Embellishing A Quilt

October 18, 2022

Embellishing a Quilt

Hey y’all. I’m Emily, the maker behind Martha Jane Creations. I am married with one little boy. As I was born and raised on a farm in middle TN; agriculture is my other passion. I’m a school nurse by day and an avid quilter and pattern designer in my off time. I first learned to sew and quilt from my grandmother and then my mom and I took a couple project classes at our local quilt shop. Quilting is something I love because it feels like tradition; something that I can share with family and friends through mixed generations. Also, to me, making a quilt is creating an heirloom that will be passed down from generation to generation. That is something that has always been important in my family. I was raised to cherish antiques and heirlooms and know the story and the history behind each one!

Embellishing A Quilt

This is something that I like to bring to all my quilt designs. My newest pattern, Joyful Traditions, embodies this thought completely. The inspiration behind the pattern is the tradition of getting together as a family at my grandmother’s house and decorating for Christmas, especially the tree. We would go through the ornaments and tell the stories behind each one.

In the pattern, I encourage you to “decorate” your tree and give instructions on two embellishing options: Fabric Yo-Yos and Chenille-It Blooming Bias.

Many of us have seen fabric yo-yo’s on antique quilts or pillows, but may have been intimidated by them. Like EPP, they do take some extra time and commitment, but are the perfect “sit and sew” project and I am here to give you a little how-to that will help you make them quickly and efficiently. You can grab a printable download here.

embellishments for quilt

Making Fabric Yo-Yo's

1. Cut desired circle size from fabric. Fold edge over 1⁄4”, wrong sides together.

ironing fabric

2. Knot the end of a length of thread. Hide the starting knot on the wrong side in the fold created. Hand baste a running stitch 1⁄8” from the edge. Leave the thread in the needle and do NOT knot the end when you reach the starting knot. Sew one stitch past the starting point.


3. Pull loose thread end to gather, forming the yo-yo. Secure thread with a double knot and hide thread inside the yo-yo. Flatten the yo-yo, centering the gathered closure.

sewing and stitching examples

4. Attach to your project by either stitching around the perimeter of the yo-yo as close to the edge as possible (a basting stitch or blanket stitch can be used); or secure with an “x” stitch in four points, creating an “X.”

Using a Yo-Yo Maker

Did you know that they have yo-yo makers?!? They are pretty handy, especially if you are just getting started. The biggest downfall for me is there is slightly more fabric wasted, and you are limited to sizes; although, multiple sizes are offered.

1. Cut a square of fabric slightly larger than the maker you are using. Ex: This maker ia 4 3⁄4” in diameter and my square is 5 1⁄2”

maker and square of fabric

2. With the circle form laying flat, place fabric square, right side down, in the circle. Place the gear shaped piece over the top and click into place. Make sure your marks line up. Trim excess fabric leaving about an 1⁄8” of fabric above the maker.

how to use the maker

3. Knot the end of a length of thread. Hide the starting knot on the wrong side of the fabric. Use a basting stitch to place stitches through both layers of fabric in the indicated stitch holes. Again, stitch one stitch past starting positions. Leave the thread in the needle and do not knot.

4. Push the gear shaped piece out and carefully pull the thread and fabric off the teeth.

pushing fear shape out

5. Pull loose thread end to gather, forming a yo-yo. Secure thread with a double knot and hide thread inside the yo-yo.

6. Flatten the yo-yo, centering the gathered closure.

handmade and maker examples

7. Attach to quilt by either stitching around the perimeter of the yo-yo as close to the edge as possible (a basting stitch or blanket stitch can be used); or secure wiTH an “x” stitch in four points, creating either an “X” or a “+.”

For my Joyful Traditions pattern, I made fabric yo-yo’s in various sizes and attached them randomly to serve as ornaments.

Joyful Traditions quilt

Adding Chenille-It Blooming Bias To A Quilt

If you haven’t yet used Chenille-It on a project, you need to!! It is so much fun!! It can add such a special touch to any project: quilt binding, pillow embellishment, bag texture, or like in my newest pattern, Joyful Traditions, garland!

Joyful Traditions Quilt

I have created a little tip sheet for attaching Chenille-It to a project and I really think you should check out all the fabulous colors on the website. Also, check out the #chenilleit for more inspiration and follow @chenilleit on Instagram for all the latest projects and sneaks at the monthly box! Chenille-It comes in 2 sizes: 3⁄8” and 5⁄8” tape. The 5⁄8” is perfect in place of binding. Also, the 3⁄8” is best for adding texture to your actual project. However, I tend to still use the 5⁄8’ because I love the extra fluff!

When applying Chenille-It, it is best to lay out your pattern first. Sometimes you will have to cut strips, but sometimes you can use a continuous length and you just fold it over itself at pivot points, such as outlining or garland.

You can hold the Chenille-It in place with a bit of children’s washable glue. I tend to use one of the purple Elmer’s glue sticks, because I have a four year old and there is always one laying around somewhere!!

When ready, sew down the center of the blooming bias to secure it to your project. Chenille-It can be added before or after quilting. This is totally a preference thing. If adding to a quilt after quilting, just keep in mind that you will see the stitch on the back. Also, if adding before quilting, keep in mind that dense quilting may not allow it to fully “bloom.”


If adding your Chenille-It in the place of binding, you will trim your quilt up as normal. I find I like to then do a zig-zag stitch (or similar) around the edge of the quilt. Instead of sewing on binding, you will add a double layer of 5⁄8” Chenille-It about an 1⁄8” away from the edge. Then, flip it over and repeat with a double layer on the back. It works best if you do each side separately and leave at minimum of 1⁄4” overlapping the ends.

When your project is complete, throw it in the wash like you would normally. A washer with an agitator works best, but you can add something like shoes or a ball if you don’t have an agitator. The agitator helps to truly separate the fibers and create the fluffiest bloom!! I then throw mine in the dryer on a low heat cycle and pull it out and enjoy all the crinkle and the fluff!!

For my Joyful Traditions pattern, I used approximately 3 yards of Chenille-It per tree. I applied it like a garland going from the top point of a row to the opposite bottom point of that same row, swapping directions with each row. Also, I let the Chenille-It serve as some of my quilting and did a stitch-in-the-ditch around the tree so that the back resembles a tree with garland in the stitching!

finished Joyful Traditions

Thank you for allowing me to be here, and I hope you found the tutorials helpful! Tag me @marthajanecreations in any of your Chenille-It or yo-yo projects! I would love to see!! If you are interested in more tutorials and inspirational projects, check out my website. See ya later, alligator!!

Martha Jane Creations



If you liked this tutorial, be sure to check out these other free quilting tutorials!


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