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.


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!


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!


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.


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!


Older projects

I thought I’d take the time to showcase some of my previous made-from-scratch items, since I have not had anything new to post about this week.

1. The weathered coffee table


Made from scratch and scrap wood, and weathered with a watered-down mixture of blue, brown, and cream paints, I wanted this to look very rustic and homemade.  While all of the pieces were ultimately glued together, I did create a nailed-board look on the top of the table with jewelry pins.  To do this, I snipped them very short, made pilot holes with a thumbtack, and hammered the “nails” in.

Additionally, I wanted the appearance of drawers (an extraordinarily useful feature in coffee tables, in my humble opinion).  I checked out the jewelry section at JoAnn Fabrics to see if I could find anything good for knobs, and ended up coming across those findings.  They are brads with flower backs to them – several different flower types and brad lengths were included in the package.  The leftovers are very likely to make an appearance in my Undersized Urbanite build!

2. The sofa

IMAG0752I can’t even tell you how extraordinarily proud I am of this thing!  I searched for ages for a sofa that fit my vision for the Christmas House, but just couldn’t find anything that worked with both my desires and my budget.  After putting together a House of Miniatures Chippendale Wingback Chair, I felt I’d gained enough knowledge to tackle building a couch from scratch.

The primary structure is composed of a combination of foam core and stripwood, with a layer of thin foam providing a little softness in the arms and back.  I then carefully cut and covered the couch with a lovely faux suede fabric I found on clearance at JoAnn Fabrics.  The seat cushions are also made from thin craft foam, with a layer of felt on top for a bit more softness.  The cushion trim was perhaps the trickiest part, but I realized that the nature of the faux suede was such that I could actually use a tape runner from my scrapbooking stash, and simply use that to adequately “hem” the strips before gluing them to the pre-covered cushions.

I did find that for this project, superglue was probably my best friend because of the multiple textiles I used to create it.  The back cushions were sewn by hand, and filled with seed beads for a more realistic appearance of weight and impressions.  The feet were shaped wood disks from Michaels.

Along with my up and coming “useful tools” post, I also hope to get some great shots of the Christmas House in the near future; I plan to work on the lighting tomorrow 🙂