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Picture of Leather Alphabet Bean Bags
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Here you'll see how I made a sweet set of all leather (minus corn, thread and glue) alphabet bean bags.  No beans included.  

My almost two year old has been obsessed with the alphabet.  Sings the song in his crib as he falls asleep, sings it on the potty, and even tries to replace the alphabet with numbers as he sings.  So being that I work with leather naturally I had to make these.

This instructable is pretty straight forward so anybody could really do it if you got the materials and time.  Actually; Why am I making this instructable?...

A laser cutter would make this project a snap!
 
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Step 1: Step 1: Gather materials

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First of all go to your leather working room (I'm assuming everybody has one) and see what leathers you have on hand.  If you are fresh out go find a cow and tan your hides.  We won't go over tanning in this instructable being that it's pretty nasty.  Otherwise head over to a leather store and buy a bag of scraps.  I used thick suede for the letters and fronts, and different colored antiqued leathers for the backs

You'll need:
1. A bunch of scrap leather
2. Cutting utensils   (i.e. razor, utility knife, good pair of scissors, really sharp teeth)
3. Sticky substance   (glue tends to work best)
4. Thread weaving apparatus   (sometimes called a sewing machine)
5. Hands   (other body parts will be involved but I think it goes without saying)
6. Alphabet  (A-Z is the best one)
7. Unpopped popcorn (like 20 pounds...well maybe like 5 but you'll get hungry)
8. Time
9. A baby   (why else would you make these?)
10. Fire maker (lighters are good for that)
11. Basic sewing knowledge.  


Step 2: Next Step Before Following Step

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Figure out what size you want the finished bags (no picture for this,  I thought about putting one of me pondering this problem but that'd be silly)

Then decide what size letters will look good on them.

Mine we're 11 cm squared.  The font I used was Gill Sans Ultra Bold 180 pt because the letters were easy to cut out.  You don't want to use a complicated font that would be difficult to cut out and sew. Or do You?

Print it, cut it out free hand if you're just that good.  (I faked it in the pic.  I actually used a metal ruler)

Then flip over the piece of scrap suede and trace the letter on it.  Cut it out carefully.  Use a really sharp knife.  I like the snap off kind cuz I hate sharpening blades.  When you cut a inside corner take your time and just push it through right at the intersecting lines to get a crisp corner.

I ended up cutting all the letters out first to make sure I varied the colors throughout the alphabet.  But do as you please.  You always do anyways, don't you?

Step 3: Following Step

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Make a poster board or card stock template.  Cereal boxes work great.

Cut out your suede pieces.  I've been told by trustworthy people that there's twenty something letters so once you do that math (count A-Z) cut em all out.  That way you can lay out all your cut out letters on different pieces of  suede to see what color combos look best.  If you have a limited number of colors just don't repeat them on neighboring letters.  

Cut out your back pieces also at this time.  I used 7 different leathers for the backs and also tried to vary them.

Step 4: "Sew! Sew like the wind!"

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Glue on the letters.  Doesn't have to be a strong glue because it's just going to hold it until you sew it.  UHU all-purpose, or even rubber cement works fine. Let them dry. 

Sew it.  I used bonded nb20 cream nylon thread.  The cream thread gives it a nice contrast.  
-Start at a bottom corner of the letter
-Punch the needle down with hand wheel
-Do one stitch then back stitch in first hole
-Sew around perrimeter 
-Once you get to the first hole you made back stitch to previous hole than finish to first hole again.

Step 5: Melt those tips

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Clip the thread leaving about 6 mm on front and melt the tips with a lighter.  If it catches on fire just lightly blow it out and immediately smoosh it down with the bottom of lighter.  Make it nice or I'll be mad

Do the same on the back side but this time make it ugly.  Burn, melt, smoosh it out.  This will keep the stitch from pulling through later.

Step 6: Glue it up

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Glue three sides and stick it together.
Make sure it's all nice and flush.  Don't get glue on the suede cuz it's super hard to get it off.
Let it dry.  If you're doing a bunch at the same time by the time you finish gluing up the last one you can start sewing the first one.

Step 7: Sew

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Sew the three sides....

Oh, I messed up on this one.  On all the other bags I left the bottom open instead of the top just to make it look nicer when it was all done.  No biggy though.

Step 8: Second-to-last-step

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Fill it with un-popped popcorn.  Or whatever dried beans you have laying around.  
Where I live a 5 pound bag is like 3 bucks.  I'm south of the equator

Put enough in to bulk it up and still allow you to glue it closed.  If you put in to much it could get in the way of sewing it up.

Step 9: Fin

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Sew it closed and do the burn-the-thread tips thingy that was in step 5.

That's it.  Your done.  Go have some popcorn

Let your little guy enjoy them!
sunshiine2 years ago
Clever idea! Thanks for sharing.
sunshiine
Very cute idea! Is your son at the age where he can spell a few things too?
Phiske (author)  Penolopy Bulnick2 years ago
At first I was just going to make the letters for his name to teach him to spell that. Then I just carried away and had to make a whole set. It's amazing to see a child's ability to learn. I'm loving being a dad. He can almost spell his name by himself. He'll be 2 in a month.