Making a couch for dolls (and small children)

I tried to draw a picture a while ago that just didn’t turn out as I wanted. Though it had its shortcomings, it became the inspiration for a different sort of creative project — building a miniature sofa.

It’s hard to find scale props for dolls the size of mine, and it gets expensive fast. So the idea was making something that looks decent for a minimal amount of money. I’d never tried to make furniture before, so I decided to start simple, taking inspiration from IKEA and basing my project off the Karlstad loveseat. The first step was the hardest part for me: math.

Since I wanted everything to be in scale for my largest doll, I knew it needed to be a little larger than 1:3. One-third scale dolls (typically referred to as SD sized dolls) are usually about 60cm tall, which meant that by comparison, my largest doll would appear to be around 6’8″. Unusually tall, and a little too tall for my characters, as well. Rune is supposed to be 6’3″, so I started by working out the size difference. In the end, the numbers said that to make the loveseat appear proportionally correct and make him look the right height, I’d need to build it 8% larger than 1:3 scale.  After I worked out the size increase, I went digging in the shed for wood I could use.

I was able to find some pieces of a 1×4 board, as well as a good sized sheet of scrap plywood. I purchased another 8 foot 1×4 and an 8 foot 2×2 to use for the rest, spending a total of $6.
After we got it home, I measured and marked everything and my husband helped me cut the wood. Which is to say, he cut it while I watched the baby, so she wouldn’t be underfoot.

Once the boards were cut, I glued the pieces of 1×4 together to create the back and sides of the couch, letting them cure overnight. While I was at it, I used some clear Minwax Polycrylic sealant I had left over from another project to seal the legs cut for the couch. We used the 2×2 to create the legs, and also to make a frame for the plywood to sit on top of. If this were just for dolls, the sort of stability I planned for this thing would be major overkill, but I also wanted to make sure it was stable enough to support a child, since I knew she’d want to be on it too!

I nailed the 2×2 frame together and screwed the back and sides together, checking to make sure they still fit together after I was done. The 2×2 was pretty warped, but in a project so small, it didn’t really matter.

Then I put the plywood in between, screwing it first to the sides and back, then screwing it down onto the frame and adding the legs.

The next step was adding a little padding to the outside, and a lot to the inside. I had some great foam saved from boxes that came from the local Apple store, which I hot glued to the inside of the back and sides, then glued scrap fleece to the outside for just a little cushion. I also created removable seat cushions by layering the foam pieces together.

Once I was happy with the thickness, I cut the cushion blocks to size and created removable cushions for the back, as well. Then came time for upholstering.
I knew I wanted the look and feel of canvas duck, but canvas would have been way too stiff. Instead I purchased a yard and a half of black cotton linen, since the texture was similar but the fabric was much softer. I also purchased black felt to put underneath the cushions, as it would add more friction and keep the cushions in place. I spent $13 on fabric and felt, bringing the project cost up to $19.

Using a roll of Swedish tracing paper (which every seamstress should have!) I created a pattern for the upholstery and fitted the cut fabric to the couch. I pinned everywhere I’d need to put a seam, then sewed the whole thing together by machine. It was just enough fabric to cover everything I needed it to, since the space under the seat cushions was covered in felt and the bottoms of the seat cushions were a slightly stretchy scrap fabric I had on hand, making it easier to slide the cushions in. The cushions for the back of the couch were all black linen and harder to put on. The cushion covers were sewn shut by hand, using a hidden stitch.  Once the fabric for the body of the couch was sewn, I pulled it on, nice and snug, and folded it under to glue to the bottom of the 2×2 frame.
All in all, for my first furniture project, I think it turned out great!

It works beautifully with my very large EID doll…

…and it works great for my 2-year-old, too.

Not bad for $19!

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