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Inspired Advent: Day 8

Nan Free Tutorial Inspiration

Everyone loves bean bags! Especially ones made from fine linen and Liberty fabric! Bean bags make quick and easy gifts, they are also a great way to use those small but special fabric scraps you can’t throw away – like your Liberty and linen.

There are two types of bean bags we like to make at Bolt & Spool – one is a pyramid bean bag and the other is a traditional Japanese otedama bag.


The Pyramid Bean Bag:

Kids as young as 6 or 7 can easily make the pyramid bags without much help.

Liberty lawn and Japanese linen pyramid bean bag


Cut 3″ squares of fabric and place two with right sides together.

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Using 1/4″ seam allowance, stitch around three sides by hand using a very small running stitch or backstitch (…or with a machine if you are in as big a hurry as I am writing this blog). Trim corners as shown.

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Turn your creation right side out and use a turning tool or chopstick to open the corners. Fill with rice, lentils or other beany-type thing. : ) Then fold your seam allowances in 1/4″ and pin so that the corners meet as shown, not flat. Pin the opening and stitch closed.

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The Otedama Bag

The traditional Japanese otedama bag is a bit trickier to stitch up until you do one or two and then they are easy too!

Liberty lawn and Merchant & Mills linen otedama bag


Start by cutting four strips of fabric 1 3/4″ x 2 1/2″ long.

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Mark the centers as shown:

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Lay your strips out as shown right sides together:

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Using 1/8″ seam allowance and a small running stitch or, better yet, a backstitch (yes, by hand! and certainly tiny enough so that your stuffing doesn’t gooze out!) matching up the letters as shown in the diagram. Make sure you have good knots at the beginnings and endings or your bag could come undone. First stitch from A to B. For B to C you need to fold your top fabric at your mark and stitch around the corner. From C to D fold the bottom fabric up and stitch up so that the corners meet. You will see you have now formed the first half of the cube. Repeat with the second set of strips.

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Here’s how they will look:

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Yikes! How do you fit them together? Here is the easiest way I know how. With right side out, hold them together how they will look when they are done and then flip the one inside out over the other so that right sides are together. Sew the two together matching corners and the markings as you go.

Otedama bag step

Leave one side open and fill with rice or lentils or whatever(!). Turn the open seam allowances to the inside and pin. Stitch your opening closed and you’re done!


To Gift:

Make four or five bean bags, wrap them up with these instructions for bean bag games for a great gift!

Here is one idea for packaging…

paint cans

I got these new paint tins at my local Ace Hardware Store (and there’s my dear friend Tiffany who works in the wallpaper department…right on their homepage!). They were $1.99 and make the ideal thing to toss your bags into as a game!

I then decorated them with beautiful Snow & Graham gift wrap I bought from my friend Durga at Patra Designs on Chagrin Blvd. in Orange Village and dressed it up with ribbon from Bolt & Spool, of course! Paint cans never had it so good!

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Here are a few games to play with your new beanbags! (these are the same as the pdf file above)

Otedama: This is the original Japanese juggling game in which small bean bags are tossed and juggled in a game similar to jacks. Here is a link to a You-Tube video on how to play.

Juggling:  Here is a link to a video that shows you how to juggle with three bean bags.

Hopscotch: The first player tosses the marker (typically a stone, coin or bean bag) into the first square. The marker must land completely within the designated square and without touching a line or bouncing out. The player then hops through the course, skipping the square with the marker in it. Single squares must be hopped on one foot. For the first single square, either foot may be used. Side by side squares are straddled, with the left foot landing in the left square, and the right foot landing in the right square. Optional squares marked “Safe”, “Home”, or “Rest” are neutral squares, and may be hopped through in any manner without penalty. After hopping into the “Safe”, “Home”, or “Rest” the player must then turn around and return through the course (square 9, then squares 8 and 7, next square 6 and so forth) on one or two legs depending on the square until he or she reaches the square with their marker. They then must retrieve their marker and continue the course as stated without touching a line or stepping into a square with another player’s marker.

Upon successfully completing the sequence, the player continues the turn by tossing the marker into square number two, and repeating the pattern.

If, while hopping through the court in either direction, the player steps on a line, misses a square, or loses balance, the turn ends. Players begin their turns where they last left off. The first player to complete one course for every numbered square on the court wins the game.


Beanbag “bowling” (knock the cans over!): stack up three (or more) big empty cans in a pyramid and see how many you can knock over at once. The giant cans from Costco work the best.

Beanbag basketball: set up a bucket or series of buckets and try to make as many baskets as you can in a row from a particular distance. Once you get good, stand further away and try! (You may need to make more bean bags for this one!)

Balancing: place the beanbag on your head and try to do things without letting it slip off! Try walking, standing on one leg, dancing, hula hooping, or even jumping. Have a contest with your friends to see who can last the longest doing something without the bag falling of your heads!

Think up some of your own games to play!

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