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Making dryer balls and dyeing wool tutorial January 29, 2011

Posted by Judy in Sewing projects, Tutorials.
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While I was trolling tutorials on the internet, looking for Christmas gift ideas, I came across several for dryer balls.  I’d not heard of them before, and was intrigued.   You can buy them, but they are some sort of plastic and apparently are VERY loud.  Ostensibly, they are supposed to soften up your clothing, take care of static cling, all while lessening the drying time.  I’m not altogether sure that it actually works, but they were fun to make and they sort of make me feel a little more green.

Here’s my version of how to make the dryer balls.  I didn’t have tons of wool yarn, but had oodles of wool scraps, so I used the scraps as the core.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  First you have to make the outer portion.  I had a bunch of grey wool from an old coat.  Grey just seemed so “blah” so the kiddies and I decided to dye the wool.

Supplies:

  • kool-aid, whatever color/s you like
  • vinegar
  • wool scraps
  • wool yarn
  • thread

Cut your wool into almond shaped pieces.  Mine were about 2inches wide at the widest part and about 3.5 inches tall.  (Notice that the ends are flat rather than pointed.  This will make it MUCH easier to sew together.)  Take the cut pieces adn soak them in warm water while you prepare the koolaid dye.

The amount of kool aid you use depends on how deep and rich you want the color to be.  I used one package per pan.

You’ll want 3 parts water to 1 part vinegar.  I generally eyeball how much to use.  You want to have enough water/vinegar to completely cover up the wool.  Since my pieces were rather small, I only used about two cups total of liquid (1 1/2 cups water and 1/2 cup vinegar).

Pour the liquid into the pan and stir to mix the kool aid.  Bring water almost to a boil.  Get your wool from the bowl and squeeze out any excess water.  Place the wool in the pot, making sure that it is flat and that all surfaces of the wool are immersed in the dye bath.  Keep poking at it with a wooden spoon until you see that all of the color has left the water.

Now remove the pan from the heat and wait for the water to cool.  Don’t handle the wool until the water is cool, you don’t want to get burned, right?

Once it is cool, remove it from the water and squeeze out the excess moisture.  I place them on cooling racks to allow them to dry completely.  The drying time will be dependent on the thickness of the wool.  Mine was pretty thin, so it only took an hour or two.

While the wool is drying, you can work on making the inner part of the dryer ball.

Take you wool scraps and cut them into strips.

This is the tricky part. . . . grab as many of the scraps as you can fit into your fist.  Get the wool yarn and start winding around the wool in your hand.  After a few winds, the scraps should hold together and you can wind away.  Be sure to change directions every now and again.  Keep winding until all of the scraps are covered and you have a nice little ball.  Mine had a circumference somewhere between 9.5 to 10 inches.

Okay, back to the dyed wool.  Now you can decide how you want the color laid out.  You will need six wedges for each ball.

Sew each of the wedges together from tip to tip.  When you get to the last one, make sure you leave an opening to a) turn the ball, b) insert the wool ball that you wound up.

The picture on the left is the “bag” waiting to be stuffed.  The picture on the right is stuffed, waiting to be sewn shut.

Push the ball into the little “bag”, and then seal up the opening with a slip stitch or whip stich.

Now go use your new dryer balls.  I have 5 that live in my dryer.  I’ve read that 6 is the magic number.  I’ve used as many as eight.  It probably depends on how large you make the dryer balls.  In any case, you’ll need more than just two=)

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