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DIY Beanbag Footstool… Fail?

January 29, 2019

Gather round, kids, for another episode of What Not To Do with your host Kate Smalley.

Today on the show we’re featuring the beanbag footstool I made nearly a year ago. I was searching for an oversized footstool or ottoman, and couldn’t find anything in my price range… so I decided to DIY one.

I wanted it to be large enough for two people to use at the same time and I wanted something soft and malleable, so I decided to go the beanbag route. I sewed a lining out of muslin that I filled with beans, and a removable zippered cover out of some sort of blended home dec weight fabric.

Here’s the problem—these polystyrene beans are actual hell to deal with (look forward to that video below) and they compress over time so you have to periodically refill the bag. The photo above and below are after I refilled it a few weeks ago, and you can see many beads are now stuck between the lining and the cover (they cling to everything!) making it look/feel bumpy. I also had some struggles with creating a cover that could be removed without having to remove some of the filling (another video to look forward to below).

The two photos below are what it looks like before I refilled it, after 9 months of use.

Below is part of the Instagram story from when I made it back in March 2018. You’ll see how I struggled to create a removable cover that could, well, actually be removed. I didn’t think through zipper placement and the physics of inserting/removing the filled lining from the cover, which led to some… difficulties.

The photos and video below give you some insight into just how clingy and terrible these beans are to work with *shakes fist at the 15 people who gave this product 5 stars on Walmart’s website*. Also, I hand-sewed the lining. Maybe that should have been a zipper, too (I got lazy and impatient), but it wouldn’t make these beans any easier to deal with. They cling to EVERYTHING.

Yep. Not fun.

If I did this again I’d look into maybe batting or foam for the filling? I don’t love beads because it seems like quite a hazard if this busts and you’ve got kids or pets (and from an environmental standpoint it seems terrible?). I now see why my great-grandmother would save everything (old stocking, clothes, you name it) to use as filler for projects like this…

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