Yes, I have a clothes line, and I’d love to have it fit better into my life. But right now, it doesn’t. I rarely make it out to hang clothes early enough, and when I do, I forget to get them off in time at night. Then they stay out overnight, I have to wait till part way through the next day to get the dampness from overnight off, and then, they’re full of spiders! Yuck! On ambitious, good drying days, I still get some stuff hung. But kids clothes and diapers take a lot more work to hang up (all those little socks and pieces!), so it’s usually blankets, towels, T shirts, and pants. Consequently, my dryer gets a lot of use, even in the summer.
Back in the spring, my sister saw some “fluffalumps” over here (when she was searching for something else) and thought I might be interested. This is what they look like.
They’re dryer balls. The basic idea is that the balls allow lifting and better air flow around the clothing in the dryer. They’re supposed to be good for keeping cloth diapers fluffy, too. I haven’t paid attention yet to see if it REALLY takes less time and energy to dry the clothes, but others have and say it works. For the minimal cost and effort it takes to make these, I’m game.
I found another tutorial to make dryer balls here.
But wanted a simpler no-sew version (or at least very low sew). Partially to make them quicker and partially because I saw potential for a MOPS activity, and I know many don’t have any interest or ability in sewing. I don’t know if we’ll ever make them at MOPS or not, but here’s the no sew version, either way.
I tried this tutorial mostly as instructed. “Felt” the sweaters by washing in hot water and then drying. Cut into sections- I used a sleeve or half of a front or back per ball. They end up about the size of a softball. Some go for tennis ball size or variety. I have half a dozen in my dryer, but some say use a dozen. You pick, I guess.
My change was instead of cutting strips and sewing them back together, I just cut one long strip. You can go back and forth, or you can spiral around, it doesn’t really matter which way. (Note, this one has been wound once, then set back in the original shape, so it looks stretched.)
When you wrap them, you do want to wrap very snuggly. Since my strips change directions, I change direction in my winding. I hold the end securely in place while I wrap the other direction, Then I wrap overtop of the place where direction was changed, make sure it’s snug, and continue until I’m done winding. Then pin the end and whip stitch it
I had several unravel immediately, despite wrapping very tightly. If I was going to do it that way again, I’d stitch the top layer of winding in several spots around the ball. But that takes more time than I wanted to spend.
So I tried a few other ideas. One I put the toe of an old sock over and secured with some yarn. It works fine, but the cotton sock fabric “sticks” to the clothes and makes its way out of the dryer and into the clothes basket a lot more frequently. (A problem when you may not get that basket of laundry fully put away for a week or more…)
One I did a quick wrap, NOT in a ball shape. It may perform it’s function, I’m not sure. But it gets stuck in the clothes a lot as well, and doesn’t look as nice, so I don’t suggest it.
I did a quick finish ball using safety pins (3 pins, but really didn’t matter much). A few safety pins worked their way off in the dryer. Others held fine, but after a week or two, they ball found a way to unravel, just like with the ones I’d stitched closed at the end.
After letting the unraveled ones pile up on my dryer for a few weeks, I finally didn’t have any left in the dryer (unraveled or hidden in the clothes baskets…). So I wrapped them back up into nice tight balls, used one safety pin to secure (the cheap ones from the dollar store work fine for this) and put it in an old pair of panty hose. I made a string of them before cutting apart to make the knots more easily with less waste. Make a knot, put the ball in, stretch tight, twist, and make another knot. I’d make two knots for each end, just for added security to keep the nylon on the ball.
These have worked much better, They don’t really stick to the clothing (except for velcro) and they can’t unravel. I think I’d still recommend breaking out a needle and thread to sew the end (pin in place so it stays tight while you sew). The head of the safety pin will work it’s way out of the nylon, but I think that even with a run in the encasing layer, it will still hold the ball tightly together to prevent unraveling. Hooray! No more rats nest ex-dryer balls in my dryer! Update: I started to write this up back in July, but I’ve had a busy summer and fall. Now I can report on how these really held up.
Here’s what mine look like after living in my dryer for 3 1/2 months. The one to the far left has lost it’s pin and made a bunch more trips in the dryer since. It is the most exposed. I’ll have to stitch it soon, but it’s still hanging in there!
Conclusions: I’d really skip the safety pins and just stitch the end, or use some liquid stitch (or other fabric glue) to secure the ends. (Pin it while the glue dries, though.) And if you have a selection of nylons to choose from, go thicker. The big damage on my dryer balls came from the safety pins working through the nylons. They still are completely functional and haven’t unraveled, I’m just unsure of how long they’ll still hold up, and I have lost some more safety pins as they work their way out. They do still come out of the dryer if they’re inside of something big, like a sheet or blanket, but they don’t stick to the laundry and come out hidden that way.
Bottom line, I’m still pleased, and I’d still make more.