Saturday, January 16, 2010

Adorable Alphabet Beanbags

More beans bags

My five-year-old has known her alphabet for years now, is doing a fabulous job of sounding out short words, and generally is well on her way to true literacy... except, she doesn't know the order of the alphabet! Whoops. How did we fail to teach this concept? Clearly, not nearly enough singing of the ABC song, for one thing. But when I realized about two weeks ago that she can't put letters in alphabetical order (or sing the alphabet song for her brother without confusing him mightily), I was madly brainstorming ways to help her get her mind around this concept.

Serendipity! That very day, I was reading Craft: Magazine's blog (required reading if you are any kind of crafter, or even if you just admire them), and they were highlighting a project from Holly of Chez Beeper Bebe for counting bean bags with appliqued numbers on them. Oh my! Here is the complete tutorial with downloadable instructions and everything (wow, thanks, Holly!). I never cease to be amazed by the generosity and creativity of folks out here in ones-and-zeros-land.

Bean bags

So, obviously I changed them up a bit, because our goal is letters and not numbers. So instead of ten, I have twenty-six. And I decided that drawing the letters free-hand would make them a little cozier (the teenager says "more human-looking"). I had a blast using up a bunch of fabric scraps left over from the quilt I made for my mom, and adding in a few others we had lying around. (The red-on-white print with little doggies is leftover from a pair of overalls my mom made for my brother circa 1971. Love it!) What a clever way to use scraps that are too small for most projects! I decided to make the letter backgrounds out of leftover linen (I knew I saved those oddly-shaped scraps for a good cause!), and used black-eyed peas for the "stuffing," since they were on sale.

Black-eyed peas!

Since I had the fabric lying around, my only costs were the fusible webbing (of which I have lots leftover and will definitely use again), and the beans. So, like $6. Not bad. They feel absolutely wonderful in the hands... between the natural texture of the linen and the delicious scrunch of the beans, they really are a delight.

Oh yeah, and the kids love them. I mean, love them. There is something so remarkable about acquiring a new plaything that has been made by hand. They have been anticipated while the making was going on (all week long I've been getting inquiries, "when do you think they'll be done? If you had to guess?"), and somehow, the child just seems to know how much love went into their making.

Many thanks again to Holly for the inspiration. I have a feeling this is just the beginning of a bean bag boom in our house -- already I'm getting requests for numbers, more letters ("so we can make words!"), and animals. And colors. Oh my. I'd better get busy.

Pile o' bean bags


  1. LOVE THESE, too! Absolutely precious. My girls would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE these. I have to get through some projects for our upcoming "Red Bird Birthday," but then I want to give these a whirl. Really, really darling.

  2. So cool! I made bean bags out of old jeans many years ago and they are still used regularly at our house! Love the appliques!

  3. That is too funny because bean bag alphabet has been on my to-make list for ages. My boys have not learned their alphabets yet, but are on their way. And thanks to the comment from StephLand for reusing jeans.

  4. Those are lovely! Glad to have stumbled upon your little corner of the blogosphere.

  5. what an adorable project! You've inspired me to put some fabric together for some for my twins. What a sweet blog too. My first visit.

  6. I love seeing how many different games the kids have come up with to play with these. So true how a simple toy can really unleash the creativity! We truly have been having a blast with them. And as I said, the tutorial from Chez Beeper Bebe is truly excellent.

  7. Oh I am just thinking about making each child's name using these - then they can learn to spell their name as well as have something safe to throw about the room! Lovely

  8. I love these! Great fabrics, also. Bean bags are on my project list. I'm not sure I have the stamina for twenty six, so I might actually do the number ones.