Monday, May 16, 2011

DIY: yo-yo bot

I've been bitten by the yo-yo bug. It's been pretty hard not to. Without a nifty maker, they are a bit of dealio to make but once you begin using one of those plastic doo-hickies to assist, you'll be making yo-yos in no time and you'll probably make more than you need (way more). So, to combat my yo-yo addiction I've whipped up this super colorful and quirky robot tutorial for you. Kiddos can even make these and if they are too young you can totally include them in the process. All it takes is time, some happy fabric scraps, a yo-yo maker (to speed things up) and few other odds and ends.

*fabric scraps at least 5" square (47 total)
*needle & thread
*large sized yo-yo maker (optional)
*large eyed needle
*piece of plain/solid fabric about 10" square
*felt scrap
*sewing machine (optional)
Making the yo-yos is the most time consuming part of this project. I popped in a DVD and got to stitching. You do not need the maker at all but it really speeds things along. You can make your yo-yos all the same color or the same fabric even. I modeled my project after a (slightly evil looking) vintage yo-yo clown I have which is now in storage. Click here for a nifty yo-yo how to sans maker (Heather Bailey is awesome) and here for one using the maker. You will need 47 yo-yos for the doll.
Grab a sheet of scrap paper about 5" X 10" and draw a vague roboty head and body. You can even have your kiddo draw a robot to use an inspiration. You're looking for a head and body shape with no detail. Your kiddo will add that later.

Take your large piece of plain (or small printed) fabric and fold it in half, right-sides facing in. Cut out pattern pieces and pin to fabric. Stitch around pattern pieces with the sewing machine, leaving a chute shaped opening for turning right-side out.
Cut out stitched pieces, carefully snipping off the corners without cutting the thread. Turn right-side out using the chute opening you created and clean up corners with a chopstick, crochet hook or an un-sharpened pencil.

Loosely stuff your two pieces using your fiber-fill of choice. Your kiddos can do this part.
To close the openings, fold the chute channel into the form and either whip stitch closed by hand or try the invisible stitch. My mister taught me the invisible stitch and I'm not sure I can explain it but here goes. Poke needle with thread knotted at the end into the channel at one end of the opening and pull all the way through so the knot is on the inside of the form. Working in one direction, "walk" your needle with thread on each side of the closure, keeping each "step" ahead of the other. Think of it as footsteps on the beach. Each footstep will be a tiny stitch on its own side heading in one direction which is the other side of the open seam.

Finish with a knot or two by pulling needle through the loop of a basic stitch. To trim, poke needle back into the form and pull it up somewhere in the middle of the shape, stuffing and all. Pull the thread tight and snip with scissors. Your tail end of thread should disappear into the form. It's magic!
Gather your felt scrap and fold a rectangle about 2 1/2" long in half. cut out a fat "U" shape to create robot hands. Set aside.
Now it is time to assemble the arms and legs. You and your kiddo can make a game of this playing with pattern and sequencing. Or you can go all random and just thread the yo-yos directly onto your yarn. Each leg will need 15 yo-yos and each arm will need 8. The yo-yo collar is made using the jumbo-sized maker.

Arrange all robot parts to get a better picture of your final doll. This is where you can play with color and order or your kiddo can. Thread your needle with a 10" or so length of yarn. This part can drive you a bit batty as the yarn can be tricky to thread through the eye of the needle. You can switch to embroidery thread for this part. I used yarn because it is pretty sturdy and I am a sucker for frustrating crafting.

Thread your first yo-yo onto your knotted yarn yo-yo opening facing the knot. I forgot to do this for the first leg, it isn't necessary but makes for a prettier doll. Thread the remaining 14 yo-yos for the leg you are working on with the opening facing up towards the needle.
When you finish with the last yo-yo, pop your needle through the bottom of the robot body about an inch in from one side, pulling the needle all the way through and knotting it it's buddy string. Give it another knot then go back down through the top three or so yo-yos, adding another knot under the last one. If you have more yarn, go ahead and thread through another two or three and knot a final knot. This will keep the legs a little more secure and space the yo-yos a bit so they don't all slump toward the bottom. Repeat for the second leg.
To stitch the head on, thread a new length of yarn (about six inches) onto your needle and poke it through the collar yo-yo with the opening facing down. Poke the needle into the top of the body of the robot and back up through the yo-yo. Next, gather the robot head and poke your needle into the bottom keeping left or rightish. Go long with the needle before coming back out and through the yo-yo to the body. Use the pic as a reference. Repeat until you are satisfies with the floppiness of the head. As always, give it a good knot or two before cutting the thread.
For the arms, begin the same way as the feet but before threading the second yo-yo on, whip stitch the felt "hands" in place and pull needle back through. Continue adding yo-yos until you have all 8 on the yarn. Poke needle all the way through the body of the robot to secure arm in place then begin threading the last set of yo-yos keeping the yo-yo openings facing the robot body. End with a whip stitch for the second hand and a knot or two to secure.
Give yer yo-yo bot a squeeze and smile at how cute it is. If you like, you can embroider a face on your robot. I like leaving the face and body blank so that you can give the robot to a favorite kiddo along with some fabric markers and/or paint and they can create their own robot features.

I see a great many more yo-yo bots in my future. How about you?


  1. you're killing me! i searched high and low for a doll like this for the boyo when he was little and obsessed with a daniel kirk book featuring a clown version. but dang! a ROBOT!!!!

  2. greeblygreebly4:40 AM

    I love it! I have a bit of a yo-yo problem. They are just so great for on the go crafting. So far I've made a Christas garland out of them and some hair things but this! This is just too cute!

  3. So cute!!! I have been obsessed with yoyos for a while now :) Love the yo-yo bot!

  4. Anonymous2:22 PM

    Love it! It looks so cute and colorful! Many thanks for the tutorial :)

  5. Anonymous10:35 PM

    I love yo-yo toys! I have a few I made years ago just to see if I could, but I haven't made anything out of them.
    I can't wait to make some more and play with these!

  6. Hi,
    This looks a lot of fun to make.

  7. Anonymous6:11 PM

    I'm cutting my yoyos right now. This is going to be under the christmas tree. I'm using old ACU's (army uniform) for most of them and atleast the belly. Had to find a way to use those huh?

  8. Thank you for the fun tutorial. I made one that didn't come out quite as cute as yours, but he has his own charm ;).
    I blogged about it and linked to your post:

    1. Hi Regina! Yer robot is all yo-yo happy! I am so happy you made her and thank you for the link!

  9. Thank you so very much for sharing this! I can not wait to make one for my son. I had no idea it was this easy. Thank you