April 30, 2009
From the Book of Sewing Revelations
What’s a Scrap Ball you ask? We stumbled across this idea during class one afternoon in that sort of lightbulb-over-your-head kind of way. The ball itself is a classic kid project – straightforward, sweet, and super satisfying to play with at the end. The lightbulb moment came, not from the project itself, but from the possibility of utilizing it in a whole new way that fills an ever present need in every sewing room everywhere.
So, we’re in class one day and we had the kids making these fun balls out of felted wool sweaters and blankets. They were all really enjoying the whole process – both because of the simplicity and because of the myriad fabric options they could choose from to arrange into a fun and colorful ball. We had wool sweaters of all colors and patterns: argyles, stripes, ribbed, and even one choice, yet slightly moth eaten cashmere. Working with the sweaters is so texturally pleasing – to add the choices of colors and patterns that could be paired any way they chose only compounded that pleasure.
Everything was moving along super chill. The kids were sewing up a storm. Kathie was cleaning off the work table and picking up all the many dozens of little fabric scraps that inevitably litter any sewing table anywhere. I was just finishing up the sewing of one of these little treasures because, even though I was supposed to be teaching, I couldn’t resist this compelling project. I tossed my unstuffed ball over to Kathie and it was an “a-ha” just like peanut butter and chocolate, ice cream and cone, gin and tonic – wool ball skin and fabric scraps! Right then and there, Kathie got to work, dumping all those tiny pieces into the ball which otherwise would have been headed for the trash.
And so, for the next few days, the ball lived there on the sewing table, eating all the table scraps, until it was stuffed full and lived on in the playroom happily ever after. Thus, in our sewing room now, you will always see a felted wool Scrap Ball, in various stages of fullness, sitting hungrily in the center of the work space.
We think these little babies should be on every work table in every sewing room around the globe gathering up those ever present scraps. You can give them as baby gifts, use them as juggling balls, or toss them into the playroom.
Make your own Scrap Ball
- Find an old wool sweater or blanket. It must be wool because acrylic won’t felt up. Or maybe you have an old favorite that accidently got felted. Throw it in the washer set on HOT and HEAVY DUTY. The more agitation, the better because it’s the heat and the agitation together that makes those little wool hairs really curl up nice and tight with each other.
- Cut out your pattern piece like the one shown here. You can adjust the size. Smaller ones make great juggling balls.
- Cut four pattern pieces of the felted wool. Any colors will work. Any combination. All four pieces the same. Three of one and one of another. Or two and two.
- Take two of the pieces and sew them along one edge, good sides together.
- Now take those two pieces and line them up as you like them – good sides together. Starting at the middle of one side, sew around the edge, leaving a 2 inch hole on the side.
- Flip it inside out.
- Leave it on your sewing table to eat all your scraps. Stick a little bell in the middle if you like.
- When your ball is full, you can sew it shut with a hidden ladder stitch, a whip stitch or a colorful blanket stitch – depending on your what you like.
- PLAY BALL!!!