Today I’m showing you how to take simple fabric yoyos and turn them into a colorful DIY St Patrick’s Day garland.
This is a fun scrap busting project that you can mostly make in spare moments. I love that portability aspect of making yoyos! If you’re a person on the go and you “can’t find time to sew,” let me introduce you to the wonder that is the yoyo.
But if a St Patrick’s Day garland is not your thing, I’ll give you a couple more options for decorating with your fabric shamrocks.
So grab yourself some green scraps out of your stash and let’s cover the world in fabric shamrocks.
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Supplies for your DIY St. Patrick’s Day garland
- Fabric scraps: 3 colors of green, red, orange, yellow, blue, 2 shades of purple
- Olfa circle rotary cutter
- Hand sewing needle
- Embroidery scissors or thread snips
- Green pipe cleaners
- Hot glue gun (my favorite one here)
What type of fabric should I use for making fabric yoyos?
You want to use lightweight fabrics. If your fabric is too heavy, the gathers in a fabric yoyo will be hard to manipulate.
For the best fabric yoyos, use lightweight cottons, cotton quilting fabrics, shirting, linens. Silk taffeta makes a swanky, gorgeous yoyo. If you want a challenge, you can also use polyester satins or rayon challis. Weight is the most important thing here. If your fabric is lightweight, it’ll do. This is a use what you have project!
DIY St Patrick’s Day garland tutorial
For this tutorial, we’ll be following most of the basic steps that you’ll find in how to make a fabric yoyo, but then we’re adding on to it. If you want to see the original tutorial, click on the picture below:
Cut the yoyos
From your green fabrics: cut 20 yoyos each with your Olfa circle cutter. Cut one more of each color if you want to throw in a 4 leaf clover or two.
This is one time I’m specifically pointing you to an extra gadget with the circle cutter. Yes, you can use a jar lid and trace around it and cut the circles out by hand but….
I’ve cut 1000s of yoyos by hand, and I will tell you it can be incredibly taxing on your hands. This little gizmo takes almost all the work out of it. You get clean cut, nice looking, consistent circles. Save your hands, and treat yourself to this cutter.
After you’ve cut the green fabrics, cut 1 yoyo each from your rainbow colored fabrics.
Sew the yoyos
First, thread up a hand needle with a doubled length of thread. Tie a knot.
Next, place a circle wrong side up in your hand.
Fold over the top edge of a yoyo by about 1/4″. Starting from the inside, work stitches in and out of the fabric, folding over fabric as you go.
When you’ve built up a lot of stitches on your needle, pull the needle through. If the knot has a thread tail that’s popping out, go ahead and trim it just past the knot with your embroidery scissors.
Keep working stitches all the way around the circle until you get back to where you started.
To form the yoyo, pull on the thread to gather the center. After that, use your fingers to fuss the gathers so that the folds of the fabric look even and well, pretty. Hold your needle close to the yoyo, then wrap the thread around the needle several times. Pull the thread to make a knot.
Finish off by pushing the needle from the inside center through to the right side of the yoyo. Cut the thread. This buries the knot on the inside of the yoyo.
Keep making yoyos until you’re done.
Like I said, this is a project you can pack up in a small bag and take anywhere (might I suggest a 7 minute zipper bag?). I’m legendary for taking my yoyos random places like movie theaters, baseball games, wherever.
Join the yoyos
Typically when I’m sewing yoyos I join them together by hand. I’ll show you that here, but I’ll also show you how to sew yoyos by machine. It’s quicker, not as strong as hand stitching, but this is not a project that needs super strong yoyos.
Sewing the yoyos together by hand
Double thread and knot your thread on your needle. Hold two yoyos right sides together. Poke the needle through both near the edge, then loop the thread around the top, poking the thread through both yoyos again. Repeat this. This will anchor your knot in place.
From here, make a second stitch a little less than 1/4″ away to the left. Before you pull it tight, stick the needle through the loop you made. This will make the thread sit on top rather nicely. Make one more stitch to the left, passing the thread through the loop just like you did before. Finish off by poking through the layers again like you did when you started stitching. This reinforces the edges. Knot off the thread and cut the tail close to the knot.
For a better close up look of the hand yoyo stitching, check out how to make a fabric yoyo.
Once you’ve joined two yoyos together, sew another yoyo near the edges to the pair you just made. Since we’re making yoyo fabric shamrocks here, the single yoyo should form a little triangle with the others.
Sewing the yoyos together by machine
Set your machine for a straight stitch with a very short length. I find 1.8mm is a good length.
Place two yoyos right sides together and place under your presser foot. With the presser foot raised, lower the needle into the yoyos near the edge. Sew across the edge, backstitching at the beginning and ending of the stitch.
Add on the third yoyo the same way sewing it to edge of each of the other yoyos. These seams should be tiny–probably only about 1/2″ long.
If you want to make a 4 leaf clover, make two pairs, then sew across the edges of the two pairs. The center hole between the yoyos will be bigger on 4 leaf clovers.
Keep making clovers until you’ve gone through all your green yoyos.
To make a rainbow, sew the multicolor yoyos together at angles on the edges to form an arch. Sew the arch to the tops of two of the clovers.
Add the pipe cleaners
Now that you have all your fun fabric shamrocks, thread a pipe cleaner through the center hole. Fold it over on itself and twist to form a stem.
If you’d like, you can stop here.
Add the shamrocks to pencil tops for fun festive DIY St Patrick’s Day pens and pencils, or you can stick a bunch of your shamrocks into some craft foam in a tin for a fabric flower arrangement.
Assemble the DIY St Patrick’s Day garland
To make a garland from your fabric shamrocks, roll out some yarn.
Working flat on a table, add some hot glue to the yarn, then place on a shamrock near its base. I like the low temp setting on this glue gun for this.
You can thread on a button on the bottom of each stem. You can think of this like the ground the clover grows out of, but really, the buttons help balance the weight of the yoyos. If you only have small buttons, you can thread on a couple.
Add a little hot glue to the button to hold the stem in place.
Twist together 1 pipe cleaner and glue it on the backside of the arch. This will help support it a little bit.
Hot glue the arch to your yarn, with another clover in between the two ends.
Glue the clovers to a second piece of yarn on the tops of the clovers, running to the top of the arch.
Displaying your garland
Hang your garland against a wall or mantle with tacks. Be sure to use a nail or tack in the center of the arch so that your rainbow stays upright. We gotta find that pot of gold, right?!
So that’s all there is to making your own DIY St Patrick’s Day garland with fabric yoyos.
Check out more seasonal sewing projects:
Elizabeth Farr is the writer behind the Elizabeth Made This blog where she shares helpful sewing tips, step by step sewing tutorials and videos to help you explore your creativity through sewing. She has written sewing Eguides and patterns, been a featured teacher at Rebecca Page’s Sewing Summit and Jennifer Maker’s Holiday Maker Fest and her work has appeared in Seamwork and Altered Couture magazines. She also created a line of refashioned garments for SEWN Denver. When her sewing machine isn’t humming, she’s playing and teaching violin, and hanging around a good strategic board game with her husband and 4 kids.