Sunday, 12 May 2013

The Pentagon Balls Up? Or the Patchwork Ball Tutorial

Right everyone, it has been a little while since we made anything so I thought a little bit of hand sewing would be a gentle re-introduction, as well as learning a new technique - English piecing - it will make a super gift for a tiny tot and should not break too much if it is used indoors, unless the tot is growing up to be a fast bowler!
You are going to need:
  • Paper, protractor, pencil and ruler
  • Selection of cotton fabrics
  • Scissors or rotary cutter, ruler and cutting mat
  • Matching cotton and contrast cotton, pins and needle
  • Toy stuffing
  • Iron or applique iron and ironing board
We are going to make the ball using 12 pentagons, but first we are going to create our template.  Now there is an easy way to do this, which is just googling pentagon and printing it out but much more fun to put into practice all that geometry you learnt at school; grateful thanks to Miss O'Riordan my old Maths teacher, who would be marking this blog down already as I have failed to put today's date and underline, she was most definitely old school!

So draw a line 2" long, at the end of the line, mark it at 72' and draw another 2" and continue until you have the five points because I know that you have already worked out that 5 x 72 = 360 which is the number of degrees in a circle.  Cut out 12 paper pentagons.
Now you could repeat the process above and create a template which has sides of 2.5" which will give us a seam allowance of 1/4" or you can pin the inner template in place and cut around 1/4" bigger.  I have used six different fabrics and cut two of each to make my ball, so you all know what is coming next, you need to press the fabric before you reach for anything sharp... don't skimp the ironing, it will give you a much better result,
Place the inner paper template on top of the fabric, at this point you can either finger press or iron... and you know that I will have used my iron :)  Using the contrast cotton, make a large knot in it and tack through two layers of fabric and paper to make a sandwich, when you get to the corner, fold the fabric in the same direction, I did this so that the left hand side always sat on the top.  Make sure with this ball you start on the reverse side (usually with piecing the knot is on the top) this will make it easier when we have to remove them.
I tend to use a double thread when tacking, once you have sewn all the way around, don't neatly sew the end  in, leave it trailing so that we can whip it out when it is sewn together.
Get the first six ready, then move them about until you are happy with the arrangement.
Put two sides together and sew them with small stitches with a whip stitch, which is a diagonal stitch used to join the pieces together.  Go in straight across the two pieces from right to left and then come over on the diagonal, keep your stitches small and neat... the more you sew the neater and smaller they become.
I found it easiest to start with two side pieces and then sew these two to the base, then side followed by base.
Now you have half your ball ready to go, repeat this process for the other side.

Place one half on top of the other, I made the same pattern for each half and then rotated the top half by two segments.  To make it easier to sew, I set one half as picture above and then inverted the other half to sit inside it, it was then really easy to see where points and seams should join.  Sew all the way around but leave two sides unsewn... we need to turn this ball right sides out eventually.

OK, it's time for the fun bit, grab then knotted end of the tacking line and release the paper template... Don't throw it away, you can reuse it.  Turn the ball inside out through the opening.

Take your stuffing and fill the ball, now don't make the mistake of grabbing a big wadge and shoving it in, go with little and often, it gives the ball a better finish.
Grab a safety and pin the centre point down.  Work your magic with the whip stitch again, sewing the two sides together.
And there you have a lovely little piece of hand sewing and you have mastered a basic element of English piecing, how clever are you?  I was just sitting here thinking, when the C word came into my mind, if I made the pentagons smaller, wouldn't it make a great decoration using up scraps for a handmade Christmas tree? 
But guess what, if you have stuffed your ball properly, it will bounce, go on give it a go!

Right now it's over to Wendy Massey's Handmade Monday, been absolutely ages since we have been on there, can't wait to see what everyone has been up to.


Anonymous said...

Your tutorials are always so well written. Thank you as always :)

Anonymous said...

Fascinating - would be a good soft toy for my grandchildren too!

Wendy said...

Brilliant! I love how it all comes together (and top marks for all the maths, too!). Welcome back, too, of course! x

Anonymous said...

Brilliant tutorial, and I love the materials you have used,

Gertie said...

Brilliant tutorial.

English piecing takes me back. That was my first introduction to patchwork when I was 10 xx

Adaliza said...

Oh - I remember making patchwork pieces like that - takes me back! I've just used some of that charcoal polka dot fabric - very stylish, me thinks!

Anonymous said...

A great tutorial, thank you. I can only imagine what Digby dog would do if I made one of these. He is ball obsessed, andything remotely round and he is on it like a shot! xx

Free Spirit Designs said...

oh wow this is so cute! i love how you've used lots of different fabrics x

Christmas Pie Crafts said...

A great tutorial, Ros, many thanks. The balls would make great Christmas decorations and how about stuffing them with whatever is used to make those (supposed) stress-relieving balls? Hope you have a good week.

Helen said...

Great tutorial as usual.

CatkinJane said...

Great idea! I could have done with one of these to throw at something in my sewing room yesterday!

Ginx Craft said...

What a great tutorial. Your hand stitching looks so incredibly neat!

Bev Newman said...

This is a really clear tutorial, thank you as its inspired me to give this a try at some point :-)

Louise@ElsieMayandBertha said...

These are a lovely idea for a child, though it may be fun to make one for myself for those times when I need to chuck something :-)
Also you have beautiful nails, I wish mine looked like that.
Have a creative week.

Anonymous said...

Cute ball!

Navy Wifey Peters @ Submarine Sunday Link Party

Anonymous said...

Fab tutorial thank you! I love the fact that it will bounce!

Kate @craftsonsea said...

Love it! I would be the one having to download a template off the internet though ;o)