Today I am going to share with you how to make your own custom bean bags.  These make a very inexpensive, personalized gift.

IMG_1648Did you know you don’t have to buy those fancy schmancy fabric printer sheets to have quality printed fabric?  Did you know you don’t have to buy that fancy schmancy solution to soak your own fabric in beforehand?  Here is a quick no-fail recipe to get the best results with the most vibrant colors when printing on fabric…

Mix 2 tablespoons of Alum (found in the spice section of your grocery store), 2 1/2 teaspoons of Washing Soda (found in the laundry section) and 1/2 teaspoon of liquid fabric softener.  Then add one cup of hot water.

Mix it in a bowl bigger than you think because it foams up when you add the water.  Stir. After a few minutes the foam will disappear.  Next soak your 100% white cotton fabric in your solution for 15 minutes.

IMG_1599 After fifteen minutes is up wring out all the excess liquid.
IMG_1600Wait!!!  Can’t I just print it out on fabric since the bean bags won’t be washed?  The solution gives you more vibrant colors and if they should get wet they won’t bleed.  This recipe is perfect for quilters who want to add pictures to their work as well.

Store the remaining solution in a container and mark it well to use at a later date.

IMG_1601 Next dry your fabric.  I hung mine to dry overnight.  But if you are an impatient crafter, you can put it in the dryer. 

Next grab some freezer paper (found near the tin foil and Ziploc bag section) and iron your fabric to the shiny side of the freezer paper with a hot, dry iron.IMG_1626
IMG_1627Once your fabric is stuck to the freezer paper cut it into 8 1/2” x 11” rectangles.  Iron one more time after cut just to ensure that the fabric is stuck well.
IMG_1628 In whatever program you choose, size your pictures (I chose 4" x 4” images) and print them onto your fabric.  You can change your printer settings to the best print quality on fabric if you have that option.  Make sure you print on the fabric side and not on the back of the freezer paper.
IMG_1632Cut out your printed fabric to size.  I chose to do both sides of the bean bags with a picture.  Of course, you can use just regular fabric on the backside.
IMG_1643With right sides together sew the two pieces together leaving a small opening.IMG_1636 IMG_1637 Turn your fabric right side out (iron if you must) and fill it with any type of beans.
IMG_1639 Tuck under the edges of the opening and sew shut.  I machine stitch it but you can certainly hand sew it if that suits your fancy.
IMG_1648Tie them in a bow and present your gift.  My son loves them he calls them his “Isaac Beans.”
What do you do with the bean bags?
1.  Learn to juggle
2. Pair it up with some sand buckets and spread them out and have your child practice their aim by tossing them into the buckets.
3.  Pelt each other with them.
4.  Make up two sets of different bags and play tic, tac, toe with them.
5.  Have each child put a bean bag on their head and have them try to knock the bean bag off their opponent’s head.  The person left with a bean bag on their head wins!
6.  Play Simon Says with them…”Simon says balance the bean bag on your elbow.  Simon says, throw the bean bag under your legs”

Good, clean, fun!

originally posted this on The Idea Room

Similar Posts


  1. Oh.My.Heck. What an awesome tutorial! I have never heard of this! Definitely gonna try this solution! Thank you for sharing!
    Rebekah {All Thingz Related}

  2. I've never heard of this either – but oh so fun. I'm sure my girlies would love this. They'd probably have fun hiding each other's faces around the house! LOL Thanks for sharing.

  3. Wow! This is awesome. I'm going to try this.

    I'm a little dense though, I guess…could you do this for things you planned on washing regularly? Or what about if you're going to wash them occassionally?


  4. That is beyond cute. I must put this on my todo list. I am thinking it would make a cute throw pillow for grandparents gift also – the beans add some stuffing.
    hey where is sister's bean bags to throw at brother????

  5. I have never heard of this – – fantastic!!! I am going to have to give this a try!

  6. I saw this post of yours but couldn't remember where I was! Thank you for reposting it to your blog… OH the possiblities!

    Do you know how durable it is? Will it withstand multiple washings? I've been asked to make some dish towels and think this just may be the ticket!

  7. beckie beckie beckie – how did you get to be so wise? you are going to save me a bunch of money! i was just getting ready to order more printable canvas but now i'll try your method.

    i also read about spraying cardstock with spray adhesive & attaching fabric to it. then you print on the fabric & remove (or not remove) the cardstock backing. i think i'll try your method first!

    thanks for sharing your wealth of knowledge & craftiness 😉

  8. Thank you so much for this tutorial! I hoard my fabric printer sheets and now I don't have too!

  9. now that's a great christmas gift idea! not that i am thinking about that yet… or i wasn't.. until now.

  10. CUTE! I have made bean bags…but appliqued…never with the photos and not with the solution and the freezer paper. I would love to try this.
    504 Main

  11. I have printed on fabric that I taped to a piece of cardstock and it worked okay, but I didn't know you should use the pre-treatment. Great one to know! Thanks!

  12. This is great! Coincidentally, I just made some small bean bags for my toddler last night while I was watching a movie. No personalized photos on ours though…just butterflies!

  13. This made me think of a kid's song/game that my 3 year old did at tumbling. Don't know what the song is called, but it starts out "Throw the beanbag and catch." Also has something like "Put it on your head and walk around the room." Would be cute to find it to use with the beanbags!

  14. THe only issue I see is that you HAVE to remove the label on your jar that says “bubble jet”..that name is trademarked and having it posted can land you in very hot water!

  15. OMG! What a great idea-I have some friends with new grandbabies and what gift with that new baby face on it! I can hardly wait to make some for my little grandson-thanks for the wonderful tute-I can’t wait to try it!

  16. What a wonderful tutorial.
    I want to do this so much, but only have an inkjet printer. Is there any possibility that I can use that?

  17. Thanks for sharing! I love this idea. Every year I make a Christmas ornament for each of my 3 little nieces. I think this year, I’ll do them using this method.

  18. Hi, I use alum to coat paper and fabric to marbleize paper and fabric. But I rinse both paper and fabric off after I apply the paints. Do you rinse the alum out? I love your idea but worry if a baby/child sucks on the bean bags.

  19. Brilliant tutorial. I’m in England and can’t find the equivalent of freezer paper, can you tell me what it is and where I can get it please?

  20. Well it should be a in your grocery store near the plastic bags and tin foil. You can also ask your butcher at your grocery store, they wrap the meet in freezer paper.

  21. THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!! I have been trying to find an old laser jet printer just so I can print directly on fabric and have it remain colorfast and now I don’t have to! Not to mention I’ve been trying to avoid having to buy the expensive Jet Set solution too!! I already have everything but the alum and will get it today. I also found this link on Pinterest and will be a be back!!

  22. This is great. For one thing it is hard to find bubble jet, besides the expense. I find instead of the freezer paper, which has to be pressed on. I like to use full sheets of label making paper. Found easily at any office supply store and you just press your fabric to it because it is sticky.

  23. I was wondering what the “washing soda” is that you refer to. (Link only goes to a 404 error thing) I’m a quilter and would love to try this on quilts if it doesn’t wash out. I didn’t see any replies to questions about that. Have you tested it as far as multiple washings? This would be terrific if it would last!!

  24. Washing Soda can be found in the laundry aisle. It is made by Arm & hammer. And yes it works for multiple washings. I have not had a problem at all.

  25. fabulous Tutorial on this! I am making cushions as we speak and this is so handy for me to know. many thanks. Hugs Vee xx

  26. Actually, our butchers use white paper, not freezer paper, unfortunately! BUT you can get it in quilt shops, both the go-into shops and the on-line type. Dearer than in the States, but readily available. Great tutorial, by the way!

  27. I followed these directions for 15 pillowcases. After I was finished I got ready to iron my finished products. My iron had some leftover water for steaming. When the water spilled on my new transfers they disappeared right before my eyes. Don’t know if I did something wrong but they were not water proof. You just might want to test your project before completion if it will ever come into contact with water.

  28. That is strange you must have done something wrong. i wash mine all the time. I don’t know what could have gone wrong. Did you use an Inkjet?

  29. Hi! I was wondering, could you use the Alum/Washing Soda/Water solution on shoes before they are drawn on?

  30. AWESOME!! Grrreat tute! You have just saved me a bundle on that solution I buy. I kept trying to find recipe for home made “bubblejet” and never could. Thank you, thank you, thank you! 🙂

  31. This sounds great! How would it work with whole t-shirts? I’d love to know how to print on some t-shirts.

  32. Muito obrigada por este tutorial em que você compartilha passo a passo algo tão maravilhoso conosco. Moro no Brasil e acho que aqui não temos o papel freezer porém, temos o papel termocolante que é usado em aplicações de patchwork. Vou tentar com ele. Só não entendi o que eu faço com o outro lado do papel depois que imprimir? um abraço. Ivanise

  33. This is interesting. Thanks for sharing.

    About using it on silk, you probably can, but washing soda is hard on silk. Your solution isn’t strong so maybe it wouldn’t degrade the silk much. Bubble Jet Set is okay for silk, but I don’t know the ingredients. Generally the mordant for silk is something acidic like vinegar, but I don’t know how that would work for ink since it has to be heat set (steamed).

    I do know that Bubble Jet Set is very washable. I will have to try your formula out sometime. Anything that is used on quilts has to be super washable. It would be disappointing to go to that work and find it isn’t light and water fast over years. I would want to wash a sample a bunch of times, put it in a sunny widow for a few days to test for durability before I would put it in a quilt. If I remember right, Bubble Jet Set is washed out after printing. I wouldn’t want to leave alum or washing soda on any fabric that I want to be an heirloom because it will shorten the life of the fabric.

    Just about anything that works on cotton will work on most other plant based fiber as long as it doesn’t have a finish on it. BTW, whatever fabric you use, be sure there is no finish on it. You also don’t want any polyester in it or only the cotton fibers will take the dye. Theoretically, rayon can be dyed the same way cotton can, but my experience is that’s not reliable, because of the finishes on it. RTD rayon would work like cotton since it is plant based. I’ll have to try bamboo fabric sometime.

    If this solution is long term light and wash durable without fading, it will be a wonderful asset.

  34. This is awesome i am going to try it ,i would think like any quilters it says pre wash your fabric because it has something on it.And it shrinks ,so if i do this i will pre wash my material and dry it before i try this and i will be making bean bags for my son soon .You Rock
    Thank you Wanda

  35. I have a laser printer. Do you know if it will work with that? Or can I just do the freezer paper thing without the pre-treater? Do you know if it would be washable?

  36. It would be helpful if we could find this more easily from the home page of the blog–many people have pinned it on pinterest, but it’s not intuitive to get to the blog, search for fabric printer sheets, and come to a page about birthday parties with no mention of printing on fabric. Only when I clicked on “read more” and scrolled all the way down to the bottom of the party projects did I finally see the fabric printed bean bags and click from there to this page.

  37. Ok I have a few questions: 1) after the soak and drying in the solution the fabric is a little dusty and when I printed it seemed to take some of the picture with it. is this normal? 2) do I need to iron it after it’s printed to set it? I did Iron a bit but then rinsed it out and ran it through the washer . . the photo is now barely visible. . . what did I do wrong????? I’m going to use pictures for a memory quilt and I want them to last. . . Thanks, any help would be very appreciated.

  38. FANTASTIC tutorial I found you on pintrest. This is just what I have been looking for I want to be able to print a heirloom pictures then ribbon embroider them. My question is did you use the regular ink that is for printing or do I need to get photo ink , is there a difference?

  39. Try rinsing it after you squeeze it out just to get the dust off. I am guessing you need to shake your solution more so the alum is fully dissolved. You can iron it to set it as well.

  40. Need Help, My solution never foamed, could it have been because I used the grocery store brand of Alum? I rinsed, ironed, and let set over nite, but the ink colors washed out, the black is fine, but colors no. Do you have any idea why the solution never foramed? Thanks

  41. this is what i am looking for to find a replacement for the chemical used for ceramic sublimation printing.can i use sublimation paper for this job instead of the freeze paper because i never had any idea what that is.

  42. I love this and I am trying it as I type. I have used purchased printable fabric and the image becomes blurred in less than a year which is disappointing.
    One question though: After printing on the fabric do I remove the freezer paper? I want to make absolutely sure.
    Thanks for sharing this.

  43. Loved the detailed How To… I will follow you from now on… lol Blondes need all the help we can get with directions….lol Ty .. i’m going to give this one a try instead of just pinning it and forgetting it…lol

  44. I just wanted to let you know that if you don’t actually wring it out, it won’t be so crinkly. I experimented with this and found that if you like hang it out to drip dry, it works best. Makes the ironing much easier and the pics come out beautifully!

  45. Hi Pat, I’m glad you like this idea. I do not know for sure if it works for t-shirts. I don’t see why it wouldn’t, but I have only tested it on 100% cotton fabric. If you try, I’d love to hear/see how it works out.

  46. The freezer paper adds the required structure to carry the fabric thru the printer and can be used more than once.
    I use a fabric called “FormFlex” which has a light adhesive and I press it onto regular printer paper, without the soaking/drying, tho’ I AM gonna try this process, because it claims NOT to run if wet.

  47. I really want to try this, but, I can’t find freezer paper or washing soda in Ottawa, Ontario! Anyone have any suggestions? I may have to put them on my shopping list when I am in the US, but I wanted to do this soon, like today.

  48. Freezer paper should be available from any butcher. Do they wrap meat in freezer paper in Canada? You can ask. Washing Soda is found at Walmart.

  49. I made this solution but having problems with the ink setting. It all washes away on the first rinse. Am I doing something wrong? please help. I used 100% cotton and let it sit the correct amount of time and dry for three days before printing on it. I have an HP photosmart 8150 printer which is an inkjet. Any solution? I’m working on a memory quilt so making it water resistant is very important.

  50. My only suggestion would be to try a different printer. It worked fine for me even after washing. I am sorry I can’t be of more help.

  51. Hi! I tried this, all excited about it and how it’s washable, and it washed out completely when I submerged it in water. Any tips on how to get the color to stay? I’m so sad my quilt got ruined! 🙁

  52. Hi Jenafer, I am sorry your quilt got ruined. All I can suggest is the process in my tutorial. If you followed it exactly and it still washed out, I have no clue what happened. I have never had any problems before. I am sorry I can’t be of more help.

  53. Thank you for this great tutorial. I have one question though: do you rinse the fabric after soaking it or do you dry it with the solution still on the fabric?

  54. Gosh I am not sure. Your best best would be trial-and-error. Although Graphics Fairy knows her stuff. I would definitely trust her.

  55. A very nice tutorial 😀
    I am getting a little confused here:
    Joi says:
    October 7, 2011 at 12:29 am
    Did you use an ink jet printer?

    Beckie says:
    October 7, 2011 at 2:37 am

    Yes I did.
    and this:

    Emily Willis says:
    November 2, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    What a wonderful tutorial.
    I want to do this so much, but only have an inkjet printer. Is there any possibility that I can use that?

    Beckie says:
    November 2, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    Yes, the recipe is for an inkjet printer.

    Amanda G. says:
    October 26, 2012 at 11:39 pm

    I have a laser printer. Do you know if it will work with that? Or can I just do the freezer paper thing without the pre-treater? Do you know if it would be washable?

    Beckie says:
    October 28, 2012 at 11:13 pm

    Yes it is washable. I used a laser printer.
    Which type of printer did you use – or did you use both types?
    My experiences says:
    Inkjet will wash out because it’s based on water – but laser print will stick longer because it’s based on wax.
    You can, however, print fabric on an inkjet printer and make the print washable if you seal the print with a piece of the transfering sheets normally used for printing reverse (mirrored) and then ironing the picture on to fabric. The result will be much nicer when the picture is printed directly on the fabric and then sealed to be washable than when those sheets are used as it says on the package.
    I’ve used that alternative method for about 20 years I simply ironed the fabric (old well washed sheets) on to iron-on vliseline because I wanted to make the fabric more steady – and the ink jet printer accepted it without any problems.
    PS! Now I only have a laser with colors and it’s hard to get photos really nice but graphic designs work perfect.

  56. I’ve seen this recipe for DIY bubblejet several times. Can you explain how it works? Actual bubble jet is mostly starch and “organic resinous,” according to the MSDS, so I’m curious as to how each ingredient contributes to setting the ink.

    I know soaking in sodium carbonate (washing soda) is very helpful for fiber reactive dyes (because it chemically changes the fabric so it’s ready to accept the dye), but I don’t see how it would help pigment- or ink-based printer ink that doesn’t actually react chemically with the fabric. Are the alum and fabric softener just stiffening agents? How do they work? The fabric softener doesn’t prevent the ink from penetrating the fabric?

  57. I found this tutorial a couple years ago and used it to print family photos onto fabric, then made pillows for Christmas gifts. They have stood the test of time. Do you know if it will work with laser printer? Just checking – the recipe is easy enough that I can give it a try. It would save me some time and toner if anyone has tried it and can tell me how it worked.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *