How did you do that?

That's a question I often ask myself to be honest.  It has happened to me many times in the past that I could not remember how I ha...


That's a question I often ask myself to be honest.  It has happened to me many times in the past that I could not remember how I had made something, or which materials I had used.   So I have started to try and write down and photograph what I do so I can refer to it when I need it. 

In a comment on my previous post Anna asked if I would consider posting a tutorial on how I've made the sofas.   For a full tutorial I would have to make another sofa and I don't have the time for that now, but I can show you the photos I took as a reminder for myself.  I think they explain a lot.  


In another comment Lucille said she wanted to take a nap on the sofa and I could just cover her up with an old blanket.  Well I don't have an old blanket, but I did make a nice colourful throw to keep her warm.  I made it from silk velvet with a silk backing.  I had forgotten how difficult it is to sew silk velvet, it just slips away all the time, such a pain!  But it is pretty.  


Anyway, enough of that, lets go to the ' tutorial':

I do an initial drawing on graph paper and check with some wood whether it looks like the size will be OK for the room.  I then cut wood (in this case I still had some multiplex laying around) to the correct size and I shape the armrests on the sanding disk.   I keep checking it against my drawing so that the shapes become the same.  

I dry fit the pieces and check whether I still like the size and shape when placed in the room.  



After glueing the wooden pieces together I start covering the frame with a felt-like fabric.  I don't know what it is called, but I'm sure most fabric shops will sell something similar.  I use a thin, even layer of Tacky Glue for glueing this.

I am trying to get as few seems as possible, so the piece of felt above is one piece. It covers both the  fronts of the armrest and the back, and the bottom seat.  The photos below may make it a bit clearer.

I did exactly the same on both sofas.  I did not cover the underside with felt.



After covering the arms and backs of the sofas with felt, it is time to start cutting the upholstery fabric.  I used a linen fabric for this.  It has a little bit of 'give' to it when pulled and because it is fairly thick (as far as fabrics for miniatures go) there is less of a risk of glue seeping through the fabric and leaving stains.

Test your fabric by gluing it onto a bit of wood and felt first, to see how well it holds, and whether the glue leaves stains etc.  



Now here comes the most difficult part.  You must keep paying attention to what you're doing or you'll make a wrong cut and you have to start over.   If you're a dressmaker or good at 3D thinking it will be fairly easy to do.  

Lay your sofa on the fabric.  Check the grain of the fabric, which way do you want it to go?  With a pencil I draw the exact outlines of the fabric to help me guide my cuts.  I put a little bit of thin glue on every line which will be cut to prevent the fabric from fraying.  

Starting at the underside, I glue the edges of the fabric to the edges of the frame.   When the glue is dry I continue with the front of the backrest.  I cut it very precisely in the shape of the backrest, leaving the rest of the fabric intact because that will go onto the bottom seat.   Glue only to the edges of the backrest using very little glue!



Fold the fabric over onto the bottom seat of the sofa and fit the shape.  Make very exact cuts around the armrest and the front of the armrest.  Again, glue the edges down using very little glue.  

The fabric on the underside is cut flush with the edge.  The fabric for the two sides is folded over (like you would old fashioned sheets on a bed)  and glued flush with the edges.  

Pay attention to what you are doing here!  Make sure which way you want to fold the fabric first before you make any cuts!   I like to cut away as much fabric as I can from the corners to keep it from looking bulky.  But again, it is something you have to be very careful about.

In the photo below you can see how I have folded the sides down.



Upholstering the arms and back rests is easier than the seats.  Start by laying the sofa on the fabric again.  Check your fabric grain!  Make sure you cut enough fabric to go all across the back to the front and the sides as well.  Again to avoid seems, it will be one piece of fabric covering the entire arm and back rest.

Make a nice straight and crisp fold at the edge of the fabric and glue it to the back bottom edge of the arm and back rest.  When the glue is dry, fold the fabric over to the inside of the arm and back rest.  Measure, fold and glue the fabric to the front edge of the armrest and let dry.  



Smooth the fabric over the armrest into the inside corner.  Run your fingernail over the cross section of the arm rest and bottom seat and the arm rest and back rest.  This will give you the exact pattern you need.  Check the fit, then cut the fabric just a little bit bigger than your pattern line.  

Be very careful when cutting the fabric on the top of the armrest, it has to end precisely in the corner or else it will show!  Glue the edges of the fabric onto the armrest and let dry.  Do exactly the same for the back rest, folding over the fabric at the edges in the corner.

The only drawback I think this method has, is that it shows the folded edges of the fabric quite well.  Having said that, in real sofas this shows in a similar way.   Of course it all has to do with scale.  The thinner the fabric you use, the less obvious the folds will be. 

You could also use thin card underneath the fabric, in which case the fabric would fold underneath the card which would definitely make it less visible.  It does change the look of the furniture though.  Whereas I would use it on more formal furniture, here I felt it would make the piece look too stiff.



Are you still with me?  I know it's a long read, making it will take you even longer ;-)

The base of the seat cushions are made from wood again.  Make sure they are slightly too small for the upholstered sofa when you fit them, because you will be adding fabric to them making them more bulky.  

The slightly padded look of the seat cushion is achieved by adding some felt padding.  This way you can make it very rounded or more flat, whatever you like.  I don't have any photos of this process, but it is similar to what I did on the frame.  

Next, lay the seat cushion on your upholstery fabric.  Check the grain!  I used one piece of fabric to cover the whole seat cushion, top and bottom.   Start by glueing the fabric onto the bottom of the seat cushion.  When dry, fold it over onto the top of the cushion and start finishing the other edges by measuring, cutting, folding and glueing the same way as before.  

The inside corner is the last part you should finish, and it is a little bit tricky.  A dressmaker will understand the workings of this corner, as  it is impossible to stretch the fabric over this angle (unless it is stretch fabric, which it is not).   You have to make a cut exactly into the corner, stopping short just below the top of the seat.  You can then fold the fabric down on both sides.  However, this leaves a gap.  

As you can probably just about make out on the photo, I have cut a small strip of fabric and placed it underneath to cover up the gap.  It will not show when the sofa is finished (see photo above).    The last edge to glue down is the long folded strip.  Again, this can't be seen when the sofa is finished.



On to the back cushions.  I first made the ones in the photo below (the same way the seat cushions are made) but I felt they were too straight and boring.   The new cushions I made are simply squares of fabric sewn together and filled with sand.  I like sand as it gives the cushions weight and you can 'drape'  them.



The most important part is to keep thinking of what you want to do and how you want it to look.   From which angle do I look at the sofa, therefore,  do I want the folds to go to the left or to the right?  Be patient and use glue sparingly.  

Fitting the upholstery is almost like a bit of origami, once you understand what you have to do it gets easier.  

So that's it, finished sofas.   I know this is not a complete tutorial, but I hope it gives you some idea of how I made my modern sofas!  


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74 comments

  1. This was just beautiful and inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing.

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  2. Josje,
    Your photographs and detailed instructions are amazing! Miniature upholstery is finicky but well worth taking the time to acheive a beautiful piece of furniture that suits your miniature setting. Thanks for sharing your techniques,
    Martha

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    1. You're welcome Martha. Thank you for you lovely comment!

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  3. Nice tutorial. Thanks for sharing!

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  4. I can imagine the hours it takes but every minute was well spent. I too have problems remembering what I did sometime. Blogging about it or photographs of the process really helped. This tutorial is awesome because the explanation is very clear. Thank you, Josje!

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    1. I'm glad the explanation is clear Sans. Without the photos to back it up it can get a bit complicated explaning things sometimes.
      Blogging is definitely a helpful tool in remembering what you have done!

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  5. So amazing! Thanks for sharing!

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  6. Beautiful interior! The couch is nice but I love the floor and colours of walls.:)

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    1. Thank you! I am rather fond of those colours as well :-)

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  7. It was very interesting to see how you upholstered this. Thank you for sharing it. I think I understood how you did it now. It sure is perfect for the room.

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    1. There are different ways of upholstering, but for these sofas I didn't want to use any piping so I had to try and put in as few seams as possible. Glad to hear you found it interesting!

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  8. It looks marvelous! :D Your felt fabric looks like millinery batting. That's what I use, too...a very good material for mini upholstery.

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    1. Millinery batting...I'll try to remember the name. Thank you Brea!

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  9. Wow! Your sofa is amazing. Thanks for the tutorial. I love this room.
    Hugs, Drora

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  10. Merci beaucoup de partager avec nous vos techniques . C est toujours très intéressant .
    On apprends tellement en regardant le travail des autres .
    Merci pour cette générosité et le temps que cela demande .
    Il faudrait toujours penser a prendre des photos . Hélas , je ne le fais pas souvent . Trop pressée , de finir vite l objet que je suis entrain de faire pour voir le résultat .

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    1. You're welcome Catherine. I have learnt from past experience to take some photos now and then, although I do still forget now and then. This time I did remember to take a few photos, and I could show them to you here. And I agree with you, you really do learn from watching what others do.

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  11. el sofá es precioso, y con esas fotos se muestra perfectamente como lo consiguió, y seguro que aprendemos mucho todos.
    un abrazo

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    1. Glad to have been of help Contar!

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  12. Fantastic! thank you so much!! things like that are priceless for the beginner:)

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    1. You're welcome, nice to hear this is helpful for you!

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  13. It looks complete like a home for 1-1. thanks for showing how. It is very very beautiful.
    Hugs
    Wyrna

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    1. Thank you Wyrna, that very sweet of you to say.

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  14. Thanks for the tutorial. I like this sofa.
    Greetings, Faby

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  15. This was a great tutorial - thanks for sharing!
    Your sofa is so neatly done! :)

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    1. Thank you and you're welcome ;-)

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  16. This sofa is most beautiful! Thank you for sharing the tutorial!

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  17. Привет!
    Большая и прекрасная работа!
    Спасибо за урок!
    Татьяна

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  18. Even more spectacular an achievement than it first appeared! You are a magician!

    I LOVED and will use the tips about only gluing at the edges, watching details like grain, and filling soft goods with sand! Thank you so much.

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    1. Thank you Shelley! That's what I like about reading tutorials, there is almost always something you pick up from them, even though you're not making the object itself. So nice to read that even someone like you picked up a few little things you could use.

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  19. Is iets meer werk dan mijn hocker:))) De uitleg is duidelijk en ik denk dat er nu een hoop Josje lounge banken zullen verschijnen in de miniwereld:))) Elizabeth schreef in een berichtje dat ze zich al zag zitten met haar voeten omhoog en een warm plait:) Ik dacht, ja die mis ik nog.... maar precies wat je zegt, het moet wel de juiste dikte en soepelheid hebben voor in de miniwereld! Ik ga nog even op zoek naar een mooie plait, maar die van jou ziet er zeer uitnodigend uit om onder te kruipen!

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    1. Nou ik hoop niet dat er ineens allemaal dezelfde banken verschijnen hoor, maar dat verwacht ik niet eigenlijk! Ik hoop altijd met het plaatsen van zo'n uitleg dat anderen zelf aan de slag gaan met het bedenken van iets nieuws en dan de technieken kunnen gebruiken. Maar ik heb het wel eens eerder mis gehad ;-) Ach ja.
      Ja leuk zo'n lekkere warme plaid. Ik zit er nu ook met een over mijn benen, heerlijk! Die fluwelen die ik gemaakt heb is eigenlijk wat dik, maar ik vind die kleur zo mooi! En het is toch vrij soepel dus ik kom hem goed draperen.

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  20. Hi Josje! That silk velvet throw is gorgeous. Thanks for thinking of me. That is a very well explained tutorial. Thank you so much!

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    1. You're welcome Lucille. I hope you're keeping warm ;-)

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  21. A very concise 'how-to!' I think even the likes of me could do it!

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    1. Of course you can John! Now whether you want to is a different question, ;-)

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  22. Well executed, beautiful! Appreciate the tip regarding the sand "stuffing". Now why didn't I think of that ;^)

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    1. Thank you Alison! Just make sure you use clean sand, you don't want any bugs in your dollshouse. I actually use bird sand (the stuff you put on the floor of a bird cage), which has a lot of crushed shell in it. It is very fine and clean. I have a 2 kilo bottle of the stuff and it has lasted me for at least 8 years, it still has some left in there. Of course that all depends on the number of cushions and pillows I have made ;-)

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  23. Ahhh, thank you! Now I'm going to try tackling a 1:12 version of my RL sofa...

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    1. Great! I look forward to seeing it!

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  24. Thank you for the info, very well written, I can see exactly what you are saying :)

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    1. You're welcome Linda! I'm glad you understand what I meant to say in the instructions, it can get a bit confusing without photos to back up the text. Also, explaining in English is a bit of a challenge!

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  25. Bedankt voor het laten zien Josje hoe je moderne bank is ontstaan.

    Groeten Xandra

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  26. C'est superbe ! Merci pour le turoriel !
    Les explications sont très claires (même en utilisant le traducteur), les photos sont une aide précieuse.
    Bonne fin de semaine !
    rosethé

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    1. Thank you Rosethé! I am so glad that the instructions did not get lost in translation. The 'traducteur' is a great tool, but sometimes a text doesn't make any sense at all when translated.

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  27. thank you for this tutorial I really appreciate the time you took to explain it..I think I got it ?

    Hugs
    Marisa :)

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    1. You're welcome! To be honest, I always have problems with reading and understanding text in tutorials. I understand much more when I just look at a photo or picture. But like I said, for a full tutorial I would have to make a new sofa. Then I would heave been able to photograph every step.
      I think the best thing to do is just start making something, referring back to tutorials if you need to, and think about every step in the process before you actually start cutting or glueing etc.

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  28. Oh that's fun,
    I want to sit there and relex.
    It looks real.
    I do like modern and antique by each other.

    That blanket looks warm.

    Nice that you have done the explanation with pictures
    I like your blue room and the paintings of Leslie Smith (if I am right) are gorgeous.
    Happy Easter days

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    1. Thank you Alexandra! Yes you are right, the paintings are by Leslie Smith and they are gorgeous, I agree!

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  29. Prachtig!! Bedankt voor de uitleg en de duidelijke foto's erbij :D

    Groetjes Jollie

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    1. Dank je wel en graag gedaan Jollie!

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  30. Thanks for sharing your step by step guide. The fabric you chose is lovely.

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  31. Thanks for sharing the 'how to do'. :)

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  32. Thank you for a very clear and detailed tutorial! The photos and your instructions make it very clear. I appreciate your generosity in sharing. Sandie

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  33. Thank you for such an informative tutorial. Your explanation and the photos make it very clear. Thank you for your generosity in sharing - Sandie.

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    1. You're welcome Sandie! I hope one of the techniques I have used will become useful to you one day.

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  34. Wat een goede uitleg en met mooie foto's erbij, bedankt Josje. De sofa blijft prachtig.

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    1. Graag gedaan en dank je wel voor het compliment Inge!

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  35. This is beautiful! What scale is the sofa 1-inch or 1/2 or something else? Your work is lovely!

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    1. Thank you Angie! The sofa is in 1-inch scale, but I think it would work well in 1/2 inch or 1/4 inch scale as well.

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  36. Hi Josje, just discovered this posting. As I follow you very carefully I was surprised I had not seen it. I note from the date I was just departing for my trip.
    It is a great tutorial, the photos are extremely clear and helpful as is your carefully written text. Thankyou, you are a most generous blogger.
    Temperature today is 10C sunny! Such a gift at this time of year. Thousands of migratory birds are gathering to continue their migration south quite a sight as they drift in and out with the tides.
    All the best Josje.
    Regards Janine

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    1. Hi Janine, it is quite difficult to keep up with all these posts! I try to read a few each day and leave comments, but I often come across something I did not read before. Thank you for your lovely compliment, it is so nice to hear you find it helpful and clear.
      Those wonderful autumn days seemed to pass us by (we got so much rain!) but the past week has been quite calm and fairly dry. We get a lot of geese in my area, some of them migratory. They make quite an impression when they fly over! Enjoy your lovely temperatures and the birds!

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  37. "Your photos and detailed instructions are amazing! A beautiful piece of furniture that suits your small setting finicky but well worth Miniature upholstery for taking the time to acheive. Thank you for sharing techniques."
    Thank you for your compliment Dilawar. I think you will understand why I didn't publish it with all the links you have put in there. The compliment is appreciated, the spam is not.

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