How did you do that?March 27, 2013
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!