Lauren Wright from the Molly and Mama shop and blog designed this Happy Day Yo-Yo Doll Quilt featuring beautiful Liberty fabric scraps. You can use the same block to make larger quilts, runners and more! Yo-yos are a little like hexies… Once you start making these you won’t want to stop. Have fun with this sweet design, and visit Lauren at Molly and Mama.
This adorable little doll’s quilt was made using beautiful, new Liberty of London Tana Cotton Lawn and white quilter’s cotton. It’s so simple to stitch that it’s an easy project for beginners.
You just need to create four white cotton blocks and border them with Liberty (or your chosen fabric). It’s a great scrap busting tutorial too. The largest piece you’ll need is 18″ x 18″! I’ll be giving you a step-by-step pictorial guide to help you create your fabric yo-yos, your appliquéd quilt blocks, and I will also describe how to put it all together.
The finished quilt at 17″ x 17″ is very sweet as a doll’s quilt, but you can also use the quilt block design to create a larger quilt, a table runner, a decorative pillow top… You get the idea. The options are only limited by your imagination!
So let’s get started. Take some time to look through the images and decide which fabrics you will use for each stage. This will help you determine how much you need of any one type of fabric design. I used a selection of pink Liberty Tana Lawn fat quarters, from the new season Classics Collection. I also chose some green quilter’s cotton in a shade that complemented the Liberty fabric.
- Sewing machine (and a clear plastic appliqué foot if you have one, and a walking foot for machine quilting if you wish)
- Iron and ironing board
- Water soluble or erasable marker
- Sharp embroidery needle and thread to match your fabrics
- Cutting mat, rotary cutter and ruler
For the Yo-Yos:
- 12 fabric scraps at least 4 inches square to make your yo yo’s. I used six different Liberty prints that were 4″ x 8″
- Four-inch circle template or materials to make one (pen, cardboard, scissors, a mathematical compass or circular object measuring 4 inches across the diameter that you can trace around)
For the Appliquéd Squares:
- Four squares of white quilter’s cotton measuring 7″ x 7″
- Scrap of green quilter’s cotton to appliqué leaves (at least 3″ x 9″)
- Piece of fusible webbing product (also measuring at least 3″ x 9″). I like Easy Fix or Vliesofix
- Print out of the Leaf Appliqué PDF Template
For the Quilt Top:
- Four strips of Liberty fabric measuring 7″ x 2″
- One 2″ x 2″ square of an alternative Liberty fabric
- Four strips of another Liberty fabric measuring 14 ½” x 2″
- Four squares of yet another Liberty fabric, each measuring 2″ x 2″
To Complete the Quilt:
- Quilt backing fabric 18″ x 18″ square. I used a pretty piece of Liberty Tana Lawn.
- Quilt batting at least 18″ x 18″ square. I like thin bamboo batting. It’s easy to stitch and washes well too.
- Liberty fabric to make 74″ of continuous binding that is 2 ½” wide (5″ of full fabric width)
- Quilt label, brand tag or embroidered name and date panel (if you desire)
Hand Stitch Your Fabric Yo-Yos
The first step is to make 12 fabric yo-yos. These are the cute little puffs of fabric that make up the flowers on the quilt. I used six different fabrics and made two out of each fabric.
So you’ve never made a fabric yo-yo before? Well let me tell you, nothing could be simpler. These gorgeous little fabric puffs have been adorning quilts and all manner of sewing projects since the 1930’s. Also known as Suffolk Puffs, they’ve always been a popular way to use up fabric scraps. Being completely hand stitched, they’re also a practical and portable project. You can make them in any size you wish and use them however you want. For this project, we’ll make 12 yo-yos from the four inch fabric circles.
If you don’t have a template to trace, it’s useful to create one. Trace a four-inch circle (using your compass, or using a circular object) onto cardboard. Cut out your template and be sure to label it.
Trace around your template or object using your (water soluble or erasable) marker or pen, onto the wrong side of your chosen fabric.
Carefully cut out your fabric circle and give it a quick press with the iron.
Now we’re set to get stitching. I like to double thread an embroidery needle with sewing cotton, and tie a knot in the end. Make sure you have enough cotton to stitch the circumference of the circle.
I begin by folding over a scant hem and sewing a running stitch around the outside of the circle.
If your stitches are close together, you’ll create a larger “opening” at the center of the yo yo. Wider stitches close the gap in the center instead.
I find it quicker to “load up” your needle with a number of stitches at once. It is also easier to check that your stitches are the same size. Then you can pull your thread through and continue sewing.
When you have completed “hemming the circle,” ensure that your last stitch exits on the right side of the fabric. This will make for a neater finish when you complete your yo yo.
Gently pull your cotton to gather up the stitches into a little puff.
Flatten the puff and then shape the yo yo with your fingers, helping the “pleats” to space out evenly. When you’re happy with the shape, use a few extra stitches to secure your yo yo. One way to quickly complete your yo yo is to tie the “knot” end of your cotton to the “needle” end and trim the knot once secure. I like to use invisible stitches and stitch through the pleats to ensure my sewing is secure instead. Remember to trim off the extra cotton and keep any threads hidden on the underside of the yo yo.
Your completed yo-yo is now ready for use! That was easy, wasn’t it? Only eleven more to be sewn!
Once you’ve created your yo-yos, it’s time to start appliquéing!
Appliqué Your Leaves + Flowers
The next step in creating our quilt is to appliqué our four white cotton quilt squares with the yo-yo flowers and leaves. If you haven’t tried raw edge fabric appliqué before, it’s probably best to practice using some fabric scraps. It’s very straightforward though, so don’t be deterred!
All of my appliqué projects use a “blanket stitch.” I find that this stitch gives a great finish, and longevity for the appliqué. Many sewing machines will have a blanket stitch setting (which is what I use). Alternatively, you can blanket stitch your appliqué by hand.
Print the Leaf Appliqué PDF Template. Ensure that it remains true to size using the one-inch guide on the print out. Cut out the leaf shape. Using this template as a guide, trace it onto the paper side of your fusible web. Trace two leaves the same, flip the template and then trace two mirror images. Be sure to leave sufficient cutting space between each piece. You should now have four traced leaf templates.
Roughly cut around your traced pieces of fusible web ensuring you leave a small border. Do not cut on your drawn outline.
Heat your iron to a hot non-steam setting. Place the fusible web piece onto the wrong side (the back) of the green fabric so that your template (on the paper side) is facing you, and the webbing is between the paper and the fabric. Fuse the paper to the fabric by running the hot iron over it for a few seconds.
Follow your traced lines to neatly cut out your leaf shapes. Peel the backing paper off. Position the leaves neatly on your white squares (one for each). You should have two leaves that face one direction, and two that face another. To help determine their positioning I popped three of my yo-yos in the center of a white square and tucked the leaf underneath.
When you are happy with your positioning, remove the yo-yos, and then secure the leaf fabric by going over it with a hot iron. The heat will “melt” the bonding agent to secure your leaf to the fabric.
When you’ve ironed on all four leaves, they should look something like this.
It’s time to blanket stitch around the raw edges of the leaves. Start stitching at the base of the leaf so that the start of your stitching is later hidden by your flowers. Use a sewing thread in your machine that will match your leaf color. If you are stitching by hand, use two strands of embroidery thread.
Stitch slowly, carefully and close to the raw edge of your fabric leaf. Use a clear plastic appliqué foot on your machine if you have one. It will help you see what you are doing. Pivot your fabric with the needle down when you come to the tip of the leaf. And then continue on back to the start of your stitching. Remember to secure your stitching by back-stitching on the machine.
When you’ve completed appliquéing all four fabric leaves, they should look something like this.
Now it’s time to add our flowers. Arrange your yo-yos in groups of three, so that they overlap each other and overlap your leaf. This is where I get a bit picky, and make sure that my groupings all match or complement one another. This is how my pieces turned out. When you’re happy with the placement, it’s time to hand stitch again.
Carefully hand stitch down the three yo-yos on one square. I used a doubled over thread on a sharp needle, and made a few well-placed stitches to secure each yo-yo. Your design will look neater if you can hide or disguise your stitching in the folds of the yo-yos. Be sure they are securely attached, especially if the quilt is to be used by young children.
When you’ve completed one square, this is how your design will look from the back.
Complete all four squares and you’re ready to piece together your quilt.
Piece Together the Quilt Top
In this stage, we will join all four white quilt blocks together with some very simple fabric borders. This is patchwork at it’s easiest. Be sure to use complementary sewing threads in your machine. I have stitched a ¼ inch seam on all sewing.
First, you will need four pieces of Liberty fabric measuring 7″ x 2″. You will also need a two-inch square of complementing Liberty fabric. I used some of the same fabrics as my yo-yos.
Lay your fabric pieces out on a flat surface so it’s easy to see what you will be stitching and where. I find this is a very simple method to help avoid stitching accidents.
To start, stitch the center strips of fabric together. Place the 7″ strip and the 2″ square with right sides together, and pin. Using ¼ inch seams for all machining, stitch the two pieces together with a straight stitch. Using the same method, attach the other 7″ strip to the opposite side of the 2″ square.
Now, place another 7″ strip of fabric facing right side down on the right hand side of your top left white square, pin securely, and stitch together. Open out and place the left hand side of top right white square right side down on the opposite edge of the Liberty strip. Stitch this seam. You’ll end up with a vertical strip of Liberty joining the top left and right sides of your white fabric squares.
Repeat this process for the bottom squares as well. Iron your seams to face the Liberty or printed fabric, so that the seam allowance won’t show through on the right side of the white fabric. From the front your pieces will look like this.
From the back, your ironed seams will look like this.
Are you still following me? The photos help to make the instructions clearer.
Now we’re going to stitch it all together. Lay your center Liberty strip face down over the top of the bottom row of white squares. Pin the pieces together, being careful to match the center square seams. Stitch this seam, being sure to remove all pins as you go. Open out and then attach the bottom of the top section of white squares to the top of the Liberty strip (just like the previous step). Again, iron your seams in towards the Liberty strip.
The first part of the quilt top is done, and this is how it should look.
Now let’s add the outer border. Cut four strips of Liberty fabric measuring 14 ½” x 2″. Then cut four squares of different Liberty fabric at 2″ x 2″. This is how you will arrange the eight pieces for stitching.
Use the method described above to stitch a 14 ½” strip of Liberty fabric to either side of the quilt top (one on the top and one on the bottom). Iron your seams towards the Liberty fabric.
Now attach a 2″ square of Liberty to either end of the remaining 14 ½” Liberty strips. These two strips will complete the border. Press the seams.
Stitch one strip to the right side of the quilt top and one to the left, being sure to match your seams. Iron all seam allowances.
Next, press the top side of the quilt. I avoided ironing over the yo-yos as I didn’t want to squash them. And be careful ironing the leaf appliqué stitching with a hot iron, as most sewing threads are a polyester blend and could melt with the heat. You don’t want to ruin all that hard work, so turn off the steam and turn down the temperature, or use a press cloth!
Your quilt top is now complete! A piece of cake!
Finish the Quilt
It’s time to put your quilt together and bind the edges. Please use your preferred methods for these steps. There are so many wonderful tutorials explaining simple and effective ways to finish your quilt. I chose a single piece of Liberty Tana Lawn to back my quilt, but you can always patchwork fabrics together to make your quilt back as decorative as your front. I used plain bamboo batting inside the quilt, to give it some warmth for dolly. And I also created binding for my quilt made from more of my Liberty fabric.
To finish your quilt, you’ll need to combine your quilt back, your batting and your quilt top. I love using quilter’s adhesive spray.
Then quilt the three layers together. You can hand quilt a decorative pattern with a needle and quilter’s thread, or do some free motion quilting using your machine and a quilting foot. An easy alternative is to sew along the seam lines with the sewing machine (stitch in the ditch). If you choose this method, a walking foot used on your machine will help keep the fabric “sandwich” together as you stitch. I machine stitched around the inside edge of the white squares using white cotton. This helps quilt the layers together and prevent the layers from moving while you bind the edges. You can see close-ups of the stitching here.
You can also see the quilting effect on the back shown here.
Before binding your quilt, you need to straighten up the edges. No matter how straight we stitch and how careful we are, sometimes things just don’t square up. Here’s where you’ll need your cutting mat, rotary cutter and ruler. Trim the edges of your quilt so that it’s a square. Mine ended up just under 17 ½” long on each side. When you’ve trimmed down the excess and have a lovely square, you’re ready to bind. And you’re nearly done!
To bind the quilt, I created my own binding by cutting 2 ½”-wide strips of Liberty fabric. I joined the strips and pressed open the seams. I then folded and pressed the binding in half lengthways, with the right sides facing out. I needed 74″ of continuous binding to bind the edges of the 17 ½” square quilt (I like to have a bit of extra length, just in case).
I started binding in the middle of one side of the quilt. I stitched the raw edge of the binding fabric along the top side of the quilt, carefully mitring the corners. You can see the detail in the finished corners here.
Once complete, I turned the binding over and hand stitched it into place, using a blind stitch. You can just make out the stitches here.
Don’t forget to label your quilt with your own brand, a bought tag or an embroidered patch if you’d like.
Can you believe you made it? We’re at the finish line. This will make one little miss and her dolly very happy indeed!
Thanks for joining in and quilting along. For all of you beginner sewers, I hope that you’re inspired to try something new! If you have a query or some feedback, I’d love for you to leave a comment or email (firstname.lastname@example.org). Be sure to see more at Molly and Mama!