Don't despair if you don't have a yo yo maker; the same effect can be achieved with accurate cutting and neat stitches. Simply cut circles of fabric 14cm in diameter, fold over 5mm at the edge and begin sewing neat running stitch around the circumference, continuing to fold over the edge as you go. Gather up the stitches, secure and press the yo yo into a neat, flat shape
- Fabric: plain cotton, 20cm square; print cotton, scraps at least 14cm square
- Embroidery thread
- Clover yo yo maker, extra large
- Toy filling
- This toy is custom sized
Create fabric yo yos
Decide how long the finished caterpillar will be. Each fabric yo yo will account for approximately 1cm in length and the head and tail will add around 10cm. The overall length of the toy can be estimated from these amounts – it can also be dependant upon the number of 14cm cotton squares to be used.
Create the fabric yo yos. Open the yo yo maker and place a 14cm square of cotton onto the base disc with right sides down. Clip the centre disc in place, ensuring the guides are aligned with the marks on the base, to allow for easy threading through the holes. Trim away the excess material from the disc, leaving a 5mm seam allowance.
Knot a length of thread. Fold the seam allowance over the centre disc and stitch through the two layers of fabric via the guide holes. Sew in and out of the these holes in a large running stitch, making sure that the thread on the underside is sitting in the grooves, flush against the fabric. Failure to do this will result in the fabric not being stitched to the disc.
Once the thread has been sewn completely around the disc, stitch again through the first two holes and leave the end of the thread loose. Pop apart the discs and remove the fabric from the centre. Pull the loose thread to gather the circumference of the fabric circle up, pushing the seam allowance into the centre of the circle for a neat finish. Secure the thread and trim. Repeat steps 1–4 to make as many yo yos as required.
Construct the fabric toy
Cut a 6cm diameter semi-circle of fabric and fold, right sides together, into a cone shape, then stitch. Turn out and fold over the top edge before gathering with running stitch. Stuff the cone with toy filling, pull the gathers tight and secure to make the tail piece.
Arrange the yo yos in a line so that colours and prints are well mixed. Thread several strands of strong embroidery cotton through a needle, then pass it through the centre of each yo yo in turn, making sure they are all the same way up. Once sewn, work through the gathered end of the tail piece and back through each yo yo in the opposite direction. Pull the thread tightly so there are no visible gaps between the circles and secure with hand stitches.
Using a side plate as a template, draw a circle onto a 20cm square of plain cotton fabric. Turn over the edge by 5mm and sew a running stitch all around the circumference. Draw in the running stitches to gather up the circle into a pouch and stuff until firm with fibre filling before closing the top and securing the gathers with a few stitches.
Sew the gathered end of the resulting ball to the top yo yo with ladder stitch. Use a soft pencil to sketch in the position of the eyes and mouth. Take an unknotted length of embroidery thread and pass through the back of the head to the start position of the eye/mouth embroidery.
Secure the thread with a couple of tiny stitches before sewing the features with back stitch and satin stitch. Secure the ends of the thread with a few small stitches and pass the thread back through the head. Trim the ends of the thread closely to the back of the head to conceal.
Cut two 5cm diameter circles of scrap fabric. Fold in the edge and gather as in step 3. Stuff the shape and close up the gathers before sewing to the top of the head with ladder stitch.