Ask LH: Any Tips For Making DIY Bean Bags?

Dear Lifehacker, I am a uni student living on my own who regularly has friends over for movie nights. Unfortunately my living room is rather small so there are limited seating options — no way I could fit another couch in there. I was thinking of buying some bean bags but they are so expensive! $80 for a one-seater, generally. Do you have any tips on making one myself or buying one cheaply? Thanks, Tess

Bean bag picture from Shutterstock

Dear Tess,

Bean bags are relatively simple to create from scratch: all you need is a large, well-stitched bag and a bunch of foam or polystyrene beads for filling. You can pick up the latter in 500g bags for around $10.

To roll your own, you’re going to need a large spool of sturdy cloth (at least one metre by one metre), a similarly-sized zipper or Velcro strap (for bead refills) and — here’s the clincher — formidable sewing skills, ideally aided by a sewing machine.

If your needlework is up to the task, you can find a complete guide to creating your own bean bag over at the ever-dependable WikiHow. This step-by-step guide includes short video clips to help you along the way. If you want to make something bigger (or smaller) simply adjust the fabric lengths accordingly.

Of course, you’re still going to have to fork out for all that fabric, plus the foam or beans of your choice. This can be quite costly if you’re making multiple mid-size bags. While it’s not very “Lifehacker” we can’t help but feel you might be better off going down the purchasing route.

I’m not sure where you’re shopping, but $80 seems pretty steep for a single bean bag. A rudimentary search online revealed the Ovela Luxe Bean Bag Lounger from Kogan, which sells for just $35 with free shipping. This is a lounge-shaped single seater made from water-resistant polyester. It also comes in a range of colours.

On the downside, you’ll need to source 500L of polystyrene beans, but the overall cost still works out similar to the DIY version (especially when you factor in your own labour). Once the lounger is filled with beans, the total expenditure should sit somewhere in the region of $60.

You can also find these things in discount stores like Target and K-Mart for around $50 — sometimes with beans included. The kid-sized models are even cheaper and most are large enough to fit an average adult’s butt. Shop around and you might be pleasantly surprised.

We’re also going to throw this one over to our readers: do you have any tips for furnishing a lounge room on the cheap when space is limited? Let Tess know in the comments.


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