Feature Friday- Japanese Temari!


My oldest daughter moved to Florida late last summer and we don’t see nearly as much of each other as we used to.  But she is keeping up the crafty traditions from her end of the world.  She is a member of our Christmas ornament club, where every year my group of friends get together right before Christmas to swap homemade Christmas ornaments.  We’ve been doing this for nearly 20 years, and the competition to come up with something new and better every year has gotten intense. 
So being the competitive sort that she is, she taught herself a craft that I have never done- Japanese Temari.  And being the competitive sort that I am, well I asked her to come up here and show me how to do it.  Because I certainly cannot be out done by the daughter.  I have to draw the line somewhere. 
This past weekend, she brought up her supplies and her know-how and we met at my mother’s house to get in a good Temari class.  And would you look at all the supplies!  This kid is totally not kidding around.  Not only did she bring her Temari supplies, but she brought a suitcase that was neatly lined with tiny boxes full of beads and accessories and little cases with fancy tools like pliers and clippers encased in protective foam, and professional looking bits and pieces all neatly labeled and stored.  I’m afraid that she did not learn that from me.  I’m the master of organized disorganization. All my tools sit in random coffee cups all over my workroom. 
So let’s get down to the tutorial.  For this project we used:
One Styrofoam ball (Use the better brand that smooth)
Cheap light colored yarn
One Cone White Overlock Thread
DMC #5 Pearl Cotton in many colors.
Tapestry Needle
Embroidery Needle
Pins (with heads)
Scrap paper

Start by wrapping the Styrofoam ball with the light colored yarn.  You are creating a cushion to sew into, so this yarn does not need to be fancy.  Wrap the ball uniformly, and cover it entirely.  Once the ball is completely covered with a layer of yarn, use the tapestry needle to secure the yarn end into the Styrofoam.  Go about this by puncturing the ball with the needle, and bringing it out about an inch away, drawing the yarn through.  Do this several times to secure the yarn and then clip it close to the ball. 

Switch to the white thread and cover the ball in the same way that you covered it with yarn.  Be sure to cover it uniformly so that the ball doesn’t look miss-shapen.  This layer will be seen on the finished piece, so try to make it look relatively neat.  Be sure to cover up all the yarn.  Secure the thread in the same way that you secured the yarn, using the embroidery needle.

Wake up, Mom!

Now we need to mark off the ball in very even segments.  To do this, place a pin at the top of the ball.  Cut a strip of paper that will go the exact circumference of the ball, clipping a notch in each end.  

Now fold that strip in half and clip a notch at the fold, then fold it in half again and clip another notch at the fold.  Open it up and it is an even four-sectioned strip of paper with a notch at each section.  You use this to mark the placement of the pins on your ball so that they are evenly spaced.  Space pins vertically on the ball, then use that same strip of paper to place pins horizontally.  You may have to do a bit of adjusting to get them all lined up properly. 

Now switch to embroidery floss.  Thread a needle with a long piece of floss.  Starting at the pin at the top of the ball, puncture the ball with the needle about a ½ inch away from the pin and bring the thread almost entirely through, holding your finger on the end of the thread.  Then puncture the ball again, going back through the same hole your brought it out of and drawing the thread through to a place as close to the pin as possible.  This should anchor the thread. 

Now we are creating the lines on the ball that will be the basis for your design.  Using the pins as reference points, wrap a line around the ball vertically and then horizontally, occasionally tacking it at the base of the pins.  Anchor the end of your thread by again puncturing the ball and drawing it through. 

During this process, be sure not to drop the ball.  Doggies in the room will think you are wanting to play…
Now that we have the measuring all handled, let’s get to the fun part.  Select your colors and start on your pattern.  There are many patterns available on line, one site I recommend is Japanese Temari by Barb Suess.  Her tutorials are easy to follow and her work is more than amazing.  

But for basic instructions, you simply anchor your thread the same as you did for the guidelines, starting out at one of your pins. Then your work your pattern in each section, in this case, going under the guide line, right to left, tacking to the thread behind it and then crossing over it to repeat the same process at the next guideline.


You can get fancy here and go all out by overlapping designs and creating  your own geometric pattern.  Actually, the finished Temari balls remind me of my Ukrainian Eggs.  The thought process on repeated patterns is similar.  But the embroidery part- not so much.


Depending on your pattern, one ball can take a long time to make.  I recommend this project for those that like extreme detail and enjoy embroidery.  Because the process is similar to the satin stitch.  My daughter is planning on making Christmas ornaments using this technique. That would mean that she needs to make about 20 of them.  She has a ton of patience, and she has great technique, so I’m looking forward to seeing what she comes up with!  

And if you want to see what can totally be accomplished with this hobby, please take a few moments to check out the site Japanese Temari by Barb Suess. She does some amazing, jaw-dropping work.  Totally putting mine to shame.  But so awe inspiring!!

 I am totally humbled…

If you enjoyed this tutorial, please check out my Ukrainian eggs tutorial– creating intricate designs on Goose eggs.

Or you might enjoy my Quilled Monogram Tutorial.  Another piece of intricate looking work that actually is not as difficult as it looks.

{ 26 comments… add one }
  • graciela October 17, 2012, 10:47 pm

    incrivelmente criativas e querem muita paciência e habilidade!!!

  • Anna M. June 1, 2011, 4:31 am

    Cool. Thanks for the how-to.

  • gail May 29, 2011, 11:28 pm

    wow! I don't have the patience, but they sure are pretty!

  • Handy Man, Crafty Woman May 29, 2011, 4:53 am

    so pretty! Thanks for linking this up to Wicked Awesome Wednesday!

  • Sachiko May 29, 2011, 4:09 am

    They are so beautiful! Thank you for sharing them with us!

  • {nifty thrifty things} May 28, 2011, 5:51 pm

    Wow, that is a really cool idea!
    Thank you so much for linking up to {nifty thrifty sunday}!
    I hope to see you again tomorrow!

  • LambAround May 27, 2011, 10:02 pm

    Your pup is just too cute! Bad breath and all 🙂

  • SewHappyGeek May 27, 2011, 11:42 am

    OOPS, forgot, I featured it on my blog today too! Thanks for linking up! (http://sewhappygeek.co.uk)

  • SewHappyGeek May 27, 2011, 10:41 am

    Oh, that's so weird – I was just looking at my 3 unfinished temari balls the other day, thinking I should carry them round and work on them while I'm waiting in the car, at the doctors, etc. So maybe I'll fish them out after all! Thanks!

  • Jenn @ Frugal Upstate May 27, 2011, 12:45 am

    Wow, I have never heard of this artform. They are beautiful!

  • ASTERrisk May 26, 2011, 6:45 pm

    Hi! Love your blog! I'm a new follower, I found you on the Thrifty Thursday blog hop. I'm looking forward to seeing more from you. I'd love a follow too! 🙂


  • Ashley May 26, 2011, 4:22 pm

    wow looks awesome. what a fun project..looks like a lot of work

  • Leasa May 26, 2011, 1:20 pm

    Beautiful, but that just looks like way to much work for me.

  • TemariAddictAustralia May 26, 2011, 7:57 am

    It's very addictive. Temari making keeps you challenged as you move into more and more intricate designs that's for sure.

  • Cheryl @ Sew Can Do May 25, 2011, 2:45 pm

    Very cool. This looks like it would be fun to make. Thanks for linking to Craftastic Monday:)

  • Anonymous May 24, 2011, 11:53 pm

    I have recently learned this process….my results are fantastic, I love this new (old) craft and it is very addictive. I have taken 2 on line classes from Barb Suess. She makes it so easy to succeed!

  • Jill May 24, 2011, 1:17 am

    Oh my goodness – I've never heard of this Japanese art before! So beautiful – definitely one you need lots of patience for!
    Lovely to have your daughter come and teach you too!!

    Thanks for linking to a Round Tuit!
    Hope you have a great week!
    Jill @ Creating my way to Success

  • creativejewishmom/sara May 23, 2011, 2:08 am

    As usual I am so impressed with the range of interesting and difficult crafts that you do! thanks so much for sharing on Craft Schooling Sunday!

  • Kelly May 22, 2011, 8:32 pm

    these are very interesting! thanks for sharing a new craft and for linking up to Eat, Grow, Sew!

  • Stacey May 22, 2011, 7:16 am

    Wow, these are so beautiful. Your patience is amazing and it certainly has paid off. These are fabulous!

  • LocalFunForKids May 21, 2011, 12:08 pm

    Wow! I've never heard of these before, but they are so beautiful! I'm stopping by from TT&J. : )

    Heather @ Local Fun for Kids

  • lynne May 20, 2011, 6:01 pm

    Can't wait to get mine! She has a lot of your craftiness. She always comes up with something really neat and unusual.

  • Tanya @ Greetings From the Asylum May 20, 2011, 4:57 pm

    I have a new project! Thanks for sharing! I can't decide which one is my favorite!

  • The Answer Is Chocolate May 20, 2011, 3:20 pm

    Oh wow these are amazing! I have seen these in magazines and have never tried them. Inspiring!

  • chillin with Quillin May 20, 2011, 2:46 pm

    They are really awsome, thanks for sharing!!!

  • Christie, Describe Happy May 20, 2011, 1:02 pm

    Wow, these are just stunning. I can't imagine the time invested for some of those designs, but I bet it's enjoyable and wowie.. those ornaments are incredible. Might have to give this a try!

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