Tufting a Mini Couch

It’s highly unlikely I’ll finish my Undersized Urbanite build at this point, sadly, but I am still plugging away and having a good time when I can. Right now I am still teaching, writing away at my thesis, and now we are moving in less than 2 months. Lots to do, and sadly minis don’t take mini amounts of time!

Most recently I’ve been working on the sofa. I wanted it to be both grand and understated, or at least that’s the best way to describe it. I had a House of Miniatures Chippendale Sofa kit on hand, and decided to utilize it to make my visions come true.

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I’ve seen an awful lot of tutorials on Pinterest about making your own upholstered, tufted headboard, and I used many of the techniques here. I started by marking out lines on the back of the sofa, to create half-inch squares. I then drew diagonal lines to find the middle of each square, and proceeded to use a pin vise to drill through the back. This helped me to create an offset pattern for each of the “buttons.” If I had truly thought it through, I would have begun with a centered line – sadly, I did not, but ultimately I don’t think it would have done a whole lot to change the finished product.

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The next step was to find the best way to cover the couch. House of Miniatures kits are old, and while the foam included for the couch cushions was in good shape, I knew it is likely to dry out and disintegrate in the near-ish future. I ended up cutting new cushions out of pink craft foam, 2 layers. Unfortunately for me, the pink of the foam showed through the linen-esque fabric I chose, even after a layer of white felt. I ended up covering the bottom half with a scrap of fabric (seen above – you can see some of the pink through it!) and the top half with another piece of felt to add a little extra fluff to the top part of the couch. When it’s all covered with the larger piece of fabric, you can see it looks pretty uniform in color.

The next part was by far the most difficult part of the whole process – adding the tufts. The holes were quite small, and finding a way to keep the threads pulled really tight was hard. I ended up using two different methods – nails and bead crimps. The bead crimps were easier, but if I had to do it again I’d do nails all the way. More complicated, but it seems like a stronger hold. You can see the nails below – they are the tops of jewelry pins, cut off and carefully hammered in partway.

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To get the thread through the holes, I first put a bead on the thread and put both ends of the thread through a long needle (Needle 1). I then took a second needle (Needle 2) and pushed it through the hole from the back of the couch. Next, I took Needle 1 and pushed it through right next to Needle 2. Then Needle 2 was pulled out from behind, and Needle 1 was pushed all the way through until all thread had come out the back. I then taped the thread down so it wouldn’t accidentally be pulled out. This took a little trial and error, as Needle 1 was not always in the correct position to just go straight through the pre-drilled hole, but it was by far the easiest way to get the needle through all layers of foam, batting, and fabric, in the right place!

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Once I had the full row done, I pulled the threads as tightly as I dared, wrapped them around a nail several times, and held the thread tight while I hammered the nail in fully. This is definitely the way I would recommend doing this if you try, and if I try tufting another piece I will do it this way again. It is complicated and can be frustrating, especially if you knock a nail out, but is far easier than the bead crimps. Had I known I’d use bead crimps, I definitely would have picked up sturdier thread. Occasionally the crimp would just cut right through the thread and I would have to completely re-do the tuft all together. I’ve also had a couple come loose since I finished, leading me to have to glue a couple of beads back on – definitely not ideal!

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This is the unfinished product – one row done! I did not bother tufting all the way down, because half of the back is hidden behind the back cushion. Instead, I started in the middle and worked my way up.

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The finished product! Before I attach this to the rest of the couch, I’ll take a needle and try to get all of the beads facing the same way. Until then, I think it looks pretty darn good!

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11 thoughts on “Tufting a Mini Couch

  1. ebmagpie says:

    That looks awesome! And you’re not the only one who won’t be finished 🙂 I can’t wait to see it all in the end.

  2. Absolutely gorgeous! Using the beads is so clever, I think I might try it now that I’ve seen your tutorial. I can’t wait to see the full couch all together.

    • Abbe PB says:

      Oh, thank you! I got the bead idea from all the tufting tutorials, which utilize large buttons. I was fortunate to find ones that match the fabric quite well 🙂

  3. Christina says:

    That’s so cute. I’d like that in real life. Great job on the tufting!

    I have 3 house of miniatures kits sitting on my desk, still trying to find the right fabric for them.

    • Abbe PB says:

      I don’t think I’ve posted it, but the first HoM kit I did was the Chippendale chair, in a (scale-wise) large-print blue floral. I love it, it’s very modern twist on traditional, but haven’t found the right place for it. One of the things I really do love about the HoM kits though is that the instructions are essentially also the patterns for everything, so in theory you can just recreate the pieces over and over again.

      I guess what I’m trying to say is, maybe you should just go for it with fabric you like, rather than waiting for the “right fabric.” 🙂 If you find the “right fabric” later, you can recreate the kit from the pattern.

  4. brae says:

    This looks marvelous! 😀

  5. Kate Merchant says:

    What is a bead crimp ??

    • Abbe PB says:

      Crimp beads are frequently used in jewelry to secure the ends of a wire around the clasp mechanisms. I used them here to secure the thread that held the beads in place, in order to ensure that I was getting the tufts tight enough. They’re easily crimped with a regular pair of pliers; when used in regular jewelry, they are often hidden by a cover.

  6. Raquel Castro says:

    I’m with out words, you have such a wonderful gift from heaven!! I wish I could do so many wonderful and beautiful things, I love your work, congratulations!!

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