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Tips and Tricks for Temari balls

Temari balls from workshop

Nadine Papp led a wonderful Temari ball workshop at the Cultural Centre on November 7th. We had a lot of fun trying this craft – which was new to everyone including me. In this post you’ll find images from Nadine Papp’s workshop along with a few tips and tricks that I hope will inspire you to try this Japanese folk art at home. It’s easier than it looks and once you’ve started it’s hard to stop at just one!

– Shannon Quigley


For more detailed info and tutorials, please visit these sites:
  • History of Temari
    The Sanuki Kagari Temari Preservation Association has info on their history page and contributed to an online exhibit on Google Arts & Culture.
  • Patterns and instructions:
    Barbara B. Suess’ website and youtube channel have very detailed instructions, great for beginners. Temarikai is another great temari resource, with patterns for all levels.
  • Inspiration:
    Check out this flickr account with images of nearly 500 temari balls made by an 88 year old woman. The photos were taken by her Granddaughter.
  • Find out more:
    Temarikai’s resource section has some great links if you’d like to find out more about this beautiful traditional Japanese folk art

two temari balls

Materials

  • Styrofoam ball
  • Batting / padding (optional – you can also use wool)
  • Lots of thread to wrap the ball in. Normal sewing machine thread works well.
  • Thin piece of paper to create your own ‘ruler’
  • Colourful threads for geometric patterns. Thicker threads like DMC embroidery floss (you can split it for thinner lines or use the full 6 strands), crochet thread or cotton perle work well.
  • Pins – at least 10, preferably with different colours
  • Long sewing needle

1. Wrapping the ball

  • Wrap the styrofoam ball in batting or yarn
  • Wrap the ball with normal sewing thread. Wrap it as randomly as possible to create an even surface
  • Once it is completely covered, thread a needle in the end of the thread and do 3 to 5 stitches into the ball so the thread doesn’t unravel
    *If the thread does start to unravel later on, get the thread long enough to put through a needle and do a few more securing stitches. If it unravels from a random point (not from the end) you may need to cut the thread to create two ends and stitch them both down into the ball.
  • Roll it around on the table a few times to round it off
  • Japanesetemari.com has more information about this step – along with a suggested method for using more than one thread at a time!

2. Marking your quadrants

  • See Barbara Suess’s video on youtube for a full tutorial on how to measure out and mark your quadrants. She also has a pdf tutorial on her website if you prefer graphics.
  • The basic idea is to pretend your ball is a globe and use pins to mark the north pole, south pole and equator. You use a thin piece of paper that you fold and cut notches into to create a ruler for measuring these points and marking them with pins.
  • Then, you wrap thread around the pins to mark the quadrants. Use a contrasting colour so it’s easy to see. Depending on the design you choose, you may be able to see your marking threads on the finished piece.

3. Starting and ending threads

  • Start your threads by tying a knot at the end and stitching it anywhere in the ball. Then you have two options. If the knot is small, it may disappear into the batting and wrapped threads, like demonstrated in this tutorial. If so – great! If not, you may need to take a few teeny tiny stitches (almost invisible) on the ball to anchor the thread. Then you can cut off the knot. Try to make your tiny stitches somewhere you’re planning on stitching over so they really will be invisible.
  • End threads the same way or by weaving them into existing stitches of the same colour

Can you spot the teeny tiny gold stitches in this picture? That was to start and anchor the thread before wrapping the thread around the pins to mark the quadrants.


3. Stitching your pattern

  • You can stitch anything you like onto your Temari ball. Check out TemariKai.com for patterns and instructions. Each pattern is ranked by difficulty and has detailed instructions with images.
  • This is a herringbone stitch star. Nadine showed us how to mark out the points with pins before beginning to stitch. The band you can see around the middle is called an obi. Find a tutorial for that here.

More photos from the workshop – great job everyone!

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