As many parents are headed to the malls for that annual event of back-to-school shopping, I wanted to give you a fun, easy way to embellish a little girl’s t-shirt, instead of buying a new one.

If you have a little girl, or if you’d like to bless a friend or family member’s daughter with a unique new look for back-to-school, here’s a great way to use a small scrap of fabric and a simple bit of hand-sewing to embellish a boring tee with a fun decoration called a yo-yo.

I’ve got a video tutorial for you, along with your basic supplies, for making the classic fabric yo-yo, and even some more ideas for embellishing.

Making a Yo-Yo

A yo-yo is simply a round piece of fabric, sewn together in the middle to create a cute, gathered, three-dimensional circle. They became popular in the 1930s-1940s and have been historically used in quilts among other projects. I first learned how to make them from my friend Allison’s blog.

What You Need:

  • needle & thread
  • scrap of fabric
  • something round to use as a template
  • iron
  • optional: button

(You might need to click over to view the video.)

Embellishing with Yo-Yos

Lately, my go-to baby gift is a headband with a cute yo-yo on it. Once I accidentally made my yo-yo too small and decided I’d just sew it on a onesie, and it came out adorable. This baby gift takes all of five minutes, which I love, because you know those babies outgrow the tiny, little onesies in no time (so I don’t like to spend too much time on homemade baby clothes)!

Last year, my daughter’s “first day of preschool” outfit included a yo-yo-embellished tank top (pictured above). The tank and jeans were garage sale finds that I gussied up with the yo-yos and some simple ruffles. This year, I made her a skirt with a matching yo-yo tee (pictured below). Hmm… maybe this is the start of a silly yo-yo tradition for my girls.

I’ve made yo-yos of all different sizes to make pins, hair clips and even earrings, simply by hot-glueing them to safety pins, alligator hair clips and earring backs, respectively. They are so versatile and fun!

Yo-yos are a fun way to add a homemade touch to a simple store-bought, thrifted, or handed-down piece of clothing, that doesn’t require much sewing experience! For detailed photos, you can view Allison’s tutorial as well.

Where do you think would be a cute place to put yo-yos? Have you made them before?