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All About Bean Bags
By Janet Stephens
4/5/2012 12:26:00 PM  

Hi to all of West Music’s great customers from Janet Stephens at Bear Paw Creek.   Did you ever wonder how a bean bag is made or who makes it?  Here’s a little history of how I came to the point of sewing approximately 10,000 bean bags per year.  

My Mom taught me how to sew when I was little.  I remember one of my first hand sewing projects was to make a bean bag, filled with real beans.  I always enjoyed sewing and crafting items.  I saved up and bought a sewing machine of my own in high school.   Fast forward a few years and I was a mom looking for a way to stay home with our first son.  In 2000, my sister was busy in her music therapy practice and had designed several products to use with her clients.  As others began requesting her items, the sewing business virtually landed in my lap!  I started out sewing on the same machine I bought in high school.  Our first products centered on movement props, drawstring bags and totes, of which I am told a traveling therapist never has enough.

I started making bean bag shapes that included squares, triangles and circles.  When West Music started buying our products in 2001, I started figuring out ways to make them in large quantities.   In that journey I quickly found out about industrial sewing machines and replaced my home machine with several.    I also started using  poplin fabric for the bean bags as I liked the soft feel, colors, and durability. The bean bags are machine washable and filled with high density polyethylene pellets that are CPSIA compliant.   So those thousands of bean bags?  Here’s what two thousand four hundred bean bags looks like.  These will be packaged into two hundred sets of twelve bean bags each, two of each color: red, yellow, orange, green, blue and purple.

Janet with Bean Bags

My sister, Kathy Schumacher of www.tunefullearning.com, came up with the idea of creating textured bean bags.  She recalls:  “Textured bean bags were designed for several individuals who are vision impaired.  Having various textures gives them an opportunity to be empowered through making meaningful choices.  The textured bean bags can also be used as a tactile matching game for individuals with and without a vision impairment.  For kids who have issues with sensory integration, exposure to a variety of textures is beneficial.”   The textured bean bags include two of each texture: fur, corduroy, slippery, rough/stiff, velour, and soft.  They also include a drawstring bag for storage.

Textured Bean Bags

Bean bags can be used in countless games including bean bag toss, relay races, bean bag bowling with plastic cups, stacking games, and walking with them on your head.  Give some kids--and kids at heart--a pile of bean bags and watch the creativity flow.  From our humble beginnings we continue to improve our current products and are always dreaming up new ones.  We strive to produce quality products made in Missouri, USA.

Click HERE to view our set of 12 Textured Bean Bags!

Tags: bean bags, movement props, vision impairment, sensory integration issues
Categories: Kids & Movement, Music Therapy
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