Laissez les bons temps rouler! With our Mardi Gras multi-coloured DIY stuffed dog ball toy, the good times are quite literally rolling (and squeaking!) around here! You can adapt this DIY to use any colour combination or materials, but since we’re posting this just before Mardi Gras our ball is made in the official Mardi Gras colours of purple, green, and gold. I added a few little embellishments as well.
No Sew? No Problem!
If you’re looking for a Mardi Gras dog toy DIY but aren’t keen on sewing, you can easily adapt these colours into any of our other pawesome doggy DIYs. Even a simple tug toy would be fabulously fun in purple, gold, and green. See our collection of DIY dog tug toy ideas for inspiration. Our collection of no-sew pet projects includes lots of other doggone great DIY ideas, too.
Sewing DIY Dog Toys
Stuffed dog toys follow the same basic principles as you would use if sewing (or buying) for a small child – no loose parts to nibble free and everything securely stitched into a sturdy toy. It is particularly important to know your pet and how they play before making or buying toys. Not all toys are suitable to all pets. Check out our post on toy safety for helpful links and resources.
How to Make a DIY Stuffed Ball Dog Toy
Supplies and Materials
To make a similar DIY stuffed squeaky ball dog toy, you will need:
- Fabric(s) for the body of the ball
- Scraps of mixed fleece for decorations (optional)
- Stuffing for filling for the stuffed toy
- Squeakers (optional but so much fun!)
- Complimentary coloured thread
- Sewing machine and general cutting / sewing supplies
Because fleece is colourfast and doesn’t fray, it’s an easy option for embellishments on dog toys. I keep fleece off cuts from other sewing projects and tug toy ends for embellishment supplies. It’s also very forgiving to sewing technique, since the stitches of coordinating thread often seem to disappear into the fluff, but it’s important to make sure that any embellishments are very securely attached. No matter what the material or technique, security and safety trump looks for toys.
How to Sew a Sphere for a Homemade Ball Toy
The body of the ball is assembled as six peels, just like an orange. To create a circle, each peel needs to be 1/2 the circumference long and 1/6th the circumference wide, plus seam allowances all around. For extra Mardi Gras flair, I opted to make each peel with two joined colours (totally optional, of course). This means that each of my cut pieces are just a little more than half of a peel, with extra in the middle as a seam allowance for joining. You can see how both methods would work in the mini-template and images below.
Fabric Selection and Experimental Rip-Stop Lining Fails
I’ve been experimenting with different heavy-duty fabrics for many of my stuffed dog toys recently, but this toy was made with fleece. I had the right colours in my craft stash already and it was soft for sewing a ball. As a new experiment, I trialled a reinforced with rip-stop nylon lining. I cut twelve half peels of fleece (four of each colour), and six full peels of nylon for the ball.
You’ll see the lining in the construction photos, but I’m not including it in the DIY instructions. As a pawnote after the fact, I wasn’t impressed with the rip stopping power. I don’t think it actually added to the durability of the ball. If anything, it was actually detrimental since the ripped nylon was thready. Just extra cost, effort, and waste. Bummer.
Making the DIY Multicoloured Ball Dog Toy
Creating the individual peels for the ball:
- Cut fabric for peels. See detailed instructions above.
- Lay out your peel pieces. Ensure you are happy with the colour combos before sewing. For my tri-colour ball, the colour combinations were P/Y, G/P, Y/G as shown in the third collage picture below. This gave a nice distribution and was a series of three, which was perfect for my six peel ball.
- Sew the pieces individually to join the half peels into full-sized peels. Ensure the seam is on the wrong/back side if applicable to your material.
- Once you have all of the full peels prepared, lay out your pieces in order for assembly. This will help to avoid sewing mix-ups as you join the peels into a ball.
Sewing the peels to create the sphere body of the ball:
- Starting from the beginning of your peel sequence, layer the first two peel right-side-in. Ensure that you align the centre peel join line for a nice finished look.
- Sew only their adjoining edge together along the seam allowance. This is where I also layered in my rip-stop lining.
- Repeat to add each peel incrementally, taking care to join the pieces in the correct order and ensure that you align the centre peel join line for a nice clean line on the outside of the ball when finished.
- When there is one final peel left to join, sew one edge completely. Sew the other edge only part way, leaving a gap for inverting and stuffing.
- Trim any excess threads and/or material
You may find that cutting small slits and/or notches in the seam allowances (not all the way to the stitch line) helps the curves invert more smoothly. This is particularly helpful if your toy is small (tighter curves) and/or the base fabric is very thick or stiff. It wasn’t needed with sizeable ball and my flexible fleece.
Stuffing and finishing the toy:
- Invert to right-side-out.
- Add stuffing and (optional) squeaker(s).
- Fold the gap seam allowance into the toy and sew the toy closed.
- Trim any threads if/as needed.
Optional End Embellishments for the Mardi Gras Ball Dog Toy
If you’ve measured and joined carefully, you should have a nice closure point seam at the top/bottom of your ball as shown in the final collage picture above, but this can be tricky. Not to worry!
- Option 1: If your ball is securely sewn but a little less than perfect, your dog won’t judge.
- Option 2: Add a cheeky circle patch over the ends. Hidden with style!
I’ve added circles to my ball so you can see what I’m talking about. If you do want/need circles, make sure that they are very securely sewn into place on the toy. I embellished my ends with a totally unnecessary but super cute cross-bone design. Just because!
🚨 Safety first, furfriends! Remember, no matter what a toy is made of or how it’s made, toys are meant for supervised interactive play. Know your dog before giving him or her any new toy. Some dogs try to eat toys or parts (whether bought or handmade) and that’s dangerous. Toys are for playing, and playtime is always safer (and more fun!) with you involved. You can read more in our dog toy safety post, including tips and helpful links for safer playtime. Have fun and play safe!