14 October 2010

Bean Bags

Almost everyone who comes into my office asks about my little pile of bean bags.

These little beauties are an essential piece of my ability to stay organized.

Since my job requires me to tackle several large projects at once, working on each one separately and incrementally, I often have about six piles of papers and books going.  When I put a bean bag on top of a pile, it is like putting a lid on the project for the time being.  And having the bean bag on top of the pile stops me from adding random things (the mail, things from other projects, etc) to the stack.  Sometimes I add a post-it note next to the bean bag to remind myself what comes next in the project.  I almost always move the stack to an open piece of shelf so that I can have a clean desk, which helps me to focus.

Want to make some?  Here's how I do it:

1.  Round up some scraps of fabric. 

2.  Iron the fabric.  with bigger scraps, fold them in half length-wise, right-sides together, and press the fold.  with smaller scraps, pair them up and pin the right-sides together.

3. Trim the fabrics down to something rectangular. If you are using lighter weight fabrics (voile, some chambrays) you may want to double-up the fabric or cut a piece of muslin to the same size to use as a liner.  If you wanted to use the bean bags in a "toss" game or let a shild play with them, I would definitely double-up the fabric.

4. Sew around the edges of the fabric as in the picture below, taking extra care with the corners and leaving a 1" opening.

5. Press the seam on the side with the opening open.  This will help you get a neat edge in step 8.

6. Turn the bags right-side out, gently push out the corners (I use a pointy chopstick).

7. Fill with dry bean or rice.

8. Hand-stitch the bean bag closed.

9.  Enjoy!


  1. These are so cute! What a great idea to put them on top of a pile of papers so you don't add anything else on top! I stack my piles all them time to move them out of the way and then can't find anything.

  2. That is a great idea! I think I need about a million of them since I have a feeling they would disappear into a child's hand quite quickly.

  3. They are so cute! I might just make some for the kids to play with. I have just started reading your blog and love it!

  4. Brilliant! I'm making some of these this weekend for my desk. Thanks for the tutorial!

    Jennifer :)

  5. *sew* simple~yet purposeful!
    i have a sewing giveaway going on if you wanna check it out

  6. Oh, my gosh! This is such a cute and very useful office idea! I may whip some up this very evening to take to work with me tomorrow morning. I may threaten to toss them at annoying people who come by my office with "opportunities," too. Just kidding.

    It's funny to run across this today, because I'm just about to record a podcast episode and my topic today is "Necessity, Meet Invention." (well, it'll be either that or the more boring-but-more-descriptive "Solutions-Based Sewing.") I think I'll give this a mention if you don't mind. Thanks!!

  7. Loving the Little Princess VHS!

  8. We play a game here in Cincinnati called "cornhole" (terrible name, I know) and it's similar to horseshoes but played with boards that have a hole in them and players toss bean bags to get them in the holes for points. Bean bags around here are a statement - whether it's your school colors, your favorite team colors, or just a print or color that represents you, it's pretty serious business here. Great instructions!

  9. What a great idea! Can't wait to make some myself.

  10. What a terrific idea! Using your bean bag trick would help me feel more organized - even though I need to leave "stuff" out in my sewing room. I'm looking forward to making these, but will have to think of some clever embroidery to decorate the bean bag tops with!


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