Introduction: Beach Party in a Bag

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It's summer, time to get outside!

Did you remember to pack all the stuff you need for a fun time at the park; like the beach mats, toys and other things to keep you and your kids entertained? Don't worry, I got you covered.
This portable activity bag unzips to lie flat, has built in beach mats that can be rolled out and has plenty of storage inside to keep all your entertainment securely in place until you're ready to have some fun.
It's a beach party in a bag!

This compact bag can hold 2 roll-up beach mats, game board with pockets for checkers and chess, bubble holder with pockets for bubble wands, frisbee holder and a place to store magazines. This design can be customized to meet your needs, allowing all your park or beach activities to be in one dedicated easy to carry satchel. Summer fun-time activities are never further away than a pre-packed bag, always ready to party whenever you are! Follow along and I'll show you how to make your own.

Enough talk, let's party!

Step 1: Tools + Materials

This bag was made to suit the activities my friends and I like, your bag can contain all of the same or totally new items. Depending on your regularly desired activities your version of this bag can be large or small.

Here's what I used:

  • seam ripper
  • scissors
  • needle + thread
  • safety pins
  • sandpaper (100-150 grit)

  • oilcloth bag (canvas or other)
  • scrap fabric
  • hook + loop fasteners (velcro)
  • 2 x roll-up beach mats ($1.50 each)
  • 2 x long zippers ($1.50 each)
  • elastic sraps
  • strong glue
    activities (all found at the Dollar Store):
  • checkers + chess game pieces
  • game board
  • bubbles + wands
  • frisbee
  • magazines

Step 2: Cut Bag to Lie Flat + Add Zippers

The inside of the bag will be the location of all the carrying pockets, as well as provide a surface to lay out food an other goodies or play a board game. In order to use the interior surface of the bag when the bag is opened it needs to lie flat.

A cut was made from the top of the bag at the opening to the base, when at the bottom of the bag small cuts were made perpendicular to the first cut to break the edge seam from the bottom. This may sound confusing, but if you make the first long vertical cut and try to lie the bag flat you'll notice that you need to make 2 smaller cuts that allow the bag to relax on the ground and not bunch up.

In order to make the bag operable we need to include zippers along the cut we just made. The zippers I used were much to long for the application. I measured the length of zipper I would need in order to zip the bag from the bottom of the long cut to where the bag opening is at the top. An additional 25mm (1") was was measured out and the the excess cut. The additional zipper portion was folded over and sewn into itself so that the zipper slider will not run off after reaching the end of the elements.

With the correct measurements of zipper length cut and folded over, each zipper element was sen onto each edge of the long cut just made. If done correctly you bag should look the same as when you originally bought it with the added benefit of now being unzipable and able to lie flat once unzipped.

Step 3: Sew in Woven Mats

After installing the zippers you'll need to unzip the bag in order to install the inside pockets and the beach mats.

These woven mats had a thin strip of fabric which was tied around them to keep them rolled up. This strip was removed from each mat and sewn into the inside of the beach bag on the edge flap. The location of your mats may vary, I chose to position both mats side by side (on either side of one the zippers). You could include an additional 2 mats on the other side to accommodate 4 people.

After each strip of the beach mat holder was sewn into the edge flap the beach mat was sewn on top. Start by lining up the edge of the mat along the edge seam, and on top of the mat wrapper you just sewed in, then sew the mat to the bag. You can sew in selected areas if you like and save yourself hand sewing the entire mat edge. Repeat for each beach mat in your bag.

Step 4: Add Pockets + Straps for Goodies

Once the beach mats are installed we can add pockets and straps to the inside of the bag to keep all our goodies secure. I thought a classic sit-down game would be checkers, and the best part is that you can use the same board for chess. It's a double win. I found my game board (with both checkers and chess pieces) at the Dollar Store. While I was there I cleared out the summer seasonal section of a variety of other fun summertime activities.

The board was attached to the inside of the bag by first scoring the inside of the oilcloth bag with some rough sandpaper, then applying a liberal amount of strong adhesive to the backside of the board and affixing it to the bag. To reduce the board warping while the glue was drying I placed a heavy book on top of the game board.

Pockets were sewn onto the inside of the bag by using scrap fabric cut into square pockets. A simple flap was sewn on top of each pocket with a small hook+loop fastener (velcro) to seal the pocket during transport. Elastic straps were added to hold the bubbles and magazines.

Step 5: Get Outside!

Your new portable fold-out activity bag is now ready for you to load it up with your favourite goodies and head to the park or beach! Call up your friends and tell them that you already have the party favours taken care of and it's their turn to bring the bevvys!

Did you make your own version of this project? Post a picture in the comments below.

See you outside, and don't forget the sunscreen!