DIY I-Spy Bag

For our trip to Iceland I made an I-Spy bag for Kirsten. Sometimes they are also called Seek and Find bags or Peek-a-boo bags.  I used assorted image buttons from Michael's and a set of alphabet beads.  This is a picture heavy post, so click to see the entire step by step in pictures after the jump.  This was my first sewing project start to finish that I did all by myself, ever!  So be kind, please :)  My techniques may not be right at all, but if I can do this, anyone can! Click on any of the images for a much bigger view.

DIY I-Spy Bag

I started by guestimating how big I needed the bag to be, which was way too big.  I rectified that in the next bag I made. This one was about 6" square with a 2.5" square vinyl opening.  This project took me about an hour start to finish, but that's because I seam ripped a LOT!  I am learning.  The next bag took less than 15 minutes, that was terribly gratifying!

Contents of I-Spy Bag

First you need a handful of small bits to find, I used buttons.  Hubby cut the backs off with a dremel tool for me.  Take a picture, so you can print them out on a little card so they know what to look for.  I printed mine at 4 x 3.5 and it will be laminated, though not in time for our trip.

You will also need clear filler beads, not pictured.  I just used clear beads, but clear bean bag filler or any little clear bits will work.  If you want to make it REALLY hard use opaque beads! Might be good for older children.

Vinyl and fabric for top of I-Spy Bag

I used 4 gauge vinyl, it's very thin and was easy to sew. I cut a piece of vinyl about 4" to make sure I had lots of overlap while sewing. I cut an opening in the middle of the fabric about 2" square.

Top of I-Spy Bag showing nips made into corners

Then I nipped about 1/4" into each corner.

Top of I-Spy Bag with inner edges being folded under for pinning

Fold the inner edges over on each side and pin to the vinyl.

Top of I-Spy bag all pinned together

I pinned in the corners and right in the middle.

Top of I-Spy bag all pinned together with initial running stitch along the edge

I sewed a straight line stitch along the very edge to sew the vinyl to the fabric.

If you are a completely new sewer like I am, I started with stitch length of 4, because that's what my sewing machine was turned to.  But I ended up seam ripping a lot of things and my initial stitches were way too far apart.  Stitch length of 1 and everything worked great. Also, whenever you stitch at the beginning go forward about 1/2", then back 1/2" and then forward again, to prevent unraveling.  Do that at the end of your stitching as well.

Showing the underside of the top of the i-spy bag, before a zigzag stitch

This gives me lots of wiggle room for a zig zag stitch right next to the straight stitch.  I want to make sure this is NOT coming apart.

The underside with the paper removed from the vinyl - Don't do this!

Then I did something silly, I took the vinyl backing off.  Don't be like me!  Leave it on.  With it off the vinyl stuck to the machine as it was going through. It was a huge pain.  I left it on for the next bag.  Also, in retrospect I'd have zigzagged the seams inside the bag instead of through the top.  Lesson learned.  It looks fine though.

Zigzag stitch next to the straight stitch

Zigzag stitch right next to your straight line stitch.

Underside of the top of the i-spy bag to trim vinyl

Turn it over and trim the vinyl to just outside your stitching.

Top of i-spy bag and backing of bag pinned right sides together

Put your backing face up and the vinyl topper face down and pin them together.

Straight stitched and zigzag stitched along the edges

Zigzag stitch all the way around, leaving about an inch and a half opening on one side.  I left it closer to the middle, easier to stitch closed later I thought.

Trim up the edges and the corners to turn right side out

So your bag should now look something like this.

Turn the I-Spy bag right side out

Turn it right side out with a chopstick or a knitting needle for your corners.

Use a chopstick, pencil, knitting needle, or hair stick to get the corners

Or do like I did, grab a hair stick from your hair accessories.

The I-Spy bag is right side out and ready to be filled

Now fill your bag with your little I-Spy trinkets and filler beads.

I-Spy bag filled and the small opening sewed shut

Straight stitch the bottom closed.  I found it worked best to pass the bag through so that the bag with the beads was not hanging off the edge, but instead going in the limited space between the needle and the arm of the machine.  (Not sure if my terminology is right here!)

The finished I-Spy bag

Finished bag!

My daughter playing with her I-Spy bag
Happy baby girl!  She LOVED it.

I shared this project at:
Ladybug Blessings and My Favorite Finds
The Creative Itch


  1. Very cute and fun! How timely for all these road trips coming up! Thanks for sharing at our Handmade Tuesdays party.

    1. Thank you Carrie! She's loving it so far! I'll add a link to your blog as well, I didn't realize you and ladybug blessings were together. :)

  2. AnonymousMay 23, 2012

    Hi. I stumbled onto your blog through Creative Itch and I was so excited. My sister, mom, niece and I are traveling to Iceland on June 2nd. I wondered if you could give some advice on things we absolutely should do. We don't want to miss a thing. This country (I think you grew up there) looks so beautiful. We are going on a Golden Circle Tour. Thank you for any advice you can give us.

    1. I didn't actually grow up there. My mother is Icelandic and met my dad in college here in the states. I grew up a Navy brat, but my mom's whole family was in Iceland so it was the constant. I lived there for about 6 months when I was very young (2) and again I lived there the summer after I graduated high school, and of course we visit as often as possible.

      For tourist things, the area covered by the Golden Circle Tour is breathtaking and a can't miss, so you are covered there. Bláa Lónið (Blue Lagoon) is a nice place to spend a few hours. It's kind of crazy, you'll go in and find a hot spot, but the hot spots drift, so you drift to find new ones.

      My favorite things are the little farms and such in the countryside, and the lava fields, I'm not sure how to help you with those though because we've always had family take us or we were visiting a friends farm. If you are renting a vehicle, someone can direct you to the lava fields. Not sure if Skógar is included in the Golden Circle Tour, but there is a very cool turf house museum there.

      If you can, go to Perlan for a meal (not cheap) but the food and the views are amazing. You can go up just for the views though, you don't have to eat there. Hallgrímskirkja is pretty impressive, it's in downtown Reykjavik. There is Solfar, a viking boat sculpture which is right on the bay which is a nice photo op. I assume you'll be walking around downtown at least one day. There are silver shops that sell jewelry all around downtown Iceland, and a lot of replicas of old pieces of jewelry so they are very unique compared to what you find in the states. Viðey is neat to go to for a night tour if you have a lot of time in Iceland. It's across the harbour, so it eats up a bit to go over and it's a nice place to see, but if you don't have a lot of time, skip it. You can take Icelandic horse tours, there are some out of both Reykjavik and Kopavogur. I've always wanted to go by the Vestmannaeyjar (Westmann Island's) and see the Puffins but it would depend on how much time you have in the country. I never go because I'm generally there to visit family, not sight see so we only spend a day really going down south to "sight see".

      Eat dessert as often as possible, in the states dessert is all about the sweet... there you will get amazing fruit and cream things that are yum. Ponnukokur are an absolute must try.

      This company comes highly recommended for the "off the beaten path" tourist adventure:
      Based on the photos they take you to some of the types of places I love to see the most... the houses built right into the land, natural hot springs, stuff like that.

      I can give you more personalized advice based on what you like to do as well. Right now I'm just trying to think of all the general touristy stuff.

      For instance, my 2 year old daughter is going for the first time, so we'll be spending a lot of our time up north with my Aunt and at my cousins farm where the sheep have just finished birthing so there are a TON of lambs and new ponies and she is going to LOVE it. Depending on how old your niece is, there are farms in Iceland that allow tourists to visit. And a farm in Iceland is nothing like a farm in the states. Anyway, feel free to email me ( for more help. I leave tomorrow though and I won't be back until after you leave, so the time frame for questions is limited I'm afraid.


Thank you so much for commenting. I love every single one!