How to Make a DIY Bean Bag Chair
Curl up with a good book or relax as you watch your favorite shows in this slouchy DIY bean bag chair. It's easy to sew with all straight seams and a great size for teens and adults.
Canvas drop cloths are an inexpensive fabric option that holds up well but also gives you the option to customize. You can leave the material plain and add some colorful throw pillows or decorate the fabric with paint or stitching.
Traditionally, bean bag chairs use polystyrene beads as a filler, but for this project, we recommend shredded foam, which is more commonly used in oversized floor cushion-style bean bags. It's soft and squishy, while still providing good support. The sample bean bag is only partially filled so that it's more slouchy, but you can add additional filler until the firmness is to your liking.
By sewing your own bean bag, you can save money and create something fun for yourself at the same time.
What You'll Need
Equipment / Tools
- Scissors (ideally fabric scissors)
- Sewing machine
- Long ruler or yardstick
- 2 canvas drop cloths, 6 feet x 9 feet each
- 30 pounds shredded foam
- Waxed perle cotton or upholstery thread
Cut the Drop Cloths
Fold one corner of the drop cloth over to the opposite edge so that you can cut it down to a square. Use scissors to cut the square, following the edge that you folded over
Repeat with the second drop cloth.
Pin and Sew the Drop Cloths
Pin the two drop cloth pieces with right sides together. Mark one side with a 15-inch space to leave unsewn as an opening.
Sew around the square, leaving a one-inch seam allowance. Take the pins out as you sew. Be sure to backstitch at the beginning and end, leaving that 15-inch opening.
Next, sew around the shape again, this time sewing about 1/4 inch out from the first seam (3/4 inch from the edge).
Make Boxed Corners
At each corner, open the fabric and fold it so that the two side seams align with each other. The seams should now be centered and coming from the middle of the two opposite sides of your newly folded square.
Measure and mark 18 inches from the corner on each side. Use a long quilting ruler or yardstick to mark an angled line from the two marked points. Cut off the corner, following the marked line.
Pin and sew the cut edges together two times for reinforcement, just as you sewed around the edge before. You should also backstitch across the seam at the center to reinforce that stitching.
After cutting and sewing all four corners, turn the bean bag right side out.
Fill the Bean Bag Chair
Fill the bean bag with shredded foam. It helps to have two people do this so you can have one person holding the bean bag opening and another person working the foam into the bag.
Use enough foam to make the chair comfortable, but it shouldn't be full. The sample shown here has about 20 pounds of shredded conventional (non-memory) foam from Foam Factory.
Sew the Opening Closed
Fold under the seam allowance of the opening and sew it closed. You can do this by machine, but the filled bean bag can be quite cumbersome to work with. It's much easier to hand sew the opening with strong stitches.
Use perle cotton coated with beeswax or extra-strong upholstery thread and stitch across the opening with a slip stitch. Make sure the stitches are small so that the foam can't escape. To add even more security, follow your stitches with a small overcast stitch across the stitched seam.
A basic canvas bean bag is versatile and can work with lots of home decor styles. If you want to add some pizazz to your beanbag chair, you can tie-dye it or use fabric paint to stencil patterns. You could also stitch simple designs on the drop cloths with yarn and a giant needle.