Multi-Purpose Softball and Baseball Embroidery

Sewing or embroidery on baseballs and softballs is a pretty new thing and I have enjoyed making some special balls and thought I would share a few. My typical orders are for name and numbers for student athletes, such as these:

Elliot baseball IMG_5934 IMG_5913 IMG_5906

However, I have embroidered and laced up some very unique and special balls over the last year or so.  My most recent ball involved the birth of my latest and probably last grandchild.  Here is the ball I did for my sweet grandson Cason:

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Here in Texas we had a terrible tragedy occur to a ladies’ college softball team on a dark sorrowful night. The team had a game in Oklahoma and was traveling back to Texas in the team van. Their van was headed south on the highway when a semi-truck crossed over and hit the van head on. Four of the young ladies died in the collision and several were injured. As a memento for the girls’ parents, I made softballs with their names, numbers, and college in the school colors.  The coaches asked me if I could do a ball for each of them with the numbers of the 4 girls on the ball, so I also made a couple of balls for the coaches. Here are the balls I made:

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They say everything is bigger in Texas.  Well, I have seen some pretty large homecoming mums here lately.  When I went to high school, a mum was a mum.  You got a chrysanthemum flower with ribbons and ribbon chains and a few little plastic footballs on it.  Then when my kids went to school, they had double and triple mums and even the guys got one on an arm band. Things have changed and now the homecoming mums are so large that they cannot be pinned on your shoulder, but have to be hung around the neck. I had a customer (softball player) contact me about making a softball with initials on it to go into the center of a mum. My worry was this was going to be too heavy so we decided to put Styrofoam and quilt batting in the center of the ball. This is how the mum turned out:

IMG_6138 IMG_6141 Mum softball

Another customer contacted me and told me his girlfriend is a softball pitcher and he planned to propose to her.  He wanted me to make him a softball that said “Be My Wife” on the top, and his girlfriend’s name, in pink, on the sweet spot. So this is how it turned out:

Bridal Softball

He asked that I make him two of these balls because he was going to cut into the ball and hide an engagement ring inside so that the flap would open and she would see the ring inside. He wanted two balls in the event that he ruined the first ball trying to cut into it, and some extra lacing thread for rethreading the flap.

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When I sent the balls to my customer I told him I couldn’t imagine what he was going to do and would appreciate a few pictures so I could see what his plans were.  Some people have such great imaginations and are so creative.  He amazed me when I saw these:

Be My Wife Flap open ball Softball diamond

Then last month I received an email telling me that Kristin said “YES” to his proposal and he was kind enough to send pictures and allow me permission to use them in this post. Thank you for letting me be involved in the process. Well done Rob, I hope you and Kristen have a long and happy marriage!

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October 2014 – Colonial Dolls, Needlework, and Fabrics

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit Boston and do a little research regarding the materials available for sewing in the colonial period. I first toured the State House where there was a display showing some of the typical products that came into the Boston Harbor from England in the 1760’s. These items include a plaid printed on linen, red silk, pottery/china, a bag of coffee, and 2 sugar cones.


One of the other displays showed this wonderful silk bodice with beautiful embroidery work. It is an incomplete piece of work and you can see the markings where the embroidery should have been if it had been finished. I would have loved to have found some embroidery threads to examine. Perhaps the threads were silk, or even cotton.


People in those days were a lot smaller than they are now!  The small waist of the above embroidered piece shows how tiny the ladies were. Also, below is a man’s coat from colonial times. This appeared to be made from a velvet type material. The buttons are covered with the velvet and I was interested in looking at all of those hand worked buttonholes. What a task! The vest material looks like some sort of tapestry work. These were the types of outfits the men wore to the meetings in the Massachusetts State House where they decided the future of our country.


Also in the State House was this beautiful ladies’ fan. The white silk was painted and then incorporated into the blades of the fan. This one had obvious use but it was such a pretty piece of artwork too. I wasn’t able to discern the material used to create the blades of the fan, perhaps they were bone.


I also was intrigued by these dolls that were made completely of leather. Their faces were missing so perhaps they were made from the same products that they used to make dishes and got broken or they could have been carved from wood and rotted. During that period most dolls were “rag dolls” with cloth painted faces or dolls made from corn husks with painted faces.


These dolls were displayed in a little room at the top of the Prudential Tower. The room showed what the inside of a ship would have looked like in colonial times when immigrants arrived at Boston Harbor.

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This was a container in that same room showing what the inside of a typical chest that arrived in Boston would contain. I especially loved looking closely at the linen napkins. Having done some “drawn thread” work myself, I appreciated the hours that went into the edging of these pieces of needlework.


Lastly, I enjoyed the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. There was a whole section of colonial artwork and needlework. I enjoyed looking closely at this outfit that was on display. It was a simple cotton dress with an empire waist. The shawl was beautifully embroidered at each end.


Here is a close up of the embroidery work on the shawl. The cotton dress also had white on white embroidery but it is difficult to see in these pictures. I thought the long cotton formal gloves were very elegant.


There were so many examples of colonial needlework that I couldn’t possibly photograph all of them and there was a Children’s Museum I would have liked to have visit to see the old dolls there….perhaps in another trip I can check that out. I found the city of Boston a wonderful place to visit and soak in the history of our early beginnings as a nation. If you get the chance to visit, I would highly recommend it!






August 2014 – Hand Stitching a Baseball or Softball

I guess I never thought about it but all those baseballs and softballs that go flying around the diamonds all over these great states are stitched by hand. We haven’t invented a machine yet that can do that task.  Some brave ladies decided to take the “skin” off the baseball or softball and see if you could embroider them by machine and then hand stitch them back together. This interested me because first of all, it is sewing by hand, secondly it involves machine embroidery, and thirdly it sounded challenging. So, I gave it a try.


Step one in the process is cutting all those red laces.  Once that is done, the outer skin of the baseball/softball has to be peeled off the sticky outer layer of the ball. Taking the skin off of a baseball is infinitely harder than taking the skin off a softball. The baseball is stickier and sometimes is so sticky that when you try to peel the skin off, it will leave part of the backing that is under the leather or synthetic leather. However, the softball skins are sticky but peel off much easier.


Once the cover of the ball is off, it’s a matter of programming your embroidery machine and getting everything lined up correctly so that the stitching fits on the 2 cover pieces. Here is one that I messed up when I first started this process. Notice the 2 actually goes into one of the stitching holes. I did this one over and was more careful about lining everything up and measuring correctly.


Once everything is stitched onto the cover of the ball, I found the center hole on each end and in the middle and marked them so they would match up during the lacing process. I went to Home Depot and found this big clamp to hold the ball in place while lacing it.  It helped speed up my lacing time.


I took 2 tapestry needles (they have big eyes) and threaded #10 crochet cotton, about 3 yards of one color and 3 yards of another. Or, 6 yards of one color with a needle on each end. If you look at a laced ball you see that the stitches come from underneath and cross over to the opposite hole, back underneath, back and forth with each needle. You sort of get a rhythm going and you really don’t think about it.


Some of the ladies doing this removed all the stamping off the cover of the baseball. This was done using acetone and elbow grease. I did one that way because I wanted to stitch out this Babe Ruth quote below. I first stitched it out on a piece of felt, then onto the actual wiped off baseball cover. It didn’t stitch out well on the cover and I may have needed to try a different needle. My thread broke several times and I was not anxious to do this again!


Once you get the ball re-laced, you have to go back and pull up any slack if you haven’t kept your stitches tight. I made this mistake on my first ball and had to start from the beginning and tighten each stitch up so that it pulled the 2 cover pieces together. On the last stitch of each needle you have to run the thread under the cover and take a “bite” into the rubbery ball core and then come back up with the needle exiting between the 2 covers. This can be very tricky!  I never got it on the first try.

Once you tie a knot and hide it under the cover you are done. There is no need to worry about the laces coming loose because this baseball or softball will never be used (hopefully) and will be a keepsake. There are several different display boxes or clear boxes that hold a baseball or softball. What a unique gift for a baby.  These 2 baseballs below were made for a set of twins. I used a black thread that was thinner than the red so I doubled the black thread and it didn’t turn out too well. I have since found a black thread that is the same weight and thickness. This is very important!

Name & Date On Top $35

Name & Date On Top

This is a special one done for a nephew who was chosen MVP of his All Star Team. I used 2 colors on this one also but I made the name too large and you have to rotate the ball to see the whole name, JACE. The other cover piece has the Babe Ruth quote on it.


This ball was made for a little boy in the hospital who has since passed away. I hope it is a keepsake for his parents.

IMG_5069This one was made for a softball coach:

Name Only $25

This one I made for my daughter-in-law who played in high school and college. I think it looks cute stitched and laced in pink!

Name & Number On Top $30

As you can see, there are many options available by stitching onto the baseball or softball cover and then re-lacing the ball. I saw one person who added little pearls as she stitched the softball and really gave it some bling and made it look more feminine. This was not my idea but I admire the person who first tried it because I think it will be something I will enjoy doing. I actually had my husband put up an order form in my “For Sale” section so that I could take orders for these. Luckily my daughter will be coaching girl’s softball in the spring and I hope to get several orders to stitch. I can’t wait to see how they turn out.


January – Making a Scissor Case, In The Hoop

I had so much fun stitching out this scissor case on my embroidery machine. The digital download is free on the Bernina “projects” area of their website.  This is a “crazy quilt” technique. If you have done that before you know that you start with a center piece of fabric that has 5 sides and you stitch a piece of fabric to one side then flip. After all the sides of the center piece have been stitched down, the program then goes through and stitches pretty patterns on the fabric.  Then the program goes through each seam line and stitches a decorative stitch along the seams.  Finally the outside area is stitched down and the first piece is ready to be removed from your hoop.  Then you you do the next piece the same way.  There is  a front and a back.  It has a layer of batting between the lining.  I used silk scrap pieces for my scissor cases below.  Once both sides are stitched out, a piece of matching bias is placed around the circumference.  I used these neat clips I found instead of pinning:

IMG_4720IMG_4722Notice I embroidered an initial in the back center piece on one of my scissor cases.  Once you have the bias sewn in place, the directions show a tie but I prefer to use a snap instead.

IMG_4602IMG_4729Once the snap is sewn in place on both the top and bottom pieces, I put a pretty button over the snap for decoration.IMG_4599IMG_4725If you have an embroidery machine, you should try downloading this. Use the format for your machine (mine is JEF for Janome) and see how easy it is to make this beautiful scissor case for yourself or a friend.  I love the new designs that digitizers are creating for in the hoop projects, and this one is a free download…..even better.  Thanks Bernina digitizer, whoever you are!

December – Jelly Roll Dress

This post was supposed to be made last month, but Thanksgiving came along and I never got finished.  Hope everyone had a very nice Thanksgiving.  Speaking of food…..did you know there is a jelly roll that you don’t eat?  This is a fabric jelly roll made by Moda.Ruby jelly roll

This Moda jelly roll consists of 40 pieces of fabric cut in two and a half inch strips about 44 inches long.  I bought the Ruby fabric collection jelly roll and 2 coordinating fat quarters.  This fabric has been sitting on a shelf waiting for me to decide what to do with it.  I love the reds, melons, aquas, greens and grays in this collection.  I decided to make a dress for my granddaughter and also a matching dress for an 18 inch doll.

I took an old pattern that I used many years ago and adapted the bodice pieces to fit a 3 year old.  I cut these pieces out from the 2 fat quarters I purchased along with the jelly roll.  I used one of the fat quarters for the sleeves.  I lined the bodice with unbleached muslin.IMG_4539 rs

Next I laid out the strips and decided which ones I wanted to use for the skirt of the dress.  I used 16 of my favorites and cut them to 30 inches in length, then cut those in half so I had 32 strips that were 15 inches in length.  Then I laid 16 out for the front and then duplicated the same layout for the back, 8 for the left side and 8 for the right side.

IMG_4516 rsNext I sewed all the strips together and then then pinned them to the bodice.IMG_4549 rsI added an aqua ruffle to the bottom of the skirt.IMG_4537 rsThe skirt was then sewn to the bodice and I worked 9 buttonholes down the left side of the back.  I made covered buttons to sew down the right side. I added a yo-yo flower to the waist with a covered button in the center.  IMG_4552 rs

I then did the same thing on a smaller scale for an 18 inch doll but used small pearl buttons to button the dress down the back.  Most of the 18 inch doll dresses have Velcro down the back but I prefer buttons or snaps.IMG_4633IMG_4630IMG_4637 rsIMG_4641 rs

My granddaughter will be 3 in a few months and this dress is a little too big for her but hopefully by summer it will fit her well and I am hoping that she will be responsible enough to handle an 18 inch doll, maybe not an American Girl doll, but a doll with a matching dress. So if you see a jelly roll at a quilt shop, don’t think it can only be used in a quilt, use it for a dress or skirt and enjoy all those coordinating fabric strips!  I plan to have the pattern pieces and instructions made into a PDF for purchase if anyone is interested.  Look for it in the For Sale section where my 18 inch doll boot pattern is located.