Are you looking for something new for your doll room décor? One of the coolest trends from the 80s to modern day is a bean bag chair. They are easy to make and are actually kind of unexpected in doll houses, so it’s a fun way to add a unique pop of personality to her space.
Follow along in this tutorial to learn how to make a bean bag chair for dolls of all sizes! These are super cute accessories for 18-inch dolls such as American Girl®, 11-. inch fashion dolls like Barbie®, tiny Blythe and Pullip dolls, 14-15 inch dolls such as WellieWishers™ & Ruby Red Fashion Friends, and many more! Posable dolls with more points of articulation are especially fun to poses in the finished bean bag chairs!
Please read this tutorial all the way through before starting. I think it will really benefit you to have a start-to-finish understanding of the process before beginning!
Step 1: Choose your circle size for tracing your top and bottom pattern piece. For my American Girl Doll beanbag I used an 11 ¼ inch diameter dinner plate. For my Barbie beanbag I used a bowl with a 6 inch diameter. Hopefully from those two examples you can determine about what size circle you need. You might need a 9 or 10 inch circle for Ruby Red Fashion Friends and 7-8 inch circle for a Blythe doll.
Step 2: Determine the height of your beanbag. For my American Girl Doll beanbag I chose to make it 6 inches tall. My Barbie beanbag is 3 ½ inches tall. This measurement is up to you but it usually works out to be a little bit bigger than half the diameter of your circle. We are going to be cutting a long rectangle of fabric that is this wide PLUS an inch, providing for two half inch seam allowances on either side. (It will make more sense as we go along, but what you are essentially making is a cylinder shape with your circles and long rectangle piece.)
Step 3: Make sure you have enough fabric. Before I began I scooted my dinner plate all the way over to a far corner of my fabric, which is folded double so there are two layers, so I could make sure I had enough room for my long rectangle of fabric. My 6 inch height plus 1 inch (for two half inch seam allowances) comes to 7 inches. With my plate moved over I did have enough room. Again, if you are making a larger beanbag I would measure this first as you may need more fabric.
Step 4: Trace your circle onto your fabric, and cut out. For this I needed to flip my wild fabric to the wrong side so I could see my marks better! Using a pen or fabric chalk, trace your circle onto your fabric. Then cut out your circle. The fabric should still be double layer, so you will have two circles.
Step 5: With your remaining fabric, pen, and yardstick or ruler, you are now going to be marking and cutting out your long rectangle. Measure over from the straight cut edge of the leftover fabric the measurement of your chosen beanbag height plus 1 inch – for me that was 7 inches. Mark a straight line that is this far away from the cut edge, going from the selvedge to the fold. You can see when this is cut out you will have a long rectangle.
*A note about your rectangle length, and a little math: If your circle is as big as mine, and you have a fresh cut of a half yard of fabric and are not using scraps, cutting your rectangle in this way should leave you with plenty of length to make your cylinder. If you are making a smaller beanbag maybe with scrap fabric, or maybe an even bigger beanbag, let me give you a simple way to calculate whether or not you have a long enough rectangle for the circumference of your circle.
Take your circle and measure the diameter. Again, for me, this was 11 ¼ inches. Now subtract 1 inch from this measurement (for our half inch seam allowance taken from either end of the diameter). Now I have 10 1/4 inches (or 10.25) as my measurement. This will give you an approximate finished diameter measurement. Now we are going to use some easy algebra. The formula for circumference is π times diameter. So that is 3.14 times your finished diameter measurement. So I multiplied 3.14 times 10.25 and I got 32.185. As a part of this process I always give myself a couple extra inches, so as long as I have about 34 – 35 inches of length for my rectangle, I am all set! Plug in your numbers to calculate how long your rectangle needs to be.
Step 6: Let’s get on to sewing this thing! Take your long rectangle piece and make snips all along both long edges. Remember your seam allowance is 1/2 inch, so make these snips only ¼ inch or so. Place one about every inch apart, closer if you are making a smaller bean bag. You are doing this so that you will be able to spread the straight edge out into a curve as you pin it to your curved circle pieces.
Step 7: Now we are going to pin this straight edge to one of your circle pieces. Start pinning about 1-2 inches into the straight edge of the rectangle piece; do not start right at the beginning. Leave the beginning 1-2 inches loose. Continue pinning around the circle, using your slits to spread out the straight edge to meet the curved edge of the circle piece.
Continue pinning all the way around until you are about 1 inch away from your first pin and stop, leaving a gap between the two pins and then leaving the two ends of your fabric free.
Step 8: Now you are going to sew around the curve with a half inch seam allowance. Start at your first pin and continue all the way around, bringing the two flaps of fabric together to meet, and stopping your seam right before hitting the spot where you began your seam. The two flaps of fabric should be touching, as in the photo below, but not overlapping.
Step 9: Now we are going to partially close the seam in the rectangle, making it into a loop. Lay your work flat and fold your long rectangle piece over itself, lining up the long top and bottom edges. The circle piece you have sewn in will not be able to lay flat at this point, but that’s ok. You are going to sew a short, 1-2 inch seam, perpendicular to the start/stop point of your previous stitching.
Following an imaginary straight line down to the opposite edge, sew another 1-2 inch seam all the way to the bottom edge, thereby leaving an opening. What you have just done is closed the rectangle piece into a circle the right size, but you have also left an opening through which you will stuff the beanbag later.
Leaving about ¾ of an inch in fabric beyond your seams, trim off the excess fabric. You can now open up your bag a little and see the cylinder shape starting to form!
Step 10: Now take your other circle piece and pin and sew it to the other side of the long rectangle piece, remembering to spread apart your slits as you go. If it ends up being too big or too small, go back and adjust how your slits are spread until it fits better. Stitch all the way around, using a ½ inch seam allowance. You do not need to leave any gaps this time. Once you have done that, you can turn your beanbag right side out!
Step 11: Now we get to stuff the beanbag! I often keep the packing peanuts from my doll orders, and maybe you do, too! For our larger beanbag sizes, you can use these packing peanuts and/or plastic grocery bags. I like to use a combo of both. For the Barbie size beanbag, it’s small enough that I used beans or rice in them. I think filling our American Girl sized bags with beans or rice would be expensive and heavy!!!
You can use your hands to fill it or, if your hand is too big to fit in the opening we made, I like to make a funnel out of a piece of paper!
As you fill it, remember you do not want it filled all the way. Periodically check how it feels by pushing your hand into it, or go get your doll and try out having her sit in it! Keep going until you feel like your doll has enough support but can still make a nice little nest in the beanbag.
Step 12: Time to sew up the opening! If you take your filled beanbag and hold it at either end of the opening and tug just a little, the seam should fold in nicely on itself and give you a nice line to follow to do your hand stitching. I prefer to do a ladder stitch, but you can also do a whipstitch. I recommend looking up videos on how to do these via YouTube if you do not know already, as my still photos do not help much!
Once that is done, you now have your finished beanbag chair for your doll!
You can experiment with different sizes and heights and fillings and see what you like best. After following this tutorial, you'll know how to make a bean bag chair for dolls of all sizes!
We'd love to see your creations too, so if you make one, please tag us on Instagram @forofsuch @PixieFaire
You can also share pictures in the Pixie Faire Inspiration Gallery right here on the website, either use the #pixiefaire when posting on IG, or just click the little + box to upload your picture right here on the website!
For Pixie Faire, @forofsuch
We'd love to hear from you. Leave a comment and tell us - Which doll will you make a beanbag chair for? What fabric color or print will you choose?
(This post and giveaway are not endorsed or affiliated with American Girl®, no endorsement implied.)