Introduction: Recycled Blue Jean Ball

Can't part with the jeans? Well, then, don't! Recycle them into this durable blue jean ball that will double the life of fabric's answer to duct tape: denim. This ball has a remarkably good bounce and is suitable for little kids or big 'uns. It's based on a pattern offered by USA Volleyball ( and regardless of JB's lukewarm endorsement, believe me, it's fun!

Step 1: Materials List

A pair of old jeans
pattern (
sewing machine

12" round balloons

The pattern is available at the USA Volleyball site above. It'll tell you how much to enlarge the pattern pieces. (I'm showing only one end piece, since they're the same size--the only difference is that you'll put a buttonhole in one.) The ruler shots indicate the dimensions I used, in case you trust yourself to make your own pattern. Mine accommodates a 12" balloon very nicely.

By the way, do read the information on the USA Volleyball site. They won't tell you this, but it's kind of like a teddy bear for people who probably don't need to be seen in public with teddy bears--the texture is comforting, it's a little cuddly, and if you keep the balloon good and firm, you can bounce it off somebody's head without doing too much damage.

Step 2: Cut It Out

Cut out six side pieces--I got four from the lower legs and the other two from the upper back thigh parts of the jeans. The end pieces came from, um, the end pieces.

Step 3: Sew the Side Pieces

Sew the side pieces, with 5/8" seam allowances.

The second picture here shows what it'll look like when you've sewn all but the last seam.

The third picture shows how far on both ends to sew those first and last panels together--about 3". There will be a space down the middle of those two panels to make it possible to sew in the end pieces.

Stitch the seams flat around the end openings. This will make it a lot easier to stitch through the end pieces and avoid bunching of fabric.

Step 4: Prepare the End Pieces

On one end piece, notch a 5/8" triangle at each of the hexagonal points and fold each tab in. Topstitch along the edge. (You can omit this step, but it makes it easier to concentrate on matching points to seams when you attach the end pieces.)

You'll notch the other end piece, but first you'll make a buttonhole in it. This is where they balloon will go, so make the buttonhole about 1" long. Then repeat the notching and topstitching for the second end piece.

Step 5: Sew in the End Pieces

This step shows why you need to leave that gap between the first and last side panels. You'll need to scrunch down the ball so that you're working on the outside (right side) of the fabric, but you're not sewing into the other side of it. If you know how to sew, that makes sense. If you don't so much, play around with it--it's almost as if you're creating a soft little bucket and sewing into it. Well, maybe not. Fortunately, it's just thread, and it'll come out. You'll know soon enough if you've sewn the top to the bottom.

So you're stitching directly over the top stitching you did earlier. Try to match the points of the end piece to the seams on the ball, but don't worry too much if you miss here and there.

The second photo here shows the first end piece completely sewn in.

Third photo shows the buttonhole piece going on.

Step 6: Finish the Edge

Now you're going to close the open edge. With right sides in (seams out), reduce the size of the opening to 3" by extending the seam. (That's really all you'll need to turn it right side out again.)

Then turn it right side out (seams in), fold under the 5/8" seam allowance (photo 2) and stitch the two folds as close to the edge as possible. You could do this by hand, if you want, or just run it on the machine, as in photo 3.

Step 7: Insert the Balloon, Blow It Up, and Have a Ball

Slip a deflated (that sounds so sad) balloon into the buttonhole. Inflate the balloon as much as you can and tie it off. Slip the end of the balloon into the buttonhole opening to get it out of the way.

Step 8: Well, Some People Like It

JB might not be overly impressed, but this thing can withstand dog treatment. It can also withstand mud and dew. It makes a pretty good volleyball, and it's generally impervious to the punctures that would destroy a bare balloon. It's definitely an outside toy, capable of knocking over a ceramic vase, picture frame, or drinking glass.

These are pretty sweet party favors, and you can make one in about an hour, barring interruptions, if you can just part with those jeans.