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May Mini Quilt of the Month: Yo-Yo Coverlet 

Every month this year we are presenting a new mini quilt! It's been such a fun project for everyone involved. These little pieces are a great way to try a new idea or technique without too much pressure. To see all of the quilts we've run so far in this series please click here.

This month we are so excited to present our mini Yo-Yo Coverlet! Yo-yos are small rosette-like shapes that are made simply by gathering the edge of a circle of fabric.  Made in the traditional way, yo-yos are notoriously time consuming.  Fortunately, though, there is a modern solution to this problem, the Clover Yo-yo maker! It makes the process speedy and fun.  You just click it onto your fabric, cut around the edges, stitch along the marked holes, and then pull your thread to form one of these beautiful little shapes.  It's actually quite addictive!

You may be familiar with vintage yo-yo coverlets which are often used as decorative bedspreads and are traditionally made of an assortment of small colorful prints. We decided to make our mini coverlet a bit more modern by using a mix of denim colored blues accented by bright orange stitching.  While arranging the yo-yos, we found ourselves pulling inspiration from the Gees Bend quilts made of multiple denims, as well as Japanese strip pieced quilts that also incorporate beautiful denim blues.  The whole thing came to life once we started stitching with the bright, happy Trio thread.

Despite its delicate appearance, the piece is very sturdy and would also work well on a larger scale.  That said, we are fascinated by how sweet and petite this mini coverlet is and can't help but think of little desserts or dumplings each time we look at it.  It would be such a beautiful wall hanging or would look great as part of a table setting.


To make a 16-inch by 20-inch mini quilt:

Making the Yo Yos

Clip the yo-yo maker to one of the fabrics by lining up the notches on the back of the maker with the markings on the front.

Cut the fabric out roughly a 1/4-inch from the edge of the yo-yo maker. This cutting doesn't need to be very precise.

Thread an 18-inch (or shorter) length of cotton thread and tie knot at the end. Use thread that matches your fabric fairly well. We used a contrasting thread in the pictures so it would be more visible.

Fold the excess fabric towards the inside of the circle and place your needle through this fold and into the groove to the left of the top marking on the yo-yo maker as shown above.

Turn the yo-yo maker over and then insert your needle into the opening on the back, directly to the right of your last exit point. Make sure that the excess fabric is still folded down towards the middle of the circle so that you are sewing through the fold.

Sew all the way around the circle and then remove the fabric from the maker. You should have a very roughly hemmed circle of fabric as shown above.

Pull the thread taught thus drawing up the edges of the circle to form the yo-yo shape shown above.

To secure the yo-yo tie a few small knots on the inside of the center opening.

And then pull the thread through the center of the yo-yo and out through the back.

Clip the thread and your yo-yo is complete.

Repeat this process to make a total of at least 99 yo-yos (or however many you desire) out of a mixture of the fabrics.

Attaching the Yo Yos Together

The coverlet is sewn together with Trio thread, which is plied. To sew with it, cut a length of Trio and then separate the plies.  It should come apart easily into three pieces of two plies a piece. You will be using these 2-ply pieces to sew with.

Arrange 99 yo-yos into a grid 11 yo-yos tall by 9 yo-yos wide. You can arrange them into a random pattern, stripes, blocks, or however you like.

You will be sewing them together into 11 horizontal strips first, and then sewing those strips to one another veritcially. The technique for sewing them together is shown below:

Tie a knot at the end of a 2 ply length of Trio and thread it onto an embroidery needle. Enter the first yo-yo though its center. Exit slightly towards the back of the yo-yo. Pull the thread through thus hiding the knot.

Flip the yo-yo over and insert your needle about 1/8-inch from the edge and poke it though to the front.

Pull the thread through.

Take the second yo-yo and pinch it wrong sides together to the first. Insert the needle 1/8-inch from the edge of the second yo-yo. Push the needle through to the first yo-yo so that it emerges 1/8-inch above the first stitch.

Pull the thread fairly taught so that the yo-yos lay flat next to each other and the first stitch is making a small horizontal line as shown above. Insert the needle 1/8-inch from the edge of the second yo-yo directly across from your last exit point.

Pull the thread through to the back and flip the yo-yos over. Insert the needle through the back of the second yo-yo. Do not poke through to the front.

Pull the needle out on the other side of the second yo-yo, at the opposite edge, just towards the back.

Attach all subsequent yo-yos in the same manner.

When sewing the horizontal rows you should be sewing at 3:00 and 9:00 on each yo-yo.

When you move on and sew the vertical rows together you should sewing these equals sign (=) stitches at 12:00 and 6:00 on each yo-yo.

Reader Comments (14)

Thank you so much for posting this project. I have been meaning to finish the one I started in 2008 and now I am inspired to do so this summer. The Purl Bee is the bee's knees.
June 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBag
Beautiful project! It has inspired me to search for my yo-yo maker. Just a head's up- taut and taught are two different words and meanings. However, I certainly understood the thought even with the incorrect spelling (smile).
June 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPhlannel
Random question: Are you supposed to knot the thread when you're sewing the yo yos together? I'm just wondering how it all stays together.
June 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSarah
Hi Sarah-

You do make a knot at the beginning as explained in the instructions and then when you reach the end of your length of thread you also tie a knot. You can hide the end inside of a yo-yo. Hope this answers your question.

Thank you!
June 15, 2011 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
I love this and I am planning on making a patriotic type using this type of method.
June 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPaula V.
What kind of a backing do you put on it and how? Very cute.
June 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara
Hi Barbara-

Like most yo-yo quilts or coverlets this doesn't have a backing so it is open in the same way that a crocheted blanket is open.

Thanks so much for your question!

July 1, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
I have 3 totes of yo yo;s my Mom made for home bureau - they made dolls for
the hospital - then everyone got to old and no one passed on the pattern.
The only problem is they all have holes punched in the center - This small
project would be something to make and pass on to all of the granddaughters and
great - Any idea about what to do with the holes - I have considered the liquid
December 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRuth Ann
I just finished making a yo-yo quilt. It has 1,920 small yo-yo's. I did not use a maker, I cut and hemmed them all by hand. Been working on it for over 2 years. I think I will make 80 more to have an even 2,000.
April 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth
My aunt taught me to make these over 20 years ago! I have the last one we made together before she passed. I never thought I would see this pattern again! Thank you for posting it!
April 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGinny
Ruth Ann, Cover the holes with pretty buttons, glue little ornaments, shells or whatever you like.
May 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCarol
I make my yo-yo's by hand and have even taught classes on how to make them. One Christmas I decorated a table for a Tablescape Fundraiser for local Arts Council. I used a plain ivory floor length tablecloth and then I topped it with a 75" X 75" topper made of yo-yo's using only Christmas prints. It took 1520 yo-yo's to make that topper. You would not believe the wonderful comments I received. I also make yo-yo place mats and it only takes 54 to make one.
June 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLiz McCormick
I am quite intrigued by your "Year of Mini Quilts". I am new to the quilting/sewing world and I have fallen in love with mini quilts. Is there a way to access all of your year long mini quilts? Thank you so much for the tutorials that you share. I have learned so much from them! Like the need for accurate cutting! Your tutorials have taught me to read twice, cut once!!

Thanks you,
shannon martin+
June 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterShannon Martin
Hi Shannon-

So glad to hear you enjoy this series! You can see all of the mini quilts here:

Thank you!

June 18, 2014 | Registered Commenterpurl bee

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