An Introduction to Temari Balls

Making Temari Balls

What is Temari?

Temari is a traditional Japanese embroidery technique that originated in China.

Temari balls that are brightly coloured, are traditionally given by parents to their children on New Year's Day. Inside the temari ball, the mother will have placed a small piece of paper with a goodwill wish written on it. The child will never be told what the mother's wish was.

Inside some of the balls the mother may have placed objects, like a small bell or a pebble, to make a sound. These temari balls would be suitable for babies or very young children and would be used as a rattle.

Colourful Temari BallCredit: craftymanolo.comAs temari balls  are a symbol of deep friendship and loyalty they are also given to close friends as a gesture of that friendship.

Where to Start?

Materials Needed

You do not need any specialist equipment or expensive materials to start making temari balls. You will need to buy some threads but some of the other equipment needed can already be found in the home. Ladies' tights or pop socks and plastic bags will be easily found. Scissors, needles and pins and a basic geometry set are needed. The traditional temari balls are based on geometric designs, many very simple. Some paper and card to mark out the divisions and guiding lines are needed, too. The glass pins should be longer than the normal ones and have coloured pin heads to help you guide your thread around the ball. If you used ordinary length pins they would soon disappear into the ball as you continue to wind the thread.

The protractor is important to the accuracy of the angles in the design.

Making the Temari Ball Base

Use a plastic bag to stuff with cut-up tights or pop socksSupplies needed for making Temari ballsCredit: You could also use cotton wool. Fill the plastic bag until it is the size of an orange and make sure the ball is a good shape. If you are wanting to insert a bell or something that rattles, like a few seeds of rice or a small pebble, then this should be placed in a small container and buried in the middle of the stuffing at the very beginning.

Once you have the right size of temari ball base, depending on whether it is to be a rattle or a key ring or even a bell-pull, then you can cut off the excess plastic, flatten the edges and wind round firmly with cotton from the reel. To cover completely, you will probably need 2 reels of cotton. As you wind the cotton round the temari ball base then keep moulding the ball in your hand to make sure you will end up with a perfect sphere.

It is worth taking the trouble at this stTemari ProcessCredit: rainybayart.comage to get the shape right before you begin to work with the coloured threads. Even before you have started to wind the thread, if you're not happy with the shape of the temari ball base then take out the stuffing and start again. It's certainly worth getting the shape right at the beginning. I know, I've tried to continue with a funny looking sphere and it obviously looks amateurish!

Guiding Threads

These guiding threads form the basis of your pattern. You will need a custom-made paper marker tape to locate the top, bottom and centre line. If you do this accurately then your pattern will be symmetrical.You will need to estimate the length of thread you will need so that you will not have too little or waste a lot.

An excellent book to help you begin this fascinating hobby is, 'Temari', by Margaret Ludlow.[2386]

Temari BookCredit:

In her book she gives step-by-step photographic instructions that are really helpful if you are a beginner.

Decorating the Ball

There are 3 main techniques for making temari balls. These are winding, stitching and weaving.


Winding is a simple technique whereby you wind the thread around the temari ball several times, making sure you have maintained the right tension, then make a small stitch underneath these threads so that you can wind the thread in the opposite direction on the other side of the guiding thread.


There are 3 main stitching styles. They are a  criss-cross pattern, an almond-shaped pattern and a plait-style pattern.


Six Temari BallsCredit: rainybayart.comWeaving is combined with both stitching and winding methods to give patterns formed by threads that pass both under and over each other.

Making the Temari Ball

You will need patience but if you make sure that the temari basic ball is a good shape then you're off to a flying start. Begin with the simplest pattern and take your time, making sure that your custom-made marker tape is used accurately. Always keep the threads under tension and keep reading the instructions in your book as you continue with your first temari ball.

You will find making temari balls great fun, once you have been through the process.And they make great personal gifts.

Enjoy the challenge!

Colourful Temari Ball(84365)Credit:

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