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I Spy Bags are a really cool activity/toy for a preschooler. They are also super easy to make. It is almost as easy as making a simple pillow. The vinyl window adds a little challenge, making this a good project for an advanced beginner.
Basically, an I Spy Bag is a bean bag with a viewing window. It is filled with poly pellets and novelty buttons and small objects. A child (or grown up!) can sift through the bag, looking through the window, and find the hidden objects. You can make a no-sew I Spy bag using a ziploc bag filled with rice and small objects.
1 piece fabric, folded in half to desired size
1 bag poly pellets
assorted novelty buttons and items
1 small piece clear vinyl
Cut your fabric to the desired size. I like to make my bags roughly 8″ x 8″, so I cut a piece that is about 18″ x 9″.
Cut a square in the center of the fabric. Square should be slightly smaller than the desired window size. My windows are 3.5″ x 3.5″, so I generally cut a 3″ square. Then I cut small diagonal lines at the corners to open up the window.
Cut your clear vinyl much bigger than the hole.
Lay vinyl on wrong side of hole and fold “flaps” (created by diagonal cuts) under so they are “trapped” by the vinyl. Pin vinyl to fabric outside of where you are going to sew. You do not want to put additional holes in the vinyl and fabric at the edge, where you will sew.
Sew around window opening, stitching vinyl and fabric together. I use a narrow double needle for extra reinforcement. I also hold the vinyl and fabric up off the machine, as the vinyl tends to stick which can ruin your stitches.
Make sure your stitches leave no openings!! Trim vinyl down so only 1/4″ to 1/2″ remains outside seam.
Make sure wrong sides are together, and sew around edges, leaving a small (2-3″ opening for turning. You can use a double needle if desired, but you will topstitch which will add reinforcement.
Turn fabric right side out. You should now have an empty bag with a small hole in the top. Choose your novelty buttons and items to go inside bag.
If I leave the buttons sitting out on the table, they have a tendency to disappear.
It doesn’t matter if you fill with buttons or poly pellets first. My kids love to help fill the bag with buttons. When you fill with poly pellets, I suggest using a funnel and pouring over a cookie sheet or large rubbermaid lid, because poly pellets make a huge mess when they spill.
After your bag is filled (use your own judgment on how full to stuff it), topstitch around the edge, closing the hole and reinforcing the outer edge.
My bag isn’t closed, because I plan on listing it as a custom item on Etsy. See the ABC letters in the photo? I am going to offer the option of customizing those letters so they spell a child’s name, a team name, etc. My daughter had fun finding the letters that spell her name inside her I Spy Bags.