I like to keep juggling balls on me wherever I go, just in case I have a chance to use them. But balls take up too much space, and bean bags feel too light. So I decided to make my own bags that I could size and weight as I wanted.
Here are the steps to make your own customized juggling bags.
The monetary cost of these bags depends entirely on what materials you use, and how many of them you can salvage or have to pay for. My monetary cost out of pocket was probably about a buck, since the thread and the BBs were the only things I actually paid for.
The time cost on this project for me was about an hour a bag.
Step 1: Materials and Tools
- Fabric: I used two types of material to make the two-toned balls. I used heavy duty cotton canvas for the lighter panels, and leather harvested from an old purse for the darker panels. You could do this project with up to eight different colors, but I would recommend one or two.
- Filling:To achieve the density I wanted, I opted for Copperhead BBs. These make the bags nice and heavy, while allowing them a lot of 'squish'. The down side is that they tend to 'clink'' while I'm juggling them. Other options include rice (not recommended), styrofoam pellets, sand, ground walnut shell (which is Klutz puts in their juggling bags) etc. Make sure that whatever you use won't leak through the weave of the fabric or the seams (this may mean making smaller stitches which takes longer).
- Thread: This should be pretty self explanatory. Choose something that matches fairly well with the material, as it may show through a little bit at the seams. I just went with basic black.
- Paper: The easiest way to make a template is just to print one out on a printer. that said, you could make one with a compass if you have the patience. Either way, you'll probably want to make the template out of paper or perhaps cardboard.
- Scissors: Needed for cutting out the template, cutting the fabric, and cutting the thread, as well as any additional trimming you want to do.
- A sewing needle: This should be pretty self explanatory.
- A Measuring device: I used the lid from my kids' play kitchen toys, as it seemed about right. The obvious thing to use would be a measuring cup, however if you are looking for a specific weight, a scale might make more sense.
- A Pen: For tracing the template onto the cloth.
- Pliers: If you are using heavy cloth or leather, you'll probably want something to help pull the needle through the fabric. Otherwise your fingers get pretty sore pretty quickly.
- Safety pins: These can be useful for holding the panels in place as you are stitching.
- A Thimble: I completed this project without one. If I had had one, I would have used it. Especially for pushing the needle through the leather. As it was, I got to develop some new callouses for the project.
- A Computer and Printer: This is, as mentioned above, the easiest way to transfer your template from the ethereal to the concrete.
- Scotch Tape (Cello Tape I believe it's called across the pond): This is useful for making a paper funnel for pouring the filling into the balls.
- Sewing machine: I hand sewed this entire project because I was using the leather and our sewing machine wouldn't have been up to the challenge. If you want do most of the job by machine, you will save a ton of time, but you will still need to do some hand sewing to close up the balls. (Unless you have a really cool sewing machine!)
- A Whiteout Pen: If you are doing this project with dark fabric, a whiteout pen makes the lines much easier to see and follow. I recommend tracing the template using this.