Did-It-Myself Made-from-Scratch, Custom Corn Hole Bags

March 12, 2013

DIY Custom Cornhole Bags by Hey It's SJ

When I decided to make a set of custom corn hole boards for a close friend of mine, I knew a set of store-bought cornhole bags just wouldn't do. A quick trip to the American Cornhole Association's website provided me these specifications for tournament sanctioned bags:
The corn bags shall be made from two fabric squares with a quarterinch double stitched seam on all four sides. The corn bags should be made from 12 oz / sq yd duck canvas and may be any color that is easy to see during Cornhole play. Each bag shall be filled with approximately 2 cups of corn feed and finished bags should be a minimum of 6" X 6" square and weigh between 14 and 16 ounces.
This gave me the perfect starting point for designing and making my very own bags; however, I did fudge a couple of things in order to make my life a little easier:
  • I used the 10 oz duck canvas that they carry at Joann's. This saved me from having to order 12 oz canvas from somewhere online, which would mean not being able to see the color in person, paying for shipping, and waiting for it to arrive. The bags I made almost a year ago from the 10 oz canvas have held up extremely well, even with constant use.
  • I cut my fabric squares 7 inches square, which gave me a 1/2 seam allowance. This gave me some room to breathe when doing the double stitching, and by trimming the seam allowance before turning I think it probably ended up being pretty close to 1/4 inch in the end.
Anywaysss, let's get on to the fun part!

I started with 1/4 of a yard each of orange and black duck cloth. For a set of four bags, I cut 8 squares that measured 7 inches by 7 inches from each color, so I had 8 orange squares and 8 black squares. For the design on the bags, I used the same mixture of textile medium and acrylic paint that I used on my American Flag Shorts. I painted four of the orange squares to look like basketballs and four of the black squares with a UNC Asheville "A." After the paint was dry, I heat set the design with an iron, following the directions on the textile medium bottle.

Then it was time to break out the sewing machine! I took two squares, one painted with a design and one plain, and pinned them right sides together. Using a 1/2 inch seam allowance, I sewed along the dotted blue line in the diagram below, making sure to back stitch at the beginning and end of the stitching for added strength--after all, these bags are going to be tossed around quite a bit! For reinforcement, I sewed into the seam allowance about 1/8 inch from my first stitching line, as indicated by the green dotted line in the diagram.
Diagram of where to sew cornhole bags
Here's what one of my squares looked like once I was done sewing--

Bag after both seams are sewn
After all of my squares were sewn together, I trimmed the corners and the seam allowance. I left the bottom seam allowance at 1/2 inch to make it easier to sew the opening closed after filling the bags.
Bag after seams are trimmed
Then I turned each bag right side out and finger-pressed the seam allowance to the inside of the bag.
Bag turned right side out with opening seams pressedBag turned right side out
For filler I used whole corn feed that I picked up at my local Southern States. You can buy a 50 pound bag (which would make approximately 50 bags) or you can buy it by the pound (which is what I did) and not have 42 extra pounds of whole corn feed laying around. Since ACA regulation corn hole bags weigh between 14-16 ounces a piece, I purchased 8 pounds of feed and even ended up having a little extra left over. Using a kitchen scale to measure, I filled each bag until it weighed approximately one pound.

After the bag was filled, I pinned the opening closed. Then I pushed all of the corn to the side of the bag opposite the opening and added some pins to keep the corn out of the way of my sewing machine. Here's what the bag looked like after I was done pinning--
Bag pinned closed and so corn is out of the way
NOTE: I did not paint a design on the bags I used to take these pictures, but if I had, the design should be on the side showing in the picture above.
Next I sewed straight across the entire length of the side with the opening, getting as close to edge of the bag as possible to make sure I caught the seam allowance. I also back stitched at the beginning and end of the seam for added strength.
Bag sewn closed
HINT: Whenever I top stitch anything, I always use a hand sewing needle to bring the top thread to the back or wrong side of whatever I'm sewing and tie a knot with the bobbin thread. This gives the bag a more finished look, plus I like to think it helps keep the seam from unraveling over time (<- not sure how true that is, but I haven't had any issues like that so far, knock on wood!)
Using needle to bring thread to back of bag
I sewed another line directly on top of my first one, complete with back stitching and knotting the two threads on the back side of the bag, and voila! I had my very own made-from-scratch, custom cornhole bag.
Finished cornhole bag
And after all eight bags were sewn up, I was finished with my complete, custom corn hole set!
Finished bags with painted on designs
Finished bags with UNC Asheville logo
Finished bags with basketball design

Want to know how I made my custom corn hole boards? Check out this post!