Here's a blast from the past you Don't have to stand for!! (yeah, I went there)
For as long as I can remember, a large bean bag chair has always been on my list of "must haves" for bedroom furniture (just above a futon and below a hammock on my list) But with the prices these days, it's hard to find one and still afford other living room furniture.
I finally broke down and made one for my friends, mostly because their couches weren't long enough for me. I'll tell you now, this project screams comfort so long as you learn to sleep on your back. Best night of sleep I've had in weeks, and all my back pain was gone! (I guess that's what I get for sleeping on a futon since high school)
The total project costs around $120 to $150, but depending on what materials you want to use, it can be significantly cheaper.
Step 1: Materials
Here's a handy list of everything you'll need:
- Interior fabric
- I used Muslin. It's strong, durable, and cheap at .50-$2 a yard
- Exterior Fabric (optional)
- If you hate the look of muslin and can afford it, snag some extra fabric for a cover. I used costume suede
- This can be many things, from packing peanuts to old T-shirts. I chose shredded foam. You'll need a lot of this
- Velcro (optional) if you would like a cover
- plenty of thread
Step 2: Measurements
First question: how large do you want it?
I wanted a sofa, since every now and then I knew this would be my bed, and I'm 5 foot 11. I had to make mine big.
Grab a paper and draw some diagrams. Your chair is going to inevitably be a cylinder, so draw a circle and a few rectangles for reference.
The circle will be your sides, and you'll need 2 of them. I recommend making it 3 feet in diameter. It's large enough for your average chair, but if you're going kid sized, 2 feet will work.
Length is up to you, but again, I needed mine long, so I did 6 feet. Keep in mind, the sides will "squish" outwards, so the total length is around 7 feet, and the middle stretches to 4. Long story short, a chair could do well with a 3 foot length.
Step 3: Measurements 2: the Hit Sequel
This is where you break out that 8th grade math you questioned you'd ever need.
With your main measurements down and fabrics chosen, now we have to find out how much of everything you'll need.
Find the circumference of your circle (here's the site I used) My base layer was made of a heavy duty muslin, which is 36 inches wide. Now I messed up on my math and should've actually used 4 rectangles, but since this was the inner layer, I just folded over the extra and made it work.
Divide your circumference between the 3 rectangles (4 if your fabric's width isn't large enough) and fill that in on your chart.
If you plan to have a cover, make another circle and rectangle. The suede was a little larger, so I only needed rectangles for the sides, rather than 3 like the muslin.
Time to math. Add up all your numbers to find how much fabric you'll need. For a 3X6 couch, I needed 8 yards of Muslin and 6 yards of suede (for me, one yard for each circle, two yards for each rectangle) I purchased this at Joann fabrics while it was all on sale.
While you're at it, multiply your circle's area by the length of your rectangle. This will give you the area of your bean bag chair, which will determine how much filler you need. If you choose shredded foam, I purchased it from this site, and I needed about 50 to 60 pounds of it.
You'll also need one Rectangle's length of velcro (6 feet), and plenty of thread for all of this.
Step 4: Cutting the Fabric
Lay everything out and start measuring.
For the circles, you can fold the end over one circle length, then draw your circle on top. This way you can mark and cut both at once.
Measure out your rectangles as well, and make your cuts. Not much to say on this step, just try to find a large room to do this in, if you can.
Step 5: Sewing
Start by sewing the long ends of the rectangles together. This will turn it into a long tube, if you will.
It's my suggestion that you double stitch everything you do here. Run a strong stitch down one side, then fold it over half an inch and go over it again. It's tedious, I know, but this is a bean bag couch full of shredded foam. The last thing you need is it exploding when you sit down.
After you stitch the tube, sew the circles on as "caps". Leave one open a third, however. This is where you'll be pouring in your filler.
Sew up your cover as well, caps and all. Only difference is that you do not shut the tube longways (don't sew one of the rectangle's sides) remember to double stitch!
For the long sides of your cover, fold over the edge an inch, and sew on your velcro. Make sure to put one strip on the inside of the cover, and one on the outside; it will lie flat this way.
Step 6: Filler
This is where things get frustrating and near impossible, depending on your filler.
Open up the muslin sack and start pouring in your filler.
You don't want to fill it all the way, because then it won't have any room to "squish", and eventually it'll pop. Push it down as you fill it, and only go around 80-90% full. If you're like me, you'll have plenty of fluff leftover.
My trick for this was to duct tape the muslin sack over filler bag and shake the filler into the sack. For the most part it worked, but it was still quite a mess.
When you clean up later, if you can, use a vacuum that can save the filler so you can toss it back in the bag. You never know when this stuff might come up again.
Step 7: Revenge of the Sewing
Nearly complete, but here comes the awkward part.
Take a needle (or some pins) and close up the muslin sack. If you're only doing one layer, you'll want to do a strong hidden stitch to really finish off the edges. However, if you're making a cover, don't mind your sewing skills to much.
Now awkwardly bend the entire couch (which is now taller than you) under your arm, on top of your leg, and stretch the seam under the sewing machine so you can finish off the sack.
And then....fold it over and do a safety stitch. Trust me, a chain is only as strong as it's weakest link. You're really going to want to safety stitch all of these things.
Step 8: Apply the Cover
Plus sides to making a cover:
- looks nice
- easy to wash
- more comfortable than muslin
- Putting it on
Putting the cover on the finished bag takes a little time, but it can be done. Put one side on, putting the "circles" against each other. Bend the couch over on top of itself, then grab the cover and pull it on. Now just slowly flatten out the beast and it'll settle in its new cage. Lastly, velcro the bottom shut, and you're done! You've got yourself one delightfully pleasant piece of lumbar support!
Step 9: Bonus Round
If you're like me, you've got some leftover suede. Too much leftover suede to toss. How about make some pillows!
I bought some extra muslin and than just threw together some pillows with my leftover foam, and broke out the embroidery station to embelish it.
The final result is a massive couch now sitting in my friends apartment that now doubles as the guest bed (i.e, my bed)
I hope you have fun making this project! Best of luck!
Runner Up in the