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Sofa Bed Tutorial For American Girl and 18 inch Dolls.

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We’ve been enjoying all the photos of Maryellen’s sofa bed and would really like one. However, it’s a bit pricey and not everyone has the budget to bring it home. I decided to build my own and make a tutorial for you.

I want it to be lightweight so a child can move it around and sturdy so it will stand up to play. I decided the perfect building material would be corrugated plastic. It’s lightweight, easy to cut and sturdy when reinforced.

I also wanted to build this for the low, low cost of FREE!! I have a well stocked studio/craft room so I had glue, paint, fabric, etc. I just needed something to build the basic structure. I decided corrugated plastic would work.

I sent a message to our community and high school theater directors and struck gold! My generous friend, Ramsey gave me a box of theater signs. They were sitting in her garage, leftover from high school theater productions over the past several years. Perfect! I love a good upcycle. Other sources for corrugated plastic are political signs, advertisements. Ask around, they often can’t be recycled, let’s keep them out of the landfills. You could probably build this out of foamcore if you don’t have access to corrugated plastic.

DSC_0139 (2)Thank you Ramsey!!

Next I needed a pattern. This proved much more challenging. There are some cute ideas on building doll chairs and sofas but I couldn’t find anything on building a doll sofa bed. End of project? No way! I’ll draft my own pattern. A word to the wise here: if you decide to make up a pattern as you build, make sure you have extra material. I used at least twice as many signs because I kept revising. You, my friends, needn’t worry about that, You can just follow my directions. Please write if you have any questions, I’ll do my best to answer promptly.

Items you will need:

3 Corrugated plastic sheets, mine are 18 x 24 inches.

A hot glue gun and glue sticks.



A yardstick

A sharp craft knife

A yard of fabric

Foam pieces or an old towel for padding. (Approximately 36″x 15″ total size)

A pc of felt, 12 inch square

Let’s get started!

Measure and cut your first pc of plastic to measure 14 inches wide and 23 inches long.

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Score your plastic (score = cut only through half of the thickness so you can bend it) Measure and score 2 1/2 inches from the 14″ edge on the front side. It doesn’t matter which side you call the front or the back, I labeled them so you know which side to score.

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Turn over to other side. Measure 6 inches from first fold and score along the back side.

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Now it looks like this;

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Turn back to the front side. Measure and score 6 inches from the second fold. After you score the three lines, it should fold like this;

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Mark the section between the folds that form the back of the sofa. Glue the two sides together.

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Cut 5 strips that fit underneath to reinforce your seat.

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Glue them underneath, like this; start with the middle piece and hold until the glue sets.


Make certain the two side pieces are level with the end of your sofa;

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Glue in the other support pieces. Set aside and place weights on it to hold it while the glue sets. A few small books would work as weights too.

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Cut two pieces of plastic 13 1/2 x 6 inches. These will be the arms of your sofa.

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On the front of each arm, score at 6 inches; and 7 1/2 inches. Fold. They should look like this;

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Glue the ends together and clamp them. You can use a weight or clothespins if you don’t have clamps;

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Your sofa support glue should be dry now. Measure the length and width of the seat. It should be 14″ x 6″. Cut a piece of plastic 19 inches long and 13 1/2 inches wide. Adjust measurements if necessary. You want this piece 1/2 inch narrower than the sofa seat, it will be the bed part of the sofa bed. Score the front side 7 inches from the 13 1/2 inch edge; score the back side 6 inches from the opposite side.

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I covered it with wallpaper samples and modpodge. This is optional but I wanted to cover the printing.

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Let’s begin upholstering! Cut a piece of fabric that is two inches longer and wider than the front and back of the back of your sofa. (A note; the sofa bed I’m making is brown. I forgot to photograph these steps with the brown fabric. These photos are from the second sofa I made. I may have a tutorial for this one later, it isn’t a sofa bed, just a couch. I’ll post a photo of it at the end of this tutorial if you’d like to see a photo)

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Cut a piece of your padding an inch or two narrower than the backrest.

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Run a line of glue along the back near the seat. Glue the fabric only at this line. Do not put glue anywhere else!!

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Gently lift the fabric and place your foam under.

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Make a small notch in your fabric at the top of the back.

You can see several of my mistakes under my project table here! Hah, lucky I have a whole box of plastic to work with.

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Stand your sofa upright and pull the front sides of the fabric around the back to glue.

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Fold the back of the fabric so it is even with the sofa edge. Add a few dots of glue to hold.

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DSC_0075 (2) Firmly pull the fabric and glue under the bottom edge.  Cut slits in your fabric so you can glue around the supports. Add just a small amount of glue along the folded edge, you want it to hold but avoid a lot of glue here. You will notice I avoid gluing the fabric on any visible surface. The glue sometimes creates lumps which spoils the realistic look of your sofa.

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Set this aside and upholster the arms. (back to brown now!) Cut and glue a piece of felt to cover just the top and folds of the arms.


Cut a piece of your fabric to cover your arms. I was running out of fabric, that’s why mine only covers part of the inside of each arm. This is the part where the arm will be glued to the sofa and it won’t show.


Glue at the bottom edge,

then fold it up and over the arm and glue at the bottom of the other end.

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Glue the edges of fabric inside the arms.

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Place the arm on a piece of cardboard and trace around the front, repeat for the back.

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Cut out the pieces and trim if needed. Make an X on the right side.

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Cut fabric slightly larger and notch all around the edges. Glue edges on the wrong side of the cardboard. The right side, the side with the X should be face down on the fabric.


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It is easiest to secure the four corners first, then work your way around.

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Glue this piece to the hole over the arm edge, repeat for the back of the arm. I recommend doing one arm at a time so you don’t get the pieces mixed up,  repeat for the other arm. Set aside.

Glue a strip of fabric to the front edge of the sofa base. Glue it all along the top edge and fold it underneath the bottom and glue there as well.

My fabric only goes partway around because I pulled this out of my stash and I am running out of fabric. The arms will cover the gap later.

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Cut plastic 13 3/4 x 2 1/2 inches for front of bed support. Cover in fabric.DSC_0086 (1)

Cut two pieces to fill the gap on the sides. I am pointing to the piece you need to cut with the craft knife. This is not glued together in this photo, I always check the fit before I glue.

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Cover these pieces with fabric and glue to the ends of the bed support.

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Glue this to the end of the bed base. Glue it on the bottom of the widest piece. It is best to lay the bed base on your sofa to be sure it is folding and laying the correct way. The support is glued on under the foot of the bed. You can see it on the far left at the bottom.

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Dry fit your bed base to the sofa base. Make sure you can fold and unfold it before you glue. You may need to glue it a little way from the edge depending on how thick your back padding is. Once you’re sure it fits, glue it in place.

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Now your sofa looks like this:

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Dry fit the arms, make sure you’re happy with the placement and glue them on.

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Time for cushions/mattress.

Cut your foam in three sections; one 7″ wide, two 6″ wide and all three are 13 1/2 inches long. My padding is a bit thin so I’m wrapping it in felt from my stash. We want our dolls to be comfy. 🙂 Lay the three pieces on top of your fabric with about half an inch in between each piece. Cut around the outside leaving a seam allowance. Do not cut between each pad. You need two pieces of fabric.

I finally ran out of fabric here. Luckily I have a coordinating piece in a darker shade.

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Place the two pieces right sides together and sew around the edge. Leave a large space to turn the fabric right side out.

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Stuff the first 6 inch cushion in and smooth it into place. Stitch on the outside close to the pad. Do not leave a gap or you won’t be able to fit all three sections in. This step may be easier to do by hand.

IMPORTANT, the 7 inch wide cushion needs to be placed in the middle.

Next place the 7 inch wide cushion in and stitch like the first.

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Add the last cushion and stitch the opening closed. The stitching between each cushion allows it to fold. Fold the bottom section under, and the top section up. The bottom gets tucked under the middle, the top section forms the back of the sofa. I added a small pillow.

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Grab your dolls and try it out.

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I hope you enjoy! Please share photos if you make one.

This tutorial is intended for personal use, it is the property of Faux Real Food. However, I’m happy to share, just link back here. 🙂

The brown sleeper sofa is looking for a home. If you have an idea what I should do with it, leave a comment. I’d love to hear your ideas.

As promised, here is a photo of the other sofa.

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2 Responses to Sofa Bed Tutorial For American Girl and 18 inch Dolls.

  1. Steampunk Addie November 10, 2016 at 9:21 PM #

    I especially love the sofa since Momma has that fabric all over our living room!

    • November 27, 2016 at 1:33 PM #

      Well Steampunk Addie, your momma and I have similar taste! Thanks for your comment. 🙂

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