Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Queen Anne settee

This project was again something I made simultaneously with some members of my Chippendale miniature group, and I have lots of step-by-step pictures. It was one of the most difficult kits I made, and we all agreed that the instructions were the worst ever.


I started with sanding and staining legs and arms, which was straightforward. I have now become really good at it, and bold too - not anxious to break or damage something.


Then I had a proper look at the foam and discovered that one bit was crushed.


I didn't have suitable foam, and although I as usual consulted my group, nobody could suggest anything that might work. (As it turned out, I didn't have to worry at all because the foam was to be trimmed anyway, and I could cut off the faulty bits. But we are not there yet). 

The instructions for making the back were definitely inadequate, and it took me some time to figure out what was what and how it should fit together. 

The next steps were also poorly described, but finally I figured out how to glue on the foam and how to trim it.


The crushed bit of foam went to the seat, and because the seat was more narrow than the back it worked just fine when I trimmed it. 

Now came the stage I had been trying to avoid. The thing is, I had still not decided what fabric to use. The provided standard blue is horrible. I browsed the web for actual Queen Anne furniture and got some idea about suitable fabrics, but I had nothing at hand. I also searched ebay, both for dollhouse fabrics and for full-size remnants. With a delicate miniature like this, the pattern is crucial. I had a vague idea of what I wanted. If I hadn't been making the sofa together with my group I would have probably put it aside and waited for a fabric to happen. Here were some of my options:

My clear preference was the bottom right one, the flowery one, and the fact is that I have used it for an armchair that I have now given away. However, it is too similar to the fabric I used for the Chippendale sofa. My second choice was the dark red silk, the bottom left. It would make a grand sofa, but I considered where I might put it - likely in the ladies' drawing room, and it has pastel colours so that a red sofa won't match. I didn't want a sofa in any other room - I don't have space for a sofa anywhere else.

Finally, I decided on a fabric that is from a completely wrong period, but I just couldn't go on forever. My competitors were already finishing their projects, with lovely fabrics. I felt compelled to go on.


I have only used a tiny bit of it before, for a half-scale four-poster bed, in a house long gone. I really like this fabric, and I decided it didn't really matter it was wrong. I could always refurbish it later.

The secret of neat upholstering is, as I have learned from my group, letting the glue set after each step. And then pulling the fabric really tight over the other edge.

I was quite happy with the result. 


Next, I had to do tufting. One day I will compile a glossary of words I have learned through miniature-making. Wonderful words that describe various processes and skills. I have done tufting before, but I didn't know the name for what I was doing.

The next step in the instructions was to cover paper templates with fabric to glue to the back and bottom. However, I had previously used a different technique, which I think was simply caused by short supply of fabric. I photocopied the fabric onto paper - or rather, I had done it before, because by now it would have been too late, and besides my colour printer is broken. But I had saved a sheet with this pattern which I had probably intended to use for wallpaper. I am glad I remembered it, and I am glad I had tested it before. It is so much neater this way.

I cut templates from the paper and glued to the bottom of the seat and the back of the back.

You cannot tell the difference, can you?

Then I glued the seat and back together and left to dry overnight.

The day after I glued on the legs and the arms. The former for easy, the latter... I don't even want to describe it.

Anyway, I finished it, and I believe this is the first Chippendale miniature that I don't like. I mean, I am not happy with it. I like what my friends did with their kits, but I don't like mine. I will have to re-upholster it some time later, but right now I have just stored it away. It's unfair, because it is quite sweet and neatly made, but I am not proud of it. Sometimes that's the way it is.


Maybe it will fit in some other project.

1 comment:

  1. I completely sympathize with you. I'm working on a sofa kit from the same maker and the whole 'template' thing and lack of instruction (or pattern pieces) really made me crazy. I'm going to need to fuss at it for another weekend before its anywhere near decent enough for a picture.