A study of stitches

The word that is so frequently used when talking about making a bean bag is strength. Because it’s about creating an object that needs to withstand a considerable amount of pressure it’s easy to see why that word is key. It’s about selecting a durable fabric, a good quality thread and finally you need suitable stitches. Sewing a bean bag with hand stitches is not totally impossible but it’s not advisable. Making it on a machine will ensure a nice smooth and ‘strong’ line of work that can only add to the life of your piece. However, a few hand stitches are worth knowing as they will be useful during the construction stages.

Stitch 2

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Filed under How-To, Sewing, Tips

Looking at thread

It’s a strange fact in sewing but it’s so easy to get excited about fabric and give no thought to the thread we use. But when you think about it it’s the thread that literally keeps our handiwork together! So no matter how beautiful the cloth, or how stylish the design, using incorrect thread can ruin everything. Like most sewers the lessons I’ve learnt in sewing have come through some costly mistakes, and using the wrong thread is definitely one of them. In my sewing infancy I remember making a stretch knit dress and stitching it together with cotton thread only to have the garment start snapping apart as I started to walk!! That was a costly and embarrassing experience. And it happened because in my eagerness to get sewing I dipped my hand into my sewing box and pulled out pretty much whatever thread I found!

my threads

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Filed under How-To, Tips

Choosing Your Bean Bag Fabric

One of the aspects of sewing my own bean bag that I really enjoy is that I can choose my favourite colour fabric. With ready-made furnishings it’s all down to what is on offer but as a sewer I can be really creative. If the local store only sells bean bags in quiet neutral colours I’m not obligated to run with their selection. Instead, if I choose, I can pack a colour punch with lime greens, bright yellows, strong purples or a vibrant red. I can even create a patchwork effect using a selection of primary shades in one bean bag.

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Filed under How-To

How do I wash my bean bag?

When I started to give away bean bags I was asked a number of time “How do I wash my bean bag?”. Because I was the one that made the bean bag and I was quite familiar about the characteristics of the fabrics that I had used, it was quite a easy task. All you need to know is the right match-up between the cleaning technique and the bean bag material.

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Filed under general, How-To, Tips

Outdoor bean bags

Outdoor bean bags are more than ever now being used instead of more traditional outdoor furniture, such as benches, chairs and swimming pool beds. Some of the reasons for this gradual change is because outdoor bean bags last long, they are easy to manage, clean, are budget friendly. Another plus is that they can also be used indoors as well.

If you’re interested in buying an outdoor bean bag and are confused between the differences between indoor and outdoor types, read on.

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Filed under general

Announcement: A brief hiatus

A couple of weeks ago I posted that my bean bag patterns were in the process of being put together. I’m proud to say that currently, I have a rough draft of the bean bag patterns containing illustrations (I originally had photos, but I found the pictures a bit too harsh and hard to follow) and diagrams that I am happy with. The bean bag patterns are looking quite good so far, but need a couple more fixes until they are just right. Just to be sure, I will be spending the next couple of weeks tweaking them until I’m satisfied.

In the meantime, I’ll be taking a brief hiatus from posting so that I can concentrate on finish off the patterns . I’m currently looking at making two bean bag patterns, and plus one with an invisible zip variation (so three patterns in total). Hopefully, I’ll be done within the next couple of weeks or so.

I hope you’ll be able to enjoy them once they’re ready.

Until then!

Jo Nguyen

Jo Nguyen

Filed under Announcement

The sewing machine I use

I sometimes get asked as to what sort of sewing machine I use when I sew. I own three machines, a industrial sewing machine, an industrial overlocker and an IKEA sewing machine. The first two were central to my family’s livelihood for over two decades (I used to have more but I gave them away to family). The IKEA machine was something that I picked up recently, I was at IKEA and wondered what they would like – it’s quite cute! For actual sewing, I predominately use the industrial sewing machine, seeing as it’s always set up and ready to go. This is the machine that you see in my video. Juki Sewing Machine Read full story »

Filed under About Me, Tips

Once people make the decision to start sewing a bean bag and go to their local arts/craft/fabric store, some of the questions which are common are about the material, thread and zip. Admittedly, other than ensuring that is a Safety Zip, and that it is the right length for the project it ends there. But back on the shelf, you might find a type of zip called the Invisible Zip. These are great to use (I’ll be covering these in my instructions in much more detail).

Invisible Zip

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I have a short but big announcement to make; my bean bag patterns are now in the process of being drawn up!

I’ve always intended to do this as part of this site (as per the name), and it’s very exciting for me as it’s finally coming all together.

I have a lot of experience in the technical aspects of making the bean bags; that is selecting the fabric and thread, cutting the fabric, sewing the bags together and working from patterns in general, but this is the first time that I’ve been involved in the pattern making side. It’s taken a while because there was a bit of to and fro-ing between the patterns and testing them out but I think I’m almost there.

tear drop bean bag patterns

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Filed under Announcement

What happened?

Earlier in the week I received a disturbing notification that The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) had recalled a number of bean bags due to the safety zips not being used on bean bags. The safety recall is said to affect 6,300 bean bags globally.

CPSC - Safety Zip

This is very similar issue to a case in the 1990s when 12 million bean bags were recalled when children ended up opening up the bean bags and would suffocate on the polystyrene balls (the zips on these were the Non-lock sliders which meant that the pull-tab does not lock – usually used on jackets or on bags). Tragically, due to the design flaw, there were 5 deaths and at least 27 cases where children recovered from their injury. In all cases, the children had unzipped the bean bag with filling, crawled inside and had suffocated or had chocked whilst playing with the contents of the bean bag. As a result, from then on, all bean bags are supposed to made from safety zips – which clearly didn’t happen in the case earlier in the week.

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Filed under Announcement, Saftey