Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Alphabet Bean Bags

One of my September Pinterest Projects was to make an alphabet bean bag set for the boys. I have been obsessed with this project and I'm so excited it's finished! The Husband can't wait to throw them around with the boys. It was actually a pretty lengthy project but I think in the end, all the blood, sweat and tears will be worth it!

alphabet bean bags
Hope you can follow these steps and if you have any difficulties just email me and I'll see what I can do to help!
I decided to use a rainbow of fabrics. Since I made alphabet bean bags, I used 26 different colours. I got lucky because I bought them at a craft festival and they were organized into the rainbow. I just had to add a couple more here and there in order to get the correct amount. You can decide whether you want to go with the rainbow look or if you'd want to use the same fabric for every bean bag. Totally your decision!
I chose to wash my fabric because it is being used by the kids and I figure they'll stick them in their mouths and who knows where else! Once they came out of the washer, I ironed each piece and cut them using a rotary cutter into 5 inch by 5 inch squares. I cut two squares from each colour so that they matched. Therefore, you'll cut 52 squares out.
Now you need to make your letters. At first, I was going to print them off the computer and cut them out but then I remembered my Cricut system that was sitting packed up in the basement. I put in my favourite cartridge, "Cuttin' Up" and cut out the alphabet (uppercase and lowercase for all 26 letters). I cut them out at 3.5 inches so that they fit nicely onto my 5 by 5 inch square.
At first I traced the letters on the fusible web but traced them on the wrong side (doh!) so I had to do it again. I found that the outlines disappeared when I ironed it to the fabric - therefore, iron the fusible web onto the fabric first and then trace the letters!

You need to trace the letters backwards. Cut out all of the letters from the fabric/fusible web combination. At this point, I organized them all into alphabetical order to ensure I had every letter completed.
 Peel the paper backing off the fusible web, place in the center of the 5 by 5 squares and iron. The fusible web should melt and hold the letters onto the fabric.

After the letters have cooled, I decided to teach myself something new. I've always wanted to learn how to sew my applique by doing the zigzag stitch around the fused letter. I found this tutorial that I used to teach myself this step.
I then took the uppercase and lowercase letter, matched them so they were facing one another (the good sides in, the bad sides out) and pinned the sides. I then sewed around the four sides, but left an opening so that I could turn them back around. I also back stitched the areas around the opening so that it was a little sturdier.

I turned them inside-out (very gently) and admired my handiwork!
The Husband and I discussed different types of fillings for the bags. We thought about the styrofoam filling they use in bean bag chairs but decided they would be too light. We also thought about actual beans but with kids we weren't sure the beating it would take (i.e. drool). Therefore, we went with the expensive option of polyfil pellets (little plastic balls essentially). I suggest you use a Michaels coupon and buy one bag at a time!

Filling the beanbags turned into quite a production. The Husband is quite the mathematical guy so we figured out that with the 3 bags that I had we could fill each bean bag with 3.25 ounces of beads (hence the scale in the picture). It made each beanbag a decent size and I still have some left over!
The next step is a little tricky. Since the sewing was done on the inside of the beanbag, I wanted to continue with an invisible stitch so that you wouldn't see where I had filled the beanbag. Again, I headed onto the Internet to see what I could find to teach me this step. I came across this blog. I admit, I had to read the instructions a couple of times and I even had to practice on one of the beanbags. This part took a chunk of time and some I had to restitch in order to ensure they were solidly sewed.
There are also YouTube videos if you look up "invisible stitch"!
That's it! They are that simple!
Here are some pictures of the finished product:

alphabet bean bags


 J had a great time running around the room and throwing them. He's able to identify all of the letters in his name so we're going to keep practicing that. We can also use them to eventually spell other words, more letter recognition, lowercase and uppercase letter recognition and even colours! Right now though, they are fun to throw around and practice balancing on our heads.
I think that constitutes them as a hit!
What do you think?
P.S. The Husband has a whole list of what I should make next (i.e. numbers, mathematical signs, grammatical signs, etc.). I think I'll take a break and go back to them once Baby Boy #2 arrives!
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