Let's be honest - bean bags are awesome! They can take any shape required by its user to offer maximum comfort. Some say that bean bags were invented after Bruce Lee made is "Be like watahh" speech!
For years and years, I had dreamed of owning a bean bag. Unfortunately, I did not really need or have space for one so it stayed a dream. But last week a need for one arose. I had finished the second floor of my flat and I seemed a little too empty. And one day while sitting (on the floor) behind my computer I thought "damn, a bean bag would be really nice to sit on right now". And as with every idea I get, I have to do it immediately. After 15 minutes of researching and gathering ideas, I was ready.
Of course, I also checked the prices for bean bags but quickly abandoned that idea because all the adult-sized bags were more than 100 euros! Aint nobody got money for that! I wanted my bag to be as cheap as possible.
In my vision, I saw a bag that would offer good back support. Although it did not work out 100% as I had hoped, I would say that it worked out even better. I realised that what I had created could be used for various tasks as you can see in the pictures. It is a comfortable sofa which offers a plenty of back support while reading and watching a film. After a little squishing it turns into a mattress for sleeping ( comfortable enough for a person up to 190 cm!). And lastly, it can be turned into a cosy chair.
I ended up paying only 20 euros for the materials. Looking back I would say that this project is easy enough for amateur craftsman but even a skilled sewer could learn something from it.
Let us get started!
Step 1: Tools & Materials
For this project you will need:
- Sewing machine
- Tape measure
- Fabric marker
- EPS beads
As you can see, not much is needed for this project. I managed to do it all with only 20 euros. I spent all of it on the EPS beads. The fabric came from 100% recycled materials.
EPS (expanded polystyrene) is a hard-celled plastic very similar to Styrofoam, which is extruded polystyrene. Besides bean bag beads, EPS is used for disposable coffee cups and as cushioning material for packaging and shipping.
EPS is perfect for most bean bags and bean bag furniture because it is lightweight but rigid enough to retain its form for several years. In fact, EPS is 98 percent air. The EPS beads used for bean bag filler are 3 mm to 5 mm in diameter, and they are resistant to moisture and heat.
An easy way to find EPS beads is to Google for local suppliers near you.
I calculated that I used around 330 litres of beads for this project. A quick research on the internet revealed that a bean bag should be filled 2/3. So my bean bag has approximately a volume of 450 litres.
Step 2: Prepare the Fabric
I used two different types of fabrics for this build.
The sides are made from a material that used to cover the sofa and two armchairs. You can see them (now green) in some of the pictures. The rest was made from an old bedspread.
I first cut all the flowery fabric to nice squares and washed (with bleach) and ironed it.
I wanted my bag to be 60 cm wide so I cut the bedspread to 60 cm wide strips.
By the way, my bean bag measures 150 cm in length and 100 cm in height.
Step 3: Sewing...
Next up I chose the nicer pieces of the side fabric and sew together two shapes shown in the pictures. I freehanded the shape. Some of you will probably already see the mistake I am making. I myself did not notice it until I started sewing the second side to the main piece. The mistake, of course, was that I duplicated the sides. Instead should have mirrored them (classic rookie mistake ;). Luckily I had enough material to make a new one.
After the sides were ready I measured the circumference of one of the sides and added 10 cm to it. Mine ended up being 4.6 meters. Then I sewed the bedspread strips together to form a strip long enough.
I sewed the sides to it making sure both outer surfaces were facing each other. This way you can flip it inside out and thus the ugly fabric edge will be hidden inside. Just to be really sure I double sew everything to minimize the chance of my home being filled with tiny white balls.
Be sure to leave a little hole of around 10-15 cm one of the sides. You will use it to flip the whole thing inside-out and to fill the bag up with EPS beads.
Step 4: Mess..
Talking about the EPS beads...
This will probably be messy.... unless you do it with a trick.
The beads are quite porous and really hard to get through that tiny hole. I tried several methods which all ended up spilling a lot of beads causing a terrible mess. Fortunately, the beads were not statically charged so it was just a matter of vacuuming them up.
Finally, after several failed attempts, I came up with a method that proved to be successful. I took a 2-litre bottle and cut off the top and the bottom. Then I taped it to the opening of the filler bag and voila! It was an easy task!
After the bag was filled up I took the bag to the sewing machine and sew the opening shut.
Step 5: The End
I hope you have learned something from this project - I certainly did!
I am really pleased how this bean bag turned out. The EPS bead filling makes it really comfortable and easy to shape.
Let me know if you have any questions, I am gladly willing to help you!