Education, Parenting

Alphabet Bean Bags

I love our alphabet bean bags.  We have used them for everything from simple sound matching activities to spelling cvc words.  You can purchase a set of alphabet bean bags, but they will cost you anywhere from $25-$50.  Luckily, this is a project that even a novice sewer like myself can complete.  We lost some of our first set of bean bags in the move this summer, so I took this as an opportunity to improve upon my first design.  Since I already had materials like thread and iron-on vinyl on hand, I only spent about $10 for the beans and a yard of fabric.

Materials:

  • 1 yard of fabric (I got the one pictured on sale for about $5)
  • thread
  • 5 pounds dried beans (I like to use something small like lentils)
  • fabric scissors
  • pins
  • funnel
    • iron-on vinyl (if you have a Cricut or Silhouette) for letters OR
    • fabric for letters (I recommend something thick like felt.  I used a thin cotton fabric for my original set and it did not hold up as well as I would have liked.)
  • fabric glue (if you choose not to sew on the letters)
  • cardstock or cardboard

Instructions:

  1. Cut out a 4×4 inch square from cardstock or cardboard.
  2. Trace out 52 squares on the one yard of fabric (I used chalk).
  3. Cut out the squares from the one yard of fabric.
  4. Place 2 squares of fabric together, front sides inward and pin each corner.  (In other words your fabric should be inside-out.)
  5. Use no more than 1/4 inseam (I try to get as close to the edge as possible).
  6. Sew 3 out of the 4 sides completely shut.  On the 4th side, leave about an inch opening in the middle to fill with beans.
  7. Cut the 4 corners off and turn right-side out.  Use your scissors to push the corners out (I personally like to use a chopstick for this task).
  8. Iron each square and make sure the seam you will be sewing shut is lined up.
  9. If you are using iron-on vinyl, iron each of your letters onto the 26 bean bags.  If you are gluing your letters on, you will also want to do that at this juncture.
  10. Once your letters are on, use a funnel and fill the bags with beans just a little more than half-way.  Do not overfill as it will be difficult to sew them shut.dsc_0194
  11. You can sew the bean bags shut using one of two methods.  If you are not too worried about aesthetics, then you can do as I did and use the machine (sew as close to the edge as possible).  Otherwise, you can use a whip stitch to sew them shut.
  12. Trim off any stray pieces of thread.  old-new-bean-bags

Congratulations!  This project may be a bit time-consuming, but you will save quite a bit of money making your own bean bags.  Have your children help with this activity. They can select the fabric and can also help you make the bags (Lil’ Man helped pour in the beans).  No need for you to do all of the work.  🙂

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