5.22.2011

pentagon colorful fabric balls... tutorial

Yesterday I went to a two-year-old's birthday party. There were five little boys there all under the age of 5 and lucky for us adults we get along as well as the kids do. It was a remarkably enjoyable afternoon. I brought one of these fabric balls as a gift and quickly realized that it is not only a hit at our house but across the board- from the 1.5 year old to the older boys balls are hands down the favorite toy. This one is soft but still very playable so it can be kicked and thrown without too much concern about the whole house coming down around an active indoor afternoon of playing.

Below you'll find all the info about how to make your own! Enjoy, JM



What you'll need:
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printed pattern piece (below)
4-12 different scraps of fabric (preferably decor weight**)
sewing machine
iron
stuffing (preferably cotton or wool)
needle and thread


 seam allowance: 1/2"

**I found using a slightly heavier weight fabric made the balls much smoother and more substantial once stuffed, but I would think it depends on the size ball you're making. If you made anything smaller than my "small" ball quilting-weight should be just fine. Another option would be to use interfacing on any smaller scraps you had lying around to beef up the weight- and that way you could mix and match different weights of fabrics too. 
 

 my samples:
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large ball: about 7" across 
(the pattern piece 5" across at the widest point and 3" on side)

small ball: about 5" across
(the pattern piece 4" across at the widest point and 2.5" on side)



 Click on the pattern image above to pull up the full sized file, then just drag it to your desktop and print it at 100% on a piece on card stock for the larger ball or 80% for the smaller size. Re-size the pattern to create additional sizes. 


Cut out 12 or more pentagon pieces. You'll need to use at least 4 different fabrics in order to make sure no like pieces touch, but even that's a little tricky, I like to have at least 6 different fabrics. I cut out far more than 12, that way I could create the design as I sew it together.


With right sides together sew two pieces together using a seam allowance of approximately 1/2" (doesn't matter the exact measurement- just be consistent). Most importantly make sure you to start and stop your seam at dots marked on the pattern. There is no need to mark the fabric, but be sure keep it in mind while sewing.


Open your two pieces and...

place the next piece on top.

Sew the next two pieces together stopping as soon as it's met up with the first seam.


Open up the three pieces...

and fold the next two pieces with edges lined up and sew across, remembering to stop the seam at the mark on the pattern, not all the way across the piece.

These three pieces will not lay flat and as you continue to add pieces to this you'll begin to create the curve of the ball. Continue to work this piece until you've made the whole ball or...

sew six pieces together to create a half ball: one piece in the center and five- one off each side. By doing it this way it's easier to plan your overall design.

When fitting two halves together remember to fit each "point" into a "valley" where two pieces meet to continue the over all pattern.

Sew all but one (for the larger) or two sections (for the smaller) and turn the ball right side out. 

Stuff with cotton, wool, or kapok. Sometimes it can be difficult to find an alternative to poly-fiberfill but it's worth the hunt. Natural fibers are not just better for the child who's lucky enough to play with this hand-made toy and the environment, but they're also much healthier to work with. If you're having trouble with finding a source check out quilt batting, it's readily available in organic cotton and wool in most quilt shops. Just be sure to pull it apart as you stuff so that the work doesn't get too lumpy. It should be stuffed firmly but still have some give when squeezed. Hand sew the opening closed. Iron the whole ball after it's stuffed.

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 TIPS
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Consider sewing in tags, tabs, a twill tape "handle", or a noisemaker to make it even more playful and interesting for the little ones.


When fitting larger pieces together make sure that the edges of each pentagon line up and fold all seams away from the center. This insures that the pieces will fit together properly and with as little puckering as possible.


With this pattern puckering occurs when edges are over-sewn or seams are tacked down by stitches on the wrong side. To keep all the work as neat as possible try to have all seams met (but not pass each other) and keep seams "untacked"  like the image below:





CONGRATULATIONS YOU'RE DONE!

9 comments:

  1. Fun! There are going to be some very happy kids playing with these colorful fabric balls! :-)

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  2. you're freaking amazing. balls.

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  3. Gosh, I can't believe I haven't Welcomed you home yet. "Welcome Home, Jen." The time is flying by this month. You sure did jump back into your studio and started creating some really cute creations, as always. I love the new olde bear and the ball is really cool too.
    I'm not a twitter or facebook person, so I am really glad your keeping your blog. I love reading your stories and seeing all the pictures you post for us.
    Thank you for sharing the pattern for the ball. It definitely makes for a nice gift for the kids.

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  4. The adults only got along as well as the kids?!
    Just joking!
    Seriously, I don't sew but how nice of you to take the time and trouble to post all those directions and amazing photos to go with.
    The balls are awesome and your fabric choices, as always, artistic and fun.

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  5. And how do you get one of those cute kids like in the picture?!!!!!!
    He gets cuter every day!!!!!!!
    Smiles, Andra

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  6. Very beautifull.
    I've made a girly one.
    Thanks for sharing your tutorial.

    Angela
    (angie-zwolle.blogspot.com)

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  7. So glad to see this! My aunt has made these for decades (and yes, I did type it right), but she didn't ever give me the details or pattern size. I know she puts a muslin lining in it (for strength) and it seems to work well, ours is over 23 years old, been through five kids and now the grandson is doing his best to destroy it. Thanks so much!!

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  8. Great idea and great tutorial - thank you!

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  9. I made these for craft fairs back in the 70's. So glad to find the pattern again. Thank you.

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