Friday, July 3, 2009

Frugal Friday - I Spy Bag

My youngest was invited to a five-year-old birthday party later this month. The minute we got the invitation I knew what I wanted to make - an I Spy Bag. Of course the invention is not my own; it's been floating around the web for a while. I couldn't find a specific tutorial but the bag was easy enough to make without one. Here are the basic steps:
  • Go buy clear heavy-duty plastic from your local fabric store (I bought 1/2 yard on sale for $2.00 and still have quite a bit left-over).
  • Send your children on a scavenger hunt around the house for small treasures (this keeps the kids busy, clears the clutter from your house and saves you money).
  • Make a list of the trinkets to be included in each bag.
  • Find some fabric scraps (do you remember this project? I used left over fabric from that - once a curtain now a book bag and a toy).
  • Cut the fabric into two squares (or any other shape you wish).
  • Cut a window into the front square in any shape desired (I made a square window by cutting four triangular flaps and folding them over. This left a nice clean edge. )
  • Cut a piece of plastic in the same shape as your hole only larger, in and sew to the wrong side of the fabric using a straight stitch. (Note: on another I Spy Bag I cut the window as a star shape then used a zig-zag stitch to attach the plastic which kept the fabric from fraying).
  • Pin right sides of the fabric together and stitch the bag edges. Be sure to leave an opening to turn right side out.
  • Fold the edges of the opening in and iron to make closure easier after filling.
  • Fill the bag with rice and trinkets (a creamer pitcher works great for this).
  • Top-stitch to close bag. For a professional look top-stitch the entire border of the bag.
  • Print a list of the bag contents and laminate (I simply used clear packing tape).
  • Attach list to bag (I plan to use a pretty ribbon).
After we finished the I Spy bag I whipped up a quick draw-string gift bag ala Heather Ross. And voila - a quick simple inexpensive and original gift.

It turns out my kids also wanted I Spy bags so I made them each one too (they are five, nine and thirteen ... even the teenager wanted one of his own). And finally I made a bag for my niece. All told I made five bags in an afternoon. These would be great party-favors and are also perfect for summer car rides.

Happy Sewing and Happy Frugal Friday!



Gayle said...

This is the coolest idea! I need to remember this idea when my nephew gets a little older. He just turned two and I think he would just try to tear it apart at this age!

Laura said...

Wow, this is such a great idea! So cute and yet fun!

Tracey said...

Very cute idea! Love the gift bag!

Anonymous said...

Great idea! Thanks for stopping by my blog the other day!

LaughingFamily said...

This is such a great toy idea. Sounds like the perfect plaything for church, car rides, and other locations that require compact, quiet things to occupy the kiddos.

Lenetta @ Nettacow said...

This idea is GREAT! I linked to it on my weekly roundup - can be found here. Thanks!

Lenetta @ Nettacow said...

I have these on my handmade Christmas craft list and after putting blood, sweat, and tears into my first one (the fabric pulled loose from the window on my first one, spilling rice everywhere!), my hubs says he thinks they'd be more appropriate for a much younger crowd than my nieces, ages 10, 7, 6, and 5. Would you be so kind as to confirm that the olders really DID like them? And if I may beg you to recall, about how many trinkets did you put into about what size bag? I'm thinking more (and larger) trinkets in smaller bag is easier for the youngest, versus fewer trinkets (and smaller) in larger bag is more difficult for the oldest.

(and I read elsewhere that the older kids try to find things in order to make it more difficult :>))

I subscribed to comments or you can e-mail me at nettacow at gmail dot com Thanks!!

Shalet said...

Hi Lenetta! I'm excited you are making this project!

I've had one pull the window from the fabric (it was canvas type fabric) and I decided the window works best if the fabric is folded into a hem at the window which gives it more strength. You may also want to secure it with a straight stitch then put a decorative stitch over that. Having said that the bags I made for my kids have taken all kinds of serious abuse -- being tossed about, thrown on the floor of the car, etc and they remain intact.

When I started making these I made them for my daughters (age 9 and 5). But then my son (13) asked me to make him one too. In my son's bag we put items that were meaningful to him (the bullet shell from his grandfather's funeral, a smashed penny from a family trip, etc). Smaller items such as coins are going to be much more difficult to find.

The bags I make are roughly 6 x 6 inches. We typically put 10 to 20 objects per bag (depending on the size of the object).

I hope this helps! I'll cross post it to the link in case anyone else has questions too. You might also think about making a memory game:

Though I think the memory game is best for the younger set (I made one for my daughter who is nearly six).

Shalet said...

Also make sure the plastic is thick enough or the stitching will tear through! ;o)

Lenetta @ Nettacow said...

Thank you so much! I got the heaviest tablecloth vinyl our Wal-Mart carries, and I'm using bargin bin calico prints for my fabric . . .

Hee, you say > straight stitch then put a decorative stitch over that < and I say "zig-zag stitch four times around!" :>) One of my middle nieces is going to do something fabulous someday like cure cancer, but for right now, she settles for pushing every envelope that she can. So, I'm doing everything I can think of to keep them from falling apart!

Thank you so much for your quick and thorough reply, and I'll be back with a link when I post about it. Thanks again!

Lenetta @ Nettacow said...

WHEW - I finally got mine done! You can read about them (and my trials and tribulations) here. Thank you SO MUCH for your help!