Juggling fun


  • Nine squares of picture fabric, each about 10cm (4in) or nine 10cm (4in) squares of patterned fabric
  • Three strips of plain fabric 10 x 30cm (4 x 12in) for backing, calico will be fine
  • 300g of uncooked dried rice, peas, beans or lentils for filling
  • Sewing machine
  • Sewing machine thread
  • Pins

Finished Size

Each juggling bean bag is approx 9 x 9 x 9cm (3 1⁄2 x 3 1⁄2 x 3 1⁄2in)

Skill Level


Where to buy

You can buy squares of picture fabric in dozens of different designs from most patchwork and quilting shops, or see our advertisers for mail order services. The squares are sometimes called fabric labels.

SEW SAFE! Be very careful with sharp scissors, pins and needles, and remember that an iron gets very hot. Please ask an adult to help you with these.

Handy Hints You can use picture squares or any colourful, patterned fabric. Your squares can be a bit bigger or a bit smaller than 10cm (4in), as long as each one of them is exactly the same size.

Because the juggling bags are filled with uncooked dried rice or something similar, they are light and squishy and won't roll away if you drop them on the floor.

The backing fabric helps to stop the dried rice from coming out. This fabric won't show, so you can use plain fabric scraps. Sally used pieces cut from an old, clean sheet.

When these bean bags are finished they will look like little pyramids, or 'humbugs'.


Figure 1: Sewing the first picture square

Figure 2: Sewing the second picture square

  1. Place one 4 x 12in backing strip wrong side up on a clean flat surface. Take one of the picture squares and, right side up and matching up the left hand raw edges, place it on top of the backing fabric. Pin in place and then stitch the left hand seam. See Figure 1.
  2. Take a second picture square and place it right side down on top of the first picture square, matching up the raw edges and making sure the pictures are the same way up. Pin in place and then stitch the right hand seam. Flip the second square open and press the seam. See Figure 2.
  3. Add the third picture square in the same way as in Step 2. Then sew the right hand seam to secure the square to the backing fabric. Now carefully trim the excess backing fabric level with the picture squares and press. See Figure 3.
  4. Wrong sides together, turn over 1⁄4in along the top edge of the strip of picture squares. Now right sides together fold the strip in half so the short edges meet. Pin and then stitch the side and base seams. Press the folded edge to form a crease. See Figure 4.
  5. With the juggling bag still inside out, open it out and then refold it so that the seam and the folded crease are opposite each other. Pinch the bag together at this point and pin to secure. The open edge is the top of the juggling bag. The base of the bag will stick out and look a bit askew, but don't worry as this is how it should be! See Figure 5.
  6. Leaving a gap of about 2in to turn through, oversew the top of the bean bag securely. Remove the pin. Turn the bean bag through to the right side. Pour about 100g (4oz) of uncooked dried rice, peas, beans or lentils into the bean bags. Don't fill them right up or the bags will be too firm and difficult to catch. Sew the gap closed.
  7. Repeat Steps 1–6 to make a total of three juggling bags.

Figure 3: Sewing the third picture square and trimming

Left: Figure 4: Stitching the side and base seams. Right: Figure 5: The top of the juggling bag


There are several ways to juggle but start learning with the help of our simple instructions to get you started and amaze all your friends! Perhaps you could throw a juggling party? Make several sets of juggling bean bags yourself, or get everyone to make their own. Your friends can take them home as a great party gift.

  1. Begin with one bean bag. Practice throwing the bean bag from one hand to the other and back again, in an arc about as high as your eye level. Try to keep your throws all the same height and keep your hands down when you are catching.
  2. Next, hold one bean bag in each hand. Throw the right bean bag in an arc to your left hand as you did before and, just as it starts to fall, throw the left bean bag in an arc to your right hand. Practice right to left and then left to right. Don't worry if you keep dropping one or both bean bags at first. Keep going and you'll soon get the hang of it.
  3. Now, hold two bean bags in your right hand and one in your left hand. Throw the first bean bag in your right hand in an arc to your left hand, as you did before. When the bean bag gets to the top of the arc, throw the bean bag in your left hand in an arc to your right hand. Catch the first bean bag in your left hand. This is the same as you did in Step 2.
  4. When the bean bag you threw to your right hand reaches the top of the arc, throw the second bean bag in your right hand in an arc to your left hand. Catch the bean bag thrown from your left hand in your right hand. This is a tricky bit!
  5. When the second bean bag from your right hand reaches the top of the arc, throw the bean bag now in your left hand in an arc to your right hand. Catch the bean bag thrown from your right hand, in your left hand. And so on...

Now you're juggling. Have lots of fun, and keep practicing

Juggling Tip! Please make sure that you are outdoors or in an open area, well away from anything breakable!

First published in September 2010