Recycle Crafting: Amish Puzzle Ball

>> Monday, August 30, 2010

This project is one of those things I came upon by accident. I'm attempting to build a plush TIE fighter from felt and I needed to find a pattern to sew a ball. My Google searches unwittingly led me to a link about an Amish Puzzle Ball. I'd never heard of such a thing but thought, "I HAVE to make one of those...but stuff it with plastic grocery store bags."

For weeks after when I would see fabric remnants at thrift stores I would consider their future place in an Amish puzzle ball. Then one fateful day my neighbor gave me her stash of neglected fleece. I spotted a cute fuzzy blue fleece adorned with fire trucks, police cars, and school busses that I knew would be the perfect complement to some vintage polyester I'd snagged for $1 the week before. And the best part, the neighbor had a newborn son...with a fire station adorned bedroom. Can we say kismet?

The problem? I can't sew. I want to sew. I own a sewing machine. I took a class in Home-Ec in 1987; I made a denim jumper and a pair of jams. *whispers* And I wore them. Often. So sad what happened in the eighties with fashion. But even with those tools and fabulous history, I can't sew. I do want to sew. To that end, I've moved my sewing machine out of the basement to sit at the head of the dining room table, challenging me to play with it. I hope to be able to say by the end of 2011 that I can sew. This ball is a project to help me out. So, unafraid of the machine, I began.

First I set to cutting out football shapes. A lot of football shapes, 36 pieces to be exact. I needed 24 in the vintage polyester and 12 in the fleece. Next I started pinning and stitching. Yeah, I'm not so good with the pinning. I'm lazy. Not sure this is going to further me in my learning to sew efforts. I just held the pieces together and stitched. I did learn a new way to stitch—chain piecing. Such a time saver. *puts feather in sewing cap*

After the kids were nestled in bed I got to the stuffing, hand stitching and assembly. I learned a new hand stitch and feel I may have mastered it on these 12 footballs—blind stitch. Such a fabulous way to stitch up the opening after stuffing. The seam was invivisble. I doubt I'll ever whip stitch an opening again. I was having so much fun seeing this ball truly come to life I couldn't stop even when the clock read 2am. I wished I knew a night owl I could've called to share my joy.

Each football used three bags, 36 bags successfully repurposed and out of the landfills.

The next morning when the same wonderful neighbor came over with her kidlets so we could go blueberry picking I surprised her with her own Amish Puzzle Ball complete with recycled bag stuffing making it lightweight and full of awesome baby-approved crinkly sounds. Score!

The finished toy was about the size of a soccer ball.


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