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Fleece Ball

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
I mentioned that I would be willing to share how to make fleeve pompom type balls. I tried to keep it simple, explain things as best as possible, and provide many pictures since most people are visual or mix-visual learners.

Thumbnails and medium quality pictures used in consideration for the few people that do not have a broadband connection.


Materials needed:
Sharp scissors
Cotton or hemp string (natural string opposed to nylon)
Ruler or measuring tape
Light weight fleece (minimum of 12"x6" - 23x16cm)

Optional:
Needle and thread


If you have some leftover fleece laying around the house, that's perfect. Otherwise look in the remnant bins at Wal-mart or fabric stores. You won't need a lot of fleece. What is important, though, is that the piece of fleece is widest on the cross grain. If getting a remnant or a piece cut for you remember that the selvages (selvedges for those using the British spelling) on fleece are on the straight (lengthwise) grain.

Shows the cross grain in the first picture, it has more give or stretch to it. The second picture shows the straight grain which is less stretchy. This is important because it can mean the difference between your cat being able to pull the ball apart and possibly eat pieces of it.


Our goal is to make a ball similar to this;

Sure you can buy them for just a dollar or two, but you can make them in a few minutes and probably for just a few cents.


Once you've figured out which way is the cross grain you need to cut along it. The intent is to make a strip that stretches along it's length, and not it's width.

Lay out your fabric and place your ruler or measuring tape on top.

3 inches (8cm) works nicely. You'll eventually trim some excess off, but you need the extra material now to make it easier to handle.
As you cut, move the ruler back. You don't have to get it perfect, hence no markings, but at least roughly even looks nice.


Cut your strips. They need to be around 9 inches long (23cms), you need two of them.


If you wish you can use two different colors or patterns of fleece.


The next step is to make a staggered fringe along both sides leaving a section down the middle uncut. 1/4th inch to 3/8ths inch width works well for fringe width (just under a centimeter).


An easy way to keep the width of that section even and uncut is to place your thumb on the center of the fabric as you cut. You should get about a 1/2 inch or so uncut space.


After both strips are cut line them up on, one atop the other, as evenly as possible.


Pick up the strips and start rolling them up as tightly as possible. The fleece should stretch.



*Optional Step
You can stitch the rolled fleece together to help keep it tightly rolled. I think it adds some strength. Don't try to force the needle all the way through the center, you'll either end up needing a pair of pliers or getting it stuck. Just stitching through the outer two layers is enough.
Get your string now, you'll need about a foot of it so that you can get enough force to tie it tightly enough.


Loop the string around the center.

Tie it as tightly as possible, then put another knot in it. Trim off your excess string.


Fluff up your ball! You can leave it at this stage, your cat can paw it around, kick, carry, and fling it fine... But it won't roll like a ball.


To make it a nice tight ball you need to start trimming that excess off.
Trim around it shaping it into a ball. It doesn't need to be perfect, but fairly even will help it roll further.

Fluff again and you should have something that looks like this.

Very similar to the store bought one.


Other ways to make the balls are to use three strips instead of two. The steps are the same but you don't need to make the strips quite as long. Once trimmed down it makes a denser ball.


There's also some little toys that can be made from too-small of pieces of fleece, if anyone wants pictures and instructions for those.


All toys, if made correctly, should be machine washable and safe. One idea is since they're cheap and easy to make they'd be great for shelters or rescues that have open cat rooms.
post #2 of 21
OMG! That is great!

I am definatly going to have to make time to make some of these.
post #3 of 21


I should have realized they are just like pom-poms . Thanks so much for the detailed guide, I'm off to the craft store!

Yeah cat toys like these are super cheap, but when you've got two dogs & a toddler who all like to steal them - it's even cheaper to have a billion you made yourself so the poor cats can have something to play with!
post #4 of 21
Thank you for posting such easy instructions! They'd be great for shelter fundraising, because even people who "can't" sew or crochet could make them.
post #5 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nes View Post
I should have realized they are just like pom-poms . Thanks so much for the detailed guide, I'm off to the craft store!
Don't spend too much, the idea is to make them cheaply! Also, I wonder if you scaled it up and didn't trim it if you could make a pompom big enough for your toddler to play with? It may seem like an odd toy for a child but it's soft and would likely be very colorful.

The cotton or hemp string should be fairly cheap, too. The idea is that the natural fiber strings don't stretch as much and make tighter knots.


I'm glad people liked the instructions. As I've said, I'd like to see more people make guides! When we put our minds to it we're all fairly creative, and there's probably something one person is making that another hasn't thought of before.


I also make yarn pompoms that are quite tough and can even be machine washed.
post #6 of 21
That is so cool, and easy! Thanks for taking the time to make that guide! I think I want to make some real soon!! Can you get fleece at a place like Michaels or do i have to go to the fabric store? Actually now that i think of it both those places are about the same distance from me so I could do either.
post #7 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkMavis View Post
Can you get fleece at a place like Michaels or do i have to go to the fabric store?
You know... I honestly do not know if Michaels has fabric. The one time I was in one I was enthralled by the aisle of paint brushes (they had a lot of them) and their bead section.


I just thought of another idea for a toy. Has anyone made the fleece blankets that tie together? If so, something similar could be done with two squares of fleece. Cut the fringe, tie the squares together on three sides, stuff with catnip, and tie closed.
post #8 of 21
If I could make him anything it would be a fake dog-bone so he'd stop playing with the dogs'!!!

You're right though, it would be a GREAT toy for him especially since he's just starting to learn Baseball (he watches his daddy play all the time and tries to copy him).

If you're going to make yarn pom-poms also try to find a 100% cotton yarn, there are lots of synthetic yarns for sale that won't do our cats any good . Actually I'm thrilled your instrcutions involved hemp cord, I have a giant roll of the stuff since I grew out of thinking that wet gray cords looked cool as braclets (they don't look so bad at first, but wear them for a week :p).

DM - either of those places have fleece, even places like Giant Tiger or the Dollar Store will have small fleecy things you can cut up for CHEAP .
post #9 of 21
This is great! thanks for taking the time to do it. I love making toys for the cats, I usually use felt and make different shapes, they are most fond of just a square about 2 inches by 2 inches filled with poly fill and catnip. If you have more ideas I'd love to see them!!

leslie
post #10 of 21
You can get fleece baby blankets at the Dollar Tree for $1 (I buy them for the cats to lay on), that is what I plan on using when I make some.

Jack31, you made me think of something (!) you could make one of these with felt! I've seen felt ones at pet stores too!
post #11 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by KatKisses View Post
you could make one of these with felt! I've seen felt ones at pet stores too!
You could, and I did consider it, but fleece has more give that makes it easier to roll tightly. With felt you'll be left with a slightly thicker center which could affect how the "ball" will turn out, whether it will be one or not.
Ones made in stores with felt may not be entirely handmade, so we have to consider how much strength our hands can produce to tie it all together.
post #12 of 21
Would this work with felt too? I have a ton if that stuff. o.o EDIT: Nm, saw the above post. DOH!

EDIT: Also, I just thought of something. Cats like crinkly or sparkly things, so maybe one layer could be make with a metallic frabric or something crinkly like paper!

Oh this is gonna be fun to do!
post #13 of 21
My older kitty LOVES fleece. I buy the remnants at Hobby Lobby or Joann's for her. I cut them in a size big enough for her to lay on and she's a happy camper! The last piece I bought was bright orange! She's a tortie and it really compliments her coloring nicely!

Have you considered starting a blog or something to keep all these on? I'd be interested in seeing more toy ideas.
post #14 of 21
Thread Starter 
^Nah, having a blog would seem like to much pressure to update and share. I don't like that. I got bugged to get a livejournal many years ago, and rarely ever posted on the silly thing.

If I get anymore ideas, I'll share them. Actually writing out a guide, taking, and editing all the pictures does take a while, though.
Unfortunately, a lot of ideas and random things I make do involve sewing which a lot of people would rather not do. (I think anyone can learn, so I don't accept "can't" - consider me an optimist concerning peoples abilities )

Quote:
Originally Posted by Firecat View Post
EDIT: Also, I just thought of something. Cats like crinkly or sparkly things, so maybe one layer could be make with a metallic frabric or something crinkly like paper!
I thought about paper, the twisted stuff that many call raffia (can't be the right name, raffia is from a palm...). I have made a little toy from some of that undyed paper before - it was played with a little, but wasn't a huge hit around here.
With other fabrics besides fleece and felt you face the problem of fraying, so pick carefully. I have no idea if one can buy sparkly mylar.

If people want to experiment with the felt, go ahead. Thinner felts may work ok, and you can always make the untrimmed version of the toy from felt.


Again, other people can share, too! Please do, in fact.
Even those that sell toys, if you have something very simple to make or tips to help make toys, share! Anything from choosing the safest materials to best catnips for filling/and how to do it less messily (I haven't tried that many catnip brands, myself) could be helpful.

Maybe it could eventually be a regular thing?
post #15 of 21
Hrmmm, as for toy ideas...

I make my own Da Bird refils! I remove the old feathers from the plastic thing with a knife, and glue in new feathers (walmart sells feathers in the craft isle) with super glue. The trick is placing the feathers right so that they flutter just like the refils. You have to put the feathers back to back so they make a upside down 'V' shape, do this before glueing it, lol. You may need to slightly bend the feathers to get the upside down 'V' shape. If this makes no sense just look at a Da Bird that hasn't been killed yet, so you get the idea.
post #16 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by KatKisses View Post
Hrmmm, as for toy ideas...

I make my own Da Bird refils! I remove the old feathers from the plastic thing with a knife, and glue in new feathers (walmart sells feathers in the craft isle) with super glue. The trick is placing the feathers right so that they flutter just like the refils. You have to put the feathers back to back so they make a upside down 'V' shape, do this before glueing it, lol. You may need to slightly bend the feathers to get the upside down 'V' shape. If this makes no sense just look at a Da Bird that hasn't been killed yet, so you get the idea.

How many feathers do you put in there?
post #17 of 21
Thread Starter 
Make a guide KatKisses! Some people may get the basics of your idea, but need to see a couple pictures to fully understand how you refill the feathers. Learning types vary between people, but generally pictures help almost everyone.
post #18 of 21
I use 4 feathers just like Da Bird refils, 2 large stiff feathers & 2 small flexible feathers.

If I can find my supply of feathers, I will make a guide with pics, lol!
post #19 of 21
I have really bad pregnancy brain and bought felt instead of fleece I think fleece makes better balls (lighter, more compact) but the felt worked just fine! It's not tied as tightly as I'd like, but if they come apart it was $1.30 for a sheet of 6 pieces of felt and wall-mart .

I made the first one using 6" it was WAY too big (well it's DS's now), so I just folded the felt into quarters and used 3" - perfect cat size. I used two pieces of felt to make them thicker, and trimmed the edges of the sides to match the top once I got the whole thing together.



Left to right: 6" ball, 3" ball with 1 piece of felt, 2 3" balls with 2 pieces of felt.
post #20 of 21
Thread Starter 
Not too bad, I hope they hold together well for you.

And the very large one you made... I saw a dog toy, made in fleece, that was that size yesterday. Same loose style. I hadn't even considered dogs toys.

I did get some more fleece and may make a couple other guides - such as the tie together catnip toy.
post #21 of 21
You are great, thank you!
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