Friday, December 18, 2015

A How-To Post (as Promised!): Quilted Ball Ornaments

On Monday, I showed you a "quilted" ball ornament that a crafty Navy  wife taught me how to make over three decades ago--when I was a ridiculously young wife and mother who looked like this
and I was married to a ridiculously young Naval Aviator who looked like THAT.  Wowsers!

Wait...what happened?  I think I fainted or something.  Deep breaths.  Okay, moving on then.

In the above picture, taken in the fall of 1984, my handsome husband was getting ready to leave for a four-month cruise aboard an aircraft carrier.  We had a one-year-old son and I was about five months pregnant with son #2, and we would be separated until just a few days before our second son made his grand entrance into the world.

I am very nostalgic about anything having to do with my early days as a mom to my boys.  I still have bins of flannel receiving blankets and terrycloth sleepers in my attic, along with stained shirts and little trousers with elastic that is completely shot.  Why I never gave all those things away when they still had some life in them, I'll never know.  I think I am finally ready to cull through it all and throw out/give away most of it.  Not that there's that much great stuff, mind you.  Looking over all the baby clothes I saved makes me realize just how little I did spend on outfitting my little lads.  They were not nearly as nattily dressed as they should have been, I suppose.  And most of their infant jammies and blankets were green or yellow.  Back in the day, no one ever knew the sex of their child until he or she was born, so when the gals gave a shower, they tended to give gender-neutral items.  I suppose if I'd had girls, I would have wanted to get some pink and purple into their wardrobes.  But I thought the boys looked plenty adorable in green or yellow.

Two of the items I'm using today in this project are actually things I made for my firstborn, and in which we had his photo taken: a blue checked cotton romper (that snapped at the crotch--I was so proud of putting in those snaps!); and a t-shirt made from material that said, "I love Daddy."
Once you assemble the garments or material scraps you're going to use to "quilt" your ornament, all you need is a Styrofoam ball and a sharp (ish) knife.
Start by carving a square somewhere on the ball (you don't have to make the cuts very deep).
Cut a piece of fabric big enough to cover the square, with a little excess.  Then start wedging the edges into the cuts you've made in the ball.  I employ the knife to do this--the one I use is sharp enough to cut the Styrofoam, but dull enough to push the material in without continuing to cut deeper into the ball.
You don't want to have too much excess fabric in there (or you won't be able to wedge the adjoining piece in alongside it); so as you go along, you can trim it as needed.
First square done!
Now, using one of those existing lines, you cut another one next to it.  (The shapes don't have to be square; they can be triangular or rounded--whatever works for you.)
Start wedging the second piece of fabric in, cutting away excess fabric around the edges as needed.
When that square is complete, just cut another random shape, using the "seams" you've already cut.
Wedge fabric, cut off excess to make it fit.
And repeat!
As I said, triangles work as well as squares.
For one of my squares, I wanted to make sure that you could read the "I love Daddy" from the shirt I made for son #1, so I cut a shape long enough to fit those words.  (That's the great thing about this project; pretty much anything goes.  You can cut the ball any way you see fit.)
 I love to see the progress!  Almost done.
Again, I wanted to fit this little slugger, an embellishment from a sleeper, on a square.  So I cut accordingly.
Last piece!
Now to put on the finishing touches and get it ready for hanging.

I said in Monday's post that glue was not necessary--but that was a little white lie.  (Mea culpa!)  I like to embellish my quilted ornaments with faux pearls (but of course!).  To do this, I put a dab of hot glue in the corners where the "seams" meet, and then I stick pearl-headed straight pins into them.  You could pin on any sort of bead or button to dress these balls up, or you could glue on sequins for a little sparkle.  There's really no end to the ways you could finish them off.
For a hanger, I use a ribbon.  Before attaching it with a pin, I put a dab of hot glue on the ball, right where the pin is going to go in.
Busted!  Yes, I'm in my nightgown doing this craft...long past the time
when I should be dressed.
Now I've got this sentimental keepsake ornament, made with scraps of clothing that my baby boys wore way back in the 80's...and it looks good on the tree to boot!
One quick note before I sign off: this craft works best with thin fabrics.  That being said, I have made one of these ornaments using scraps of bulky burlap in the design.  It can be done, but it's a little trickier and requires lots of readjusting and re-wedging (not to mention patience).

Now you have all weekend to go and make some ornaments for yourself or someone on your Christmas shopping list.  No two will ever come out the same--which makes them truly one-of-a-kind heirlooms.  (As for me, I'll be working on another one, I believe...made out of scraps of satin from the dresses I made for my twin granddaughters when they were flower girls three different times in a span of 11 months, for three of their uncles!)

Happy crafting, readers!


  1. I love this!! I'm a sentimental NUT and have a hard time parting with precious bits of.... scraps.... so this is right up my alley. THANK YOU!

    1. I'm with you, Nancy. So sentimental. It's almost embarrassing to see what I've kept. During this most recent foray into the attic to find things to use for this ornament, I also found a nursing bra and a manual pump, and a stack of those cloth nursing pads. Last used over 20 years yeah, I have trouble parting with bits of my history as a mom.

      I'm glad I kept things, though. I kept this little sailor suit that sons #2 and #3 were photographed in...and now they've each had their little boys get photographed wearing it almost 30 years later!

  2. Those are adorable, Laura, and the nightgown cracked me up - I figured you stayed up way past your bedtime working on this!

    1. Ha ha! I wish I could say that was the case...but actually, I did not get dressed for the day until about 2:00 in the afternoon!