Introduction: Make a Custom Leather Soccer Ball (Futbol for the Folks Not in the US)

About: Husband, Father, Educator, Leathercrafter, Drone pilot

So you want to make your own soccer ball (futbol) or maybe repair one you already have. Here's what you need:

1. A sacrificial soccer ball. It must have a bladder that holds air, as that's what you need out of it. (if anyone knows a source of bladders I'd love to know where to get them other than China where you have to order 1000 or so). My dog tore up this one on the outside but didn't pop the bladder.

2. Leather. I used scrap from other projects (@hidegear on instagram) and set this brown 5 ounce (2mm) leather aside specifically for this build. I think any leather from 4-6 ounce would work (1.6mm-2.2mm). You don't want to use leather from the stretchy portions of the hide like the belly as it can cause your panels to skew a little. The leather I used was a softer chrome tan leather similar to Horween's Chromexcel. It looks beatiful but maybe not the best for a hard playing game. Choose something that works for you.

3 Good strong polyester thread. I prefer Ritza 25. I used Med Brown .8mm You will need two of the small spools.

4. My pattern. You'll need 12 Pentagons and 20 Hexagons total.

5. Good sharp cutting implement: Rotary cutter, round knife, head knife, Exacto knife etc.


Step 1: Here's Your Pattern

1. Cut out the pattern, then proceed to use it to cut the 12 pentagons (with a hole in one for the valve) and 20 hexagons. It looks slick if you use the same color for all pentagons and a different color for all the hexagons.

2. Use a sharp knife for the leather. I really like a rotary cutter.

Step 2: Mark and Prick Stitch Lines

1. Mark stitch line and mark for stitching holes (using wing divider, then pricking irons and awl).

2. On the leather, trim off the little corners as marked in black on the pattern.

3 Optionally skive the edges. Skiving is using a knife to make the edges thinner and will be easier to stitch and turn the bag.

Step 3: Start Stitching

I used what's called the saddle stitch Here's a great video introduction:

To assemble, each pentagon has a hexagon on each side, sort of resembling a flower after you put the first one together. Remember-it's sewn inside out. Look up a picture of a soccer ball and follow the panel pattern; it's easy.

Leave an opening in a zigzag line big enough to flip the ball right side out that will have to be ladder stitched.

Step 4: Well Now What?

Now that you've sewn together as much as you can and are still able to flip the ball right side out, it is time to flip it. Insert the bladder line up the valve with the one pentagon with a hole in it, insert the needle. Leave it inserted to keep the stem lined up.

I didn't glue the bladder to the outer panels but I think I should have around the outside of the valve stem to keep it from rotating if it ever gets underinflated so you may want to consider some sort of rubber cement on the one pentagon with the valve hole.

Step 5: How to Close the Ball

Learn the Ladder Stitch, for a hidden seam:

This was the most difficult part of the construction. Stitch the entirety of the open seam up loosely and slowly start tightening up the seam that is open. Back stitch under a sewn area carefully to keep it from coming loose. A curved needle is helpful.

Step 6: You're Done, Inflate and Enjoy

You've now made your own soccer ball, inflate it and give it a kick.

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