My Fabric Ball- an excuse for keeping fabric strips

My Fabric Ball- 7″ diameter and 2 1/2 pounds

The skinny little strips of fabric left over from trimming off the selvage or cutting a piece of fabric down to size just don’t look like garbage to me. I can’t throw them away. Instead, I often use them for tying closed packages or a roll of paper. When starched, they make lovely ribbons for gift packages. Since I am not a prolific producer of quilts, the rate of which the collection of strips was growing was too slow for other project ideas I came up with such as weaving.

Not knowing what else to do with the little strips of, I came up with the idea of winding them into a ball like a yarn ball . My ball began as a means to find something to do the wonderful strips so I would not have to throw them away.
Fabric rag balls are all over the internet. A quick look at the internet uncovered many images and websites featuring rag balls. Okay, my idea is not original; I did not expect it to be.

I have to admit there are differences between mine and most of the others, which are made as ornaments. My ball is made of fabric strips and nothing but fabric strips. This ball is not a fabric covered Styrofoam ball. Therefore it is heavy; weighing in at almost 2½ lbs on our old baby scale. It can’t be used as a Christmas tree ornament (like the ones with a foam core) without seriously bending a bough or unbalancing the tree. So it just sits on the shelf, collecting not dust but more strips, getting larger and heavier. I enjoy seeing the ball grow, knowing that each new strip added is adding to a chronological record of quilt projects.

Weighing the fabric ball

This ball is still in its infancy. I wonder how big and heavy it will get? I also wondered about how many total yards of fabric the ball contained. If all the fabric strips were seamlessly  connected to make the average 45″ wide quilters’ cotton, how many linear yards would it be?

Well, I went online to one of my favorite resources for fiber arts supplies and information, Dharma Trading Company, to see what are the weights of different quilting cotton fabrics. Since my ball contains fabrics with weights from the lighter weight Print Cotton at 3.1 oz. per square yard to the heavier weight Kona Cotton at 4.4 oz. per square yard, I took an average of the two to get to the total. But first I had to convert the per square yard weight to per linear yard to give me 3.875 oz. per linear yard for Print Cotton and 5.5 oz. per linear yard for Kona Cotton. Next,  I had to convert the 2.5 pound weight of the ball to ounces, which is 40 ounces. By multiplying the number of ounces per linear yard of each by the total ounces in the ball, I get the aproximate number on linear yards for each weight of fabric. Then I added the two totals together and divided by two to get the average total of linear yards. So…the ball is somewhere between 7.27 yards and 10.32 yards of fabric, with an average total of 8.79  yards of fabric. That is quite a bit of fabric wound up into a ball on my shelf.

What else could I have used these treasured fabric strips be used for? Back to the internet I went for more ideas. Using the words “fabric strips” and “fabric selvage strips”, I searched images in my search engine and found a plethora of products made from fabric strips. I found a fabric strips knitted to make a beautiful tote bag, woven into fabric for unique clothing, woven into wonderful baskets, rolled up to create beads, and wound and stitched into coiled baskets, hooked into lovely rugs and sewn together to make interesting fabric for quilts and bags. There are so many wonderful projects for which fabric strips could be used. But for now, I prefer to continue adding most of them to my ball and watch it grow. Notice, I said most as I am sure that a few here and there will never make it to the ball when I am hit with the whim to create something else with fabric strips.


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