Tutorial: Patchwork Play Ball Made With English Paper Piecing

Patchwork Ball 1

These patchwork play balls are great handmade baby gifts. They’re bright and colorful and make a nice rattling sound when you roll them back and forth. This project is made with English Paper Piecing so it’s all sewn by hand. It’s easy enough to work on while watching a movie and it’s a great way to use up some pretty scraps.

Let’s get to it!

Patchwork Ball 2

To make a patchwork ball you need:

  • a variety of quilting cotton scraps (I used 6, a mix of prints and solids)
  • all-purpose thread (white is fine)
  • fiberfill stuffing
  • a rattle insert

Go ahead an print two copies of the pentagon templates. Cut out the 12 pentagons. Now you’ll need to baste fabric to each pentagon. If you’ve never done English Paper Piecing, I highly recommend this video by Diane Gilleland on how to use paper templates to baste the fabric. It’s a very easy process! The only difference here is that we’re using pentagons instead of hexagons.


You’re going to make two pentagon flowers by attaching five petals to a center pentagon. Select one pentagon to be the center, then stitch a pentagon to each of it’s sides. For a symmetrical ball you can choose the same fabrics for both flowers, or just go crazy and make them totally different!

Sew up the seams between each pentagon. Look! Pretty flowers.

Leaving the papers in, place the two flowers on top of one another. They’ll fit together like a puzzle with the points of one pentagon fitting in the dip between two other pentagons.

Inside out ball

It’s starting to look like a ball! Now continue whipstitching, attaching the pentagons to one another where they meet. Leave two lengths unsewn to create an opening for turning and stuffing. Remove the papers. Turn the ball right side out through the opening. Stuff the ball halfway. I’m a fan of using hemostats for stuffing.

Rattle insert

Push in the insert

Nestle a rattle insert in the stuffing in the center of the ball. Finish stuffing the ball. You want it to be firmly stuffed with no lumps or hollow spots. Ladder stitch the opening closed.

Ta da! Roll the ball and listen to the nice rattle.

Patchwork Ball 3

Here are a few ideas to make these balls even more special:

  • Choose some small scale “I Spy” prints and fussy cut each pentagon to feature the prints.
  • Use one of the prints from the ball as the ear lining for a Baby Bear or as the fabric for a baby blanket.
  • Shrink the pentagon template down by 50% and enlarge it by 150% to make balls in different sizes. (Small rattle inserts would be perfect for the smaller balls.)

Happy sewing!

Other free baby toy tutorials you might like include Soft Rattle Blocks, Rainbow Bean Bags, and Pete the Bear.


    • says

      Yes! I had the same question when I first began English Paper Piecing. Regular printer paper is just fine. I use a glue stick as well, which I think Diane recommends.

  1. says

    When I first made these balls for my blog during the World Cup, I thought about using the paper, but then chose to just sew the pieces by machine leaving a quarter of an inch at the end of each seam. Erika always asked for a rattle insert, so she would prefer yours. I was so glad to move from the many pieces of a soccer ball to the more concise and faster version with fewer pentagons and no hexagons. Always good to read another clear tutorial on the balls..

  2. sewbusy says

    i’m working on a hexie quilt now and i LOVE using freezer paper for EPP. This “ball” is adorable! thanks for sharing.

  3. Mei says

    This is so cute! I’m going to try to make one or two for our daughter due in November. I’m a little new to sewing though and am not sure what the process is for attaching the patches to each other after they’ve been basted. Is there a particular stitch or method? Any tutorial links to that part would be really appreciated!

  4. vicki9902 says

    Thanks for this pattern and tutorial! I’m having so much fun making these balls. So far I made two for boys and one for a girl. I’m having trouble finding the rattle though. Have checked three craft stores in the area and none of them carry rattles. So far I’ve bought all that Dollar General had and have been cutting the rubber handles off of them. Any suggestions on where I might find them?

  5. Rose says

    :) I’ve made these baby balls for over 20 years! First time was when my daughter needed some juggling balls for a special project in primary school! They were absolutely perfect! Someone mentioned what kind of papers to use – I have always used normal magazine paper. It’s a little stronger than 80g paper and so can be used over and over and over again! Also I don’t tack stitch through the paper. I fold the material over and just catch the material at the corners. It’s so much easier to remove and the paper can be used lots of times before looking really shabby! Recently I made a ball for my new grandson and for the rattle I put a few beads in a ‘kinder egg’ plastic container, taped it together just in case it comes apart in the wash, and then wrapped it in stuffing before burying in the middle of the ball! They are so quick to make and perfect for using up the scraps! Thanks for sharing the tut – I haven’t seen one of these balls online for yonks!!!


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