How to Make Bean Bags for Cornhole

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You’re probably here because you want to learn how to make bean bags for cornhole. Well, you’re in the right place.

Close up of cornhole hole and bean bags

But, did you know that these small bags, when filled with beans, corn, or other fillers, can actually be used in a lot of different ways?

Learn what else you can do with bean bags then I’ll show you how to make them.

What to Do With Bean Bags

Entertainment (beside cornhole)

Have you ever wanted to try juggling or know someone who can juggle? Bean bags are great objects to learn how to juggle and hone the skill.

Bean bags can also be used for a variety of other fun activities such as a

  • bean bag toss
  • hot potato
  • indoor shuffleboard.

You can even sew a tic-tac-toe board and learn basic quilting skills while you’re making it.

fabric tic-tac-toe-board with bean bags

Comfort and Concentration

Bean bags are great fidget toys.

By moving a bean bag from one hand to the other, squeezing and rolling it around in one hand, or smoothing fingers over the outside fabric, they can provide a way for a child (or adult) to focus, have a brain break, or just find a state of calm.

When making bean bags for the purpose of being a fidget toy, create multiple ones and make each one out of a different fabric.

If the fabric on the bean bag has a texture, that can add another level of sensory comfort.

Minky, velvet, fleece, and corduroy are fabrics that have various textures.

Also, use different fillers (dried corn kernels, rice, and different dried beans) to offer a variety of sensory experiences.

Classroom Engagement

When I was an elementary classroom teacher, one of the tools I used to keep my students actively paying attention was tossing a bean bag.

Whenever I picked the bean bag up off my desk, students snapped to attention by sitting up straight in their seats and tracking my movements.

When I wanted someone to answer a question, I would make eye contact with them and toss the bean bag gently with an underhand throw.

When the bean bag was in a student’s possession, they could answer the question, ask for clarification, or toss it to another student for some help.

This form of engagement also helped students strengthen hand-eye coordination.

Now, let’s make some bean bags!

Cornhole Bean Bag Specs

There are official specifications for cornhole bags.

If you want your cornhole bags to be official, stick to the size and filler requirements by the American Cornhole Association:

The cornhole bags shall be made from two fabric squares 6.25″ x 6.25″ with a 0.25″ stitched seam on all four sides. Bags should be made from durable fabric.

Each bag shall be filled with approximately 2 cups of feed corn and finished bags should be roughly 6 square inches and weigh 14-16 ounces. ACA will allow the use of plastic pellets (All Weather Cornhole Bags) in lieu of feed corn

American Cornhole Association

Note: To make non-official bean bags for cornhole and give you enough room for a 1/2-inch seam allowance to add the zig-zag stitch (as described in the tutorial), cut the fabric squares 7 x 7 inches. This will give you a finished bean bag size of 6 x 6 inches.

Cornhole Bag Fabric

Bean bags used for cornhole should be made of a sturdy fabric like duck or canvas.

Duck fabric is actually canvas. It has a higher thread count so it tends to have a smoother texture making it more likely to slide along the cornhole board.

Cornhole Bean Filler

According to the official standards, cornhole bags should only be filled with feed corn or plastic pellets.

Resin or corn filled bags?

Feed corn or corn-filled bags create dust that coats the board allowing for more slick play.

Resin-filled bags do not break down, and will not create dust. They should be considered when playing indoors for long periods.

Wondering about other pros and cons of these 2 fillers? You can read more here.

Tips for Making Cornhole Bean Bags

Bean bags are a great project for beginners. In addition to being pretty quick to construct, you get to practice rotary cutting, sewing both straight and zig-zag stitches, and pivoting corners.

After following the directions in this tutorial, you’ll know how to make bean bags for cornhole and other fun things.

The process you go through to make the bean bags will be the same no matter what you are planning to use them for.

Follow all of the directions in this tutorial to make the bean bags.

Gather the Supplies

bean-bag supplies

Fabric

The type and amount of fabric will depend on 2 factors:

  1. how you’ll be using the bean bags
  2. the number of bean bags you make

Type of Fabric

  • Use duck fabric or canvas (or something similar) for bean bags that will be used in tossing games like Cornhole.
  • Use medium-weight fabrics like denim, corduroy or a thicker cotton for juggling or less rough activities.
  • Light-weight fabrics can be used, too, if you really like the fabric pattern and really want to use it for bean bags.

If you go with a light-weight fabric, I recommend using a second layer of fabric to line the bean bags. An old sheet or muslin works well to provide an additional layer of strength.

How Much Fabric

You will need 2 squares for each bean bag you make. Determine how many bean bags you want/need and the size each one will be. Then do the math to figure out how much fabric you’ll need.

The actual size of the bean bags will vary based on the size you cut the squares.

The finished bean bag will be an inch smaller than the cut squares. So, squares that are cut 5 x 5 inches will produce a bean bag that is 4 x 4 inches.

Filler

You can fill your bean bags with a variety of different things – dried beans, rice, corn kernels or resin pellets.

Thread

Consider using two colors of thread – one for the top spool and one for the bobbin.

This adds a little embellishment to the zig-zag stitch on the outside of the bag and will help with any zig-zag troubleshooting you may need to do.

Other Tools and Supplies

Note: For the bean bags featured in the tutorial, I used gingham, a light-weight fabric, and lined it with muslin for the smaller bean bags.

The cornhole bean bags were made using Sunbrella fabric I had left over from an outdoor cushion project.

Pinto beans were the filler for both sets of bean bags.

Prepare the Fabric

  • Prewashing is optional. Because my finished bean bags never get washed and dried in water and heat, I don’t prewash the fabric.
  • If the fabric is wrinkly, press to remove the big wrinkles.
  • Decide what size bean bags to make. You’ll need 2 squares for each bean bag.
    • cut 5″ squares for smaller bean bags (finished bean bag will be 4 x 4 inches)
    • cut 7″ squares for cornhole bean bags (finished bean bag will be 6 x 6 inches)

Sewing Tips

Read all of the steps before you begin.

You will be sewing both a straight and zig-zag stitch to make the bean bags.

The straight and zig-zag stitches on the inside will strengthen the seam making it less likely a bean bag will split open in the middle of the play.

To add one more layer of security on the outside of the bean bag (especially with cornhole bags), use a straight stitch between the zig-zag closure and the edge of the bag.

close up of how the bean bag was closed

This topstitch will close the slight gap that is visible where the opening was. Backstitch at the beginning and end of the seam.

Zig-Zag Tips

Determine the width of the zig-zag on a couple scraps of fabric before sewing on the bean bag fabric.

  • Do this by first sewing a 1/2-inch seam allowance down the side.
  • Remove the scrap fabric from the machine, adjust the stitch width so it will fit between the edge of the fabric and the straight seam.
  • Adjust the stitch width if necessary (needle out of the fabric) until you determine the size you want for your zig-zag stitch.

If your zig-zag stitch doesn’t look quite right, check out Zig-Zag Troubleshooting.

Efficiency Tip

If you’re sewing multiple bean bags, complete each step on all of them before moving on to the next step.

Bean Bag Construction

  1. With right sides together, line up the edges of two fabric squares and pin in place.

If you are using a light-weight fabric and need to line the bean bags, put the right sides of the outer fabric together. Then put one lining square on each wrong side of the outer fabric. (So the layers will be lining, outer fabric, outer fabric, lining.)

2. Use a 1/2-inch seam allowance and sew a straight stitch around the edges leaving a small opening on one side. Leave the needle in the fabric when you pivot around the corners. Don’t backstitch when you start and stop. You need the stitches to give a little when you turn the bean bag right side out.

Sew a straight stitch

3. Set your sewing machine to a zig-zag stitch

Important: Check your presser foot and make sure it has an opening for the needle to move left and right.

Use the right side of the presser foot as the guide and sew a zig-zag stitch.

Start and stop in the same places you did for the straight stitch.

This second line of stitches will provide additional strength and drastically reduce the possibility of the bean bag splitting at the seam.

sew zig-zag stitch

4. Clip the corners slightly. Be careful and don’t cut any stitches.

clip the corners

5. Turn the bean bag right side out and gently push out the corners with the closed end of a pair of scissors or a specialty tool if you have one.

6. Fill the bag with the filler of your choice. Leave enough room for it to move around and to be able to close the opening with the presser foot.

Note: I used 1/2 a cup of pinto beans for each 5-inch bean bag.

TIP: Use a funnel or a liquid measuring cup with a spout to pour the beans into the bag.

7. Turn the edges of the opening under 1/2-inch. Pull the existing threads to close any gaps where you’ve already stitched. Clip or tuck in the thread ends. Pin to hold in place.

8. Using the right side of the presser foot as a guide, zig-zag the opening closed. Backstitch when you start and finish to ensure the stitches don’t unravel.

fill and close the bean bags

That’s It. You’re Done!

finished bean bags

Cleaning, Storage, and Safety

Frequent use and everyday dirt and grime from hands will eventually transfer to the bean bag.

I’ve never bothered to clean my bean bags because it doesn’t take too long to make new ones.

For me, it’s less of a hassle to cut open the dirty bean bag and empty out the beans, corn, or rice.

If the filler is still in good condition (not smelly, moldy, or evidence of bugs), I’ll reuse it in the new bean bag cover I make.

To keep bean bags from getting moldy/smelly, you want to minimize circumstances that would all them to get wet or moist.

Don’t let them sit outside in the elements. Instead, store them inside.

Also, keep them out of reach of pets and small children. (This is for safety, too.) Bean bag filler can be a choking hazard.

Let’s Connect

My main goals are to support, empower, and inspire you to discover the joy of sewing.

Need help or have questions on this project, pattern, or tutorial? Send me an email at nicki@theruffledpurse.com and we can work together to get it figured out!

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