Updated May 2011 with easier access to the free pattern.
Update November 2012: Here is a video of a 6-month-old baby successfully playing catch with one of these balls. They are WONDERFUL for babies!
You can make it with a variety of fabric scraps, or with two colors (one for the outer surfaces, and one for the inner surfaces). If you scroll down through the tutorial, you will see both styles of balls. If you choose to make it with two different colors, you will need about 1/3 yard of the inner fabric and 1/4 yard of the outer fabric. Other materials:
Needle for hand-stitching
Polyester fiberfill for stuffing
Cut out 12 of the half-circles and 12 of the football shapes (see pattern below).
With right sides together, sew one football to one half circle. Begin by making a tiny, tiny snip half-way along the curve of the half-circle. It's only about 1/8" of a snip.
Then lay a half-circle and a football shape together like this. Remember to keep right sides together.
Repeat for all 12 of the half-circles and footballs. Now you are ready to begin stuffing.
Repeat with all twelve of the little shapes. Now you are ready to sew them together into a ball.
The rest of the photos were taken with the two-tone ball I'm making for another grandchild. This will let you see a different style, with only two fabrics.
Here's the birthday girl enjoying her new ball. Like her outfit? Check out her mama's blog, Helping Little Hands. Tons of great craft tutorials...that cute little skirt is made from recycled jeans! And her mama made a Very Hungry Caterpillar cupcake-cake to keep the theme going at the birthday party. Directions for all of these great ideas will be on her blog. Here are some ideas that her mama posted for super birthday gifts for one-year-olds, including more photos of the fabric ball.
Here's a link to another photo of a fabric ball, made by my good friend Dorothy for her one-year-old granddaughter. Beautiful, bright colors! And there are more fabric balls here. And a fun update to the worldwide fabric ball movement here.
January 2012 - another fabric ball from Indonesia.
September 2012 - check out a German fabric ball, here
October 2012 - a beautiful fabric ball in Switzerland.
January 2013 - a Cat in the Hat fabric ball made in Oregon
February 2013 - an I-Spy fabric ball from the U.S.
January 2014 - a polka-dot ball from the Czech Republic
March 2014 - the only handmade gift at a baby shower!
Here's the updated link to the pattern: FREE PATTERN
The link below to the pattern on Scribd is 1) upside down and 2) requires a sign-in to Scribd that I don't have. But it's the same pattern on the link above. Enjoy!
Pattern: (Oops! Ha ha - sorry the pattern is upside down...that's ok, just print it and turn the paper around. I have reached the limit of my tech skills here, and that's even with help from a son-in-law and a daughter to get the pattern scanned and uploaded. Thanks, Mike and Polly!)