In high school, I took a sewing class where I learned how to use a sewing machine and follow patterns. While everyone else hated it and shifted to cooking (where you actually got to eat your projects), I found I really enjoyed it.
Sewing to me is an essential skill that everyone should have at least some experience with. Many times I have had clothing seams come undone or needed to hem a pair of pants (short people problems haha). I was so thankful I knew how to use a sewing machine to quickly fix the problem.
I got into sewing stuffed animals from scrap pieces of fabric leftover from my projects. In these cases, I could fill them with rice and stuff them directly. When I got into knitting and crochet however, this was no longer the case. The rice needed to be sealed in some form before being put into the toy, otherwise they would fall out of all the holes. I took the easy way out at first and used ziplock bags taped around the borders for extra security. This sufficed, but was not optimal as they would make crinkling sounds inside the toys. The way to get around this was to pull out my sewing skills again and make some little beanbags with scraps of fabric!
I always keep even the tiniest squares of leftover fabric swatches for times like these. I stitch 3 sides together, and about 2/3 of the last side, leaving a hole to add the rice. I add the amount needed to get the weight I want, and then sew up the rest. The smaller the hole you leave, the more difficult it is to add the rice, but the easier it is to finish sealing the bag. If you leave the hole a little wider, it is easier to get the rice in, however it takes a little more skill to keep the rice in as you stitch up the hole.
Don’t worry about making them look nice, or sewing each side evenly and pushing out the corners. Since they will be hidden inside your project, a strong seal is more important than aesthetics. I would also recommend using larger pieces of fabric rather than smaller, as this makes it easier to fill and sew. It is okay if the bag doesn’t feel very full provided it is the weight that you want. It is very difficult to make a beanbag that is stuffed too tight though!
These are great to have around for making stuffed animals. I highly recommend taking the extra time to do this, especially if you plan on making a few things and can prepare a few rice bags at once.
Even if you do not know how to use a sewing machine, these can be made by hand stitching. There might even be a no-sew option that would work (ie. tying knots using tails all around the borders to seal the bag rather than stitching the pieces together).
*Reminder: if you are using rice, you cannot wash your toy! Just imagine all the rice soaking and growing inside their bellies… If you anticipate your project needing a good wash from time to time, you can buy plastic beads from a craft store that are washable (read labels).