How to make a PompomSee more from Simply Crochet magazine
From bobble hats to bunting - you can't beat a good pompom! Here we'll show you the different ways of making them as well as how to shape your pompoms.
How to make a pompom with a pompom maker
They’re great for speeding up your pompom-making
Pompom-making gadgets, such as the Clover pompom makers we’re using, are really simple. Here’s how, step by step:
Place the two halves of the gadget together, aligning and unfolding the arms.
Evenly wrap your yarn around each curved arm – we used cream yarn for this demo. Try not to wrap too tightly and don’t overfill the curves.
Fold the curved arms inward so the gadget is a round shape. Cut the yarn in the gap between each half.
Cut a 30cm length of matching yarn and tie it around the centre of the pompom, in between the two halves of the gadget. Knot it as tightly as you can.
Carefully unfold the curved arms and remove the two halves of the gadget to release the pompom.
Trim the pompom to a sphere, then give it a quick wash to encourage the yarn to untwist and fluff up – immerse it in warm water, gently squeeze the water into it, swish it around a bit and leave it to dry. Your finished pink or red pompom will be ready for trimming. If you prefer, you can skip the ‘trim to a sphere’ and washing steps and go straight to creating your shape.
How to shape pompoms
We all love a fluffy pompom, but did you know that pompoms don’t have to be spherical? With just a bit of know-how and a dollop of practice, you can create pompoms in all sorts of shapes – from simple ovals, cubes and hearts, all the way up to surprisingly realistic-looking fruit, flowers and animals. Think of it as sculpting with yarn and scissors. In this guide, we’ll show you how to take a spherical pompom and transform it into a different shape with some precision trimming.
Tools of the trade
The number-one tool you need for shaping pompoms is a pair of scissors, so make sure you have a good pair that are sharp with small blades, so you can do detailed trimming. A pair of embroidery or nail scissors can work well.
Sculpting pompoms is easier than you might think, so start off with the simple shapes in this guide and you’ll soon work your way up to adorable animal heads, such as the bears project below.
How do I get started?
Begin the fun with some fuzzy yarn and a standard pompom
First, you need some yarn. You can make shaped pompoms with almost any yarn, but the best yarns have a good amount of ‘fuzz’ when you cut them. This includes wool, acrylic and cotton yarns, but try to avoid multi-plied mercerised cotton yarns, which are treated to eliminate the fuzz.
To check whether a yarn will make a good pompom, layer up five tiny lengths and cut across them. Here, we’ve done this to compare the cut look of a very fuzzy acrylic yarn, a nicely fluffy cotton yarn and a multi-plied mercerised cotton that still looks well defined.
Some crafters prefer wool yarns and finish their shaped pompoms with some needle felting to help bind the fibres together and fix the shape a bit more securely. This is not essential, though – you can achieve perfectly good results with some precision trimming, which is what we’ll focus on in this guide.
We’re also going to focus on transforming spherical pompoms into shaped pompoms. So, start by making a spherical pompom, which we’ll sculpt later into a heart shape. You’ll need a pink or red yarn (or any colour you like for your heart) in any weight. You can use any method you prefer, but we made ours with a Clover pompom maker to make the process quick and easy (see our quick step-by-step guide above).
You can make the pompom for your heart in any size, but we made ours 4cm in diameter. If you’re using the fork or skein method, to make a 4cm-diameter pompom you need 4cm yarn lengths and a 2cm diameter yarn bundle.
What about the pompom’s central tie?
Learn this vital rule before shaping
When trimming pompoms, you need to consider the location of the pompom’s central tie – the piece of yarn you used to tie up the yarn bundle. To show you how this works, we’ve trimmed the pompoms below really short:
From the front or back of the pompom, the central tie will run around in a circle laterally. From the front or back of the short pompom, the central tie is not visible. You’ve got more leeway when it comes to trimming the front and back as you won’t expose the tie.
From the right or left side of the pompom, the central tie will run vertically. From the side view of this same short pompom, you can see the central tie. So if there’s an area on your pompom that you want to trim really short to create your shape, try to position this at the front or back of the pompom and not at the side, otherwise your sculpting might expose the central tie.
How do I make shaped pompoms?
Have fun trimming our simple heart shape
To make shaped pompoms, it’s a good idea to plan out the shape you want first to ensure it looks how you want it to.
Here’s our plan of the heart shape, drawn over the diagrams. We’ve positioned the heart with the central tie down the side, where the yarn will be longer – at the front and back, we’re going to flatten the pompom a bit so it’s just the front and back that are heart shaped. Our heart is 4cm wide (narrowing to a point at the base) and 4cm high (but with a dip at the centre top), but you can scale the shape up or down.
Take your pink or red pompom and start by flattening the shape, then trim the front and back, snipping off small amounts at a time.
Next, trim the point at the base. To do this, locate the centre-base of the pompom and trim a line from here up to the centre-right point. Repeat from the centre-base to the centre-left. Then soften the lines and graduate the curves up towards the top-left and top-right.
Now create the centre-top of the heart. It can help to dangle the pompom from the tie while you trim. Carefully snip into the centre-top as short as you can safely go, then curve this dip up and out towards the top-left and top-right. Then curve the centre-top dip down towards the flattened centre-front and centre-back.
Keep trimming to soften the curves until you’re happy with the shape. Take your time, pause regularly, scrutinise your work and only snip off little bits of fibre at a time. Move the pompom around to see it from different angles and make sure it looks good from both front and back. You can either do all this by eye or use a ruler to measure the width and height to make sure you’re still on track compared to your drawing. Once it’s finished, you can use it as a decoration or attach it to a project.
What do I do next?
How to draw your own shapes and mark the centre-front
To make your own pompom shapes, you can use our diagrams above as a guide to plan your shape (either trace or photocopy to your desired enlargement). Just make sure your shape doesn’t go too close to the grey circle (this is the pompom’s central yarn bundle), don’t go beyond the outer circle (this is the outer edge of the pompom), and don’t trim too close to the central tie down the side.
To help you keep track of the front, back and sides of your pompom during trimming, try adding a length of contrasting yarn to your pompom to mark the centre front/back. To do this, thread a tapestry needle with a piece of yarn in a contrasting colour and insert into the centre front through to the centre back – make sure your pompom is positioned with the central tie running around in a circle. Pull the needle through carefully to position the marker yarn. Wash, then work your pompom into your desired shape, using the marker yarn to show you the location of the centre front/back. When you’re happy with your shape, use tweezers to carefully remove this one yarn length.