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.

14 thoughts on “Kimekomi Ornaments”

  1. Hi To be aware that I am deaf, I am having a hard time to draw the lines for my ball of 7cm and it not been successful. I am wondering do you have template or so, that would make it easier for me.
    Looking forward to hear from you shortly


  2. Hi thanks for the email and I am watching your video Drawing a lines on a bare smooth foam ball and what size ball are you using this video?? so It will give me an idea for a bigger ball.

    1. I’m using a very small 5cm ball in that video. It’s the only ball I had with no factory markings. I’m working on closed captioning that video now for you.

          1. Hi Alyx, Thanks so much for you to provide me with Closed Captions and now I got it and more understandable. You have been great with helping me. I am now looking forward to start making things. Have a great day and looking forward to your new ideas with sequins etc etc….

  3. Hi. Love your creativity.
    Do you have any particular brand of bead caps that don’t tarnish over time? Also, is gluing the 2 inch pin enough to prevent hanger from coming off ball?

    1. I’ve been using bead caps that I buy at a shop in Tokyo called Parts Club. It’s a jewelry making supply shop. They don’t seem to tarnish with time. I’m guessing that doesn’t help you much since you probably don’t live in Japan. You are welcome to post your question on my Facebook page and see if anyone else has some good advice for you.
      Regarding the pin. If you handle your ornament delicately the glue should hold for many years. My mom has some ornaments I made when I was in high school, so we’re talking 20 years ago, and I’ve had to re-glue some of those pins. You can use a stronger glue or reinforce your hanging ribbon by adding some extra pins on either side of the main pin if you are worried.

  4. Thank you for this tutorial. These ornaments are so lovely and will make great decorations and gifts. Wish I had come across this last year.

    1. Terri, I too came across Ornament Designs with Alyx just before Christmas 2016. Presently practicing and improving my skills so I can be ready with really beautiful ornaments for my family and friends in 2017.
      I am learning something new with each ornament. 75 years old and just found a new and fun craft to keep my mind and hands busy. Thank you Alyx!
      I love how Alex explains everything in detail so we can easily follow her.

  5. Can I purchase the gold ribbon used in the snowman ornament on your sight? It looks perfect and I don’t know where i the USA to buy a lovely ribbon like you used. I loved your cording and ordered a few colors. Thank you for opening my world to something so beautiful I can make for my loved ones and of course myself! Also do you have a tutorial for and Easter egg?
    I am 75 years old and just found something new and exciting to make.
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Nancy,
      I see you already found my shop and ordered some cord. Thank you so much! I don’t sell ribbon. I’m sure you could find some satin ribbon at Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, Joanne or another craft store in your local area. You could also see if they have satin ribbon at their online stores. I used to make a lot of Easter Eggs but don’t have much time for them anymore. You can find lots of free Easter Egg tutorials on the Free Tutorials Page.
      I’m so glad you found me and am so happy you enjoy my videos and my website. 🙂

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