Monday, November 10, 2008

tutorial: how to make a round fabric yo-yo

Fabric yo-yos are one of my favorite craft or quilt techniques - in fact, I love making them so much that I've made thousands of them into garlands for my Christmas tree!

I was taught to make them by my mother, when I was quite young, she in turn was taught as a young girl by a family friend. There is a real sense of continuity for me when I make yo-yo circles - women have been making them for hundreds of years.

I recently was asked by a reader how to make a basic, round yo-yo circle - so here you go :-) An all-new fabric-tastic tutorial!

As always, this tutorial is my original work, so please don't copy the text or photos without my permission!

To begin, cut out a circle of fabric, I normally use a template to cut out the first one - but you can even cut a free-hand circle if you really want :

The finished yo-yo will be approximately half the size of the fabric circle that you started with. I'm using a circle that's four inches across, so my finished yo-yo is just under two inches across.

Thread a needle with standard sewing thread and knot the end. Fold over a 1/4" seam allowance to the wrong side of the fabric (the pale side in the fabric shown here) and using running stitches, start stitching around the outside of the circle. I use a stitch length of approximately 1/8", but it depends on the size of the circle and the kind of fabric you're using. Heavier or crisper fabrics will need longer stitches, and extremely fine fabric may work better with smaller stitches.

Don't pull the thread tight - leave a tail at the end.
Keep on sewing around the entire circle:
To make sure the stitches won't get pulled out when you start gathering them, pass the needle and thread through the knotted end of the thread (that's why we left a tail at the beginning!)

Now start pulling the thread to gather the fabric evenly. It should look like this - the circle is evenly gathered all the way around and it's a nice, even circle:
Knot the thread and trim it. You can press the yo-yo if you'd like at this stage.

Congratulations! You've made your first yo-yo! Now you can make more...

Tutorial and all images are copyright C Findlay-Harder 2008

Sunday, November 2, 2008

How to make silk paper - tutorial

I love making silk paper - it’s messy, wet and tons of fun to play with :-) Ready to get messy?

As always, just a gentle reminder - this is an original tutorial, designed and written by myself. It's copyright and may not be copied or transferred without my direct permission.

For this project I’m using raw silk in a “cap”, but you’ll probably find silk hankies (not to be confused with the kind you blow your nose with!) more easily. Meinke Toy has several different silk products, but I’d start with silk hankies.

Tease the silk out onto a mesh surface. I’m using a paper-making tray, but you can even just tape the edges of door screen mesh and use that. It’s going to look like a light, fluffy pile - but don’t worry, it’s going to look like paper soon!

Now either stick the whole pile of silk under a tap, spray it with a spray bottle, or what I’m using, a spray shower. You need to throughly soak the silk fibers - use your fingers to massage the water into the surface. Here’s what it looks like when it’s half-soaked through:

I just plopped the entire screen into my bathtub to do this. When I first began making silk paper, I would gently spray it down with a plant mister… and you know what? It takes hours to make silk paper that way! The silk must be completely soaked through, any patches that are dry or just damp won’t form a nice firm surface.

Keep massaging the silk until it looks like this - no dry patches and it’s evenly soaked through:

Now we need to glue all those lovely silk fibers together :-)

I like to place the screen onto a plastic lid, or other surface that won’t leak all over the place.

I’m using Golden’s GAC 900, an acrylic fabric medium, but you can use any textile medium - or white glue mixed half and half with water. Spread it over the surface as evenly as you can:

Use your fingers to massage the fabric medium into the fibers, until it’s evenly worked through - like this:

You’ve got a choice at this point. You can let the paper dry like this, and embellish it when it’s dry, or you can bring the paint out :-)

I’m using Dye-Na-Flo to paint the wet surface. It works particularly well for projects like this because the paint acts like water color paint on the wet fiber. You’ll get a fluid, soft surface if you paint the silk wet.

Here’s how I painted this piece of silk paper:

Let it dry overnight and then peel it off the screen. Leave that to dry on a flat surface until it’s completely dry. We’ll embellish and embroider it next time!

images & tutorial are copyright 2008 C Findlay-Harder