The Daily Skein

All the craft that’s fit to make.

Cuddly Balls May 29, 2008

Filed under: Patterns,Sewing Projects — Cailyn @ 3:26 pm
Tags: , ,

I’ve taken a short break from knitting to work on one of my other loves, sewing. Now, sewing and I have had a rocky past. It hasn’t always been pretty. But we seem to have come to an understanding now. I don’t sew clothes. (Well, maybe a skirt now and then, but that doesn’t count.) No shirts, no pants, nada. I don’t care how “simple” the pattern is. And sewing has finally come to accept that and now enjoys helping me make cool knitting bags and toys. Two things have really made my sewing much better:

Freezer paper. This stuff is awesome. You can iron it on to your fabric, draw on it, cut through it or around it, I’ve even used it as a tear-away stablizer when I’m desperate… then you just peel it off and it doesn’t leave a residue or tear! And it’s reusable (it does lose its effectiveness after 10 uses or so.)

Blindstitch (or slipstitch, the descriptions sound very similar to me.) Why didn’t anyone ever teach me this before?? All those projects I stuffed and sewed shut with whipstitch; I shudder to think of them. I freaking love blind/slipstitch. It’s almost completely invisible and easy to do. Kind of reminds me of grafting in knitting, in a good way. I tried to make my own blindstitch tutorial, but I got very frustrated with the macro function on my camera. So while the camera sees a therapist and recovers, use these tutorials: WikiHow with pictures, or YouTube video!

Anyway, I’ve been sewing because my sister is going to have a rough wee soon, and I thought I would make her something cuddly to cheer her up. Luckily she was visiting not too long ago, so I got lots of good ideas, even though I was planning on using them for the holidays. She was admiring my big “puzzle ball” that I made a few years ago. Which is a story in itself!

My grandmother-in-law always comes to me first when she wants to give handmade gifts to the family (I love this woman!) There was a sudden outbreak of great-grandchildren one year and she asked me to make some baby toys. I made these:

They’re puzzle balls, with coordinating fat eighths as the base pieces and then a different color and texture as the top piece. There’s fuzzy blue (which looks white in the pictures,) bumpy red, ridged purple, and smooth green. Oh, and they also have bells inside. I’ve heard they were a big hit. These ones were about 5” in diameter.

I made a larger one for myself, and it’s main purpose is apparently to be thrown at some unsuspecting guest. It’s made from flannel and cotton. (There’s a picture of it at the bottom of the page.) It’s very squishy and fun, about 10” in diameter. Anyway, back to the main story. I made my sister a puzzle ball, and while I was at it, I took some pictures for a tutorial. I first learned about these balls on Craftster. Take a look at some of the really beautiful ones people made!

These balls are really cool. I like using at least two colors in my balls, one “outer” and one “inner.” There are 36 pieces of fabric, 12 outer and 24 inner, so there are lots of options!

Amish Puzzle Ball


Fabric (cotton, flannel, anything really) The amount varies depending on the size of the ball, but I’ve found that 1/2 a yard is plenty for a 6″ ball.

Coordinating thread

Sewing machine (unless you make it really small or are really patient)

Scissors, sewing needle, pins, iron and freezer paper (optional)

Polyester stuffing (or stuffing of choice)


Resize the marquis shape here to your desired size (right click to save it to your computer.)

Keep in mind that there’s a ½” seam allowance, so a 7” template will be a 6” sewn shape. A 7” template makes an approximately 6 ½” diameter ball. You can make the template fatter for a ball with smaller gaps.

If you’re using freezer paper, trace your marquis onto the freezer paper. (I’ve managed to do a whole ball with one freezer paper marquis.) Cut it out.

Iron on your freezer paper template and cut out the marquis shape around the template. I fold my fabric so that I can cut 4 pieces at once, but you need really good scissors for that. Repeat until you have 36 pieces total (if making a 2-color ball, you need 24 MC pieces, and 12 CC pieces.)


Pin two marquis pieces right sides together. Using a ½” seam allowance, sew one side of the marquis from end to end.

Take the third marquis and place it right side up on the table. Spread the sewn marquis apart and place it right side down on the third piece. Pin in place. It should look like this, but less fuzzy.

Sew one side of the marquis end to end. Sew the other side, but end about 1” short, for turning and stuffing.

Clip the seams (I like to cut them to about ¼”), turn right side out. Repeat until all pieces are sewn.

Stuff with Poly-fil to desired squishyness. Sew opening closed with blind/slipstitch. Repeat until all pieces are stuffed.

Sew two pieces together at the tips. I use blind/slipstitch to sew them together about ½” for a more solid ball in larger sizes.

Sew a third piece to the previous two to form a triangle.

Repeat until you have 4 3-piece triangles.

Sew two of the triangles together at the “point.” I use blind/slipstitch again, ½” on either side of the center.

Sew a third triangle to the two the same way.

Fold the triangles up so that the first and third touch and sew together the same way as before. You can also sew the fourth triangle on and then fold it up, but I think the first way is easier. Now you’ve got some sort of dome.

Sew the fourth triangle on in the same way, sewing each point to a point on the dome.



19 Responses to “Cuddly Balls”

  1. Carin Says:

    The balls are cute! My kids had one when they were little and love it. What a great idea to incorporate different textures.

  2. Amber Says:

    Perfect tutorial. I’ve been hunting down instructions for ages and these are great. They look like tonnes of work though! If I get the time, I’ll make one and send a link.

  3. Clare Says:

    Great tutorial, have used it to make a couple of gifts for friends…

    (1) This:

    and adapted the method to make..

    (2) This:


  4. kimberly Says:

    hey thanks for the tutorial. i’m going to make one for a friends baby.
    keep on stitchin’

  5. […] Stoffreste zum Nähen und Ausstopfen braucht man auch für diesen Amish-Puzzle-Ball.   Hinterlasse einen […]

  6. […] Check out this great ball that Darbishar made over at Blizzard’s Window. I love it! It’s an amish puzzle ball and is essentially made up of twelve football type shapes that are machine sewn and stuffed and then hand sewn together into a ball shape. I bet you can make this a durable outdoor toy, too, if you use fabric such as oilcloth or outdoor fabrics. She made it using this tutorial from The Daily Skein. […]

  7. Baby Toys Says:

    These balls are great as baby toys! I love the way you have contrasted the fabric between the inside panels and the outside panels which makes them really stand out. I particularly like purple and lilac ball, hopefully I will find time to make one of these for my baby.

  8. Penny Says:

    I love it! Thanks for the tute.Will make one for my dog! lol…I don’t have little kids or grandkids yet 🙂

  9. Wow, what a fantastic project you have here. With your tutorial, you made it simpler to make and easy for us to follow the instruction. I’ll definitely make one for my kid. thanks a lot.

    This is a really fun project! I have fabric to make another one, but haven’t had the time yet. Enjoy making yours!

  10. […] eine genaue Anleitung und weitere Inspirationen benötigt sollte unbedingt hier mal vorbei […]

  11. Ange Says:

    I love this. Thank you for sharing the tutorial. This is so easy to make, but looks pretty impressive. I just finished one for my newest baby cousin.
    You can see it here if you’d like.

  12. Karyl Says:

    Thanks so much for the tutorial! I made one of these for a friend’s baby about a year ago, and wanted to make another for my hubby’s latest grandbaby, but can no longer find the pattern I purchased. Now I don’t have to – thanks to you! I loved making the first ball and the baby had a grand time with it–threw it all over the place according to his mom–and am sure the newest grandbaby will love having one, too. Thanks again!

  13. […] toy but takes quite a lot of hand-sewing to put it all together. I followed the instructions from here to make what she calls an Amish puzzle ball. It’s rather bigger than I expected but because […]

  14. Suzanne Garrison Says:

    Do you have a pattern for a soft baby football?

  15. […] çocuklarınız bunlara bayılacak bu yumuşacık yastık topa:)) dikmek isterseniz burada. […]

  16. […] auch einen solchen Greifball nähen möchtet findet hier eine Anleitung. Diese ist zwar auf Englisch, doch auch wer der Sprache nicht mächtig sein sollte, […]

  17. […] und Anleitung habe ich von Orthomol. Die komplette Anleitung gibt’s hier. Viel muss ich dazu eigentlich gar nicht schreiben, die Anleitung ist echt gut […]

  18. […] seemed easy enough. The 2 websites I used as a point of reference are Craftster and this blog, Daily Skein. I picked out some Texas Aggie fabric & used white cotton terrycloth for the […]

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