How to Make a Temari Ball
Make the core, wrap with yarn, and then wrap with thread.
Supplies to make a standard temari ball:
- 6 - 8" section of stocking or sock
- rice hulls or other soft filling
- 1 ball soft, baby yarn (25-35 yards )
- 300 + yards sewing or serger thread
When I first began making temari, I used a Styrofoam ball as the core, but now after many years of using rice hulls for the core, I’ve found that’s absolutely the easiest way to end up with a ball that is round with no lumps and bumps.
To make a temari from scratch, begin with an old, clean sock or stocking cut off at the ankle. One pair of panty hose will go a long way. Cut sections 6 to 8" long and stitch one end closed, then add filling. The filling should be soft and easy to mold into the shape of a ball. Some good ones are dryer lint, thread and yarn orts (left-over bits), or small scraps of fabric or batting. In Japan, rice hulls are a traditional filling and they work great! Dried lavender leaves or other herbs make very special temari.
After filling your section of stocking, neatly fold the open end over. There is no need to sew it closed as the first few wraps of yarn in the next step will keep it closed.
When I’m ready to wrap the temari core with yarn, I'll measure off yardage from the skein by walking around my living room letting the yarn lie on the floor. Then I’ll put the skein down on the floor and head to the start of the yarn and begin to wrap the ball. Wrap randomly by constantly turning the ball. Wrap and turn the ball all in one smooth motion. If you see an area where several layers of yarn are piled up and a bump has formed, avoid wrapping over this spot for the next few turns of the ball. Stop 2 or 3 times to gently roll the temari around in the palms of your hands with the goal of making the ball round. See a bump? Press it down gently and then continue wrapping.
Measure the ball now. This will be about the size of your temari after you’ve wrapped it with thread in the next step. Sometimes, the thread wrap will even compress the ball a bit. Add more yarn if you need to build a bigger ball called for in the pattern directions.
Wrap regular sewing or serger thread over the yarn and that will be your base for stitching.
Power wrapping: sit in a chair and place several (I like to use 4-6) cones of serger thread between your feet. Gather up the ends of thread and wrap the yarn ball with all of the threads at once, holding it directly over the cones of thread. Just like when wrapping with yarn, be sure to wrap randomly so you don’t have the thread piling up in one spot. Wrap with medium tension. Remember that you want to be able to pass a needle easily through this layer when you are ready to stitch.
When the yarn layer is totally covered, clip off the threads so only one single thread is left. Then continue wrapping this final outer layer with snug tension so you have a fine finish on the ball. This top layer will hold your stitches so they won’t pull out of their proper place on the ball.
End off the thread wrap by cutting the thread from spool with a tail about 24” long. Thread a needle with this tail and stitch randomly over the ball’s surface placing the stitches a couple of inches apart. When you come to the end of your stitching thread, cut the tail even with the ball’s surface. You’re done!It's time to add guidelinesand then embroider.