Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Alphabet Bean Bag Tutorial

Well, I admittedly still haven't completely finished this project, but I did finish enough to show you how to do it yourself and with a brand new baby at home now I'm not sure when I'll get the chance to go all the way from A to Z. So (finally) here's the bean bag tutorial I've been promising! But before I begin I must give credit for my inspiration. I thought of making these out of my t-shirt scraps after I saw the letter bean bag tutorial on lil blue boo. Click here to see it. Hers look much more professional and trendy. Perhaps someday I will be cool like that. For now, here's my own little recycled version. Enjoy!

Okay, remember these?

If not, feel free to go check out my t-shirt grocery bag tutorial. Don't worry, I'll wait.


Okay, done with your t-shirt bag(s)? Excellent. Now, wouldn't you like to do something splendid with that pile of left over sleeves you have? Me too. Let's make some bean bags. With letters on them, please.

Start by making a template. (Mine is that dark blue rectangle. It measures 3 1/2 inches by 4 inches. I just made that template freehand, but it turned out to be the perfect size for getting the right amount of rectangles out of all those sleeves.)

Okay, next, take one of your sleeves and lay it out nicely like this.

Then fold it over like this.

Then place your template on top of it like this. (Sorry for the poor picture quality. Not sure what happened.) Go ahead and cut it out. It'll give you four new rectangles. I didn't bother pinning for this. You may also be able to cut some rectangles out of the left overs from the necklines. Like that picture at the beginning of the tutorial. (No, not the picture of the finished t-shirt bags, the one below that. Yeah, that one.) Just place your template on it wherever you can get a rectangle out of it. That only worked with a few of my necklines. Okay, enough about the neckline scraps. Boring! Let's move on.

Keep cutting. And cutting. And cutting. And soon you'll have a pile like mine. Yay! (Don't worry, you don't need this many. In fact, you only need 52. However, I recommend having 54 if possible so you can make a sample bean bag to practice on so you don't run the risk of ruining one with a carefully-made letter on it. You'll understand in a minute.

Now it's time for the alphabet. Grab a pencil and write the letters on the bean bags. Again, I just did this freehand, but if you're nervous about that I'm sure you could use a template of some kind. I'm just not that patient. Don't worry about the pencil showing. It won't.

Next, do a tight (very close together) zigzag stitch over the letter you wrote. (I strongly recommend doing a few practice stitches on a scrap of t-shirt fabric before actually doing your letters. This will allow you to make sure your zigzag is tight enough to make a solid-looking line.) Don't forget to back stitch! These will be played with, so you'll want them to be durable.

A word of caution: beware the zigzags getting bunched up and making your needle stuck. (That ruined a few letters for me and I had to do them over again. Some of them I figured were still good enough and I used them anyway, but they are, admittedly, a little funky.) One way to try and avoid this tragedy is to not start from the same place that you started from/ stopped at previously. For instance, if you're making the horizontal parts on the letter E, start from the right instead of from the vertical line you've already made on the left. I hope that makes sense. If not please say so and I'll try to clarify.

Here are some pictures of the letters I made:

Okay, moving on.

Next, pin your uppercase A and lowercase a right sides together.

Sew most of the way around the edges.

Trim corners. Be careful not to snip too close to the stitching or it could make your corners weak. And you certainly don't want that. Then turn your bean bag right side out. Edge stitch around the edge (was that necessary for me to say?) for a more finished look. This will also make the final step on finishing your bean bags more quick since you can do it on the sewing machine instead of having to hand stitch all those little holes closed. Thanks lil blue boo for that tip!

Now fill your bean bag with beans! I made a paper funnel out of some cardstock and a piece of tape. So easy.


Pin your hole closed (saves on sanity) and stitch across the hole. And you're done!

Unfortunately, I am not (done, that is). When I am I promise to post some lovely pictures of all my fun alphabet bean bags. In the mean time you can all work on your own. If you make any please be sure to share! Thanks everyone! Have a great day!


Lisa Lou said...

Man, Olivia better really like those things and not just spit up on them and stuff.

Lindsay said...

Such talent! They're turning out really cute!

Kathy Haynie said...

Very instructive! I especially like the idea of putting upper case on one side and lower case on the other. And the trick about edge-stitching around the outside is genius. Thank you!

Lckevan said...

So cute. I never even thought to embroider the letters on the bean bags...I made 26 mysefl that are still waiting for the letters to be painted. Don't know if it will ever happen!

Kama said...

Just made some bean bags the other day (my mom is currently stuffing them with rice). Didn't top stitch them, so I'll have to hand sew them closed. :( Mine was some old Alphabet/word/picture fabric that I backed in all different colors. Lots of fun!!

Anne said...

Awesome idea!! This would be a great use for all of the scraps of t-shirt knit I have left over from refashions.

I linked to your tutorial on Craft Gossip Sewing:


Anonymous said...

Thank you, this was a well written tutorial. I think this is a great idea. When I make it, I will probably use fabric paint, but I have a huge pile of t-shirts just waiting for a project.

Jana said...

I love this idea-I'm always on the lookout for fun things to make out of old t-shirts.

Kama said...

Finished my ABC bean bags and posted a picture to my blog. Be sure and check it out! :)

Un-Idle Hands said...

I LOVE this!!! Do you think that glueing fabric cutout letter on the bags would holdup? im a horrible sewer, lol...but i really really like the extra touch the outer stitch gives it! along with making it easier to finish!! So excited to try this project!!!