Dolls House Upholstery in Miniature Part 5 - Using thicker fabrics

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12 June 2012
imports_HAC_edwardianchaiselongue_91806.jpg Edwardian Chaise Longue
Jane Harrop looks at the development in upholstery which took place during the early 20th century, and how to make and upholster an Edwardian style chaise longue. ...
Dolls House Upholstery in Miniature Part 5 - Using thicker fabrics Images

So far we have used silk and cotton fabric to upholster our furniture projects and any excess fabric has been thin enough to be neatly secured and hidden between components. This time, I will show you the best way to deal with upholstering miniatures using bulkier fabrics and I have chosen to use faux suede to upholster an Edwardian, show wood, chaise longue. Any part of the wooden frame remaining visible after upholstery, is called show wood.

Late Victorian and Edwardian seating was often upholstered with velvet fabric. To create this effect in miniature, I suggest using faux suede or crushed velved fabric which is slightly thinner and more manageable than traditionally thicker velvet fabrics. It is readily available at haberdashery shops and I actually used a cushion cover to upholster this project which I found in a sale for a couple of pounds.

Previously upholstered seating had been very imposing and formal, but by the beginning of the 20th century, upholstered furniture under the influence of the Arts & Crafts movement became a lot more elegant and much less cumbersome. Trimmings were modest and there was often a definite feminine influence in the decoration of homes with lighter chintz fabrics, even though silk, velvet and brocade still remained fashionable too.

Upholstered day beds or chouches originated during the 17th century and were designed for relaxation. The  French name of chaise longue, meaning long chair, was introduced at the end of the 18th century. Most middle class Edwardian homes would have owned a chaise longue for the lady of the house to retire on after a meel. Typically these were deeply upholstered with a row of turned spindles and a padded arm rest.

I have decided to give this project an Arts & Crafts feel by using straight wooden legs, as turned short mahogany legs are difficult to source.

Materials Required

From 3/16" thick mahogany sheet wood:

  • 1 x 5-13/16" x 2" for base
  • 4 x 7/8" x 3/16" for legs
  • 1 x 5" x 3/16" for the ladder top
  • 1 x 4-5/8" x 3/16" for ladder base
  • 1 x 1" x 3/16" for ladder end


From 3/16" obechi sheet wood:

  • 1 x 1-7/8" x 1-5/8" for headrest
  • 1 x 5-9/16" x 1-15/16" for cushion


From 1/16" thick mahogany sheet wood:

  • 2 x 1-3/4" x 1/2" for headrest covers


From 3/8" diameter hardwood dowel:

  • 1 x1-7/8" length for headrest top


Also required:

  • 1 x 1-15/16" x 1" piece of thin card for cushioned headrest template
  • 12 x 12mm long wooden single columns for spindles
  • Faux suede fabric approx. 9" x 7"
  • Trimming - approx. 28"
  • Wadding - approx. 7" x 2"
  • 1" micropore tape
  • Mahogany wood stain
  • Tacky glue
  • Beeswax or finishing polish

Tools Required

  • Sanding paper, medium and fine grade
  • Flat needle file
  • Craft knife
  • Brushes for applying polish
  • Metal ruler
  • Sharp scissors

Step 1

  • Take the headrest top dowel and carefully split in half lengthways.
  • Glue one of the pieces on top of the head rest wood piece with all the outside edges flush.



Step 2

  • Use medium grade standpaper followed by fine grade, round the edge of the wood on the opposite side of the dowel for form a continuous curve.


Step 3

  • Take one headrest cover wooden piece and roughly cut to the same shape as the edge of the headrest.
  • Glue in place and allow to dry.
  • Use sandpaper to sand to the same shape.
  • Take care not to alter the shape of the headrest.
  • Repeat this procedure with the opposite edge of the headrest.


Step 4

  • Take the base piece and cut out 3/16" squares from the corners at one short end.
  • Cut first against the grain, then with the grain to avoid splitting the wood.
  • At the opposite end, leave a gap of 3/16" before cutting out the 3/16" squares.
  • See diagram below for position of the square holes.


Step 5

  • Position and glue the 4 legs into the cut out sections of the base piece.
  • The tops of the legs should be flush with the top of the base.
  • The photo below shows the bottom of the legs and the underside of the base.
  • Leave for the legs to dry thoroughly


Step 6

  • Gently round off the corners of the base at the end where the legs are inset.



Step 6                                                                                   Step 7


Step 7

  • Chamfer (angle) the straight edge of the headrest using medium grade sandpaper.
  • When it is positioned on top of the construction it will slightly angle outwards.
  • Keep fitting until you are happy with the angle.
  • Glue into position.

Step 8

  • Take the cushion wood piece and chamfer one short edge to fit against the headrest.
  • Keep fitting until  you are happy with the angle.



Step 9

  • On the opposite short edge of the cushion wood, gently round the corners to match the end of the base.

Step 10

  • Take the ladder pieces and cut a section out from each 3/16" wide and 3/32" deep at one end.
  • As before always cut against the grain first to avoid splitting the whole length of the wood.



Step 11

  • Stain the 12 columns with mahogany wood stain.
  • When dry, place wide side down on top of the ladder base piece as shown in the photo below.
  • Use the ladder end wooden piece to evenly space the columns.
  • Glue into place.


Step 12

  • Turn the ladder base piece to rest on its side with the cut out section facing inwards.
  • Take the remaining ladder pieces and glue together.
  • The ladder top piece rests on top of the ladder end. Please see the photo below.


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Step 13

  • Use a flat needle file to angle the inside edges of the two cut-out sections at the open end of the ladder.
  • This is to create a good fit against the headrest.
  • Keep fitting until you are happy with the fit.
  • Sand the ends to run in-line with the angled sections and ensure they do not protrude the outside edge of the headrest.


Step 14

  • Slightly round the top edges of the ladder back construction for the armrest.
  • Apply polish to the whole piece, use a small brush to get between the spindles.
  • Buff to a shine.
  • Position and glue to the chaise longue.


Step 15

  • Position the cushion on the top of the base and against the headrest.
  • Mark on the cusion next to the end of the ladder.
  • Remove and cut out a section 3/32" wide.
  • The cushion should be slightly shorter in length than the base.


Step 16

  • Lightly glue the wadding on top of the cushion wood piece.
  • Trim to size
  • Cut a piece of fabric to measure 6-1/2" x 3" and stick micropore tape to the underside to protrude the cushion.
  • This is so that when the fabric is cut to cover the outside edge of the cushion, the micropore tape avoids the edges fraing and the glue seeping through the fabric.



Step 17

  • Trim one long end straight using a craft knife and ruler.
  • Position and glue against the straight edge of the cushion with the bottom edge of teh fabric flush with the bottom edge of the cushion.
  • Avoid the glue contacting the front of the fabric - as it will mark.

Step 18

  • Repeat the procedure on the opposite side edge of the cushion piece.
  • To make this easier, start to trim the ends of the fabric down to size.



Step 19

  • Position and glue the fabric on to the ends of the cushion.
  • Ensure that the fabric is snipped where it meets to avoid it overlapping and creating bulk.

Step 20

  • Position and glue the covered cushion on top of the chaise longue.


Step 21

  • Take the card cushion headrest template and position against the headrest.
  • Make a mark on the card next to the top of the ladder back.
  • Remove and cut out a section 3/32" wide.



Step 22

  • Lightly glue wadding ot top of the card and trim to size.
  • Cut a piece of fabric to measure 4 x 4".
  • Lay micropore tape on the underside of the fabric.
  • Position the wadded card on top of the fabric centrally at one end.
  • Glue the bottom edge of the fabric to the underside of the card.

Step 23

  • Pun a line of glue along the outside edges of the fabric and fold and glue to the back of the card, then back onto itself.



Step 24

  • Position this on the headrest with the cusioned section against the front of the headrest facing forwards.
  • Carefully and neatly secure into position using tacky glue.

Step 25

  • Poition and manipulate the remaining fabric around the back of the headrest.
  • Trim for a neat fit immediately below the back of the headrest.


Step 26

  • Cut a strip of fabric 4-3/4" x 1" for the armrest.
  • Line with micropore tape.
  • Use a craft knife and ruler to trim off  the edges to make the fabric 1/2" wide.
  • Glue on top of the ladder back construction.
  • Trim at the headrest end for a neat fit.


Step 27

  • Take a strip of micropore tape and use it to remove any fluff or dust from the fabric.
  • Take the length of trimming and very carefully and neatly glue immediately below the bottom edge of the fabric.
  • Start at the back of the chaise and bringing round the front.
  • Take it up around the front edge of the headrest and back down along the bottom at the back.
  • Repeat on the armrest and the chaise longe is complete.


Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

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.

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