones. I’ll keep you updated on my yo-yo quilt progress this year, and I hope I can get it done, or at least very, very close!

16 responses to “My Yo-Yo Quilt”

  1. Cynthia Crawford says:

    Cheering for you! It will be quite an heirloom.

  2. Rose Marie says:

    You make yo-yo’s look as if they are easy and fun. I don’t like making them and would never, never make 950 of them, let alone 4352. You and I a discussion about this when first knew you. Cathedral windows fall into this same category!! It has been a long run with you…..learning, shopping, talking, discussing, learning technology, raising kids, and on and on. Everyone knows what women will be doing in heaven. (see list above)

  3. Scarlett Ragas says:

    Wow, Shelly!!
    This is a great idea to use up all those scraps I have. I may have to start one of these. Can’t wait to see it finished!

  4. Donna says:

    A handful of percale yo-yos was the first hand-sewing project my grandma taught me. I’ve always had a fondness for them, but not to the extent of making a large project using them. I have yo-yos made from silky type fabrics that an aunt’s sisters made.

  5. All different purples? Enjoy!

  6. Sheri Keller says:

    I love yoyo’s as an additive on quilts and I don’t mind making them, but not so sure about making over 4000. Can’t wait to see the finished product!!

  7. Wanda says:

    WOW ?? I don’t know anyone who has made enough yo-yos for a queen size bed. I’m impressed.

  8. Cool! And when do you slow down enough to do these?
    You’re one of the busiest quilters I know.

  9. Aileen K says:

    I started on in the 90’s but got tired of making them. I only had about 200. I gave them to a friends sister. Years later when I went to visit her, she had a king size yo yo quilt. Was so beautiful!!
    Glad I gave them to her….I was never going to finish them.

  10. Shirley Guier says:

    I’ll let you have all the fun on this one!

  11. Kate says:

    When they are stitched together do you back them??

  12. Krista Baker says:

    Shelly, how are you doing on this project? I too am wondering how you back them when they are all sewed together. I would love to make one of these quilts!

  13. Karen Sharpe says:

    I love it! I have been getting back into my yoyo making too. My Mom pasted about 21 years ago and I was left one to finish for her since this last year have lost my Dad too so need to get that quilt done of hers too. It’s tuff to pick it up the box still smells of her perfume 😒 I miss them lots. I pray for the strength to finish hers someday soon. Working now on a small one for my bear collection. Thanks for you blog and I’m excited to see your results🙂

  14. Brenda Jolin says:

    I love it too! I also made a queen size yo-yo quilt and it took me 4 years but it’s beautiful like yours! I have 2 suggestions to help anyone who is making a yo-yo quilt.
    I use a CD that is no longer used. I take about 4 or 5 layers of material. Hold it it down on the material with hand and use a rotary cutter and cut all the way around the CD. Lots faster then using scissors. I also have used my sewing machine to put them together.

  15. Mary says:

    I am sewing my great grandmas feed sack
    Yo yo quilt to a backing as it was too
    fragile. And my gr.g made a pattern
    In her quilt. A lot of work she did.
    And now me sewing all those little
    Yo yo s to a backing. More power
    to you.

  16. Wow, this is unbelievable! I started a yo-yo quilt one day and finished by making a darling throw pillow for my bed. It probably has 100+ yo-yos. I do, however, have a basket of scrappy yo-yos that may some day become a quilt. But not a queen size, not even a full size. I think it might be a runner for the foot of the bed. I also think I should show my grandkids how to make yo-yos and get some help on this 🙂
    Great work!

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