Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas gifts I made, dryer balls


Wool dryer balls rock! I have several, and love them. Those awful PVC dryer balls they sell on tv are toxic, noisy, and tear up your clothes. Wool dryer balls are quiet, natural, gently soften your clothes, reduce static, and cut down on drying time. You save money by not having to buy laundry softener, and cutting down on dry time reduces energy!

I have great admiration for those that make large quantities of dryer balls! These hurt the joints in my fingers, & I had to keep taking breaks with each one, but I liked the way they came out, so I pressed on! I used strips of wool scraps, and wound them tightly into a ball, overlapping them as I went along to keep them in place, and stuck a pin in it to save my place whenever my fingers got tired. I learned that using chunky knits bulk up your ball fast, then using merino scraps at the end helps smooth out your ball for a perfect circle. For the covers, I used this pattern I found online, but tapered the ends a bit more. Since these turned out heavy & huge (about the size of a small grapefruit), and required so much work, I gave them individually instead of in pairs. I was pretty happy with how these turned out. The only problem with these is that a couple of friends reported that their kids claimed them as "my ball!", and they are unable to try them out in the dryer yet ;)

ETA:
Since I had questions on these, I am adding this picture of some "naked" dryer balls that i'm working on. These are just waiting for covers. After I wind the scraps tightly I loosely baste stitch around them, so they don't unravel. This is what they look like, patiently waiting for their new outfits :)

ETA again: FYI... the tighter they are, the heavier they are, and the heavier they are, the better they work. For a reference, my dryer balls weigh over 8 oz. each. They may seem hard at first, but when you run them through a wash/dry, they become a tad squishier. Mine are so tight that they can bounce!

18 comments:

Resweater said...

For the person who's comment I removed:

I do not mind you self promoting in my comments, but when you pretend to be a customer of yourself, instead of coming right out and saying you are the owner, you are being dishonest. In my book, that's the same as lying, and that's just not cool.

Ann said...

Wow! You were busy with Christmas gifts! They all look great and I'm sure everyone that received them was thrilled! I've never made dryer balls - but I think it's about time I tried! :-)

Ann from www.TheLavendarTree.Etsy.com

Nata-Leigh (Lubbock's Mom) said...

Ya ... Lubbock's not letting this go. It's his. I can't complain that much about my lil' guy's new favorite toy being so eco-friendly ... right??? ;)

Resweater said...

I'll get you another one Nata-Leigh :) I'm glad they are a hit for all age groups!

Colleen said...

These are great! I've bookmarked the pattern to try them out. Thanks for posting your projects.

Kim said...

I'm definitely going to try making one of these! Notice I didn't say "several"--thought that might be too ambitious :) I absolutely LOVE this idea and what a fantastic way to use leftovers, and I sure have a lot of those. Thx for passing this along, Kris :)

Shanna said...

I really would love to try making these but the pattern that came up when I clicked the link went to a baby ball. My question to you is this, what do you put inside to make them firm enough to actually do some good in the dryer? Or did I miss that part somewhere? That is possible, my first day back to work after 7 days off, brain still functioning on dealing with an almost 2 year old. ;) Thanks.

Resweater said...

Hi Shanna,
As I said in the post I just wind wool scraps tightly into a ball. The tutorial link is just to make the decorative cover on the outside of the ball. I am adding a picture of some "naked" coverless dryer balls i'm currently working on, so you can get an idea. Let me know if that helps!
Kris :)

Shanna said...

Thanks for humoring my question. ;) I must have missed the winding scraps part, sorry. Now I have to find where my scraps all went to when I moved everything to make room for Christmas decorations. Now that the decorations are down there is room again to get out the sewing machine. I will let you know if I have any success. Thanks for the idea.

The Sewing Dork said...

I will never buy Bounce again :)

Colleen said...

What is a good size to make these? I'm giving it a try, but I don't know how heavy/large to make them to be effective.

Resweater said...

Mine come out to the size of a small grapefruit, or a large orange. I wrap them at tightly as I can, but gets a little bit squishy if you give them a hot wash before using them in the dryer. I always felt the wool first, but they felt a tiny bit more when you hot wash the finished ball.

Sidereal Day said...

I found this post via the "made from recycled sweaters" group on flicker. This is absolutely going on the list of things I need to make, our dryer takes forrrrever. Thanks for sharing!

gaiabee said...

Hi! Very inspired about making these, now that I've got the felting bug! Looking at the balls, they look so very tidy, seam-wise.
I'm assuming correctly that you sew the pattern pieces together with a machine and leave one seam open and then hand sew that one?
BTW my friend and I now have a new name for sweaters that don't felt well (esp too bulky)... they're DBs - dryer balls! As in..."no, that one turned into a DB..." haha :)

Resweater said...

Hi gaiabee,
Yep, I machine sew all the seams except one, slip the cover on the core, and hand sew the last seam.
I do the same thing with the sweaters... anything that is super ugly or has tons of holes, and/or is super scratchy is a "dryer ball sweater" in my mind, when I am sorting them. The sweaters that felt really bulky, like you were saying, are also good for slippers, pot holders, trivets, and coasters.

beccy said...

I'm going to have to make some of these - great way to use up my mountain of scraps and maybe save some money!

Thank you :)

Anonymous said...

This is a very helpful tutorial, thank you, Kris! However, I'm wondering: Does the wool--the cover as well as the core--have to be felted, first?

Thanks ahead!

Resweater said...

I have never made one unfelted, so I am unsure. I would imagine it would be fine, but I would worry about the seams unraveling on the cover pieces, especially because you have to stretch the cover over the ball. If you make one unfelted, please let us know how it turns out!