DIY Newborn baby bean bag poser

DIY Newborn baby bean bag poser tutorial

I am a crafty photographer, and I love having custom made props that meet my needs exactly, and are completely unique and one of a kind. Sometimes I make my own, and sometimes I put in a special request with dear old dad (when large power tools are required), and I usually end up with exactly what I want. Recently I set my sights on a newborn bean bag nest/pillow, and decided that I could make my own. My total out of pocket cost was about $50 CAD. For those who are interested in just how I made it, read on!

Bean Bag Poser

Here are the materials you’ll need:

1) 4 yards of vinyl: $20
I found some on sale at Fabricville, and I have a membership for a further discount.

2) Bean bag fill: $30
I used styrofoam packing peanuts from my local shipping supply store. It took about 14 cubic feet of fill, and I left my bag a little under filled so I could shape it during a session.

3) About 16 inches of velcro with adhesive on the back
I already had some kicking around, but you can buy it on a roll at hardware stores, walmart, and fabric stores.

4) Lots of dress maker’s pins

5) Scissors

6) Measuring tape

7) Two pens

8) String

9) OPTIONAL: Sewing machine (Highly recommended, but can do it by hand if your patient)

10) OPTIONAL: Strait edge or meter stick

The basic design is two large circles and two long strips of vinyl sewed together end to end. I also added a handle so I could loop my arm through it to carry it, since I photograph mostly on location. *Note* this thing is huge, and almost to big to fit into my Honda Civic.

Step One: The circles

Trace a 40 inch circle on the back side of the vinyl (could easily be downsized for travel to 35 inches). I used two pens with a string tied between them to make a compass. My pen tips were 20 inches apart when the string was held tight. I was lazy and just folded the vinyl in half and drew an arc instead of a full circle. Then I cut it out, making sure to cut through both layers of vinyl. Once I unfolded my arc, I had the first circle, which I used to trace out the second circle. You could also use the compass again.
Newborn nest circles

Step Two: The side strips

The vinyl I bought was 54 inches wide, and I cut three strips this length and 16 inches wide. Next, sew them end to end (back side out), so that you have one long strip. I probably cut off about 20 inches of excess when I was done, but I always like having extra in case of mistakes.
Newborn bean bag sides 01   Newborn bean bag sides 01

Step Three: The handle

I wanted to be able to loop my arm through a handle to carry the bean bag, so I cut a strip 16 inches long and 5 inches wide. I folded both edges back on themselves and then folded that in half and ran one stitch down the middle.
Newborn poser handle

Step Four: Try not to make pin cushions of your fingers

Pin the top edge of your sides to one of your circles (back side out), making sure to allow about 5-6 inches of overlap for velcrow and hemming. Cut off any excess. I left the hemming until after I sewed the sides to one of the circles, because then I could play with the width of the hem if I made any mistakes. I also pinned in my handle at one of the seems in the side pieces (covered the seam with the handle). Layer the circle, then the handle, then the side piece, and pin it together until you can sew it in place. When you turn the bag right side out, the handle will be embedded in the seem where the sides meet the top and bottom. Once you have the top circle attached, repeat the pinning process for the bottom, and sew it on. You should now have a hole in the side for filling the bag.

*Note* When pinning, be careful to put the pins in the vinyl so that the sharp end is pointing toward you when you run the vinyl through the sewing machine. I ended up with a pin embedded under my thumbnail because I didn’t pull a pin out fast enough as the vinyl was feeding through the machine, and it caught on my finger. Ouch!
Newborn poser   Newborn poser

Step Five: Velcro

I used simple peel and stick velcro, I stuck the hooks and loops together, pulled of the backing on one of them and pressed it on in the overlap, and then peeled the backing off the other and pressed everything together.
Newborn bean bag velcro

Step Six: Fill it!

I found a tube that a roll of seamless paper came in and taped one end to the hug bag of peanuts, and inserted the other end into the bean bag. This kept the mess to a minimum. Grab a helper though, because gravity and vigorous shaking make the process easier. (Please excuse my messy studio)
Newborn poser   Newborn poser

The Final Product

Here it is, pictured with an almost completed DIY blanket stand.
Newborn poser   Newborn poser

2 comments
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  • Stephanie PristineJune 27, 2016 - 5:53 PM

    Thanks so much for the DIY tutorial. I have been looking for a helpful one as my mother and I are putting one together this week 🙂 Also, yay for Fabricville member cards. I was able to buy 4 Meters ( just over 4 yards) of material for under $15 CDN. 

  • Rebecca ClarkeJune 27, 2016 - 6:41 PM

    Awesome Stephanie! Happy to help 🙂 Enjoy photographing all of those squishy wee ones!