Monday, February 10, 2020

Have a Seat, Please

I have been following Julie Warren for sometime now. I'm not exactly sure just how I discovered her, but I liked her lessons on how to build miniature furniture. My first attempt wasn't very successful--a little shelf--, but I haven't given up trying to master her techniques for building my own little tings. I even purchased one of her books. I decided to make her little bedroom chair with--I would say--decent success, following her youtube instructions on my iPad.

Because Julie's tutorials are copyrighted, I'll direct you to her video: Bedroom Chair because it's the right thing to do and certainly because she is so good teaching how to make little things.

First I cut out the pieces by hand, using my Xacto blade. You can see one piece that has a slightly rounded edge; I should have recut it. Next, while Julie uses what she calls wadding as padding, I used wool batting that I have on hand for doll making. She says that it is messy when it glue is applied--she's correct.

I followed her directions exactly and here is my first effort. I used the muslin fabric that I have on hand. 

I had trouble with the cushion because of the wool batting, but after I finished one chair then I had to make another one.

And then there were three

 I cut them out on the scroll saw instead of using my little blade. Much easier. I decided if one was good, three would be better.


I went shopping a better fabric, looking for fat quarters, but I couldn't find anything that I liked, but I did find this 2" wide ribbon for 1/2 off. It has wire edges, which gives a very nice finished edge. 

The ribbon worked well, but not perfect. While the edges are nice, the ribbon is very stiff eand porous so it doesn't accept glue the best. I started with fabric glue then switched to tacky glue.

Julie does not provide patterns or templates, only measurements for each piece; instead she teaches you how to make your own. Having made the chair once and knowing that the ribbon was not as large a piece of fabric, I began by making a pattern so that I could cut out the ribbon more accurately.

In her video, Julie notes that applying glue around the wadding will be messy. Messy for me doesn't describe the mess. While I was looking for something else in my garage work bench, I found this square of 1/4 inch poly fiber fill. Hoping that it didn't  go to something else, I took it downstairs to use on Chair 2. Since it was too thick, I was able to pull it apart, trying to get it evenly divided--I didn't. It just sort of comes apart.

This how the padding will fit in the chair.

 Next, I begin gluing on the fabric. I won't go through all of the steps of applying the fabric. You refer to Julie's video--she does a better job than I would.

I followed Julies instructions, but had to clamp the ribbon in place to get the glue to hold since the stiff ribbon fabric wouldn't stay in place, even with tacky glue because the glue soaked through the fabric.

I used double sided stick photo mounting tape to adhere the fiberfill to the cardboard and to adhere the ribbon to the cardboard on the reverse side to stick it on the seat of the chair. The ribbon is barely big enough to wrap around the cushion. Were I to use ribbon again, I'd buy wider ribbon, 2.5" or even 3"; nonetheless, I made it work.

 And there you have it: a comfortable chair.

 You can't see in the finished chair, but I applied the glue to the  ribbon for the back of the chair, the glue soaked through. While it does not show up in the photo there is bit of sheen to the glue spot. Not a total disaster, but not perfect either.

The 2" wide ribbon is just wide enough to cover the back of the chair, though.

As with every new trick we try to master, doing so takes practice, so I have two more chairs to cover, which I will do when I have a place for them. The middle chair demonstrates how I didn't get to wood pieces cut accurately, but I'll work that too. I rather like the curved corners on the back of the middle chair that I sanded a bit, but how will I upholster them? I don't know that yet.

 I had a chair picked out for the girl's bedroom in the Farmhouse, but I really like this little chair with it's polkadots I may even cover the lampshade to match. I adore these polkadots.

So, there you have it, an easy, modern looking chair that can add a lot of style and color to any miniature project and I did  all by myself.

And the cat has already claimed it. The chair must be comfortable.

Notes on using ribbon to upholster this small chair


  • Ribbon comes in such a variety of colors, patterns and textures, but so does fabric
  • It's cheaper and you get about three yards
  • It's pretty easy to work with
  • There's not a lot of waste
  • Wire edge makes a nice finished edge and helps to hold fabric in place. A fold stays folded.
Not so Positive:
  • 2 " wide is barely wide enough, 2.5" would be better or even 3", but I would get ribbon without the wire because ribbon has nicely bound edges and raw edges will be tucked away.
  • The ribbon that I used is stiff with a wide weave, almost canvas-like, making it stiff and harder to work with. The wide weave makes this ribbon porous so the glue soaks through and I had difficulty getting it to stick to the wood, so I had to clamp it, but there are places where clamps won't fit.
  • Gluing was messy. I first used fabric glue, but it would grab hold, so I switched to tacky glue and it soaked through the fabric. The must be a more suitable glue. Even with cotton fabric, Julie warns of glue soaking through.
I went through my ribbon stash and found this 3" wide ribbon which would be perfect in size. Still I can guess pretty closely how badly the glue would saturate the delicate faux satin ribbon.

Still, this is a fun project and worth trying, especially if you are a beginner and testing the waters in furniture making. The hardest part is cutting the wood pieces and getting the edges straight. 

Thanks for visiting. Now go make something cool.

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