Introduction: Bean Bag Sofa / Bed

Picture of Bean Bag Sofa / Bed

i started out thinking about building a beanbag, but being the prototypically exuberant man's man that i am i thought: 'i am going to go huge! why make a beanbag just like everyone else? i'll make the biggest, baddest beanbag evah!!!'

Well in the end i did make the biggest baddest beanbag evah, but i think any practical assessment would say that it is too large to be convenient (eg: hard to get through doorways and tends to fill all available floor area in room). But I learned enough through this effort that I can advise you, dear reader, how to build a most useful and practical beanbag sofa should you want to do so.

summary: looking for that plush bean-bag chair comfort, but in a sofa size? bean-bags are easy and inexpensive to make (as furniture goes). the bean-bag sofa can be easily formed into a form-ftting bed as well.

This project is brought to you by MonkeyLectric and the Monkey Light bike light

Step 1: Materials & Tools

you'll need the following:

- bean bag beans (see next steps)
- spool of sturdy cloth (see next steps)
- about 3 feet of velcro
- a sewing machine
- a 4-6 inch diameter cardboard tube about 2-3 feet long
- optional: a shop-vac

Step 2: Choose Your Sofa Size

the size of your sofa determines how much cloth you need. where a standard beanbag-chair is a sphere (ball), the beanbag-sofa is a cylinder shape (tube with end caps). there are several possible sizes of sofa you can make, with convenient names:

sofa model        diameter       length
pea              3 feet           3 feet    (standard beanbag chair)
garden slug      3 feet           8 feet    (recommended)
banana slug      4 feet          10 feet    (bad! diameter is too big!)
centipede        3 feet          30 feet    (around-the-room sofa)
earthworm        1.5 feet         8 feet    (back rest only)
millipede        3 feet        1000 feet    (block party sofa)

it turns out there is also a jellyfish sofa, the jellyfish is what you get when you don't have enough beans in the bag to keep its shape and it just squooshes out all over the floor. the problem with the banana slug that i built - and the reason i don't recommend it - is that when it is filled enough to not be a jellyfish, it no longer will fit through a doorway. and it is just way too huge for a normal room, it tends to envelop everything else in the room. months later you'll discover your little dog toto buried in the folds of the jellyfish.

oh yes, so your spool of cloth must be as wide as the diameter of the sofa. for the recommended "garden slug" sofa you'll need a spool 3 feet wide and 32 feet long. use something sturdy! i made mine out of corduroy. there's a good selection of fabrics for $4-8 per yard at my local fabric store.

Step 3: What About the Beans!

Picture of What About the Beans!

you'll want to fill the beanbag at least 80% full of beans. a normal beanbag chair is not this full, but the sofa will not hold its shape unless it is nearly full. for the earthworm type used as a backrest, you may want to pack it 100%. calculate the volume of the sofa (a cylinder): pi * radius * radius * length. so the garden slug is 56 cubic feet (3.14 * 1.5 * 1.5 * 8). beanbag beans are sold by the cubic foot, so you'll need about 50 cubic feet of them.

where to get the beans! you will need a lot of beans, so the best thing is to find a local styrofoam (EPS) products manufacturer. try the website to find a list of EPS manufacturers around the country. getting the beans will be a fun excursion unto itself, as you can see below. the technical term for what you want is "expanded polystyrene beads" or "EPS beads" for short. usually they will have both new beans ("virgin beads"), and used beans ("regrind"). virgin costs about 10x as much as regrind, usually more than you'll want to spend on some lunatic project you read about on Instructables. my local foam mfr (Bay Foam in Hayward CA) sells 35 cubic foot bags of regrind for $10 each. they had a huge mountain of them behind their factory! the fancy places online that sell beanbags will tell you that virgin beads have a better feel in the beanbag, but my sofa seems perfectly nice with the regrind. remember: regrind = recycling!

how to find a styrofoam products maker! they do not seem to like to list themselves under "foam" in the phone book, that seems to be reserved for the lowly urethane-foam folks only! instead you'll want to look under "packaging & shipping materials" or whatever else they might be making out of styrofoam, such as architectural trim.

no airbag needed! on your drive back from the foam factory you'll be about as safe as you've ever been in your motor vehicle. now is the time to enter a demolition derby! it took some effort, but i was able to wedge about 120 cubic feet of beans into my minivan after i took most of the seats out.

Step 4: The Plans

Picture of The Plans

we're making a basic cylinder out of cloth. of course i made the banana slug model (i would have gone bigger, but i had not heard of the centipede or millipede until after i finished!):

- cut two circles of fabric 3 feet in diameter - these will be the ends of the cylinder

- cut three rectangles 3 feet wide and as long as you want the sofa (8 or 10 feet long). these three will form the tube of the cylinder

- cut a 2 foot square, this will cover the fill-hole

Step 5: Make the Double-sealed Filling Hole

Picture of Make the Double-sealed Filling Hole

whether you are making a slug or a centipede, surely nothing can be more important than a HUGE GAPING MAW TO SWALLOW UP YOUR CHILLUN AND NEVER LET THEM OUT AGAIN!

the filling hole is how you will get the beans into the sofa. i made a double-seal to ensure that no beans can escape by accident! the double-seal also reinforces the velcro closures so that you'll be able to jump all over the sofa with no fear of it opening up. this banana slug is salt proof!

- cut a 1 foot slit in one of the 3x8 fabric rectangles, about 1 foot from one end of it. put velcro on each side of the slit so that you can close it up. this is the outer seal.

- sew the 2 foot fabric rectangle onto the 3x8 piece so the middle of it covers over the 1 foot slit. sew it only on 3 edges, on the 4th edge attach velcro. this is the inner seal. of course, do this on the "inside" side of the 3x8 fabric.

Step 6: Sew the Sofa!

- sew the three big 3x8 rectangles together along their long edges. ie: make a 8 foot long x 9 foot wide sheet, then fold the sheet in half and sew its 8' edges to make a tube (do it inside-out). when you are done you'll have a 8 foot long tube with open ends.

- go over all seams twice for strength.

- keep the tube inside-out

- sew on one of the end-cap circles (also inside-out). remember the circle circumference is a teeny bit larger (9.4 feet) than the tube circumference (9 feet). if you are a perfectionist that means you'd actually want your circle to be about 2.9 feet diameter, not 3 feet diameter.

- sew on the other end-cap circle, inside-out.

Step 7: Flip It! Fill It!

Picture of Flip It!  Fill It!

like an unhappy sea cucumber it is time to pull the entire sofa out through its mouth, to make it right-side-out.

once it is righted, the fun starts! how are you going to get all those beans into it? the most important thing to remember is: no matter how you do it, you'll be finding beans all over your house (and probably your neighborhood) for the rest of your life. so you might as well have fun trying:

shop-vac method 1:
- put mouth of sofa over the head of the shop-vac
- suck the beans out of the bag from whence they came!

shop-vac method 2 (the Bean Cannon):
- turn shop-vac into blower-mode
- put shop-vac head into bean supply (careful not to clog it)
- point nozzle at unsuspecting passersby. when bored, point nozzle into sofa mouth to fill it.

leaf blower method:
- just like shop-vac method 2, but with a leaf blower.

boring method:
- hold mouth of sofa with the rest hanging down a staircase
- attach 6-inch diameter cardboard tube to your bag of beans
- insert cardboard tube into sofa mouth
- pour in the beans

Step 8: How to Get Rid of the World's Largest Beanbag


World's largest beanbag - agglomerate it for free! (berkeley)
Reply to: see below
Date: 2008-02-08, 1:40PM PST

Do you want the world's largest beanbag? I thought so. Large enough to sleep two in dreamy comfort, just barely small enough to fit through your door. In fact, you kind of have to "pour" it through your door. Don't get discouraged, it *will* fit through. unless you have a small door. I made this beanbag myself - surely you did not think you could buy the world's largest beanbag in any store! because you cannot. it is made from lavish gray cordury and filled with 120 cubic feet of foam beans. it is in good condition (maybe a little pet hair). but - oh yes, did i mention that it has been cat peed? we have cleaned it so it does not smell, the problem is that our cat has just discovered (as you will) that the pluush bean-y texture of the bag is oh-so-pleasurable, much nicer than his litter box. we can't keep him away from it!! so we cleaned up the mess but now we gotta keep em separated. so you benefit. in case you are wondering what this famous beanbag looks like, this is it here:

that is the actual one in the photo, it is not an imitation.
ok here's what you need to do: bring a vehicle and 50 feet of rope, and 1-2 friends. the beanbag will just barely fit in an 8-foot pickup bed, otherwise it's going on your roof. you will strap it around in 3 places, putting the rope through your windows. you will drive no more than 30mph, because this thing has a larger volume than your vehicle and the wind will push the beans around. just sit back and enjoy your time as the laughingstock of the roadway. it will be like a minivan on top of your car, except the minivan on top is made of jello and it wants you to eat that yummy jello while you are driving, and it is coming at you through your windows so you can eat it while you are driving! ok maybe it is more like 'attack of the killer slime mold'. so hopefully you do not have to drive too far with it, because every couple miles you will have to wrangle the beast back on top. i mean how could you eat another bite at this point? i drove it to san mateo with it once so i know this is possible.

ok so the beanbag is waiting for you RIGHT NOW! it is on the sidewalk outside xxx Allston Way in Berkeley. right now it is on the sidewalk. there is NO NEED to ring the bell, or call, or email, so you can come get it and nobody will know it was you. first come first serve. its a sunny weekend so it will be in good condition when you get it. if it isn't there somebody took it, i'll try to delete the ad when i notice it is gone.

care: in the future if you want to clean it more extensively, here is what i recommend: you can drain out and dispose of the beans, then wash the cover in your laundry machine. you can get a full load of replacement beans (aka "regrind") for about $30 from Bay Foam in Hayward.


gearskin (author)2010-02-07

I I made one for $120, and have received soooo many compliments. It's filled with foam and can seat 6 adults without even touching. It feels just like a love sac but is WAY cheaper. I made the cover out of sale material - black denim and gray corduroy. I made a separate sac for the inside to hold the foam and the slip cover is "zippered" at one end to release it from the sac so it can be washed. I made the inside sac out of t-shirt material so it's stretchy should I need to shove it into the outer cover. I got some of the foam from upholstery people in the area for free and hand cut it. It was a pain, but the sac looks awesome. (In the picture I'm adding we had not added all the foam yet, it's in our game-room). We have since figured out that it is far more comfortable to put the sac in a corner and use it that way. I made tons of pillows and they only make it more comfy :) Thanks for the instructable. It was awesome!!!!

frenzy (author)gearskin2010-06-28

This posting has won today's "I Made It" Challenge. For winning you will receive a 3 month pro membership!

Thanks for using instructables!

DishaK7 made it! (author)2017-01-17

I seen few giant bean bag bed like the image attached on site and I that a lot. It is very nice to chill with friends and family. These seems so cozy and perfect for holidays. But the price was very high. I think now I can have the great bean bag with these instructions.....thanks a lot :D

nmvb (author)2016-12-14

for anyone looking to buy beanbags for this, the website to find eps molders near you is no longer, and is now

nschreiber1 (author)2013-09-19

Mine is slightly modified. It's a 8'x3.5' cylinder and I used a zipper instead of Velcro.

JessicaF99 (author)nschreiber12016-07-22

Was the radius of your cylinder 3.5' or was the diameter 3.5'?

Berwyn ILLocksmith (author)2016-02-28

this is best

TankGirl1980 (author)2016-02-03

Lmao! This is the best post I've ever read. I've been thinking about making something similar to this for one of my kids to sleep on.

Yonatan24 (author)2016-01-19

That is so... AWESOME!

kymdo (author)2015-11-13

I am inspired. Been looking for couch with lot of wants and don't wants. Grew up with bean bags. I believe I can do this with fraction of the cost! I toss, turn, flip n roll over a lot on couches. The bean couch, I believe, will form to me lessening the tossing n turning.

Nessma Adel Rashwan (author)2015-02-14

Please I need some help if u can :D

I am trying to make a big chair comfortable for 1 person but easy to move around the house

I am trying to apply you pattern but i am new in sewing so please tell me if these measures are right

I think that the 2 circles would be 1 meter diameter each

the 3 rectangles width would be 1 meter and lenght 1 meter and a half

are these measures ok?

and if they are ok how much foam do i need

thank you a lot for your help :D

xlilvietaprilx made it! (author)2015-02-04

I made 2 regular chairs and 2 sofas (garden slug). For the sofa I made it 6 ft long instead of 8 ft, because none of my family is even close to 6 ft tall, so 8 ft was too big in my opinion. All of them have 2 layers (bag & cover) since I wanted to be able to wash it. I used shredded foam that I bought online (since I really didn't know how else to get them in my area). The inside layer is made with muslin (cheap), which I sewed completely shut with all the shredded foam inside. I really did not want any shredded foam to come out ever. I used fleece fabric for the outer layer which is closed by an invisible zipper. I bought the make a zipper kit, which were the only ones that were long enough. If you do make a cover, I would recommend the zipper to go the whole length of sofa/chair to have in order to have enough space to stuff the bag in. Also I would recommend making the cover bigger than the bag. Making the chair and sofa was pretty simple it is just very time consuming. The hardest part for me was getting the shredded foam into the bag; I practically had my whole family help me with that part (and foam got everywhere!). I bought 16 yards of pattern fleece ($3.90/yard), 10 yards of solid fleece ($3/yard) and 26 yards of 36" muslin ($1/yard) all on sale at Joann's. I bought the make a 2 zipper kit on Amazon for about $10, but you could use a coupon and buy it online at Joann's for cheaper. The most expensive part for me was buying all the shredded foam online and having them delivered. I bought 3 30lb bags (from which was $35 each plus $15 each for shipping. For everything it costed me a little bit less than $300. I would say it is a really good price, especially if you can find fillers for cheaper in your area. I've been wanting to make these for a long time and the Instructable was really helpful, I couldn't have done without it. Thanks! :)

Hi :D

I am trying to make the standard chair but i donot know how did u do it

what are the pieces we need

is that a pattern to buy the pdf one cause i cannot find except the cylinder pattern

If you can help me please thank you :D

Also I forgot to mention that there was plenty of fabric left over to make some pillows, which I started (in the first pic) and will finish later.

nschreiber1 (author)2013-09-19

Here's mine!

nicksteres (author)nschreiber12014-11-22

How many cubic feet of foam did you use for this? Do you think it would make a good bed or would you roll out of it?

Nimshi (author)2014-11-03

This is great!

I'm going to make pea size ones for my kids, but rather than use velcro and fill them with beans, I'm going to add big zippers and fill them with all the stuffed animals they never play with. Functional seating, AND toy storage? Count me in!

mag419 (author)2014-08-24

wow, nice beanbag!! I'll have to try this!

noeyW (author)2014-02-16

I'm near hayward, ca.. How much would you charge to make one??

gluvit (author)2014-01-17

This is nice

kins15 (author)2014-01-05

Can you make me one?

Advar (author)2013-12-11

This is fantastic! I'm gonna make one (not quite as large) but fill it a bit more great for muli-use item in a one room place.

jamesbeis (author)2013-10-15

Where can I buy the beans and fabric?

connectreis (author)2006-11-15

do you have any drawings/plans for the pea size? is this a harder one to make? Thanks!

dan (author)connectreis2006-11-21

it is not harder. there's a couple patterns you can make it from, all simple. - if you want a perfect sphere, use the same pattern you see on either a beach-ball or a base-ball. - if you want a very short cylinder then you can use the same pattern as here but with shorter rectangular panels.

starshipminivan (author)dan2007-05-13

Check your recycling center. If you don't mind "used" peanuts, they might give them to you for free. It's worth a check if you're not picky. I made a biscuit shaped (short, fat cylinder) one for my daughter's 11th birthday. It's hard to see the structure but it's got a vaguely roundish shape which works well for several children to use at once. It is amazing. My local peanut supplier (regrind) wasn't as cheap as I'd like but it still was very cheap to do this project ($50 for a huge beanbag that I'm told rivals $200 beanbags at a local shop). I made this one 53" in diameter and 26" tall (basing the size on the width of the upholstery fabric I got and leaving 1/2" seams). For experienced sewers, DON'T slash the seam like you would with most round objects to make them appear perfectly round--it's too blobby for anyone to notice the rounded seams and you'll make it less sturdy if you slash. This was stuffed with 28cubic feet of foarm (the supplier sold it in bags of 14 cubic feet each). It is AMAZING. My kid and two friends can lay on it. Instead of lining it and using velcro (or zippers), I used sturdy upholstery fabric ($3 a yard!) and sewed the final seam shut. I sewed on the top and bottom circles to a long piece circumferenceX26" and leaving the final seam to be the one joining both sides of the circumference piece. This was left open to fill. Then, when filled, I simply folded both ends of the fabric onto themselves, pinched them together and sewed. When I want more filling (it's about ready as the peanuts are now thoroughly mushed) I'll just use my handy seam ripper to open this seam, fill, and restitch. Super sturdy with no velcro worries.

It's been six years since I posted the above comment. We still have the beanbag. I have added filling several times over the years by opening the seam, filling, and restitching. It works well and I have less worries about a rupture. We have added a dog to the family who seems to think this is her bed. It has had only one breech (from the dog) and it was on a seam so it was easy to fix. Friends have started giving me, not only their old packing peanuts but their hard formed foam pieces that are used to pack items, like large electronics. I break these apart and they go into the beanbag. It works great and breaks down just like peanuts do.

heiehe (author)2013-05-20

That kids playing pokemon

Boppylop (author)2013-01-21

is there ANY possible substitute for packing peanuts??? I would really like to make this but they just don't have packing peanuts in Ecuador.

americas creepy uncle (author)2012-12-19

psssst i'll post the beanbag loft when i'm done but in ze meantime i be loadin up an instructable sssssssssoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo keep your eyez peeled

americas creepy uncle (author)2012-12-18

zomg i am so changing the dimensions and making a beanbag loft bed :)

thonams (author)2012-09-07

this is awsm am gonna try it this month.........

gragegrl (author)2012-04-15

This is fantastic! Thank you for sharing!

beader1986 (author)2011-08-26

I'm going to make a smaller version for my daughter, she has a TON of stuffed animals, so I am going to use them as the stuffing and put "windows" in it so she can still see her stuffed animals. I saw one on a website, but didn't really want to pay $300 for it. :) I will post pictures when I get it made!

Elaina74 (author)beader19862012-02-01

Most excellent idea!!! My son loves his stuffed animals but he doesn't think it's "cool" to have them. This solves the problem nicely, he can keep them and his friends will think he has cool gaming chairs in his room THANKS!!!

suzobr (author)beader19862011-12-04

I'd really like to see this stuffed animal bean bag - did it work?? This might be a great way to transition our boxes and boxes of animals into a teen bedroom.

beader1986 (author)suzobr2011-12-05

I have not tried it yet, I'm working out the details in my mind. I think I am going to try using fleece, but I think for a teen's room denim from out-grown jeans would be awesome! As soon as I get the material I need I will make it and post some pictures. Thank you for your interest in my idea!!!

soundofmusic (author)2011-10-24

I just noticed if you switch the diameter with the length you'd have something like a love sack!
Pretty neat instructable :3

kreatalot4214 (author)2011-09-07

i have a small suggestion, what if instead of beans, why not try using plastic store bags? im sure a lot of us out there have bags of them laying around for trash, other projects ect. but using them in these bags could eliminate a lot of waist.

SewLolita (author)kreatalot42142011-10-02

that's actually pretty common- around here, a lot of people with pets and kids do it, so when the inevitable little hole in the bag occurs, the bags stay in, rather than them having to clean up a million tiny bits of foam.

they do make a bit more noise, and don't shift around quite as easily, though.

cnunyabiz (author)2011-09-12

This is the best deal I have found so far, unfortunately. its no where near as good as the authors but the best as I have seen since im stuck in colorado..

jhchawk (author)2007-03-25

on, they have 3 types of shredded foam, and also bean bag pellets. Which would you reccomend? And would memory foam be sweet, or just overrated...

dan (author)jhchawk2007-08-16

the feel is different if you use polystyrene foam vs. urethane foam, but probably some people will prefer each type. polystyrene is used in most commercial beanbags. memory foam i think is probably pointless here, since it mostly provides conformal fitting *without* using beans.

cgarner2 (author)dan2011-07-21

Are you saying not to use memory foam? I don't have all of my filling yet, but I do have 2 large bags of scrap memory foam that I have been tearing into smaller pieces. What would you recommend mixing with it'?

downgrade (author)jhchawk2007-07-08

Oh no! Why didn't I read this before wasting so much money on my instructable?!?!

(sorry, typo'd the first comment)

alaaaaaaaaan (author)2011-07-10

Hey guys,
My roommate and i are looking to build one or 2 of these (if we build 2 we would probably make 2 med sized ones) and were wondering what we are looking at as far as total cost. Also, if anybody knows where we could find the filling for this for cheap in Orlando we would greatly appreciate it. Thanks for all the help guys! Awesome instructable BTW

Bindweeds (author)2009-05-27

And if you happen to come into some money that you want to get rid of. A buckwheat hull bean bag would be the best. bean bag. ever!

autokymatic (author)Bindweeds2011-06-11

I actually have a buckwheat hull bed that I put together myself. It's awesome, but buckwheat is pretty weighty.

I bought a queen-size futon cover with 3-sided zipper (organic, thick upholstery quality), and I think about 300lb. of buckwheat hull from a farm in Penn Yan, NY. It's about 10" thick and I have it atop a custom heavy duty wooden frame. Best sleep I've ever had. But, as you can probably tell, it is EXTREMELY heavy. The two times I've moved it I had to empty most of the buckwheat into contractor trash bags and carry them separately.

solpredator (author)2011-06-11

This is a great idea, but it sounds a lot like the love sac that came out in the early 2000's and still seems to be doing well as a company.

oOKing HunterOo (author)2010-01-05

what is the centipede or milipede model?

About This Instructable




Bio: Dan Goldwater is a co-founder of Instructables. Currently he operates MonkeyLectric where he develops revolutionary bike lighting products.
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