How to make a race t-shirt bean bag!

by Aug 2, 2018Arty running things, Inspiration0 comments

My amazing mum made me this awesome bean bag out of my old race t-shirts for Christmas 2017. She’s written me these instructions, scroll down below past the Twitter comments. Isn’t it brilliant? Let me know if you have a go, I’d love to see your designs.


I talk about the races featured in this beanbag at 9:04 in this YouTube video too.


Here are all the commends on Twitter about mum’s race t-shirt bean bag, people loved it! She was very chuffed with all the kind words. Thank you 🙂

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How to make a beanbag using old technical t-shirts

I based the pattern on Sew Super-Comfy Seating – Free Beanbag Sewing Pattern

I watched ‘T-shirt quilting!   How to make a heirloom quilt’ – Missouri Star Quilt Company

You will need

  • A 45mm rotary cutter, self-healing cutting mat, patchwork quilt ruler

or very good dress making scissors

  • Tailors chalk to mark out the circles or cut greaseproof paper to make a pattern
  • Second-hand beanbag (or two depending on how full you want the bag to be).
  • 1.6m x 1.4m of lining fabric e.g old sheet, calico, any firm light-coloured fabric

(If you are lucky, the old bean bag liner might be ok.)

  • Enough t-shirts to cut
    • 24 panels 28cm (11 inches) square
    • Two semi circles 66cm (26 inches) in diameter and 34.5cm (13.5 inches) radius for the base
    • One circle 23cm (9 inches) in diameter for the top
    • One piece for the handle 23cm x 13 cm (9 x 5 inches)
    • 90cm x 3m iron on ‘firm’ fusible fabric to stabilise the stretchy t-shirt fabric

e.g Vilene or Pellon

    • 65cm (25inch) zip – can be slightly smaller if necessary e.g 56 cm (22 inch) for a concealed zip. Or Velcro.

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Make the beanbag liner

As per the instructions in the Free Beanbag Sewing Pattern but I used 1cm seam allowances and ‘French’ seams to make sure the beads didn’t escape!

  • Cut two pieces of cloth 102 x 80 cm
  • Cut two semi circles 66cm (26 inches) in diameter and 34.5cm (13.5 inches) radius
  • Cut one circle 23cm (9 inches) in diameter for the top
  • Stitch the sides of the main pieces together using 1cm allowance, turn inside out and stitch again 1cm.
  • Pin and stitch the two base semi-circles together using French seams as above.
  • Pin and stitch to the base of the tube.
  • Pin and stitch 8 evenly spread darts about 20cm long around the top of the tube so that the top edge fits the circle.  (I found that the top edge between each dart was around 9cm.)
  • Fill to about two thirds with beads – don’t over fill or you won’t get the cover on!
  • Pin and stitch the top circle to the tube – if you’re clever you could fit using Velcro or a small zip so that you can refill in future if needed.

Make the beanbag cover

  • Cut 24 pieces of stabilising fusible fabric 28cm (11 inches) square.   You can cut them larger as per the YouTube video but I thought this wasted a lot of expensive fusible fabric.
  • Cut your technical t-shirts so that you have pieces larger than 28cm.   Don’t worry if you need to include shaping seams or even the start of sleeves, they just add to the pattern,
  • Place your roughly cut piece of t-shirt face down on the ironing board and position your square of stabilising fabric with the fusible side face down against the t-shirt.   You can angle your squares on the t-shirt as you please to cover the pattern.   

Iron the fusible fabric onto the wrong side of the t-shirt as per its instructions.   

I always iron on by covering with a damp piece of cotton such as a handkerchief or scrap of beanbag liner, what ever you do, don’t get the iron in contact with the fusible material, it’s a pain to get off!   

If your t-shirt has an embossed plastic logo, place a spare piece of plain t-shirt underneath to stop it melting.

  • Re-cut the t-shirt accurately to 28cm around the fusible fabric.
  • Arrange the squares out in two blocks of 3 x 4.   Put your least favourite squares on the top rows as you will need to reduce these using darts as you did the beanbag liner.
  • Practice your stitch length and tension on a square that you’ve ironed the fusible fabric to the pattern side – there’s bound to be one or two!   You may need to use a slightly longer stitch length than normal.
  • Stitch the squares together using 1.5cm (1/2 inch) seams as you would a quilt.

Iron the seams in one direction as best you can with the lighter t-shirt towards the darker coloured one.   Again, I recommend using a damp cloth to protect your iron!

If you’ve never made a quilt before, check out YouTube e.g

I made two blocks of four by three squares as I found it easier to manage pieces this size.   I then stitched the two big blocks together to make a tube.

  • Cut the t-shirt fabric for the strap, top circle and two pieces for the base and stabilise with iron on fusible fabric as before.
  • Fold the fabric strap length wise and stitch.   Turn right side out and press.   Place the strap across the top circle and stitch firmly about 1cm from the edge.
  • Fit the zip to join the two pieces for the base.

If you’ve never done this before, again there are loads of videos on YouTube

or you could use Velcro.

I was worried about the zip slider marking wooden flooring so I cut out a small square with pinking shears and stitched it to the base circle where the zip would finish when closed

  • The hardest part is pinning and stitching the eight evenly spaced darts so that the top edge fits the top circle.   The tops of my individual squares were reduced to about half their original size – about 9-10cm (3/12 – 4 inches).   It took me several goes!   When you’ve got the circle to fit, cut away the extra fabric leaving a 1.5cm (1/2 inch) seam.
  • Pin and stitch the bottom edge of the side to the base.   Again, you may have to ease the tube to the base.
  • Turn right side out
  • Insert the lining inside the outer cover
  • Do up the zip and sit down!

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