The babies Jesus

6 Jan

I know Christmas is over, but I think I told Julie I’d show you my baby Jesuses that I worked so hard on.

First, a little background.  Thirty some odd years ago, my aunt made our family a bean bag nativity set.  What is a bean bag nativity set, you ask?  Well, this is a bean bag nativity set:

It’s the perfect nativity set for kids because you can actually touch it without mom freaking out.  Not only you can touch it, but you can play with it, and even act out the whole nativity story if you’d like.  With a closer look, you can see it has been well loved.

Hay and hair refuse to be tamed (though I’m not sure I remember the hair ever looking much different than this), Mary’s missing a hand (I’m hoping that has nothing to do with the nativity bowling incident of 1996), the camel can no longer stand unaided—you get the picture.  But this nativity set is responsible for some of my most treasured childhood Christmas memories, and I wanted to pass that on to my children.  So about a decade ago, my oldest sister and I made new nativity sets.

We mostly stuck to the original pattern my mom had acquired from my aunt all those years ago, only making a few minor adjustments.  The color palette is a little less 70s and we gave Joseph a sash and Mary a shawl, but otherwise we tried to maintain its original charm (including rastafarian-head Joseph–his locks were legend in our family).  It took hours and hours to complete.  My sister did all of the machine work since a decade a go I was even more clueless about the ways of a sewing machine than I am now (if you can believe it), and I helped out with the hand work.  Our original plan was to make a set for each of our other siblings, but after completing our sets, we decided to take a break for the rest of that Christmas season, and well, that was a decade ago.

This year when my kids set up the nativities, I decided my two other sisters must have their own bean bag nativities.  I really had the best of intentions, but keeping in mind my previous sewing experiences and that I made this decision just two weeks before Christmas, I’m sure you won’t be too surprised to learn that this is as far as I got (times two):

It took hours and hours to complete.  And hours.  I included a note with my sisters’ packages that I expected to be done with the rest of the sets in time for their grandchildren to enjoy them.  Maybe.  But at least they have the essential pieces, and aren’t they just the sweetest things you’ve ever seen?

If I do say so myself.


34 Responses to “The babies Jesus”

  1. Jenna Nelson January 6, 2011 at 8:49 am #

    Hands down, the sweetest. how can i get my hands on that pattern? 😉

  2. Amanda D January 6, 2011 at 8:58 am #

    I think those are amazing. I don’t really think you need to worry about the other pieces – you got the essential ones done.

  3. Janelle January 6, 2011 at 9:08 am #

    Unbelievably cute.

  4. Mother of the Wild Boys January 6, 2011 at 9:10 am #

    I don’t know that I’ve ever laughed so hard WHILE feeling such a sweet spirit. It must be the rastafarian hair. 😉

  5. Alison Wonderland January 6, 2011 at 9:16 am #

    So cute. And I’m impressed that you even attempted it, WAY too much work for me.

  6. shazbraz January 6, 2011 at 9:45 am #

    Oh my goodness those are cute! I second it…I want the pattern! We had a little stuffed nativity that I bought from someone years ago, and my kids loved it, but it is not nearly that cute and baby Jesus has gone missing.

  7. cheryl January 6, 2011 at 10:52 am #

    They are the sweetest. And you are the sweetest for taking the time to make them! I’m thinking this could be something I would undertake for the happiness of my children. I also want the pattern! (Stop laughing! I can sew if I want. And when I figure out how to thread the machine… ) 🙂

  8. MaryAnn January 6, 2011 at 1:53 pm #

    Super cute! Love the family and childhood connection – a very special thing indeed!

  9. evitafjord January 6, 2011 at 2:15 pm #


  10. foo4luv January 6, 2011 at 3:37 pm #

    Gotta love Hippie Joseph!

  11. Julie January 6, 2011 at 3:37 pm #

    I’m in love and I don’t care who knows it.

    I must have a rastafarian Joseph. Must. Have.

  12. madhousewife January 7, 2011 at 9:39 am #

    They are the sweetest! And Joseph, Mary and Jesus are really all you need anyway. (Not that I’m turning down the rest of the set on my grandchildren’s behalf, but just saying–we got the essentials. Including the most important thing: Joseph’s rasta hair.)

  13. Flipflopmama January 7, 2011 at 10:50 am #

    Adorable! You did great!

  14. bythelbs January 7, 2011 at 5:42 pm #

    Thanks for all the kind words, ladies!

    I’ll see what I can do about getting my hands on the pattern. I didn’t use it for the pieces I made (I just used my already finished pieces to make a pattern), but my sister has it somewhere. I’ll look into it.

  15. Patience January 9, 2011 at 8:34 pm #

    They’re so sweet! I think they turned out great.
    Is that a scrap of shag carpeting serving as the manger for the original baby Jesus?

  16. Sara January 4, 2013 at 5:24 pm #

    I made 2 of these sets for my children and nieces inthe late 70s. I wanted to make 2 more this Christmas, but cannot find my pattern. If you do get it, I would like to get at least the instructions for it. I still have 1 set and cand see it, but details would make it easier. Many thanks. Sara

    • bythelbs January 9, 2013 at 1:27 pm #

      Sara, I do have a pattern, but it is very lengthy. My goal is to scan it and upload it to share. If I ever get that far, I will e-mail you a link!

      • Carol February 23, 2013 at 8:47 pm #

        Do you just have the name of the company that sells the pattern. I lost mine a couple of years ago when I moved and I’ve wanted to make more sets recently.

  17. Barbara December 24, 2013 at 8:09 am #

    I totally need to replace the beanbag set I was given by a friend in 1980 Could I please get a copy of your patterns? I will gladly pay you for your time and trouble if you will copy them for me. I am the primary caregiver for my grandson and soon to be born granddaughter and would love to make a set for them.

  18. justtryingtoremember February 27, 2014 at 9:32 am #

    Hey, whatever happened to that pattern? Oh, and my responses to your emails? What happened to those, I say? (I’ll tell you what happened. Nothing. Cause I’m a crap face). But still, that pattern isn’t a crap face. I’d love it.

    • Barbara February 27, 2014 at 11:10 am #

      I would love the pattern too! Please. I do not believe you are a crap face 🙂 I think that we all get busy and things fall through the cracks.

      • bythelbs February 27, 2014 at 3:42 pm #

        I haven’t done this for anyone yet because it is a daunting task. I don’t really have a complete original working pattern, but a makeshift one including pieces hand drawn by my mom, and in some cases already cut into the pattern pieces, and all irregular sizes not easily scanned or copied without significant effort. It has always been my intention to prepare a pattern to share because EVERYONE should have a bean bag nativity, so I promise to include you when I get to that point. I’m sorry I can’t make any timeframe promises at this time.

      • Barbara February 27, 2014 at 3:59 pm #

        Thank you!

    • bythelbs February 27, 2014 at 3:43 pm #

      You’ll never be a crap face to me.

  19. A Wekks December 24, 2014 at 1:56 pm #

    I have been searching for this pattern forever! My mom made these when I was little, and I have been wanting to make my own set. She doesn’t know where her pattern is. I will gladly pay for a copy of it.

  20. Kathleen Kuna January 10, 2015 at 4:28 pm #

    I want the pattern also. I bought this set at a craft show back in the 80’s. My kids loved playing with it and learning the Christmas Story. I have a ceramic set my sister made me as a Christmas Gift and did not want the kids playing with that one so the bean bag set was perfect! I have looked everywhere for the pattern or another copy. Searching the internet I found your blog. Please, send me the pattern when you put it together. I want to make the whole set for my grandson.

  21. Kathleen Kuna February 4, 2015 at 1:43 pm #

    Haven’t heard from you in regard to getting a pattern. I am willing to pay any expenses involved in doing so. Contact me again at

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  27. Heather Roebuck January 12, 2017 at 4:31 am #

    I have this same set created by my aunt 37 years ago! I would love to make sets for my daughters. Where did you find the pattern?

  28. Heather Roebuck January 12, 2017 at 6:36 am #

    I found the pattern info! It’s Simplicity #8776.

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