Fabric yo-yos go UP, down in popularity

Yo-Yo Wall Art, made by Sherida Warner, consists of 99 yo-yos of Kaffe Fassett fabrics hot-glued to a painted artist’s canvas. The design is from http://www.allpeoplequilt.com.



I’ve always liked yo-yos. I don’t mean the wooden ones that do “walk the dog” tricks. I didn’t play with them as a kid, mostly because I never understood the dynamics of those toys. How do you make that string loop around so the yo-yo keeps spinning?

The yo-yos I prefer are little circles of fabric gathered by hand with needle and thread into a three-dimensional rosette.

Popular in quilt making from the 1920s through 1940s, fabric yo-yos are more evidence that everything old is new again.

These cheery little circles have sprung onto the 21st century sewing scene like the nation’s craze over the latest pop star.

Thanks to the invention of a new gadget, the Quick Yo-Yo Maker by Clover, today’s quilters and crafters have rediscovered their charm.

The two-piece plastic template features a plate and disk that snap together to hold the fabric. Needle and thread are worked through pre-punched holes that are evenly spaced for pleasing gathers. Finished yo-yos can be whip-stitched together to form rows, then rows can be sewn together for coverlets.

Or, the yo-yos can individually adorn bags, table runners and wall hangings. String them together through their centers, and they create whimsical cloth dolls and animals with dangling arms and legs.

The templates sell for about $6 in a variety of sizes from extra small to jumbo. They’re also available in different shapes — oval, flower, butterfly and shamrock, for example.

Yo-yos make great portable projects, and once I start sewing them, I don’t want to stop.

Speaking of stopping, one of my quilting friends, June Hall of Grand Junction, absolutely cannot quit making yo-yos. I spoke to her the other day, and she’s up to 1,741 and counting. She stores them all neatly, separated by the different sizes, in a plastic container as though they were precious gems.

Hall sewed 130 of those onto a table runner she made earlier this year, and 115 of them were stitched into a grand prize- winning apron with matching oven mitts. The apron’s kitschy style is hilarious, retro and clever. On the palms of the mitts, Hall appliqu&233;d the words “YO YO MAMA.”

Another local quilter and fellow guild member, Penny Teeters, appreciates the yo-yo’s portability.

As a travel project, Teeters says, “I’ve made yo-yos from here to Chicago and Phoenix and back.”

She uses the 60mm size Clover maker (“what a dream,” she says), and the finished ones measure about 2¼ inches.

Teeters sewed hers together to make a large table runner in rainbow colors.

I recently finished a yo-yo project myself, a piece of wall art from an idea I found at allpeoplequilt.com by American Patchwork & Quilting magazine. It required 99 large yo-yos, which I hot-glued onto a painted artist’s canvas. What could be easier? The fabrics were big-scale prints by London designer Kaffe Fassett.

Next, I have my mind set on a yo-yo table topper designed by Lynette Jensen of Thimbleberries fame. I purchased her 2008 hardcover book, “In Celebration of Quilting, 20 Years of My Best,” solely for that pattern.

It requires 152 yo-yos for a topper that measures 15 inches by 30 inches. Instead of contemporary Fassett fabrics, I’ll choose Jensen’s traditional calicoes, plaids and florals that she designs exclusively for her upscale country style.

I predict this yo-yo trend will wind around among us fabric lovers for quite some time again.

E-mail Sherida.Warner@ gjsentinel.com.


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