Thursday, May 19, 2011

DIY: Rainbow Beanbags

This isn't a tutorial in the sense of providing you with step-by-step instructions with pictures, but truly, if you can sew, this is an easy and oh-so-fun project. The inspiration for these is a little backwards; I wasn't looking for something to decorate beanbags with, but instead a way for my daughter to carry around the set of Rainbow Girls with her. Wendi suggested beanbags.

The first step, of course, was to embroider the girls. I put them all on one piece of muslin.
When they were done, I ironed the muslin and cut the girls out. I wasn't being exact here--they're different sizes. I just went for the girl plus a bit of border. Then I snipped the corners of each rectangle (again, not being terribly exact) and folded the raw edges to the back. Snipping the corners makes it look like an envelope fold, sort of. I ironed those down.

Meanwhile, I cut two 5-inch squares for each beanbag. Then I pinned my girls onto the right side of one square--these are the fronts of my beanbags.
I zigzagged around each muslin rectangle to sew them together. Again, I didn't measure or stress about placement here. I just eyeballed it. Here's the main thing you should remember when sewing for kids: they're not judgmental.

Once I had my fronts, I sewed the two sides of each beanbag together, right sides facing, using a smallish straight stitch (between 1 and 2). I left a hole for turning and filling at the bottom of each one, roughly as big as that edge of the muslin rectangle. I used about a quarter-inch seam allowance. Then I turned everything right-side out pressed the raw edges of the opening flat.

Then... time to fill! These are my daughter's beanbags, so of course I invited her to help fill them.

The openings were smallish, so we began with a scoop and funnel, but the beans got stuck in the funnel, so we just used spoons. G, at 2 1/2, was quite adept with the spoon and was able to fill them with no problems. I used just under two one-pound bags of black beans to fill all six beanbags.

(There was a bit of a gap between getting the bags ready to fill and actually filling them because I put the beans in the freezer for three days, on the counter for two, and in the freezer again for three, because have you ever seen a bag of dry beans infested with pantry moths? I have. It's horrifying. The freezer-counter-freezer treatment may not actually accomplish anything, but it makes me feel like I've tried. The beanbags will probably periodically get a time-out in the freezer, just because.)

Once the bags were full, I sewed the opening shut with my machine. Partly this is because G wanted to play with them right away, and it's quicker than slip-stitching them shut by hand, and partly because I think it's a little stronger for beanbags that are meant to be played with. Slip-stitching would have been less visible, for sure, but as I said, kids aren't judgmental.

They fit so nicely in the hand. G decided when each bag was full enough, so some are fuller than others. (The fuller ones, by the way, take a little maneuvering to sew with the machine, but it's completely do-able.)

As soon as they were done, we played.

"This is fun!" says G. Indeed it is.

I didn't make these as a teaching tool--G already knows her colors--but you certainly could. Or you could put numbers on them. Or shapes. Or embroider something else. A set of beanbags is a fine present for a little person you love.


Carolyn said...

They turned out adorable! I once made a nativity set, stuffed with beans for the kids. They loved playing with them each year when we brought them out for Christmas. Then came the year that I pulled them out of the box and they were a mess...little mice had gotten into the box and tried to eat the beans. Suggestion: Don't store them in the attic! :)

Jill said...

She looks like N in that pic. Nice job on the beanbags.

Bells said...

i think they're a lovely idea! So colourful and cute and i bet they make a very satisfying noise! I must write and tell you about the little bags I made the other day.

Rose Red said...

I think kids always love those crafty things they've had a hand in making. She looks like she's having a great time!

Michelle said...

Oh, I love them. I already love beanbags, but the rainbow set and those adorable girls . . . lovely!

(And I just realized Jill is right . . . she DOES look like N in that picture! )

Wendi said...

The beanbags turned out great! My favorite photo is the last one - what a smile!

amy said...

She LOVES them. Thank you so much for the idea, and they were so fun to make!

L.A.C.E. said...

Came over from Wendi's blog. Great job!! You also now have a new follower :D