Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Yo-Yo Ma, Look What I Made! A Crafty-Fresh Take on the Fabric Yo-Yo

December in Seattle usually means dark and stormy, and I'm not just talkin' 'bout cocktails & sailing.  It's depressing.  Like a charcoal grey worsted wool soaking wet blanket has been pulled over the city.  We don't see the sun here for another 7 months.      

So when I've got a bad case of the SAD's, I seek out bright color immersion therapy.  That often means I bust out something crafty that's wild & psychedelic in crazy contrast fabrics.

Lucky for me, I work at a fabric wholesale company called Clothworks to feed my fabric addiction.  Clothworks carries a wide range of fabric designs- something to appeal to everyone.  But there's always one particular fabric collection that goes gangbusters no matter what....and that is anything by Laurel Burch!

Laurel Burch, pictured here in front of her famous painted cats.  As if that's not cool enough, she's rocking a side ponytail with a scrunchie! 
Laurel Burch.....who's that?!!  For you non-fabric-junkies, you can visit her website & read her wiki to find out more about her.  For many years Clothworks has worked closely with Laurel Burch's artwork company in transforming her gorgeous paintings into fabric designs.  Sadly, Laurel passed away from a painful bone disease five years ago.  Her essence continues to live on in her vibrantly colored paintings of animals- butterflies, jungle cats, horses, dogs, and of course....cats.  Fabric couldn't be a better way to capture this!

Recently, and with much anticipation, Clothworks just released a new Laurel Burch collection-  Fabulous Felines!  One of the perks of working at a fabric wholesaler is getting my paws on the fabric first!  Mraowwww!  I'm not a 'cat person', but Laurel's rainbow-colored stylized interpretations of them have grown on my heart.  So I bought some.

Laurel Burch Fabulous Felines, Laurel Burch Basic Triangles, and Laurel Burch Basic Circles prints in dazzling colors.
It might be dark and stormy outside, but with one look of the dazzling colors of the Laurel Burch fabric...my blues just blow away and inspiration takes a hold of me!

So I pulled out the Clover Yo-Yo Makers and started making Yo-Yo's:

Yo-Yo's?!!  No, not the Duncan kind, silly!  Fabric Yo-Yos.....  Like the ones used in these vests & handbags:

Now 'Mom Jeans' may be back in style with the hipster crowd, but I draw the line at Yo-Yo Vests.  I opted to make something simple, quick, and chic with my yo-yos.

I pulled out my brightly colored trims to compliment the bright colors of the Laurel Burch fabric:

And then I went to town, sewing the trims onto my yo-yos:

And then an idea popped into my head.  I know it!  I'll make a necklace with my yo-yos!!
So I traced a shape for the necklace base:

This pattern piece which I traced is called a yoke.  See Merriam-Webster definition #4.  The yoke will go on to be cut out of felt and used as a base for which I'll stitch on my yo-yos.  I cut 2 of these:
After I finished making my yo-yo's and adding trim to them, I dug out my buttons and rhinestones to bedazzle the yo-yo's.  I even covered some buttons with some of the cat fabric.  The cat motifs used in Fabulous Felines were sized perfectly for a large button to be covered by fabric.
Here's a pic of the covered button I used.  Follow the directions on the back of the box and it works like a charm!
1 7/8" diameter oversized button-- for covering in fabric!
Once I had made my yo-yos and fabric-covered buttons, I started to position them atop one of my felt yoke pieces:
In the picture above, the cat (shown in the middle) is a fabric-covered button stitched on top of a yo-yo with orange lace trim.  For contrast in texture, I kept it no-frills with the hearts cat (as shown in the upper right corner of the picture) by simply stitching it flat onto felt, then cutting out a felt 'medallion' with scalloped edge around the cat applique.
I started stitching some of the large yo-yos on top of my single felt yoke piece.  Stitching down the larger yo-yo pieces would serve as anchors on top of the felt yoke piece.  But before I stitched the yo-yos down, I stitched my ribbon that would serve as my neck chain.  In my necklace, I used red velvet rickrack:
I continued layering my yo-yos atop the felt yoke.  Some of the smaller yo-yos used on my necklace were hand-stitched down using embroidery thread-- just a few stitches in the middle to secure.  I added rhinestones and sequins to cover up any negative space so you didn't see any of the felt yoke showing through.  Once I had stitched down everything, I took my other felt yoke piece and layered it on the back of the base felt yoke piece.  This would cover up any of the stitching and allow the necklace to lay smoothly across your chest:
I used some embroidery thread to edge stitch the necklace base yoke to the yoke back and here's what it looked like after I completed it:
And Voila!  My New Necklace!
Here's a close-up look of the yo-yos, buttons, trims, and stones:

Completed in one day on a rainy Sunday, this was a fun, organic, zen-like craft project that produced a stunning result.  The bright Laurel Burch fabric and contrasting trims cheered me up, too!

Oh...it also doubles as a funky hair accessory:

Although I'm not a cat lady, I do fancy this updated take on the quirky fabric yo-yo!

And speaking of quirky and yo-yo........

Until next time ya'll..... 
keep it groovy!


  1. Love this!! And love the step by step too!!!

    1. Thanks Miss Kitty Lydia G! Your rockabilly flowers are an inspiration to me!!

  2. Laurel Burch fabrics are my very favorite prints. I love bright and beautiful colors and those cats are spectacular. Even tho Laurel is gone, someone is keeping up the good work she started. Thank you.

    1. Totally agree! Keep the 'Burch' a flowin'!!! The world would be a duller place without her beautiful designs!