Alphabet Bean Bags

I originally made these for my kids over the weekend, and they were awesome! I made them using whatever scraps of fabric I had, dry pinto beans from my cupboard, fabric paint and stencils I had in my craft bin. I really liked the way they turned out. Although they were time consuming they were relatively simple. Here’s a pic of what I’ve now dubbed “The Trial Batch”:

Cute, right? And my kids LOVED them! Once I shared my bean bags I had interest from friends, and I thought “Why not?” So my little wheels started turning and I realized that to make these for others I had to make a few improvements.

  1. The letters had to be more legible. My stenciling bled, and although you knew which letter it was supposed to be some of them were pretty messy.
  2. They had to be washable! Some of these were a different color by the time I made the kids put them away.
  3. I had to make sure they didn’t fall apart. My kids were pretty rough with them and I could see them very easily falling apart.

I am happy to say that I have solved all of the above problems! First thing to do was make a trip to JoAnn’s. Once there I went to the fabric crafts isle…You know, the isle that has patches, fabric paint and all that good junk… That’s were I found iron on letters. PERFECT! Problem #1 taken care of.

Now on to #2. Ok, I can’t take credit for coming up with this because well, I didn’t. I explained to an associate what I was trying to make and she led me to poly pellets.  I’m going to quote the product label directly and tell you it is “A weighted stuffing material… easy to use… non-toxic… WASHABLE”. HOORAY!! Problem #2 taken care of. (Oh, I bought two of these to make sure I had enough for all 26 bean bags.) Last thing to do was pick up some fabric…

Once home I set to cutting my fabric. (First, I had 8 colors of fabric so I figured I needed three bean bags in each color with an extra of two colors.) I cut 5″x5″ squares of my fabric (two sqares per bean bag). After I had all my sqares cut I started ironing on letters to half of my sqares.

I kept my two squares per bag together to help keep me straight

Next step was to put my squares together (right side facing in) and sew them together. But NOT completely together! There has to be room to turn them inside out and add stuffing… I forgot to take a picture of this step for my new and improved letters, but I did take a pic of the trial set. So here it is so that you get the idea:

Next step was to turn these little things inside out (or right side out, if you prefer). I then ironed them flat. You don’t have to iron them, but I think it gives them a better finished feel. Here’s what they’ll look like turned right side out and ironed:

Ok… Hard parts are done! The rest is easy… Time consuming, but easy. Fill the bags with poly pellets (I used 1/4 cup per bag), then sew along the edges. I went around once with a simple stitch, then again with a zigzag stitch to take care of problem #3. I figure that being stitched three (once on the inside, and twice out) there’s no way the stuffing is going anywhere 🙂

I also like that the zigzag stitches give my bags a decorative touch.

That’s it! Simple, right? But, again, VERY time consuming. It tooke me 2 1/2 days to get them all done… Having 3 kids probably makes the process longer?… Speaking of three kids my seven year old lost another tooth! She now has no front teeth (LOL) and my little James is getting really big. It makes me sad, I love him so much I want to squish him so tight that he can’t get bigger! I don’t know how I’d justify that to questioning minds though…

But I digress, back to the subject at hand. The possibilities with these bean bags are endless! They can be completely customized and personal, and very educational. Although this set is solid colors in my “trial batch” I tried to coordinate the back of the bags with the letter on the front (apple fabric with ‘A’, butterfly fabric with ‘B’, etc.). The next thing I’d like to try is attaching velcro tabs on the sides so that you can link them to spell words, but I’ll have to try that another day. In the mean time you can purchase this set on my etsy shop at haffpinTreasures.

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