Introduction: Recycled Tape Bag Tag Ball!!!

So with the great Tape Contest back in action again, I asked my daughter what might be a good project we could make together. She took one look at me and said "Um, let's make a ball! Yeaaah!"

We live in Tonga , and unfortunately here most stuff ends up in landfill or the sea. It is the nature of small islands everywhere. Most of the cardboard packaging can be burned or composted, but it is the tape left over that causes problems. We find it on the shoreline quite a bit.

We ventured to make a recycled tape bag tag ball (RTBTB for those in the know) that we could throw around the yard together. Finding a way to use some of the rubbish generated out here was exactly the kind of project to teach my kids about pollution, and with an old leather handbag found in our roof, we had the means to do so.

It was a fun project and the kids could get involved. A few hours later, the original RTBTB was born!

Step 1: Designs and Tools Necessary (some Unnecessary Too)



Scrap Paper



Needle and Thread

In designing the ball we wanted to make we came up with a few plans. My daughter really liked the idea of a square ball (which I promised her we would do, but in a 'ball-like' way).

Step 2: Deconstructing and Recycling

After cleaning the handbag out and wiping it down we knew it couldn't be used as a bag anymore because of areas that had thinned beyond repair. We picked out the thread in the lining of the handbag, where deconstructing each panel required the removal of interfacing glued on the inside face of the leather pieces. These were kept, along with all the other scraps for another recycling project that came to us while making this ball.

Once we had a black and white panel we could move on to the patterns.

Step 3: Monochromatic Panels

I searched around the web for a template for the tennis ball/baseball design we had chosen to attempt. Very quickly (and due to poor signal at the time) I did a bit of fiddling and came up with the following. This template will create a slightly oblong design (as per my daughters fundamental build requirements). Read the NOTE at the end to make a more spherical design.

We took a lid from a jar and traced a circle on some scrap paper. Folding one third of the circle provided a measurement for the distance between two circle traced onto the back of the leather panels. We then used the same lid to trace an arc between the two circles where the lid met each outline.

Sharp scissors are best to cut leather as you don't want to damage the material if possible. Using an old hacksaw blade we marked a cross section on vertical and horizontal planes as reference points when sewing the panels together.

NOTE: Using a larger lid than the first to trace a cut away section inside the lips of each 'bulb' (the circles on either end of a panel) will make a narrower design. This will make for a more spherical final product. Best to always experiment with paper first. You can always stuff any scraps into the ball during later steps.

Step 4: Sewing

My wife is far better with a sewing machine than I, and so she helped our son with sewing the black and white panels together. First, she played them facing inwards towards each other and sewed one 'bulb' end to the arc on the other panel. It was then a process of lining up the reference points from the previous step and working around the sphere slowly, careful not to puncture the leather.

She left an opening across one end and turned the new ball lining inside out.

Step 5: Stuffing

Finding a place for all the pesky tape might have been the best part of the process. We cut apart the bundle of tape and stuffed it into the ball lining slowly, adjusting where the filling was most necessary. Then, using a blind stitch by pinching the lining together with the lips of each panel curled inwards, we were able to sew up the opening.

It was at this point my daughter realised it was indeed a slightly square ball!

Step 6: Tag!!

The ball's seams hold strong, and it is surprising lightweight but dense. Perfect for its purpose and plenty of fun!

Plus, my daughter ah

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