Yo-yos by the Hoopful
by Jennifer Stern
from Threads #137, pp. 26-27
Making traditional fabric yo-yos by hand is a time-consuming process: you cut circles from fabric, hand-baste around their edges, and then gather them into perfect little round pillows with neatly finished holes in their centers. Here’s a fast way to machine-embroider yo-yo circles in multiples instead of hand basting around each circle individually.
Machine-embroidered straight stitches don’t gather as easily as hand-basted running stitches do. But a second concentric circle of short stitches made on your embroidery machine just outside the seam allowance of the longer gathering stitches makes it easy to gather the circle while also neatly finishing the opening.
You can easily create your own custom-sized yo-yos with digitizing embroidery software. Simply choose the automatic circle-drawing tool, and create an outline circle twice the diameter of the finished yo-yo you want to make. Using the copy/paste feature, create a second circle. Make it 1/8 inch larger in diameter, and center it around the first circle. Choose a 12mm stitch for the inner circle so that it will gather easily when the bobbin thread is pulled. Made with shorter stitches, the larger circle gives the seam allowance some weight and encourages it to turn under as the bobbin thread is pulled tight.
Use silk chiffon, silk charmeuse, or lightweight cottons to make yo-yos. The sheer fabric is easy to gather and creates lighter yo-yos. The yo-yos made from cotton fabric have neat, well-defined holes. After you’ve stitched a few hoopfuls, use them to embellish your favorite summer project.