Connect with H&H

Making Beanbag Chairs

216.Angus-Fergusson.jpg

Three easy sewing projects update the ‘70s classic seat for kids.

Decorating with kids in mind has come of age. Today, there's no need to close the door of a separate rumpus room to hide the mishmash of small-sized pieces. Children's furnishings are now as smart-looking as their adult equivalents, and are just as likely to inhabit the family room as dad's favourite chair. For these projects, we've updated the classic '70s-style beanbag to create stylish — yet fun — seating kids can use all through the house. Each bag is covered with soft, freshly coloured denim. We treated a cone-shaped beanbag to a blue jean pocket, a hiding spot for books or stuffed toys. We covered a drum-shaped bag in five colours for a lively new look, and turned the trendy cube into a beanbag stool that can be dragged into place by its handle. Our bags are double-seamed for durability and slipcovered so laundering is a snap.

All of our beanbags consist of an inner muslin form filled with beanbag stuffing, securely sewn together to ensure no stuffing will escape, and an outer cover. All of our covers can be laundered. They are made of denim, but cotton duck and other sturdy fabrics would also be suitable. All seams are double- or triple-stitched to withstand rough-and-tumble treatment from kids. Prewash all cotton cover fabric to allow shrinkage before sewing. All beanbag chairs can be made with new beanbag fill purchased from an upholstery supply store, or with fill from an old beanbag chair. Our slipcovers can also be made to transform old beanbag chairs of the same shape.

Project 1: Pocket Beanbag

Our two pocket beanbags are made in different sizes. The smaller bag has a 27"-diameter bottom and is intended for toddlers. The larger bag has a 30"-diameter bottom and is for children aged three to five. These directions are for one small beanbag, with the size changes for the larger beanbag given in brackets in the Materials list and within the steps.

To Sew Special Seams

French Seam:
Sew the seam with wrong sides together, turn the fabric so that right sides are facing to enclose seam and sew again. Press enclosed seam to one side so that it isn't bulky.

Flat Fell Seam:
(See Diagram 1) With right sides together, sew seam, leaving 1/2" seam allowance. Trim back one raw edge of allowance to half (see Step 1). Fold other half of allowance over trimmed edge to enclose seam (see Step 2), fold open, and sew (see Step 3).

Materials and Tools

  • 2 yd. muslin
  • Scissors
  • Large compass
  • Pencil
  • Kraft paper
  • Tape measure or long string
  • Wide-mouthed funnel or funnel made of stiff paper
  • Beanbag fill
  • 2 yd. (2-1/2 yd.) denim
  • 24"- (28"-) long heavy zipper or duvet zipper cut to size
  • Triple-stitch attachment*
  • *Or follow French seam or flat fell seam directions (above)

Step 1: Make paper patterns

On kraft paper, use compass to draw one circle measuring 28" (31") in diameter for bottom of beanbag. Cut two pattern pieces from kraft paper to this size. Determine circumference of circle. Divide this number by five, and use tape measure or string to mark five evenly-spaced points around circumference of circle. Now use a ruler to draw a straight line from each of the five edge marks to the centre of the circle. This will give you 5 equal pie-shaped pieces. Cut one pie-shaped piece from kraft paper to use as a pattern. Fold in half lengthwise. This will create a centre line. Unfold. Place this single pie slice pattern on kraft paper and trace again. Mark the centre points at top and bottom, and draw a line up through both marks. At points where side lines meet curved line, draw 1"-long lines parallel to the centre line, and then redraw your bottom curve to meet both points, making the new curve gentler than original (see Diagram 2). Now redraw your sides from bottom to top middle point. This will create an elongated pie-shape.

To make pocket pattern, draw a rectangle measuring 8" (10") wide by 9" (11") long (see Diagram 3). Add 2" to top of pocket. Draw a line directly down centre measuring 1" beyond bottom of pocket. Draw a line from this centre point to the bottom of each side line to create jean pocket shape.

Step 2: Make muslin form

From muslin, cut out five pie-shaped pieces and one bottom circle piece. With right sides facing, pin pie-shaped pieces of fabric together. Align carefully to ensure all five meet at one point. Sew together, leaving a 1/2" seam allowance. Attach bottom piece, leaving a four-inch gap. Use a wide-mouthed funnel or paper funnel to insert fill. Hand-stitch the gap closed, going back over the stitches two to three times to ensure a secure seam.

Step 3: Make cover

Cut out five pie-shaped pieces, two half-circle pieces for bottom, and one pocket piece from denim, leaving a 1" seam allowance. Sew pocket detail onto one pie-shaped piece before making cover. To do this, turn top two inches down and press to create flap within pocket. Turn edge 1/2" under all around pocket (except top), press and baste. Centre pocket within pie-shaped piece, pin in place, and topstitch right at edge of pocket. To create topstitch detail, sew pocket in place with a second line of stitching 1/4" inside first line of stitching. With right sides facing and using a 1/2" seam allowance, sew all five pie-shaped pieces together. Press both sides of each seam down in same clockwise direction all around top. Create topstitch detail by sewing a second line of stitching 1/2" from seam, on same side of each seam. Insert zipper across circular bottom. With right sides together, sew along straight edge of two bottom half-circle pieces to make one large circle. Press seams open. With zipper head facing down, lay zipper along seam, baste in place and sew all around zipper. Release stitched seam to expose zipper. The length of the zipper needs to be equal to the diameter of the circle in order to fit the form inside the slipcover. Sew top to bottom. Insert muslin form. Close zipper.

What it Cost

Muslin (2 yards) $2
Coloured denim (2 yards) $64
Zipper, thread $10
Beanbag filling $35
TOTAL $111

Project 2: Drum-Shaped Beanbag

Materials and Tools

  • Kraft paper
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Large compass
  • Tape measure
  • Long piece of string
  • Ruler
  • 4 yd. muslin
  • Wide-mouthed funnel or funnel made of stiff paper
  • Beanbag fill
  • 2 yd. main colour denim*
  • 3/4 yd. each of 4 other colours denim
  • Cotton thread
  • 33" zipper (duvet zipper recommended)
  • 2" covered-button-making kit
  • Triple-stitch attachment**

*This will make bottom as well as one piece of pie shape for top and rectangle for side
**Or follow French seam or flat fell seam directions (above)

Step 1: Make muslin form

Cut two circles of muslin measuring 34" in diameter. Use a compass and pencil to first make two 33"-diameter pattern pieces from kraft paper, cutting muslin pieces an extra inch all around for seam allowance. Use a tape measure or string to measure around the circumference of the circle, and cut one long strip of fabric to this length (approximately 10'-5") and 15" wide to form the side piece of the beanbag. With a 1/2" seam allowance and with right sides facing, sew top and bottom pieces to side strip leaving 14" gap for inserting fill. Turn right-side-out. Using a wide-mouthed funnel, or a funnel made from a piece of stiff paper, pour fill into form. Hand-stitch the gap closed, going back over the stitches two to three times to ensure a secure seam.

Step 2: Cut beanbag bottom

Fold one of the kraft paper patterns in half, and cut two half-circle pieces for beanbag bottom from denim, with one inch added to all edges for seam allowance. The two halves will be zippered together in Step 5.

Step 3: Make pie-shaped pieces

Using the other 33"-diameter kraft paper pattern and long piece of string, determine circumference of circle (should be approximately 10'-5"). Divide this number by five, (should be approximately 25"). Use tape measure or string to mark points every 25" around circumference of circle. Now use a ruler to draw a straight line from each of the five edge marks to the centre of the circle. This will give you 5 equal pie-shaped pieces. Cut one pie-shaped piece from kraft paper to use as a pattern. Cut one pie-shaped piece from each of the five fabric colours with an extra 1" all around edges for seam allowance.

Step 4: Make side pieces

Lay tape measure or string along curve of pie-shaped piece. Cut one piece of each colour of fabric measuring this number in length (should be approximately 25" for each piece) and 15" wide.

Step 5: Sew bottom and attach zipper

With right sides together, sew along straight edge of two bottom half-circle pieces to make one large circle. Press seams open and insert zipper as in Project 1, Step 3.

Step 6: Sew together top pieces

With right sides facing, pin pie-shaped pieces of fabric together. Align carefully to ensure all five meet at one point. Sew five pieces together leaving 1/2" seam allowance. Using leftover fabric, make covered button according to kit instructions. Sew securely into place where all five colours meet at centre of beanbag top. This is a fun decorative detail, and also hides your work in the spot where getting the five points to meet can be tricky.

Step 7: Sew together remaining pieces

Sew all side pieces together, following the colour scheme on the beanbag top (ours was red, yellow, orange, green, blue). Pin side pieces to top with right sides facing, taking care to align the seams and colours. Sew top to sides and sides to bottom. Turn right-side-out and insert muslin form through zipper in bottom. Close zipper.

What it Cost

Muslin (4 yards) $4
Coloured denim (5 yards) $160
Beanbag filling $45
Zipper, thread, button kit $13
TOTAL $222

Project 3: Small Cube Stool

These measure 12" h. x 14" d. x 14" w., and have a handle on one side so kids can easily drag them into place. (See Materials and Tools list)

Materials and Tools

  • Scissors
  • 1 yd. muslin, dressmaker’s cotton or scrap material to make forms
  • Cotton thread
  • Wide-mouth funnel or funnel made of stiff paper
  • Beanbag fill
  • Heavy upholstery thread for hand-stitched closing
  • 1 yd. denim
  • Triple-stitch attachment*

*Or reinforce all seams following French seam or flat fell seam directions

Step 1: Make muslin form

Cut 4 pieces of muslin measuring 13" x 15" for sides and two pieces measuring 15" x 15" each for top and bottom (the extra 1" all around edges will accommodate a 1/2" seam allowance). With right sides facing, sew all four sides together along the 13" sides. Attach top and bottom leaving a 4" opening at bottom for inserting fill. Beanbag fill pours like water; use a wide-mouthed funnel or make a funnel from a piece of stiff paper to neatly direct fill into form. The more fill you use, the firmer the beanbag will be. For stools, fill forms at least 3/4 full or more, depending on how firm you want them. Using heavy upholstery thread, hand-stitch 4" opening closed, sewing over the seam two to three times to ensure that it is secure and that no beanbag fill will escape.

Step 2: Make cover

Cut 4 pieces of denim cover fabric measuring 13" x 15" for sides, and 2 pieces measuring 15" x 15" each for top and bottom. Cut one piece measuring 6" w. x 7" l. for handle. Fold handle piece in half lengthwise with right sides together, and sew along raw edges, leaving a 1/2" seam allowance. Turn right-side-out. Press with seam running down centre of piece to form handle. Sew side and top pieces together as in Step 1. Pin handle to the top edge of the centre of one side piece, on right side with raw edges aligned. Sew top to side pieces as above but with handle ends sandwiched between one side and top.

Step 3: Insert muslin form

Insert the filled muslin form into the cover. Hand-stitch the bottom piece to the side piece to close the beanbag. A zipper could be used, but would interfere with the lines of the cube. The cover can be removed with a stitch-ripper, and then stitched up again to seal the cube after it has been washed and dried.

What it Cost

Muslin (1 yard) $1
Coloured denim (1 yard) $32
Beanbag filling $10
Thread $4
TOTAL $47

Photographer: 

Angus Fergusson

Comment Guidelines

We welcome your feedback on Houseandhome.com. H&H reserves the right to remove any unsuitable personal remarks made about the bloggers, hosts, homeowners and/or guests we feature. Please keep your comments focused on decorating, design, cooking and other lifestyle topics. Adopt a tone you would be willing to use in person and do not make slanderous remarks or use denigrating language. If you see a comment that you believe violates any of the guidelines outlined above, please click “Alert a Moderator.” Thank you.

OK