How to Make Bean Bags

several DIY bean bags in a rainbow of colors

The Spruce / Mollie Johanson

Overview
  • Total Time: 60 mins
  • Skill Level: Kid-friendly
  • Estimated Cost: $2 per bean bag

DIY bean bags are a simple sewing project that's perfect for kids learning to sew, as well as to give as a customized gift. As long as you're just making square bean bags, all you have to do is sew straight lines. But it's also fairly easy to make some more creative shapes. Plus, making your own bean bags for juggling, cornhole, and other games is often more economical than getting store-bought bean bags. And you get to choose exactly what your bean bags look like. You can adapt these bean bags in many ways, changing the size, shape, and materials as needed. But the basic sewing process remains the same. Sewing a set of up to 10 bean bags should take you about an hour or less. 

Tip

Choose your fabric weight based on the intended use of the bean bags. For gentle play, quilting cotton works great. But if you plan on using them for slightly rougher games like cornhole, use a heavier weight fabric, such as twill. 

bean bag tools and supplies
The Spruce / Mollie Johanson

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Ruler
  • Cutting mat
  • Rotary cutter
  • Straight pins
  • Sewing machine or needle
  • Scissors
  • Measuring cup

Materials

  • Fabric (for the outer shell)
  • Muslin (for the insert)
  • Thread that matches the outer shell fabric
  • Dried beans

Instructions

  1. Cut the Fabric and Muslin Squares

    Start by cutting the fabric and muslin. Cut two pieces of fabric and two pieces of muslin for each bean bag you are making.

    The bean bags in this tutorial use 4 1/2-inch fabric squares and 4-inch muslin squares. But you can adjust these dimensions to the size you need. They don't even need to be square. The important thing is the muslin pieces for the inserts should always be 1/2 inch smaller than the fabric for the outer shell.

    cutting bean bag fabric
    The Spruce / Mollie Johanson
  2. Sew the Inserts and Outer Shells

    Lay two matching fabric pieces on top of each other with the right sides of the fabric together. Align the edges as close as possible. Then, do the same with two muslin pieces. Pin the layers to keep them in place.

    Using a sewing machine or a needle and thread, sew around the edges but leave a large opening on one side. Be sure to backstitch at the beginning and end of the sewing. Use your scissors to clip the fabric at each sewn point, but be careful not to cut the thread. This simply helps the fabric lay in the corners a little smoother. Carefully turn the outer shell and muslin insert right side out. Push out the corners.

    Repeat this process until you've sewn all of your fabric and muslin pieces.

    sewing bean bag insert and outer shell
    The Spruce / Mollie Johanson
  3. Fill the Bean Bag Inserts

    Add beans to the muslin inserts. Use as many or as few as you need to reach the weight and feel you want, but avoid overstuffing them. Also, aim to use the same amount of beans in each bean bag. 

    These 4-inch inserts each hold about 1/2 cup of beans.

    filling the insert with beans
    The Spruce / Mollie Johanson
  4. Finish the Bean Bag Inserts

    Once your muslin insert is filled with beans, fold the seam allowance at the opening down into the bag. Push the beans away from the opening, and sew it shut. Don't worry about how it looks because you won't see it once it is in the beanbag. Repeat this with all of your muslin inserts.

    Next, slide each insert into a bean bag shell. Make sure it lies flat within the outer shell.

    placing the insert in the bean bag outer shell
    The Spruce / Mollie Johanson
  5. Sew the Bean Bags Shut

    Just like you did with the muslin inserts, fold the seam allowance at the opening down into each outer shell. Pin the opening shut, so it stays in place while you sew.

    Sew around the entire bean bag about a 1/8 inch from the edge. Carefully pull out the pins as you sew, so you don't sew over them. This topstitching closes off the opening while giving the bean bags a finished edge.

    topstitching to close the bean bag
    The Spruce / Mollie Johanson