How to make a temari base

As far as you probably already know, temari means handball (te-mari) in japanese, and the ball part here is as important as the hand part. When you make your own mari remember that the preparatory stage (making the mari and marking it) is even more important than the stage when you actually start stitching. Keep that in mind while you work.


Materials for the mari:
– The filler material
– Plastic grocery bag (optional)
– Soft yarn (optional)
– Thin sewing thread

1. The filler material
Inside every temari is its core – its heart. In old days in Japan girls used kimono pieces, nowadays the most common advice will tell you to make mari out of used stockings. I prefer to use softer materials like stuffed toys/pillows filler or the remains of the threads I used on my previous embroideries.

You can also use styrofoam balls (available on hobby stores) fore the core, though I would recommend it only for beginners. Once you get the hang of stitching the mari, try making the ball yourself as well.

Tips and tricks.

  • Choose the filler wisely – you don’t want it to decompose in a couple of months
  • There is an old Japanese tradition to put a blessing in the heart of the mari.
  • Noisemakers also can be put inside the mari, but be careful with wrapping (this is where the rice from the phoro comes in).

2. The core
Take the material and form a ball with your hands. Remember, that the resulting ball will have more layers and will be different in size! To make the wrapping easier you can put the material in a grocery bag (trim the excess to keep the ball more or less round). Start wrapping your mari with the yarn or with straps of fabric covering evenly every part of it. This will be the inner level so the color of the yarn is not important.

Tips and tricks.

  • Try to keep the tension even when you wrap.
  • You can wrap the core in several different layers of yarn/fabric, but remember to work from thick to thin (thickest on the inside).

3. The finishing thread.
Now take the sewing thread of the desired color and start wrapping. That will take some time! You should stop only when a) the ball is round and solid and b) you can’t see the core under the the thread.

The more you wrap, the more round the ball will become – just like the ball of yarn which is always round though you actually never try to make it a perfect sphere. It’s so natural, that you can just relax and keep the tension of the thread. When you finish, make a couple of rounds of backstitches around the ball to secure the thread.

Tips and tricks.

  • The thinner the finishing thread, the longer it will take to wrap the mari but the easier it will be to stitch on it.
  • It’s easier to wrap if your thread is on a big cone (like ones for serger machines)
  • Prefer rougher cotton thread to silk and smooth. You will have a lot of trouble trying to keep smooth thread in place on your ball.

Three finished mari bases (dark) and a core for a mari (light)

Your mari base is now complete. Procede to marking!

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  1. Pingback: Happy Stitch » Blog Archive » Halloween temari ball

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