Tuesday, July 31, 2012

How to Make Simple Beanbags

I thought I would kick-off my sewing projects for beginners with one of the most simple projects I could think of--beanbags.  I like beanbags for several reasons: you can use fat quarters, it is a super quick project, you can get the kids involved, it is just straight lines, you can almost always make them without a trip to the store, you can make them completely individualized, etc.  The reasons are really endless.

Here's What You'll Need:
  • Fabric (I would recommend basic cotton for beginners: a fat quarter is a good place to start)
  • Thread
  • Sewing Machine (you can sew by hand if you prefer)
  • Iron & Ironing Board
  • Pins
  • Rotary Cutter, Ruler, and Board
  • Scissors
  • Piece of Paper
  • Filler (I used rice for these bags, but I have used beans, and popcorn kernels in the past)
Most of these items can be found on this list of the Ten Tools Every Sewer Needs.

Now that you have gathered your items, we can begin!

Iron your fabric flat, then fold it in half along the grain line.  Fold in half again the same direction (so it becomes much skinnier).  When cutting with a rotary cutter, you only want to fold one direction to keep the fabric as flat as possible with consistent grain lines.  Your fabric should now be four layers thick.  Cut in the opposite direction of your folds in 3.5 inch strips.  


Unfold your strips and line them up along the lines of the cutting board.  


Cut in the opposite direction of your original cuts to create squares that are 3.5 inches wide by 3.5 inches tall.

Adjust your sewing machine needle to the right, so you get a 1/4 inch seam allowance (the distance between your seam and the edge of the fabric).  Set your stitch length to 2.

Take two squares, and place them right sides together.  Be sure to line up the edges and corners; you can pin them together if you wish, but with this project, I do not.  Line up the edge of your fabric with the edge of your presser foot about 1 inch from the corner.

Sew to1/4 inch from the corner and leave the needle down in the fabric.  Some machines will have a button for this, but if yours doesn't, then just manually move the needle down at the corner using the hand winder on the right side of your machine.  With the needle down, lift the presser foot, and rotate your fabric 90 degrees.  Lower the presser foot and sew the entire side.

Repeat the corner turning process until you have sewn three complete edges, and most of the final edge.  You will leave a hole in the center of one edge.

Clip each corner like pictured above.  This helps with your corners when you flip the beanbag right side out. Be sure to clip close to your seam without actually clipping your threads.

Using the hole you left, turn the beanbag right side out.  Make sure to poke the corners out to crisp corners. Iron the bean bag flat.

This step is not necessary for the construction of the bean bag, but I think it lends it a finished and more professional look.  Begin in one corner.  Leaving a 1/8 inch seam allowance, fix your thread (set your stitch length to zero and sew a few stitches to knot).  Sew along the side the same way you did previously, turning the corners until you have sewn along three edges with 1/8 inch seam allowance.  Fix your thread in the last corner.

Now we are ready to fill our beanbags.  Roll up your paper into a cone, and place the small end in the opening of your beanbag.

Fill with your filler until the bag is about 2/3 of the way full.  You should be able to fold the fabric back, and pin with a pin close to your fold to hold your filler away from your seam.

Sew your last edge shut leaving a 1/8 inch seam allowance; be sure to fix your seam at the beginning and at the end.  Then clip your threads.  I didn't pin on my first beanbag, but I did on the rest.  I found it much easier to sew the final seam when I pinned the filler back.

Here's your final product.  You can experiment with different fabrics, contrasting or matching thread, different sizes, and even different shapes.

We played with the beanbags in a pretend snowball fight.  We stacked them to see who could make the tallest tower.  We tried to throw them through the post in the stair rail.  How will you play with your beanbags?

3 comments:

  1. Aw cute!! Great way to use up scrap material too! i should definitely do this little project one weekend too!

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  2. That's a great tutorial, looks awesome! Thanks for sharing!

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  3. These are so fun!! Thank you so much for sharing at the Back For Seconds Social! I am featuring you tomorrow night! :)

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