This tutorial has been on my mind for quite some time now… since Christmas of last year actually. At that time I had made Noah a set of numbered bean bags following the freezer paper method that I saw on Lil Blue Boo. She’s got a great tutorial for it there, so I’m not going to repeat it. I printed out my alphabet on the freezer paper at the same time as I printed the numbers. I never finished cutting them out though, because it was very, very tedious and not something that I had the time or patience for… even before Abby was born. So my stack of fabric just sat there for months.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago when a local store had a sale on the Cricut Expression. I have been drooling after it for almost a year and although I had told myself it would be my reward for completing school, I had to buy it now because this price was too good to pass up!
Now I had never seen an infomercial for this device… all that I knew was that I had many projects in mind that I could use it for. When my mom and sister told me that it cut fabric, angels sang and the light bulb glowed brightly over my head! Alright… maybe not literally, but you get what I mean. I read up about cutting fabric, got the necessities and set to work.
(Side note… if you are going to cut fabric with the Cricut, you want to make sure that you starch the living daylights out of your fabric before ironing on the fusible backing (aka Heat n Bond). Also if you want to stitch over the appliquéd piece, use the Heat n Bond light and not the heavy duty stuff… it is a pain in the rear trying to get a needle through it! I not only used my Expression to cut out the alphabet, but also used it to cut out the appliqué for Noah’s birthday shirt… so let’s just say I’m talking from experience!)
**I first cut out a set of lowercase and a set of uppercase letters using my Cricut.
**Next, I added the letters to my stack of 6″x6″ fabric squares.
**After I did that, I laid out1 “bag” on my ironing board and centered a letter on each piece of fabric…
**I then ironed the letters onto the fabric (see the instructions on the fusible backing to see what settings you need for this)
(And to answer your question, yes… I had a towel underneath my fabric. My ironing board cover had seen better days and was so thin that whenever I would iron something, I would get the pattern of the metal bars ironed into my fabric… the towel just gave me a little padding and I have since bought a new cover!)
**After the stack was ironed and fused, I got out my pins and pinned each set of letters – right sides together… and then sewed them up, making sure that I left a 2″-3″ opening on one side of the fabric. I clipped the corners, turned the bags right side out and ironed them again before filling them. I used a 1 cup mixture of pinto and navy beans to fill the bags, because I liked the way the different sizes felt… (unfortunately I forgot to take pictures of this… oops)
** After you have filled the bags, pin the opening shut. Then either hand sew or machine sew it closed.
(I hand sewed the numbered bean bags and took out the machine for the lettered ones.)
** I tried to sew as close to the edge as possible and double stitched it, just to give it a little added strength.
** That’s it… now you can enjoy them, just remember… if you use real beans to fill them, they can’t get wet!
Just a note… I made my bean bags a little larger than others I have seen online… 6×6 with a 1/2″ seam allowance, so I added one cup of the bean mixture to each bag (this ended up filling the bag about half way). I didn’t realize just how many beans I would end up using and made 2 trips to the store to stock up so that I could finish them in time for Noah’s birthday! Also, we’ve been playing with the bags daily for almost 3 weeks and I’ve noticed some of the letters starting to peel off the fabric. I will use liquid stitch to adhere them again, but if I were to do it over again I would probably use the Heat n Bond light to fuse the letters onto the fabric and then stitch over them for added strength.
Overall, I love how they turned out and more importantly, Noah loves them. He has fun throwing them around and I love using them as practice tools for both his colors and letters.
I hope this tutorial was helpful! If you decide to make a set, please let me know… I’d love to see them!
EDIT 3/2012: We have been using these bean bags for the past few years and though we don’t use them daily, they have been holding up very well. I’ve had no other issues with the letters since then either.
14 thoughts on “Alphabet Bean Bag Tutorial”
these are awesome!! can i ask what you use them for? I just made an actual BEAN BAG GAME set of bags for hubby. but i already split a bunch open… i guess i need a better seem. i used duckcloth and that stuff shreds, so i think my seam was … well, i don’t know.
anyway, i love the idea. i have the old school basic cricut so i wonder if mine can cut fabric too!
Thanks! I made them mostly for Noah to play with here at home – tossing into buckets and just around in general, as well as to learn his ABC’s and colors.
I’m not the expert seamstress, but my guess is that you need to do a double seam with maybe a zigzag on the outer one… but who knows, I know a friend of mine who made her own bags for THE GAME had the same problem as you, with them splitting open.
As for the fabric cutting. I think both machines use the same blade, so you should be able to… works best with a new blade and mat… maybe I’ll have to do a tutorial on that too 😉
They turned out amazing!
I had no idea the cricut cut fabric.
Really nice. Love the idea.:) Question.. what could you use in place of the beans? Have a wonderful day.:)
Thanks for stopping by. To answer your question, I’m sure you could use the plastic beads/beans that are used in the bean bag chairs. Hope that helps =)
That is a great idea. Wonder where you could get those? Thanks.:)
I really wish I had found this tutorial when the kids were itties! So great!
These are so cute – thanks for a great tutorial!!!
Great tutorial. My 5 year old and 2 year old will love these. And it will help me get rid of some scraps that have been hanging around.
I tutor kindergarten for reading and I love this idea! Rice would be another option for filler. The kids always love to learn when it’s fun!
So cute – I am going to try and make a set of these this weekend – I think I am going to stamp the letters using ink or paint with (foam letter stamps)
I LOVE these. I’m linking up to this tutorial on my Children’s Literacy blog. Thank you so much for sharing. Stop by sometime.
In regards to the Cricut and cutting your fabric – what did you find is your best depth and speed? I’m still working on finding a good setting for mine.
I used these settings:
Hope that helps you!