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"I Spy" Bags

Have you made these bags??? Yup, probably. (In case you don’t know what they are, it’s where you put all sorts of little trinkets in a bag with a little window and then your child has to find certain objects……or just look and explore. The pictures will explain it better.) But I thought it would be fun to make shapes out of them. Might keep the kiddos entertained for like 5 more minutes than normal. Worth it.

Cut a shape out of paper (my dimensions are 6 inches wide by 4 inches tall) and then two of that shape out of fleece.


Cut a hole out of the center of the front piece, where you’ll soon see all the innards of your bag.


Cut a piece of vinyl big enough to cover the hole………


…………and sew into place, really close to the edge. (Sew with the vinyl on the bottom, otherwise it will “stick” to your presser foot.) But don’t look too closely. Mine’s not perfect. Whoops. Elli (our little lady) will never notice.


Sew the front and back together. Fleece doesn’t fray so there is no need to sew it right sides together and then turn right side out. Nope, skip that step and just leave the ends out and free.


Leave a spot open that’s big enough to stuff your trinkets and poly fill beads (thanks for your extras Brittany!).


Don’t stuff your creature/shape up completely full or it will be hard to sew closed AND it will be hard for your little one to mush all of the beads around, in search for the hidden trinkets. Sew it closed.




I decided to cut out some shapes to make a crab too. It’s not much bigger than the fish. Maybe 7 inches by 4 inches. They fit better in little hands this way.


I cut out a front and back piece for the main body, a front and back piece for both pinchers (is that what they’re called??), and two little eyes.


Cut out a hole in the front main body piece and then attach some vinyl the same way. Then sew up all sides of each pincher, except for the bottom.


Add some of the beads to the pincher to give it some shape and then sew it closed.


Then pin your pinchers and your eyes to the front piece of the body, keeping all of the loose ends on the inside so you won’t see it after sewing it all together. Sew all the way around the whole bodice, securing all parts into place. Make sure to leave an opening for the beads and trinkets.


Done with number two.


Let ’em at it.

Ashley Johnston
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Ashley Johnston

Owner at Make It & Love It
Ashley Johnston is a professional DIY costume maker, sewist, crafter, and owner of Make It & Love It. She is a mom of 5 and a wife to a very patient (with the craft clutter) husband. In case you’re wondering, she always chooses crafting/sewing/designing over mopping/dusting/wiping base boards……but bathrooms/laundry/full bellies are always attended to. Whew!
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  1. jessi says:

    I love these!!! I saw another post on pinterest using colored hot glue to make letters and shapes. you can write them on a nonstick pan and it will pop off once dried.

  2. Pam Billings says:

    I love this idea! Have you ever used play sand to fill the bags? I was wondering if the sand would work its way out of the bags or if the material you used would make a difference. Thanks for the cool idea. I live at the beach so I have lots of company :) this would be great to keep for the kids to entertain them while they are here.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I love the I spy bags, so cute! I made one for my nephew and before I placed the trinkets in the bag I laid them on a white paper and took a picture, I go the picture developed and gave it with the present. All the kids at the party really liked it! One question I did have was it seemed that by sewing the vinyl it made it kind of perforated and it made a small hole where the beads were able to come out, any suggestions?

  4. Mommy to 6 says:

    I am in LOVE with this idea!!! I am going to make a ton of these little stinkers! Thanks so much.

  5. CassTheCoolest says:

    Thanks Ashley! I sewed my vinyl onto the fleece before cutting the window out to make it a little easier. I went with plain round shape seeing as I had to make 20 of them for a swap. Pic at!/photo.php?fbid=429618880419784&set=a.256644874383853.58910.256323607749313&type=1&theater

  6. Belinda says:

    Your ideas have inspired me to try to make alphabet themed ones. Since I am trying to do a letter every week with my daughter I figure this might be a good toy for her to play with to enforce the letter.

  7. Karen says:

    Another idea I have seen for these bags is to include a little photo of the child (laminated). I would imagine you’d want to round the edges, and not sure how it would wear over time…
    I am busily collecting trinkets for mine and will get sewing soon!
    Thanks for your fantastic blog – a new favourite of mine!

  8. Michelle says:

    Such great ideas!! I made these for a Christmas present for my little nephew and he has such a great time with them. I also used Becky’s idea (3) and used dried beans. They turned out so great!! Thank you!!

  9. harrysdesk says:

    Another fabulous idea.
    Someone in my life is going to get this one.
    I have also featured it on my blog.
    You can see it here….
    … with some of your other tutorials.
    Thanks for taking the time to put it together and for sharing it with blogland.
    Ally on harrysdesk

  10. Kathleen says:

    I’ve made a similar project using different jars (any kind from pickle jars, peanut butter jars, to baby food jars) and filling them with sunflower seeds and “stuff.” Attach a list to it, and you can entertain the whole family!

  11. Caitlin says:

    I just made one! It doesn’t look as cute as yours but I am excited about it! Such a great idea!!

  12. Deedra says:

    Thank you for posting! I’ll be making some for our road trip coming up!!!


  13. jenny says:

    Where did you buy all your trinkets?
    One idea I just thought of for older kids was to buy US map puzzle with small pieces ( one for each state) and put those in so they could find the state shapes!

  14. Jennie says:

    WOW! Thank you so much for the idea! I would have never thought about using felt. Yay :)

  15. paoly allcolors says:

    ciao, sono capitata nel tuo blog per caso e, …wow, è bellissimo!
    Proverò anch'io a cucire questi fantastici animaletti per la mia bimba!
    Grazie per tutti questi tutorial che condividi, aiutano molto le principianti come me!


  16. Anonymous says:

    Neasews' idea is great! I'll try that!

  17. neasews says:

    Another good idea would be to cut another piece of vinyl to sew on the back of the bag to put an "I SPY…" list in so they know what they are looking for. just like in the books. Sew the piece of vinyl on, with the list underneath, to the back before you sew the front and back together.

  18. Tyler says:

    i got all the material to make these but i can't find the poly fill beads! only micro poly fill beads that are tiny…any ideas where i can get the bead shape? thx!!

  19. Tyler says:

    i got all the material to make these but i can't find the poly fill beads! only micro poly fill beads that are tiny…any ideas where i can get the bead shape? thx!!

  20. Jenn says:

    Hi! Just wanted to say that I love your blog & I especially like this project for Easter.
    I’ve featured you on my blog here:

    I hope you’ll stop by. You can get my new featured button on the top left hand side of my blog. Cheers, Jenn

  21. mmtncrfts says:

    I've seen the square ones for sale before, but these are so CUTE! Love it. Thanks for sharing.

  22. Charlie says:

    these are so genius =] i'm from australia and just did a swimming instructors course, i'm going to make one of these and see how it handles water – cause seriously a great great great great idea =] =] =] you make sure beautiful things <3

  23. Trimble says:

    I just sewed a toy bag with a window like this so you can see what's in it w/o having to open them. Thanks for the tip on how to sew with the vinyl.

  24. Kaylyn says:

    Thanks for all the fun idea. I just made a square one for my little girl and she just wants to try and get everything out.
    Another hint is, I had the vinyl stick on the bottom of my sewing machine too, so I took a piece of tissue paper and taped in place. So you have the fabric, vinyl and then the tissue paper to then feed through the machine. Then the tissue paper just comes right off after you sew it.

  25. Samantha says:

    These would be cute to make as little frames too. I love the fun animal shapes, but without kids, the bead treasures won’t serve much purpose!

  26. ashley says:

    The poly beads are found in craft stores. They use them as fillers for beanie babies and such. Some stores don’t carry them so you could use beans, corn or rice. But then someone mentioned swelling if it gets wet. So I was thinking you could use those cheap craft beads for kids.

    Good luck!

  27. Rose says:

    What a great idea, I originally saw this but using mason jars and sand instead, but I like this idea better! Where did you get the poly beads??

  28. Glen & Kara says:

    Thanks for these directions. I have looked for “directions” forever!!

  29. becki.campbell says:

    I know this is super random but I came across your blog from a friend of mine who had made something from here and looking at your picture, my fiancée and I realized that he was companions with your husband. (In Calama, Chile!) Anyways, I just wanted you to know I am loving how creative and talented you are! Thanks for sharing!

  30. Dalling Family says:

    Nice. I was thinking about selling these too, but don’t know for sure. Just a note- if the bag gets wet the rice can swell, so I would stick to the beads. :-)

  31. Ashley says:

    I’ve noticed with rice that sometimes it’s dusty so it kinda covers some things in a powder. But maybe after being dusted off a bit it would work better. It is a little cheaper…..maybe I’ll have to try that next time.

    Becky above mentioned beans or popcorn kernels. That actually sounds like a great idea too. Guess I’ll have to make more of these!! :o)

  32. The Hardy Things in Life says:

    Love it!! Super fun! I was wondering do you like the poly fill better then rice, or does it matter!? Just wondering!

  33. Danny & Crystal says:

    Ashley, I just found your blog–WOW, everything is sooooo cute! Thank you so much for sharing your awesome ideas and sharing how to make them! You’re awesome! Now I just need your sewing skills :)

  34. Christine says:

    I LOVE these toys that everyone seems to have, but can’t find anywhere! Thanks so much!!!

  35. Becky says:

    I love those bags! They entertain husbands as well as the kids! And if you can’t get the poly beads from your local craft store then you can also use popcorn kernals and dried beans!

  36. Nate says:

    Really, you inspire me to continue crafting!! Even though I’m stealing your awesome ideas! Thanks for sharing your amazing talents. -ash f

  37. Diane says:

    Those are super cute! I love them! Thanks for posting!

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Hi, I’m Ashley—the DIY-enthusiast behind this crazy blog!

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