Having run out of hand quilting to do I went back to making a felt ball. Before I started quilting I had made 16 of these balls. ( if you were reading this blog back when it started in April 2006 I showed some of them there. ) As I have plenty of the supplies of felt, embroidery cotton and parts it is probably just as well to keep making them.
I keep a note book with all the details of each one; time started, colours used , motifs added and where the ball ended up [sometimes in other countries ] as no 2 are the same. Some are personalised with an initial of the baby's name, or a creature from that country).
* *I have the complete instructions with pictures, for making these written out in a word document that anyone wanting to make one can request and I will email you a copy.** ( or snail mail )
Briefly this is how one is made:
1.Cut out 12 different coloured felt pentagons with 5 and a quarter cms sides.Iron on fabric stiffener to back of each shape.
2. Lay 2 shapes face to face and using 3 strands of embroidery cotton blanket stitch along one side. Keep adding a new shape in on each side till you have one pentagon with 5 others attached to it's sides. Do this for the other 6 the same. Join the connecting sides - it will become obvious where you need to sew.
3. Now join together some of the sides of the 2 sets of shapes. BUT NOT all as quite a wide space has to be left to insert the ball stuffing.( in the middle photo above you can see a ball shell, inside out, but sewn together )
4.If you wish the ball to have a little rattle you need to begin with it. ( small bell inserted in 2 metal bottle tops works well. Bell alone will be deadened by the stuffing muffling it )For the stuffing the best way is to cut long strips of batting about 1.5 inches wide and wind them around your rattle like winding up a ball of wool or string. This will give a good round, springy ( bouncy ) shape. Wind tightly.Some trial and error is needed the first time, to get a ball stuffing big enough to make the ball really firm.
5. Turn the felt shape right side out and insert your wound stuffing ball into it.
6. Using 6 strands of cotton baste the last sides together; pulling really firmly; use big stitches as they have to be pulled out later. When the opening is completely closed up you now need to neatly button hole these last seams. Then remove your basting.
7. This step is optional. I chain stitch along all the seams in a contrasting colour to hide any of the sewing up. You can see this in the top photo.
8. This is where you personalise your ball - the embellishing using motifs.I have got a whole range of different little shapes I like to use. ( if you can't draw a kiddies colouring book or or applique pattern shapes might help )You can see some of the shapes I am using for this ball lying ready in an above photo.( a pink mug; a green frog; a green avocado, a red admiral butterfly, an owl, an umbrella, a cake on a plate. )Some shapes are quick like the avocado others like the butterfly take ages. The choice is yours. Cut out your 12 motifs and buttonhole stitch around them. Sew in details, then using hidden stitches, sew on to the ball. It's good to have a real mix. As many fancy stitches in a variety of colours, as you wish may be added.
In the photo with the 2 balls the one on the left is complete the one I am making at the moment on the right is a work in progress. So far just one strawberry when I took the photo. Last night I added the mug, the butterfly and a star.
Answers to Questions I get asked.
* It takes about 50 hours to make a ball. ( depends on the detail that is added ).
* Yes, you could add the motifs right at the beginning, before sewing the pentagons together. I prefer this sequence as the direction and placement is easier to get right this way.
* purchased motifs could be used ( but that's not really the point if making a handmade item! )
* I have seen one sewn together by machine and it was yukky.
* if you perfect getting the stuffing really tight the ball will have a small bounce when dropped. Squishy is okay too - depends how you want it.
* clumps of loose stuffing gives a lumpy ball, but could work if done really well and firmly.
* babies don't seem to mind the feel of felt in their mouths - amazing.
More photos when I finish this current ball.