Two balls in one!
Here's the video tutorial:
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Step 1: Choose Fabrics, Secure Pattern & Cut
Choose 2-3 coordinating fabrics for each side of your ball (a total of 4-6 different fabrics). Fabrics on both sides of ball should be color-coordinated as you will get some peek-through under the flaps. The reason I wanted a 3rd & even 4th fabric on one side (the monkey side) is because I like how it gives it an element of surprise (not too predictable). If you use only 2 different fabrics on each side, it's still going to be adorable.
Fabric choosing tip: Best to use some different textures (if you can) for baby to explore. I used one flannel for this reason and my blue striped fabric has some silvery metallic for shine. Minky fabric would be great but don't try it if you are a beginner sewist as it is a tricky fabric to work with. Stick to cottons. Corduroy would be a great choice for texture.
Another best practice: Stick to a theme with your fabric. Your theme could be animals at play (mine), batik + denim or corduroy, vintage/vintage reproduction fabrics, or travel. Can you tell I have plans to make all these versions? Stay tuned to Threadhead TV (my YouTube channel) for more.
Look for a FREE baby ball pattern online. I found mine at www.craftideas.info (hopefully they still have it - I printed it a number of years ago.) However, you will modify this pattern by folding it exactly in half and then adding 5/8" seam allowance to the new straight-sided bottom. You can see the pattern shape above. However, this pic is from when I was eye-balling it and so the pattern is too wide. As you will see later, I re-cut my pieces narrower. Just skip my time-consuming mistake by printing an already existing ball pattern first.
Easier hint: Use the first piece you cut as your pattern going forward. The fabric pattern won't slide around on you and you don't have to trace.
You will need 24 total pieces (12 for each side).
Step 2: Lay Out & Pin
Lay out your pieces in the order you would like them. Make sure you like the way it looks. On the cat side of mine, I changed my mind and eliminated a fabric & added a red plaid I hadn't originally planned at this stage so the layout is important. Pin 2 pieces at a time together, right sides of the fabric facing each other. You are pinning only along ONE edge as shown (pic 3 & 4). Then open up your pieces while pinned (pic 5) to make sure you pinned the correct side. This is a crucial step to ensure they are in the right order before sewing.
Step 3: Sew Pairs & Press
Take all 12 pairs to the sewing machine and sew 1/4" away from the edge - only on the one side you pinned.
Press seams before opening (pic 3) to secure the stitches, then press seams open as much as possible with the cup-shape you'll have- especially at the top/point (pic 4). This will be an important step for later to make sure that your points meet neatly at the top of the ball.
Step 4: Continue Sewing the Ball Side Pieces
At this stage you will want to separate the flap pieces from the ball pieces. Pin the ball pairs together along one edge and repeat previous steps until you have all 3 pairs sewn together (6 total). The trick to getting the points perfect at the top is to put a straight pin through the middle of the seam on one side and make sure it goes through the middle of the seam on the other side you are pinning it to (shown in pic 1). Then at the machine, slowly back stitch, stopping at precisely the seam line that you pressed open & then put it into forward motion to continue sewing along the side, 1/4" away from the edge.
Optional: I put a loop of ribbon on each end for baby to grasp. If you want this loop, this is the stage to put it in: right before sewing the last 2 edges together. I cut about a 6" length of ribbon for each side. Loop side of ribbon facing in, raw edges sticking out when wrong sides are out (pic 4). Putting in a ribbon loop could help hide a less-than-perfect top. :)
Pic 5 is what it looks like when you are done with this stage. You will have 2 ball halves. It is starting to take shape so that is always exciting!
Step 5: Sew Peekaboo Flaps
Pair up flaps (2 different motifs - ie. one side cat, other monkey) with right sides together and pin along 2 edges as shown, making sure center seams at the top point match. Sew 1/4" all along this edge (pic 2).
Trim points close to seam being careful not to cut your stitching (pic 3). Turn right side out & press (pic 4). Then top stitch along that same edge (pic 5). Trim up bottom (unsewn) edges if one fabric is slightly longer.
Step 6: Attach Flaps to Ball Half
Pin flaps to one half of ball making sure correct motifs are facing each other (pic 1). (Monkeys flap facing monkey ball side in my case.) Also make sure seams are lining up. Sew 5/8" away from the bottom edge all the way around (pic 2). Then trim 1/4" off of the bottom edge, leaving a 3/8" seam allowance. (Trimming not shown.)
Step 7: Sew the Two Ball-Halves Together
Trim up the same 1/4" off the bottom of the other half to make each half the same size (pic 1). Then stand the flap half up (pic 2), and turn the non-flap half inside-out and place on top (pic 3)
Pin, matching all raw edges and all seams. Sew 5/8" away from the pinned edge, leaving an opening the width of one piece (shown in pic between 2 colored pinheads). Hole left open is shown in pic 5. Turn right side out through the portion you left open.
Step 8: Stuff & Sew Closed
I used about 1/2 bag total of polyfil for the stuffing.
Blind stitch the opening as pictured and you have yourself a gorgeous, one-of-a-kind baby toy that is sure to be fun for the new mom or dad as well.
Optional: Half-way through stuffing, I put 6 plastic beads inside a plastic Easter egg and duct-taped the egg throughly all around to stay closed and then nestled this in the stuffing & finished stuffing the rest of the way. Voila: Baby ball is now also baby rattle. :) You could also use jingle bells.
Enjoy making and giving what will be a well-loved and well-used baby gift! Doesn't this happy ball just make you, well... happy?