Monday, June 11, 2012

Beanbag Chair Tutorial

I have one heck of a tutorial for you today – make your own beanbag chair!

Beware, this pattern is a DIY and requires a bit of math and sketching so I highly suggest using some old fabric to make your template (which you can then use as a liner if you’re so inclined).

  • Medium to heavy weight fabric, yardage depends on size but I suggest 3 yards minimum
  • Template fabric and/or paper
  • String & marker
  • Zipper (optional)
  • Stuffing – I recommend shredded foam or traditional beans. I used a mixture of shredded foam (majority), clean plastic grocery bags, and packing peanuts.

Making the Template:

The below diagram shows how you’ll be drawing your template. It’s essentially two circles connected by two arcs.

Step 1: Decide how tall you want your bag to be. I chose 26” – don’t be me. Choose something easily divisible by 3, like 24”. I'll be using a 24" high bag as an example through the tutorial.

Step 2: Get your template fabric ready. The width of your fabric will need to be at least the height of the bag (24”) plus 2 inches for seam allowance. The length of the fabric will need to be 3 times the height of the bag (72”). If you plan on using the template as a liner have two pieces of fabric ready.

Step 3: Make a paper circle. The diameter (width) of the circle needs to be the height of your bag, in this case 24". We’ll add seam allowance later. I suggest taping together several sheets of paper or using newspaper (provided it doesn’t smudge).
  • Circle Option 1: My big fun trick to making a circle is to tie a piece of string around a marker and then cut the tail of the string to ½ of the diameter (12"). Hold the end of the string in the center of the circle you’ll be drawing, hold the marker out so the string is taut, then draw a line keeping the string taut. The line will curve, making a circle.
  • Circle Option 2: Trace something big and round, like a trashcan lid.
Now make another paper circle identical to the first. Yes, you need two.

Step 4: Finish the template. Lay the two circles out on the template fabric (or a really big piece of paper) so that they are 2/3 of the diameter of the circles apart. If your circles are 24”, you will lay the two circles out 16” apart. Trace the circles, adding ½ all around for seam allowance.

Now take your two paper circles and put them in between the circles you just drew to create arcs (the gray parts on the diagram).

You want the arcs to be up against the lines you just traced. Now trace along the edge of the arcs and smooth the lines (red).

Your finished template should look something like this:

Yay, you have a template! (If you plan on using your fabric template as a liner, cut out another one since you need two identical pieces to make a bag.)

Assembling the Bag

Now take your template and cut out two pieces of fabric for your bag. I used two different fabrics, but that’s up to you. I suggest using something heavier like an upholstery fabric, denim or corduroy. Like with the template fabric, the width of your fabric will need to be at least the height of the bag (24”) plus 2 inches for seam allowance. The length of the fabric will need to be 3 times the height of the bag (72”).

Optional Handle: If you want a handle, cut a piece of fabric 9” x 16” (or an appropriate size for your bag). Fold it into thirds lengthwise, fold the long raw edge under, and sew down the middle a few times (see photo). Pin the handle to the center of one of the circle ends of your fabric (see photo), tucking under the raw edges, and sew.

You’ll be assembling the two pieces of fabric like a baseball. Take the two pieces and line them up like a T so that the circle end of one is lined up in the middle arc of the other.
Pin at that point (red star), then continue to pin along the edges, right sides in. All 4 round ends should line up with the 4 arc middles (match up the rest of the stars). If you are adding a zipper or other sort of closing, pin that in as well. I suggest doing that in the relatively straight part between ends and arcs.

Now, take a deep breath, and sew your bag together. If you aren’t using a zipper, make sure to leave a 4-5” opening in the seam to turn your bag right side out.

Turn the bag right side out, stuff with your desired stuffing (recommendations above), zip or sew up the opening, and you’re done! Congrats!

Beware – if you use shredded foam to stuff your bag you may have trouble getting it away from your kid(s). And it gets everywhere… but it’s worth it.


Kelly said...

This may be a silly questions, but did you use 3 yards of EACH fabric of 1.5 yards each? PS--Thank you for the post--this is the simplest design your own pattern instructions I have found, and I am excited to make this!

Jessie said...

Hi Kelly,

Thanks for the comment!

I used 1.5 yards of each fabric (blue and floral), so 3 yards of fabric in total.


Anonymous said...

this is great! I'm tweaking it to make a 2 1/2" hackysack but I'm also hoping to make the full size version for my grandson. Your details and formulas were exactly what I was looking for and spot on. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Ditto what Anonymous said! Thank you!