Softer Better (and More Expensive) Bean Bag Chair/sofa/bed!





Introduction: Softer Better (and More Expensive) Bean Bag Chair/sofa/bed!

After Seeing An Instructable by a genius named dan I remember a product by the company Lovesac and wanted to make a cheaper version. Well I succeeded, kind of.

Step 1: Materials

This is pretty much a copy of the instructable in the intro, however using ripped/shredded foam for stuffing like the lovesac company does. It is way quieter/soft however more expensive.

Was it worth it? Lets find out.

Things you will need: (and what I paid for them)
Sewing Machine (I didn't own one, so 90 bucks)
Fabric (on sale for 2.97 a yard so I spent like 20 bucks)
Thread (5 bucks for two big spools)

(edit: I added a new step for the new stuffing)
Stuffing (I used bed mattress and cut them up, around 120 on 7 of them, hopefully you are smarter and can find something cheaper, they sell the stuff preshredded but much less economic)

Velcro (6 buck for 5 yards or something, industrial strength, a zipper would work too)
Measuring tape (mine was lost in my house, so 3 bucks)
Razor blade (also lost in the house, 1 dollar)
Scissors (something i actually owned, maybe 2-6 bucks?)
Helpers, well, help (any where from free to a dinner each, depends on where you go)

I saw the link before but also gregsabo pointed out inexpensive pre-shredded foam!, looks like a good deal to me, for my project I'd want at least 4. Depending on what you want to use the foamsac for you might not need to fully fill it, if it's meant to lie in, loose is ok, if you want it for more of a lounger a bit more firm would be better, however for a sofa style you will need it just about full so that there is enough for everyone.

Step 2: Stuffing!

Wow so the inexpensive pre-shredded foam! from online turned out to be awesome. The foam comes in a rather small box, but when I saw the weight I realized it was a lot. 23 pounds of foam in a maybe 2'x2'x3' box isn't bad. Then I opened it to see what looked like mixed playdoh, then a knife cut and it about doubled in size.

This foam is good, not great... well maybe. There are different kinds of foam of different texture and consistency, but all around find as they are in tiny pieces. However one type of white foam fell out in a few large pieces, no big deal just a little bit of ripping later and problem solved. And for the price, wow, I am glad that foam was pointed out to me. I wouldn't call my bag full yet, but the bags are definitely well packed, even after letting air in they were still pretty dense, so I would say you can do the math to figure out how much you need (in volume, so in my case I need 2.5'x2.5'x7' worth of foam) and then maybe add another small bag or two more then what you think, because you need to remember that the foam will squish (obviously) and the fabric you used will maybe stretch or at least reform.

Filling it is a whole different barrel of fun.

Step 3: Cutting

I was trying to follow dans plan but the cheap fabric I found was 60" wide, not 36", so I decided lets cut it in half, but then I thought it might be to thin, so I said whatever and made 4 panels instead of 3, adding about a foot to the circumference. If you do your math thats a lot more volume so thus not a good idea, I'd recommend sticking to a total of 9 feet around or less.

So any way, personally I bought a 5 yard by 60" panel of cloth, plus another 2 1/3 yards for the ends, this was way more then enough to make my 7 foot bag.

I cut the pieces into 7 foot by 30 inch sections, then (actually I sewed that together first but whatever) cut a few 30 inch by 30 inch squares, and then I cut 2 30" x 20" sections for a secondary mouth for the velcro side (I'll explain later, but I messed it up any way)

Also you are going to need 2 strips (or in my case 1 because I was thinking backwards, it was late give me a break) of velcro however its smartest to cut this near the end because the measuring depends on your seam size.

Step 4: Sewing!

It has been forever since I have used a sewing machine but this is so simple I had no problem after I figured out how to use the machine.

Simply sew the 4 panels together length wise (and inside out for those of you non-previous-sewers)

No big deal.

Then on one end sew a 30" x 30" square to cover the end (yet again you should see all 4 seams when you are done, you are going to flip it inside out duh)

Then the trickier part...

Step 5: The Open End

As I said before I messed this up, if you want to do a double seal that will make it impossible for anything to escape unwanted (and probably be a bit more difficult to fill but probably not by much) I have a plan that is probably redundant.

But first what I did.

Thinking backwards i sewed a 30" x 20" panel down to 3 panels. (then I realized I should have sewn the larger piece first, oh well). Then i sewed the 30" side of the second piece to the opposite side of the bag I now have, cut this new piece so it overlaps the first by about 2 inches, then i sewed the other 2 sides down.

Finally I put the sticky velcro on both pieces so I have a straight mouth that velcros shut.

I hope that made sense.

What I meant to do was first sew 3 sides of the 30" x 30" square down and make a velcro opening, then after that do what I actually did first so that you would have 2 layers and 2 openings.

That probably made no sense but maybe pictures will help. And some thought / corrections.

Step 6: Now the Last Real Step: Stuffing!

So heres the important part of MY instructable, the stuffing.

I tried many things here like; using a piece of wood and razor blade to cut pieces, using a scissors to cut up chunks, folding the foam and cutting the fold into long strips and cutting that into chunks, etc etc etc...

In the end, we just started ripping the foam by hand into tiny bits.
Thats another good point. At first we started pieces about 2" x 2". Then we got lazy and just ripped out large pieces, maybe up to 6" x 6". After a while and many tests I realized that the larger parts makes the chair look lumpy and you can feel the lumps, they aren't a big deal but if you have the patience stay small.

Moral of the story, find your own way but smaller is better.

So hours and hours of tearing bed pads into small bits of foam made us realize my bag was way too big, I bought 5 full size mattress pads and 2 queen sizes. As I write this I'm 1 queen size and probably about 3 1/2 full mattresses done and it is MAYBE half way full. However even only at half way full I slept on it last night and it was super comfortable, it just doesn't work as a sofa yet.

Just keep going until its full enough for you.

For the old foam we found the best method was to fill a box (the sewing machine box in our case) until it was packed in, then one person holds the bag open the other dumps the foam in.

The pre-shredded foam was easy but a bit messy. My helper was states away so what I did was put as much of the foam tube bag thing into my non-bean bag chair and then use my knife to make a cut length wise and just keep going until it was empty. Their foam is really fine so expect to make a mess on something, whether yourself or your surroundings.
In dan's bean bag instructable he had a good idea for those of you with a stair case, just put the bag down some stairs any way possible and dump away, I didn't have that leisure so it was a bit tough but I did it so I bet you can too. It's not a hard to grasp concept, just fill the darn thing!

Step 7: Enjoying!

If everything went well you should be realizing why bean bag chairs are flawed :P

This chair won't burst open and shoot Styrofoam every where. it doesn't make that crinkly noise. It bounces back to whatever shape it started at kind of. It is way super soft! And it didn't cost you as much as a commercial version would, it's just not as good sadly, well mine wasn't.

It works great for sleeping on, just a warning though it actually gets warm sleeping on it. It is a super comfy chair that you can toss around and mush up like a pillow into a preferred position. Also its easy to move because it squishes down to almost nothing.

So was it worth it? For me, who used to sleep on an air mattress that his cats deflated and moves a lot and lives in tiny appartments, definitely. For you who is a bit smarter, maybe has more time and/or money, you might have better ideas.

I just wanted this to be more of an idea to get those big brains out there inventing better/cheaper functional/fun furniture so I can copy you.

So please please please tell me everything I did wrong, and try to ignore my instructable awkward virginity loss.

Thanks again. Enjoy!



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    30 Discussions


    2 years ago

    A fun, and informative read!

    I plan on doing something like this with my grandma. she's always liked sewing projects.

    1 reply

     Buy better cloth than I did would be my warning. Moved in with my girlfriend and she HATES it because it is large and flannel, but even she admits its damned comfy, we are looking for something to cover it with since my sewing machine is out of commission...

    Thank you for that link- I have been wanting to do this, but before this the cheapest i found foam or beads was $2/ft3. That was obviously way too expensive (im making a 5' diameter, 2' high disk, that's about 40 ft3 so almost $80 for stuffing...), so what I was planing on doing was using scrap styrofoam and blending it. Although you do get nice, small beads, its also extremely messy and im sure it would be incredibly time-consuming.

    Short Version- that site is much less expensive, and therefore saved me a lot of work.

    2 replies

    I found "regrind" 10 cu ft bags for $12 a bean bag/sofa/bed required 30 cu ft...its a little stiff right now and I will remove some here someday but right now its really comfy!!!

    So... How many bags of shredded foam would it take to fill something that's about 5' x 6'? Square not tube. Thanks! :)

    4 replies

    Answer 1: I would say that my 7'x2.5'x2.5' cube was maybe 1/4 more filled with 2 of the small bags from that link... so if we do the math you would need 5.4 (lets say 6) bags... you can do math again to see about the larger bags... now 5'x6' is 2d, so you are missing a dimension, you mentioned "square not tube" so I am going to guess 5'x6'x1' so i would guess 4 (5 for good measure) Now, Answer 2/The disclaimer... I am not sure about that 1/4 fullness thing, it might have been more or less but also filling a sac with foam doesn't seem to work out mathematically. So what I would say is buy a little more than you think you would need (4 or 5) and expect that you might have to place another order.

    Ah sorry for the lack of clarity, I meant that I was making more of a pillow shape in that it would have no end pieces to open up the volume. Thanks for the math though, I'm not so good at it sometimes.

    Keep in mind its only foam, so I would put a quite bit more width then you would with a bean filled one, and at least a little more than a standard "what-ever-that-fiber-stuff-is-SUPPOSED-to-be" filled pillow. Good luck all the same.

    Well I'm trying to get an idea on how much volume is actually in my friends' Sumo which they got in the Omni Plus version, measuring about 5.5' x 4.5' and filled with foam not beads.

    Great writeup...I am thinking about doing something around 7 foot long by 3 foot high and 3 feet wide...more or less a couch I guess. How full do you recommend making it? Would one large bag from that site be enough? It's roughly 4 of the smaller ones. thanks for the idea

    1 reply

    that is slightly larger than mine was, so my answer would be "not by a long shot"... first of all I will warn you that mine still isn't full, it takes a lot of foam (well ok, really i used 2 of those small bags and like 4 or 5 bed rolls, so thats probably another bag or two, and its maybe half way full... back on track) and if it's not full it definitely oozes out to a larger size... mine was supposed to be a giant rectangle, 7x2.5x2.5 (actually a bit smaller after sewing) but right now it lays out to more like 8x4x1.5 In theory I would think filling it up would make it take shape more, but its hard to tell, and I've thought of the downfall that getting it truly full should be quite difficult without foam getting every where... so i would say for that size that a large bag would definately put a good dent in it... but i wouldn't be surprised if 2 bags fit easily in that size. Sorry for the indefinite answer but sadly this project never got to the point I wanted it to, not yet, I'm actually thinking of pretty much starting over by making a futon mattress, partly because it would be comfy, but the main reason is so I have better answers for people, give me a few months so i can get a few more paychecks under ye olde belt and I might be good to go.... Good luck though

    Thank you very, I can save $$$ on a mattress for our garden bed. Shalom ! Coline, in Canada

    1 reply

    In your opinion which is more comfortable, beans or foam. I was thinking of combining the softness of foam with the form fittingness of beans, meaning mix them in my bean bag sofa/bed.

    2 replies

    Sorry I didn't get back to you much sooner, I thought about that too, I love the foam, never was a HUGE fan of bean bags but they aren't bad. What I wondered was would the beans fall to the bottom, giving you a second layer? If they did that might work out awesome, it would form itself into a mattress design where you have levels of firmness, the foam will shape to your body very well, then you put pressure on the beans which will shift to hold that support. Hard to say though, usually those things that sound cool on paper don't work out at all.

    That would be amazing if it actually worked like that. Maybe if you want to make sure it works like that you could make the bean bag have two chambers one for beans and one for shredded foam.