Let's Build a Dollhouse Sofa

It's easy peasy!

dollhouse sofa

These instructions are for a very basic simple sofa, with photographs illustrating the steps you need to take to make a dollhouse sofa from cardboard and fabric.
The instructions provided here are meant as a guide. You can use the method described below to make any style of sofa, chair or loveseat
There is no end to the different styles you can make by changing the arms or the shape of the back. Maybe a little skirt around the bottom, or chunky feet [beads]. Of course your choice of fabric makes the biggest difference.

If you want to make little cushions for your sofa ,chair,bed or whatever, sand makes the best filling. Sand gives the cusion some weight and it will look very realistic. You can even imprint the pillow with a dent as if a little head was recently resting there. This is a well known mini hint, certainly not my idea. It is an extremely effective technique though for something so simple, and goes a long way to making your miniature look realistic.

Let's Build a Dollhouse Sofa

When you are just starting out with a new dollhouse, it takes a while to fill it with furniture. It would be great fun to buy everything, but this is not always feasible, so making some of the furniture is a good option.
Upholstered furniture is relatively simple to make, you can make a dollhouse sofa with very little money out of just cardboard and fabric. Of course, once you get the hang of it, you can make an armchair or a loveseat, using the same method.
The main thing to remember is that we don't want any raw edges on the fabric to show.
I use spray starch and my iron where it is necessary to fold down the raw edges. I then glue [sparingly] the fold and iron again to dry the glue.You will notice that I have not given any measurements, thinking that you will all want different sizes, depending on the space you have to put it in.
If you are in doubt measure your own sofa, or your neighbour's sofa, if you like it better.
Divide the measurements by 12 if you are working in 1 inch =1foot scale.
Thus a sofa which is 6 feet long, will measure 6 inches.

It is much easier for me to actually make a dollhouse sofa, than to explain in writing how to do it, so I have taken photographs and given step by step instuctions with each photo. I hope you can understand them.For the sake of simplicity, this sofa has one seat pad and one back cushion, you can have two or three cushions.As well you can change the shape of the arms or add a pleated / frilly skirt.I recommend using cotton for the fabric, cotton irons nice and flat and won't stretch like some other fabrics.
You don't want a bulky or a knit fabric, at least not if it is your first try.

parts These are all the parts of the sofa. The base of the sofa is 4 layers of cardboard.

The back and arms are 2 layers of cardboard.
The seat and back cushion are 2 layers of cardboard and 1 layer of craft foam for padding.

You also need 2 pieces of dowel the same width as the arms. [I used the handles of foam brushes for this]. You can also roll some paper to use for the arms,or make some from polymer clay.
parts of sofa
Cut out fabric for each pieceof the sofa adding a 1 inch allowance on each side for folding over the edges.

Cover the dowel and make sure that the fabric for the arm is long enough to wrap around the arm plus the dowel. You don't have to cover the whole base, the deck won't show [that's the part of the sofa that is under the seat cushion].
adding fabric
Lay the cardboard piece on one end of the fabric. fold the fabric around the sides and front.

Glue down using straight pins to hold it in place. Fold down the edges on the other end of the fabric. Use a few dots of glue and iron nice and flat.
glueand clamp
The dowel has to be glued to the top of the arm. Try to glue them a bit off centre.
You don't have to be stingy with the glue here, it won't show.

I use plastic wrap to clamp awkward things together, just wrap it snuggly and hold it with a clothes pin. Always give the glue time to dry.
Put some glue under the dowel all the way across.

Lay the fabric along the glue and press down well.
It doesn't matter if the glue shows through it will be covered.

Do this on both arms and wait for the glue to dry.
Turn the arm over and wrap the fabric over the dowel and all the way around the arm.

The folded edge will be glued right under the dowel so make sure to measure it that way. Fold and glue the raw edges as shown.
wrap fabric around arm
Glue the folded edge right under the dowel. Press it down firmly and hold it with straight pins or clothes pegs until the glue is dry.
birds eye view of the sofa arm
Here is a birds eye view of the sofa arm. Glue down the excess fabric over the front and back of the arm. Snip with scissors as you go where need be.
templates Make 2 templates the shape of the front of the sofa arms.
make templates Make a pattern [shown yellow] about 1/4 inch larger than the template.
Snip around the edge
Pin the pattern onto the fabric and cut it out. Snip around the edge about every 1/4 inch about 1/8th inch deep snips.
Glue the edges of the fabric

Glue the edges of the fabric onto the template as you fold all the fabric over. Make sure one arm is facing right and one facing left. Iron nice and flat. Now glue these onto the front of the arms.

If you want you can cover the back end the arms the same way, whether I do that or not depends on how neat it looks and where it is going.

Attach the back
Attach the back to the base. Use glue and hold it together with straight pins until the glue dries. we will attach the arms the same way.
Add the seat cushion and back cushion. You can glue these or not it is up to you.

When you have the cushions in place glue and straight pin the arms onto your sofa.
Use pins to hold the back and arms in place. If the sofa is for an adult's dollhouse you can leave the pins in there. If a child will be playing with it, of course, the pins will have to come out when the glue is dry.

Add some beads to the bottom of the sofa for 'legs'.There you have it! An easy peasy sofa. I would suggest that you make a very simple sofa or chair on you first try and if you want to get fancy after that, there is no limit to what you may come up with.Have Fun Mini-ing


sofa and livingroom

This is the same sofa as is shown in the tutorial. I changed the back to 2 cushions .
It is in a little Orchid by Greenleaf dollhouse which I made for my daughter.
It is supposed to represent the Summer cottage she has always wanted but can't afford.
The little table is made from a wooden Chinese fan.


This little arm chair was made using the same
methods as are shown in the tutorial.

Amongst all my multitudes of of fabric, I couldn't find anything to use for this chair. After a long search I suddenly realized that the men's shirt I wear as a cover up while mini-ing, was perfect.
I quickly took it off and cut out the back, and made the chair.

I continued to wear the backless shirt, it still served the same purpose adequately without a back, I don't often get paint on my back. One day while I was busy in my work room, my friend knocked on my front door. As I led her in she noticed my backless shirt. She thought it hilarious.

maroon sofa

This is the first sofa I ever made. It took me a whole Sunday to finish it.[ Of course I had to feed the family in between working on it].I knew how real upholstered furniture is made, so I used that knowledge as a guide.

I can remember how I felt when it was completed. It was just about perfect and I felt so triumphant.

Then I came out of my mini manic high and looked around me. My whole house was in shambles, I had managed to make a huge mess in every room,all for this teeny little sofa!

leather chair

This is the living room of a dollhouse that my friend asked me to make for her niece. We were excited to find a lot of furniture in a dollar store. all that was needed were the beds and upholstered pieces.You can't see the sofa and chair too well, but they are made using the same method as is in the tutorial. The fabric on the sofa came from a couple of table napkins.My friend wanted a ''lazy boy'' style chair, as a little joke for her brother-in-law.I made this one in leather with a matching foot stool.I liked working with leather, it seemed easier than fabric.

copyright Jennifer Brooks 2019