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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Handmade Beanbags from Recycled Sweaters

My favorite projects are the small and simple ones, made from materials on hand, and portable enough for me to carry around in my purse. As I've discussed here, and here, and here, I'm not someone who has a lot of time on my hands to sit around and craft, so I like projects that can go with me to fill in those little cracks of time as they come. Knitting is a great on-the-go project, and so is hand-sewing/ embroidery. Take for example these beanbags I decided to make for our homeschool co-op.
The group I work with at the co-op is called the Mighty Oaks, and I decided they needed their own Mighty-Oak themed beanbags. Our budget for such things is non-existent, so I knew whatever I did would be out of my own pocket.
Luckily I've been working on setting up and organizing my craft stuff, and so far my best strategy has been to use stuff up, so there's less to organize. You'd be surprised at what a difference it makes to go into a project with the idea that "I'm going to use what I have", rather than, "I need to make a list and go shopping". I headed first for my felted sweater stash, hoping to find some green and browns for the trees, and something that would be suitable for a background color. I didn't have any browns, and the green was way too thick, but luckily I had plenty of both colors in regular felt, and then I did find a lovely light blue sweater- perfect for the background. I needed 16 beanbags, and it was as small sweater, but I managed to cut thirty-two roughly uniform 3.5" squares from it. Then I googled "oak tree", and after staring at various line drawings and clip art, managed to draw myself a simple template and cut out 16 trunks and 16 leafy tree crowns:
All of that part had to be done at home, but, now that all the pieces were ready, I could take them with me and work on them whenever I got a chance. I could fit two beanbags worth of materials into this tin and throw it in my purse:
Sixteen beanbags is a lot, and if I were trying to sit down and mow through them all in one or two big sessions, it would seem really tedious. But as it is, I haven't set aside any special time just for working on them. I've worked on them in the car when I'm not driving, sitting at the metro waiting to pick my husband up, while my kids are in their art class and I'm listening to an audiobook in the car, while watching Mansfield Park on Netflix, at church, and so on. I even decided to add a little bird in a nest as a final touch, and they've turned out great.

Now after so lovingly stitching them, I just have to practice not cringing when they actually get played with. But still and all, it's satisfying to make things that are useful as well as beautiful, and to use things that are beautiful as well as being useful.

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