Kimekomi Ornaments

What is Kimekomi?

Kimekomi is a technique where a pattern is drawn and then cut onto a surface, such as a soft wood or smooth foam. Fabric is then placed over the pattern and tucked into the cuts.

Kimekomi was developed in the 18th century in Japan as a doll making technique. Kimekomi literally means “to tuck into a groove”. The technique has been passed down through the generations and somewhere along the way someone started making kimekomi balls. With the modern invention of foam balls and the easy access to materials, kimekomi is no longer limited to Japanese artisans.

How to make a Simple Kimekomi Ornament

Here is my new HD video on making simple kimekomi ornaments. This video will take you through each step in real time with lots of detail.

Circumference and Diameter

Drawing vertical lines on your foam ball

Step 1: First find the north and south pole of your ball and draw a dot on that point. Most balls have factory markings on these points as well as a line at the equator. If your ball has no factory markings, see the video near the bottom of the page.

Step 2: Fine the circumference of your ball.
Most foam balls are measured by their diameter. The foam balls I use are 6cm, 7cm and 8cm in diameter. Finding the circumference is easy if you know the diameter of your ball.

Circumference = pie X diameter
pie = 3.14

If you don’t know the diameter of your ball just measure the circumference yourself, using the measuring tape around the equator line of your ball.

Step 3: Once you find the circumference divide it by the number of lines you need to draw. That is the distance between lines at the equator of your foam ball. Starting anywhere on the equator of your ball measure and draw points on the equator line according to the measurement you calculated.

Step 4: Once you mark the points on the equator of your ball just connect the dots between the north pole, equator point and the south pole.

This technique should work for any size ball with any number of lines that need to be drawn. I’ve tested it with 6cm, 7cm and 8cm balls in 6, 8, 10 and 12 line divisions. When doing a 6 or 8 division ornament I find it easier to first mark the ball into 3 and then into 6, or first into 4 and then into 8, and so on.

Rounding your numbers will effect your measurements. It is best to be as precise as you can in your measurements for the best results.

If you are using foam balls that are sized by their diameter in centimeters you can use this handy PDF chart to find your measurements. Simple Divisions for 5cm-8cm Balls

Once you are comfortable with basic divisions you can start doing Combination Divisions.

combo 10

Visit the Combination Division Page to learn about combination divisions.


“Help! My foam ball has no factory markings.”

Sometimes foam balls are bare, and have no factory markings on them. The video below explains the best way to mark the poles and equator when there are no markings to help you along.

More Useful Tips:

If your foam is especially hard and difficult to cut, typical of Plasteel Corp’s foam, use a hot knife for the best results. There is a good hot knife recommendation on the Tools & Materials Page.

If you are making a template for cutting your fabric, use clear vinyl for your cutting pattern so that you can select the fabric design for the most pleasing effect – especially when you want to feature a particular motif. Also, vinyl is a bit easier than paper to mold around the curved surface of the balls when you are tracing.
Thanks to Joyce Slaton for this tip.

See the FAQ page for more tips.