Scratch built sofa

by brae  

I borrowed Dollhouse Magic by P. K. Roche from the library, and it turned out to be a rather simplistic book of miniature making, such as using thread spools for tables.  But, the instructions on using kitchen sponges to make sofas and chairs inspired an idea.  I wanted the living room to be more modern, and I thought using sponges would be a great way to achieve the shape a modern sofa.  It would be easier than trying to cut and shape pieces of wood while still being firm enough for structure.  I could add thin pieces of wood where I needed extra support and then upholster the piece with batting and fabric.

After scouring (er...nevermind) the internet for ideas, I decided to go with the Dream Velvet Sofa by Graham & Green, a home furnishing company in the UK.

I bought cellulose sponges in different shapes and sizes at Target.  I had to leave them out on the counter for a few days to let them dry out.  In the process of drying, they shrank a bit so I was glad I hadn't used right them out of the package.

Using the overall real life dimensions as a guide, I started cutting the sponges into thinner pieces.  I used the curved sponge to make the arms of the sofa, cutting it into thinner sections using a serrated kitchen knife.  It was rather like cutting really stale bread.  :D

I used a large sponge for the base of the sofa.  It had dried to an uneven thickness, so I marked all four sides with a sharpie and used the knife to shave off the excess and shape the base.

Below is my initial basic sponge structure.  The cushions are cut small to leave room for batting and fabric.  I've used some wooden beads to mockup the legs, but I'll shape some legs from wood during the finishing process.

The back cushions on the original sofa were taller than the back, so I think my side angle is a bit steep.  I'll have to cut that down before upholstering.   The coffee table here is just a placeholder; it's a bit traditional for this modern room.

For the upholstery, I chose chocolate brown microsuede.  I've been sewing for a long time, but this was my first time or otherwise.  It took me quite some time to figure out the best way to get the fabric on the sponge and wood frame.  I sewed some, glued some...swore some.  :]

I used batting to smooth out the front edge of the base and the seat cushions.  I glued a thin sheet of balsa wood to the back to have a smooth surface under the upholstery.  Here it is in mid-assembly.

Here it is mostly complete.  I need to tweak the fit of the cushions and adjust the legs, but overall I like the way it turned out.  :]

The striped pillows were created by finding designs online, resizing in PhotoShop and printing on fabric as I had written about in this post.  The bird pillows are actually made from a resized image of tiles by Jerusalem Pottery which I then printed on fabric.

I read a tip about filling miniature pillows with sand to give them a more realistic appearance than batting would produce.  I didn't have any sand, but I did have a bag of seed beads.  Filling the pillows with beads gave them some weight and did make it easier to shape them.


Comment from: Monkey [Visitor]
Can I be awesome like you? Please?
02/12/10 @ 18:41
Comment from: Linda [Visitor]  
Hi! I came to your blog via the Greenleaf Forum and wanted to commend you for such a great job on the sofa. I think I may make one of these for my living room, which is also a modern setting. Also, the book you borrowed from the library? I am pretty sure it is the same one that I have been looking all over the internet for, not being able to remember the name or author (great, huh?), because I used to take it out of the library when I was much younger. So thank you!!
06/04/10 @ 21:15
Comment from: brae [Member]
Thanks so much, Linda! Glad I could help! :D
06/04/10 @ 21:20
Comment from: eloise [Visitor]
this post just completely blew my mind. seed beeds as pillow stuffing and a sofa from sponges. thank you for completely overwhelming me with inspiration today!
07/01/10 @ 15:19
Comment from: Pepper [Visitor]
Ahh, finally found the sofa you were talking about. I see what you mean and it does look good. The sponge looks sturdy enough to keep it's shape but it maintains the softness so the cushions look realistic. Very clever idea...I love it
06/02/11 @ 07:06
Comment from: Angie Martin Hall [Visitor]
Wow! I love this post! I would have never thought to use sponges! What an awesome idea. You did a terrific job. I'm off to Michael's now to buy some of that printable fabric to make pillows as you've instructed. You're a genius, I tell ya...a genius.
01/12/12 @ 06:56
Comment from: Rose [Visitor]
I'm trying my own sponge sofa right now, thanks for the tutorial and inspiration! By the way, I've found that cheaper than seed beads and still effective as a cushion stuffer is couscous or other small round pasta.
04/11/12 @ 12:22
Comment from: Brigitte [Visitor]
I am having fun making a couch for my granddaughter
04/14/14 @ 18:52
Comment from: Grace Lewis [Visitor]
nice job!
11/07/14 @ 15:29
Comment from: Susan [Visitor]
Thanks for posting this.
12/15/14 @ 23:22
Comment from: Michele Johanson [Visitor]  
I see that this was done some time ago, and that you last received comments in December 2014. Well, rest assured that in 2015 you are still going strong. This is one of the best projects I have come across - a fantastic idea and fabulous execution. Thank you so much - I am making a dolls house for my granddaughter - the idea to spend as little money as possible - none, really - for the biggest value.
02/25/15 @ 10:59
Comment from: Linnetjoy [Visitor]  
I posted a link to your post onto storybook's group fb page---here's the link And here's a pin of the Barbie furniture set we made last week... fun!
03/04/15 @ 15:30
Comment from: Maria [Visitor]
I absolutely love this. It's far better than using cardboard and will last forever! You have really stimulated my creative side!
12/01/15 @ 04:50
Comment from: bethann lavalley [Visitor]
Love it!
01/30/17 @ 11:09
Comment from: brae [Member]
Thank you! :>>
01/31/17 @ 09:17
Comment from: Diana Curran [Visitor]  
HI, I love all that your doing there, however I don't know how you measured. Can you explain more. Thank you Diana Curran
06/03/19 @ 23:58
Comment from: brae [Member]
I used the basic measurements of the inspiration sofa and converted those to 1:12 scale. After that, I adjusted to fit my room in a proportional way.
06/04/19 @ 22:51
Comment from: Liz [Visitor]  
beautiful job! Great instructions! I am looking for ideas call my granddaughter thank you for a really nice blog!
05/19/20 @ 20:28

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