A plastic bag found on a factory floor filled with leftover Styrofoam is rumored to have inspired Italian furniture designers Gatti, Teodora and Paolini to create the first frameless chair known as the Sacco in the late 1960s. Decades later, the egg-shaped chair, commonly referred to as the beanbag chair, is mass-produced in a wide range of materials. Its basic construction is a series of panels sewn together with a small circular top and larger circular bottom, filled with beads and enclosed with a zipper. The quality of these components determines the quality of the beanbag chair. The best materials make the best beanbag chairs.

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A pile of beanbag chairs is great for lounging.

A Cover Story

Some beanbag chairs have thin faux leather or pleather coverings that rip or peel easily, meaning a very short lifespan. The best beanbag chairs have an outer covering made with a heavy-duty fabric such as commercial grade vinyl, corduroy or a heavy microfiber. A heavier fabric offers years of use and stands up well to normal wear. The top and bottom of the beanbag are stress points. If not properly reinforced, the circles will weaken and cause the bag to tear. Multiple rows of stitching coupled with layers of material will reinforce these high-strain areas to keep it in one piece.

The Inside Scoop

The best filling is a made of tiny polystyrene beads in irregular shapes and resembling little white beans. Some manufacturers use ground-up Styrofoam or bits and pieces of recycled foam rubber. These materials do not conform readily to the body and can be quite uncomfortable. A beanbag chair filled with the polystyrene beads is more comfortable and holds up much longer

Holding it Together

The two common stitches used to sew the fabric panels together are the chain stitch and the lock stitch. A chain stitch has a tendency to unravel over time and is often a sign of inferior quality. The lock stitch is preferred as it will hold the panels together and keep the beads inside.

A side zipper allows the bag to be filled and refilled if the polystyrene beads settle over time. Not just any zipper will do. A zipper should be child-proof and easy to maneuver. A plastic double zipper construction with a covering for the zipper pull is the best option. Some bags have an exposed inferior metal zipper, a temptation for little hands to play with. Others staple the zipper pulls to the cover or melt the teeth of plastic zippers, making it difficult to open.

Does One Size Fit All?

A well-made beanbag chair will last for years, making it a good investment. Its allure is that it will fit anywhere with any casual decor. It is squishy and conforms to the body easily. Beanbag chairs are available in a range of sizes. Smaller ones are perfect for childrenl. Opt for a large beanbag chair, which allows anyone to curl up in it.