Dolls House Upholstery in Miniature Part 1 - Working with Leather

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24 February 2012
imports_HAC_tudorstoolupholsteredw_66777.jpg Tudor Stool Upholstered with Leather
The first in a fascinating series of articles by Jane which looks at the materials and techniques most suited for upholstering miniature dolls house furniture. ...
Dolls House Upholstery in Miniature Part 1 - Working with Leather Images

The first in a fascinating series of articles by Jane which looks at the materials and techniques most suited for upholstering miniature dolls house furniture. In this part, we work with leather, one of the oldest, natural materials known to man.

Although the term 'upholstery' is commonly used to refer to cusioned furniture with fixed covers, its origins go back to pre-historic civilisations when animal skins were used as loose covers and were hung to provide privacy and warmth.

Upholstered domestic furniture with fixed covers seems to have come into being during the middle of the 17th century when softer seating became a consideration in the more prosperous households. Early upholstery was very basic and was literally a stool or back stool (one with a back) with fixed leather covers held in place with nails and stuffed with a soft filling like straw, horse hair, sawdust, dried hops, grains or feathers.

The following project shows you have to make an early upholstered stool, and will guide you through the technique of cutting leather neatly and accurately.

STOOL c 1660

Materials required

From 1/4" (6mm) thick obechi sheet wood

  • Cut 1-3/8" x 7/8" for seat


From 1/8" x 1/8" obechi strip wood cut the following:

  • 4 x 1-3/8" lengths for the legs
  • 2 x 1-1/8" lengths for the long stretchers
  • 2 x 5/8" lengths for the short stretchers


  • Paper for seat cover template
  • Double sided sticky tape
  • 2" x 1-1/2" piece of brown glove leather (fine and thin)
  • 1-3/8" x 7/8" piece of thin wadding
  • 30 (approx) 5mm long prass pins
  • Hammer or pin pusher
  • Dark Oak wood stain
  • Beeswax polish (optional)
  • Tacky Glue


Step 1

  • Cut out 1/8" from each corner of the seat piece.
  • First cut against the grain, then with the grain of the wood to avoid it splitting along the whole piece.
  • Stain one side of the piece with dark oak stain.
  • Stain all the remaining pieces of wood.
  • Leave to dry.



Step 2

  • Position the seat into a right angled gluing jig (Lego works if you don't have one)
  • Glue in 2 legs and a long stretcher between them.
  • The legs are flush with the top of the seat.
  • The stretcher is 1/16" up from the end of the legs (see 2nd photo above).
  • Allow to dry.
  • Turn the stool over and repeat with the other side.
  • Allow to dry.



Step 3

  • Place the construction in the jig as shown in the the first photo above.
  • Position and glue in the lower short stretcher.
  • Line up with the other long stretchers.
  • Allow to dry.
  • Turn over and repeat with the final piece of pre-stained stretcher.
  • OPTIONAL: Apply beeswax to polish the stained wood.
  • Buff to a sheen with kitchen paper towel.


Step 4

  • Make a template for the leather from paper to the dimensions in the diagram above.
  • Put several strips of double sided sticky tape on the back of the template.
  • Take off the backing paper and de-stick by placing on fabric (like your jumper) to remove some of the stickiness.
  • Position this then on the underside of the leather.


  • Use sharp scissors and carefully/accurately cut out the shape.
  • Remove the tape and backing paper from the leather.


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Step 5

  • Attach the wadding to the seat with a smear of glue.
  • Leave to dry.
  • Trim off any stray fibres with sharp scissors. (See the second photo above)


Step 6

  • Glue the underside of the leather on to the OUTSIDE EDGES only of the seat.
  • Do not glue to the wadded top piece.
  • Ensure all the edges are flush and at each corner the edges should meet neatly. (see first photo below)



Step 7

  • Place the stool resting on one long side.
  • With pins and small hammer (or pin pusher if you have one), put the first pin in the centre towards the bottom edge of the leather.
  • Put two more pins either end (see photo above).
  • Continue putting pins inbetween the previously positioned ones until you have 9 in this side.
  • Turn over and repeat on the other side.



Step 8

  • Repeat the procedure again on each short end of the stool.
  • You will have to trim the ends of the pins at each end with wire cutters to prevent them them clashing into the previously positioned pins of the long ends.
  • You will need to put 5 pins in each side end. (Please see 3rd photo above)


Jane also shows us how to make this fabulous leather covered wing chair from the 18th century in this feature for Dolls House and Miniature Scene magazine issue 213. Don't forget to buy your copy whilst stocks last.

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6 (Coming Soon)

This feature was originally published in Dolls House and Miniature Scene magazine. If you like making miniatures, why not buy yourself a copy of the magazine. Or better still take out a subscription so you never miss an issue. For fans of Facebook and Twitter, or to email, print or comment on the feature, please use the buttons above to share with your friends.

For materials and suppliers, please take a look at the marketplace section of this website.


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