Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Ispy Bag Tutorial

I know you have seen them, you have probably made them.  Really, I just haven't done a tutorial in a while and really wanted to spend a huge chunk of my night at the computer chronicling something. 

***BTW, if you have trouble reading my funny script, please read it here without the photos.  I have posted just the text to make up for the small print.***

 This project was a special request for our Craft Super Saturday. Seems to be there are ladies out there dying for something quiet for their children to do during church.  The whole idea behind these bags- there is a list of objects hidden beneath thousands of poly-pellet beads.  In our fondest imaginations, children would spend hours (we know it'll  really only be minutes), searching through the beads to find each item on the list.  Did I mention that they would do their searching in a very silent manner?  'Cause they will :0) Totally silent.

I read several sewing forums, blogs and miscellaneous instructions sites to gather what was the best way to make an I Spy Bag.  The following way is my own combination of how to do it.
I chose to piece the top together.  I could mass produce them easier that way, plus I think it looks nicer.
I loved the label printed directly on the bag.  I actually have a bag from about 6 years ago.  It has a huge tag dangling from a rope attached to the corner of the bag.  There is not anything much more annoying to an obsessive compulsive person than a huge tag dangling, all torn and beat up, with holes all over it from where it ripped off the thing attaching it.  I am hoping this sewn-on label will be more soothing to me  I mean.. my children :0)
 Without any more nonsensical babble, here we go...

1/4 yd fabric (that actually makes 3 bags)

1/8yd plastic (actually makes around 11 bags)

misc. items-between 20 and 40-your preference

One label- with or without pictures

Heat-n-bond (the featherlight, not heavy duty, for machine sewing) 
if you are going to attach the label to the bag

1 bag Polly Pellets-I found these in the general craft area of Joanns-not by the batting like I first looked.  The bag has 7 cups in it (at least the one I bought).  For this size of bag I used 2-2 1/2 cups of beads.

Sewing machine, thread

Cutting your fabric this way works well if you have a design that is directional.  My red fabric has words on it.  Because I cut my strips horizontal, then vertical, I was able to piece it back together in a way that all the fabric pieces were right-side-up.  Just remember to watch for that when you are piecing the strips to the plastic :0)

Click HERE for the recipe and Beckie's instructions for the Homemade Bubble Jet
p.s.The freezer paper thing sooooo did not work for me.  I really recommend using Heat-n-Bond or Wonder Under!!!

One big note here-CUT ALL YOUR THREADS BEFORE TURNING INSIDE OUT!!!  I didn't do a very good job and now have long threads swimming around with the beads.  I won't tell you that I thought I had pompoms at home, and didn't, and ended up sewing the bags up without them so I can have the samples ready for Sunday.  Since I have to open them anyway, I guess I will go in and cut the threads then.  Don't make that mistake like me, cut your loose threads!

You want to make sure to pick things that don't have a sharp edge.  Besides the obvious safety issues, they can poke a hole in the plastic.  I picked a screw, but found one with a flat end to avoid holes in the bag.  I included things like safety pins, but squeezed a drop of hot glue in the opening to keep the pin from coming open during play.  Other things I hot glued, the bow made of ribbon-to keep it from coming undone, the spool of thread-on the end of the thread to keep it from unraveling, the barrettes-to keep them closed.  You get the idea.

Other spins on this bag:
All alphabet, number and color beads to make it totally pre-school
All dinosaurs, all different types
Numbers and +, -, x, /  use it like a math magic 8 ball making different number problems to solve
You could even put one puzzle in there.  They can try to put it back together in the beads.

I did throw in some really impossible things due to the fact the bags are for any age.  We have a huge box of colored rice we use as an indoor sandbox.  I pulled a couple grains of that out.  I know Eli would get a kick out of trying to find the rice grains in all those plastic beads.

*note* you could save money and use rice instead of the pellets.  However, your bag will not be washable.  Something to think about.  One other spin is to skip all the sewing and throw it all in water bottle or 2-liter soda bottle.  Then you can use the rice and not worry about the water-proof issue :0)
Happy Crafting!

This Project was linked up here:

Beyond The Picket Fence

Get your craft on Thurs.

This project was Featured HERE!


  1. LOVE this! I was going to make some of these a different way, and am so glad I found yours! Thanks for sharing!

  2. awwww Love it! another project on my "to do" list, my kids are so not still at church every Sunday, I think I will have to make about 50 of these hehe....great job! and looking forward to make them

  3. Nice tutorial. I may have to try this real soon! Where did you get the poly pellets?
    blessed.mama4 at yahoo dot com

  4. WOW! I just made I Spy bags this week, too! Cute, cute! Thanks for the tutorial!

  5. i think this tutorial is fabulous, and I'm totally bookmarking it for my kids! Just wanted to let ya know I featured you on my blog today!!

  6. I've been wanting to make one of these forever, so this will actually give me some direction! Thanks!

  7. Thanks for the tutorial! Just found your blog..I'm now a new follower!!!:)

  8. What a fabulous tutorial!! I bought one of these for my daughter when she was about 2. She is almost 4 and still plays with it! I was planning on buying a boy one for my son when he got a little older (he's only 5 months right now) but maybe I will make one instead! What a GREAT tutorial! Thanks so much!

    I host a Friday link party I would love for you to come join if you are interested!

    Have a great week and thanks for the inspiration!

  9. Thanks for the tut! I was going to make some of these for Christmas and wasn't quite sure where to start! I was also going to use rice, but hadn't thought about the whole washable thing. Thanks again!

  10. These are adorable. They would keep children so busy during church. I was thinking that they would be great for car trips, also. I plan on making them for my grandchildren for Christmas as a little extra gift. I will put different items in each one and then they can trade once they have found all of the items in their bag. Thank you so much for your tutorial. Great idea!

  11. Cute idea, and I can't wait to make some. The script is very hard to read on my screen - expecially the numbers. I will try to figure out what's going on from the pictures.

  12. I wanted to make a prinable like you made. However the link for homemade bubble jet paper doesn't work. Can you email me the instructions or post then here. My email is thanks. Love this idea. I'm going to make them for party favors for my son's 3rd birthday party. I got a large bag of abc buttons and shapes I'm going to use.

    1. Thank you so much for letting me know! I would hate to have a link that doesn't work any more. I have updated the link above, but you can find the information here:

      Hope that helps. Good luck!

  13. Hi! I like the way you attach the items to find by SEWING them on! Very good tutorial! May I link to it on my starting blog?
    Thanks! Eva

    1. You sure can Eva. Good luck with your blog!

      The Sew*er, The Caker, The Copycat Maker


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