Shortly after developing my newfound love of Pinterest I discovered a deep love for my sewing machine as well. I’m just amazed that what starts as stray fabric and thread can be transformed into useful (and cute!) items in a short period of time. After making a couple of purse-type bags I dug up the courage to try something new without using a tutorial.
My younger son has some developmental delays and is about to begin early intervention therapy. His delays are thankfully not very extreme but one of the concerns is his low muscle tone. Since his hands are one of the problem areas I thought he might benefit from some bean bags. He likes to pick things up and investigate them very closely so I thought maybe if he had some bean bags that had different textures inside of them he would be interested enough in them to squish them over and over which would help him get more used to using his hands and maybe strengthen them in the process.
My idea was to make a bunch of different bean bags with different shapes and colors with all different fillers that would give varying sensory input when played with. I’ve made three so far and love them so much I thought I’d share how I made them on the blog!
Although I’ve made a few different shapes so far, the one I thought I’d share today is the triangle. The first thing you have to do is pick out the fabric. I used a fabric from my new stash for the outside, and a fabric donated to me by my mother for the liner bag. I’m not entirely sure what it is, but it’s been treated with something, maybe intended to be the backside of curtains? Whatever it’s for it makes the fabric strong but a little slick. Before my mother produced this from her stash I was planning on using plain muslin or and old t-shirt for the liner.
Next you have to make a triangle. There are a few ways to do this. If you carefully squared your fabric can could slice a square diagonally and get two matching triangles. I however, being the math nerd that I am, wanted an equilateral triangle. To do that I measured and marked a 6 in line (you could use any length you like) with pencil, and then marked where the center of that line was. <Super Math Nerd Alert> To know how far to measure up from the center of the line you simply multiply your side length (6 inches in my case) by the (square root of 3) over 2. Ugly and scary? Don’t worry, you can just go here and plug-in your side length and it will tell you how far to measure up from the center of your bottom line(the altitude). For me it was about 5.2 inches. I decided to also use my ruler to draw dotted lines between my three side points to help guide me while sewing. I did this on both the liner and outer fabric pieces.
Now just sew along your dotted lines, being careful to leave 1 1/2-2 inches open for turning the pieces right side out later. I found it was best to leave this space in the middle of a straight seam, away from the corners. Once the bag is sewn cut off the excess fabric leaving about 1/4 inch of fabric from the seam.
Now turn your bags right side out. Using the hole you left open, insert the liner into your outer bag. I inserted mine farther than the picture shows. You need the liner to be unfolded and set right into the outside pouch. I left myself just enough access to the liner opening to make filling it easier.
Now it’s time to fill your bag! I used brown rice for this one. I made a makeshift funnel with a piece of printer paper and tape and it worked great! Just be sure to rescue any bits that fall in between your two bags. And be careful not to overfill, you want it squishy, not stuffed.
Once your bag is filled it’s time to close up your seams. Since I wanted the liner completely sealed and no one will ever see it I just used a very tight overcast stitch. For the outside I used an invisible seam. If you’re not sure how to accomplish that there’s a great tutorial here.
So far I’ve made three bags, all with different stuffings, and I’m hoping to make a few more. Some of the ideas I’ve had for different fillers are beans (of course), rice, dry pasta, beads (can vary the size or variety between bags), corn, and fabric scraps (for a totally different feel).
My son has enjoyed the bags since I gave them to him, and so far the triangle is his favorite. I think it’s because it’s the smallest and easiest to handle. If you decide to make some sensory bean bags of your own please leave a comment and a link to your pictures!