Basic Otedama: A Tutorial
Otedama are Japanese beanbags, and also the game played with them. I have no idea how to play the game, which sounds like a combination of juggling and jacks, but I’m hooked on the beanbags. They’re quick and easy, a great way to showcase small amounts of fabulous fabric, and can be used as paperweights, pincushions, or just as ornaments.
Here’s a tutorial for making your own. You’ll need everything you see here:
Cut 4 pieces of fabric 3.5 cm by 6.5 cm out of two contrasting patterns. Assemble your thimble, scissors, sewing thread, needle, beeswax and pincushion. Lay them out like this to see how the patterns fit:
Now you’re ready to start sewing. Begin by sewing one pink and one blue (or whatever colors you’re using!) to one another at right angles. Use a 5 mm seam allowance.
In this picture, the seam is running vertically. After you sew each seam, use a bone folder to flatten the seams–it’s easier and faster than trying to manipulate an iron on these tiny bits of fabric.
Match the centers of the two pieces and sew across.
Flatten seams with your bone folder. Look how lovely! Now for the slightly tricky part.
Pin one flap to its adjoining piece on the left and sew across the edge. Repeat around the whole square, making sure always that you are sewing contrasting pieces together.
This is what it will look like when you’ve made your way all the way around the second round of sewing. If you turn it over, it will look like this:
Repeat the sewing-around process, but leave one seam unsewn. Turn the otedama right side out.
Now you’re ready to stuff your otedama. I use buckwheat, because we live in a very dry climate, and because I once bought a whole bunch in bulk and then the kids refused to eat it, so it’s been hanging around for a long time cluttering up my pantry. You may want to use plastic beads, which won’t mold or get buggy, no matter where you live.
Use a funnel to get the stuffing in. It’ll take maybe four or five tablespoons of stuffing: don’t fill it too full! There should be some squish to it.
Blind stitch the opening. Then carefully take three or four stitches through the center of the beanbag and pull them tight. You’ll get a sort of doughnut-peach shape. If you like, you can sew a button here in the center–little fabric-covered ones are especially nice.
Voila! Your otedama.