When people think of quilts, they usually picture some kind of patchwork traditional design, but did you know there are other types of quilts that are made differently than conventional piecework?
The type of quilt we will focus on today is the yo-yo quilt.
We will go over what they are, what you can use them for, how to make one, and then look at 15 gorgeous examples of whimsical yo-yo quilt designs.
What Is a Yo-Yo Quilt?
A yo-yo quilt is a quilt that features “yo-yo” pieces. This means the quilt can be made entirely of yo-yos, or you can use them as embellishment.
A yo-yo is a round piece of fabric that one will baste in such a way as to be able to pull the thread and create a beautiful flower-like embellishment.
Yo-yo quilt history is a bit unknown though we know they were popular in the US during the 1920s-1940s. Instead of being used as a warm covering during the colder winter months, folks used them as home decor pieces like tablecloths or centerpieces.
They are also known as “Suffolk Puffs.”
How Do You Make a Yo-Yo Quilt?
When making a yo-yo, remember that the finished yo-yo will be approximately half the size of the circle you start with. For this example, I will be using a 4” circle.
- Step 1: Cut out the circle
- Step 2: Fold the edge in ¼” and start basting the edge down with a running stitch.
- Step 3: Continue basting the circle until you reach the beginning stitch.
- Step 4: Pull the thread taut, so the circle closes on itself, creating the yo-yo shape.
- Step 5: Continue pulling the thread and finger pressing the pleats till the yo-yo looks the way you want it to look.
- Step 6: Add a few finishing backstitches to hold the yo-yo in place. There you have it – a finished yo-yo!
How Many Yo-Yos Does It Take to Make a Quilt
The number of yo-yos you will need for a quilt will depend on how you use it for a project, what size yo-yos you want to use, and how large the project will be.
For example, if you use the tutorial above to create 2” yo-yos and want to make a table runner measuring 24”x36”, you will need 192- 2” yo-yos since each horizontal row will have 12 yo-yos and each vertical row will have 16.
Do Yo-Yo Quilts Have Backing?
No, since the raw edges are secure inside each yo-yo, there is no need for backing or binding for a traditional yo-yo quilt.
However, if you are using yo-yos as an embellishment on a regularly pieced quilt top, then, yes, you will still need to use batting, backing, and binding to finish the quilt.
How Do You Sew a Yo-Yo Quilt Together
To sew yo-yos together, you will need a sharp needle-like quilting needle and quilting weight thread.
- Step1: Place two yo-yos right sides together (the right is the side with the opening). Sewing as close to the edge as you can stitch a few anchor stitches.
- Step 2: Use a whipstitch to stitch at least ½” across the edge.
- Step 3: Finish by stitching a few more anchor stitches on your final stitch.
- Step 4: Continue these three steps until you have all the yo-yos sewn together. I suggest sewing them four together to make a square. Then stitch the squares together.
15 Playful and Fun Yo-Yo Quilt Ideas
Now that we know a bit about constructing a yo-yo quilt, let’s look at some beautiful yo-yo quilt patterns to inspire us. We’ve found a good mix of modern and traditional yo-yo designs to share with you.
The designer of this quilt used a soft, neutral palette to create these beautiful blocks that feature a yo-yo in the middle of each one. This is a perfect example of using yo-yos to embellish an otherwise simple quilt design. She also used small pompoms in the center of each yo-yo piece to cover the openings.
Here we have a Patriotic take on the classic yo-yo quilt pattern. The designer used various shades of red, white, and blue to create this lovely mini quilt to decorate for Independence Day.
If you look closely, the designer also used a thick zigzag stitch on their sewing machine to attach the yo-yos, which is another great option if you prefer not to sew by hand.
Here is a free tutorial on how to create these adorable applique blocks. The finished quilt block measures approximately 10” and can be used for an all-over quilt pattern or with other blocks to make a unique quilt design. The designer includes instructions on how to sew the yo-yos by hand.
Flowers are a popular design that quilters like to use yo-yos to create. The maker of this adorable pillow used two different sizes of yo-yos to make layered 3D flowers that are appliqued (probably by hand) onto this pillow cover.
If you wanted extra embellishment, you could use this technique to create the same floral effect on any quilt top.
Amy Butler created this free pattern with several sizes of yo-yos appliqued over a quilt top. This tutorial tells you how much fabric you will need to recreate this whimsical garden quilt top. The finished quilt will measure 64”x74”.
Here is a unique pattern that will show you how to make square yo-yos. The finished yo-yo pieces will measure 2”x2” and are great for sewing together, like in the image above. The pattern includes instructions and a template for you to use, so all the yo-yos will be the same size.
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7. Yo-Yo Quilt
This gorgeous colorful yo-yo quilt is a prime example of how to use scraps for a fun project. This type of project is perfect for working on while watching tv or on vacation. You can easily carry the small circles wherever you go and create the yo-yos when you have a few spare minutes.
The maker of this sweet mini quilt used a solid background fabric and appliqued yo-yos to it. I love the maker’s choice of using bright modern materials for the yo-yos and binding of the quilt. She used a charm pack (5” squares) to create these yo-yos and the Clover Yo-Yo Maker.
Isn’t this yo-yo quilt ridiculously adorable?! The maker used pastel gingham fabrics to create all these cute flower blocks. They used four yo-yos for the petals and another yo-yo in a coordinating color for the flower center.
I couldn’t find any other information on this quilt, but it looks like the yo-yos are probably around 2” each in diameter.
Here is a modern interpretation of a yo-yo quilt with multi-solid color yo-yos and a fun black-on-white background. This pattern will show you how to create these modern yo-yos and piece together a 55”x55” small quilt. I would love to see it made with scrap fabrics with different prints and colors.
11. Yo-Yo Coverlet
Here is an excellent tutorial on using the Clover Yo-Yo Maker to create these beautiful yo-yos for a quilt. The tutorial goes over the supplies needed and shows you how to make the yo-yos and sew them together by hand. The tutorial will show you how to make a 16”x20” mini quilt.
Here is an easy-to-follow tutorial that is perfect for beginners who want to make yo-yos without using a template. The person who wrote the tutorial includes tutorials so you can see what each step will look like as you go. You can use this tutorial to make any size yo-yo and any size quilt.
13. Yo-Yo Garland
This festive garland would be the perfect addition to your home for the holidays, don’t you think? This creative use of yo-yos really can be made for every season or any holiday for that matter. You simply create the yo-yos and sew them together in a long line.
This adorable heart comprises a bunch of small yo-yos with little button centers that the maker then sewed onto this shopping bag for a one-of-a-kind look.
You can easily replicate this design on your bags using one of the tutorials mentioned above. For a fun twist, you could even do different shapes like flowers, circles, or diamonds.
15. Yo-Yo Tree
This precious mini quilt features yo-yos, rick-rack, and two beautiful butterflies. The designer used tiny pearls in the center of the yo-yos to add a cute design layer and used vibrant, modern fabrics for the whole quilt.
You could easily use a design like this as a block for a larger quilt or make just one as a small wall-hanging quilt.
I hope you enjoyed these yo-yo quilt projects and that they have motivated you to create something using yo-yo pieces. You can use these versatile embellishments for so many different crafts. The possibilities are endless.