Friday, November 28, 2008

How We Made Our Doll House

First of all, I don't have the money to buy a 200-dollar wooden doll house kit. And secondly, right now I don't have the time to put together a kit like that. I needed a simple and inexpensive way for us to have a fun, usable doll house. The perfect thing ended up being a small wooden bookshelf like you can buy at A.C. Moore or Michaels. I realize that even these can seem expensive, but we found one of ours at the thrift store. The second one I bought new, but if you check your Sunday paper, oftentimes you'll find really good coupons for stores like A.C. Moore and Michaels.

You can see us sitting in front of it playing. It is not fancy, but there are so many crafting hours and good memories tied up in this doll house. I believe that someday I'll have a fancy doll house -- maybe for grandchildren, or maybe for my daughter and me to work on when she's in her teens, or grown. For now, though, this is perfect. We made a trip to a store that sells scraps from area businesses and stocked up on paper, wallpaper supplies, little carpet pieces and little pieces of wood. A thrift store offers much the same by way of old books that you can get pictures from, fabrics that can be cut up and reused, and little miscellaneous items that can be recycled into doll house furniture. Get creative!

In addition to the wooden shelves (if you want to go totally frugal) we decorated two cardboard boxes as two little "loft" rooms that sit, one atop each wooden shelf. We used glue -- you can use either fabric glue or a hot glue gun (just be careful and supevise!) -- to apply the fabric. The room above is nothing more than adecorated cardboard box.

We have splurged from time to time and bought some wooden pieces new (remember those coupons and always look for sales). We've also judiciously picked out some wooden pieces at The Dollar Tree. Some of the above we made ourselves, and I'll post individual instructions about what we all we make.

The kitchen probably holds the least homemade furniture. It is also, for now, a room that's not fully decorated yet. As for the furniture, we lucked out and found the big stove at the thrift store for 99 cents. The table and stools against the wall were a gift. They are currently decorated for Christmas with pipe cleaners. (Remember it's a 10-year-old girl decorating the rooms.) The pretty green table and chairs were a splurge with a coupon.

Another cardboard room (above), the bathroom, with a pretty fireplace made from a paper-towel roll. I'll post instructions on making this later. My daughter likes for this to be the bathroom so the dolls can be warmed by the fire when they get out of the tub. The tub is a recycled soap dish from the thrift store.

One of the rooms in the wooden shelf (above). Do you see Santa hanging by the chimney? Mother is sitting by and the kids are in bed. Perhaps she is making sure they go to sleep. This room has been wall papered with wall paper scraps and glue. The windows were drawn first on drawing paper with colored pencils and then cut out and Mod-Podged into place on the walls. The same goes for the pretty fireplace. My daughter made the large bed out of a recycled metal tin.

All of the above was inexpensive and fun! It just takes time, but the memories you'll create and the talks you'll share make it so much better than something ready-made.


PS - Disclaimer: Please just remember to always supervise the use of craft supplies, scissors, glue and glue guns, etc. And remember that small pieces represent a choking hazard for small children. Supervise. :)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Beautiful Baby Cradle

Not too long ago I found a sweet little baby cradle at the thrift store. There was no mattress, no veil -- just a plain plastic cradle. I knew we'd fix it right up! The picture above shows you the view from the baby's head end of the cradle. I cut this clear piece of material to fit loosely over, hemmed it, added some antique-looking ribbon trim and then put a snap closure so my daughter can close it snugly around the crib. Mosquitoes drive the dolls crazy sometimes.

When baby wakes up, the veil can easily be placed back out of the way.

The make this light, airy material hang down arond the cradle, we sewed on two pretty card decorations I had at my art desk.

The veil was placed evenly over the little post at the cradle top and hot-glued into place with just a small drop of glue. This little birdie was also hot-glued into place. The baby loves watching the little bird.

Baby, of course, sleeps in mommy and daddy's room. They want her close by.

Monday, November 24, 2008

A New Doll House Chair

Last night I used the book that my friend Alana sent me -- The Most Wonderful Dollhouse Book, to make a new chair for the doll house.

First I started with an empty baking powder can. I used a Sharpie to outline where I would cut with my sharp Xacto.

You can see how the chair will be shaped. The most tedious part comes next, and that is cutting a piece or two of fabric and smoothly hot-gluing it on so it looks upholstered.

But it turns out well! What did I use to fill the inside? I simply measured out enough stuffing to fill up the seat. I then cut a circle of fabric and laid that stuffing in the center of it. I pulled the fabric together all around it like a balloon and tied it together with a piece of string. The tied-with-string end went down into the seat first, leaving a pretty puffy pillow look on top.

Mama Doll loves her chair. I ended up covering my fabric "seam" on the chair with a ribbon I had recycled from some old PJs. It worked perfectly.

Fancy, eh? Princess of the Universe loves her new chair.

Remember to supervise the use of all crafting tools. I always do the sharp work myself and supervise my children very closely when they are working with things like this to avoid injury.


Doll House Emergency Supplies

This week we finished up our studies of Storm in the Night.

And you know me. I was inspired to make something for the doll house. As luck would have it - or should I say as the occasion was presented to me, I ran out of my favorite eye cream. The little jar could certainly not be discarded. Anything small has to be considered as furniture or some little thing for the dolls. You'll see the little jar sitting up at the corner of the book, above, freshly turned into a stool that doubles as storage. For now, let's take the top off and see what's inside.

Oh, it looks exciting!!

It's emergency supplies!! A book of matches for the doll house candle, and a flashlight! And they'll always be located in the comfy storage stool so we know how to get to them quickly!

Do you know what the flashlight is made from? The little extension pieces that you would use to increase the size of the posts in a scrapbook! They even unscrew so the dolls can pretend to put in new batteries. The tip, light and switch are tiny pieces of felt that were hot-glued on.

Here's brother, who's pulled the stool up close to sister's bed so he can read to her. She's not feeling well today.

The satin trim on the stool came from an old pair of pajama bottoms that finally wore out, but the tie around the waist was too pretty to throw out, so it went into the "string drawer." The top of the stool is padded with a cotton ball with a circular piece of fabric placed over the top and then hot-glued into place. The final touch was the trim glued around. The little matchbook is just a little black piece of paper folded with the matches drawn onto a white piece of paper and glued inside.


PS - Miniatures are fun, but remember they are small and not for children too young to understand about not putting thing in their mouths.

Doll House Sled-Box

Yesterday we finished up Very Last First Time. It has been a really good study for us.

You know a FIAR book would not be complete to me unless we had a little reminder in the way of a doll house accessory! I used a little matchbox to recreate Eva's box that she pulls across the ice. I looked through some of the little boxes on my sewing/craft desk and found a couple of little card charms that resemble picks or shovels. A bottle cap makes a great mussel pan.

I was so thrilled when Princess of the Universe wanted to make her own little sled-box out of paper and tape. Her box is deeper, which I commented is more like what Eva had. And Miss Priss even tore up little pieces of black paper to make mussels for her pan.

Do you know it just made my heart sing when she said, "Mommy, I love my doll house."

As occasion would have it, our little girl doll looks like she could pass for Eva.

We have enjoyed this book -- and our doll house -- immensely!


Cute As Pie

Is it just me, or is this just cute as pie?

Do you see the apple pie on the table? I had a bottle cap from my ginger-ale today and thought this would make a perfect doll house pie pan, if only the edges were brought out some.

And what a way to finish up How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World!

This little pie is just a bottle cap with the edges flattened out somewhat by pliers, a circle of felt glued in for the bottom crust, little pieces of felt glued in for apple slices, and felt strips glued on the for the top crust. I think the dolls will have wonderful conversations about Italy and Sri Lanka and England...


Doll House Dresser For A Friend

Just wanted to share pictures of a dresser that was made to give away to an on-line friend.

Yes, the little matchbox drawers may be a bit wobbly, but so is Pooh's spelling.

This dresser has tiny little batchboxes with tiny little drawer pulls.

I think everyone needs miniature, homemade doll house furniture.


Doll House Blanket

As I wrote a few days back, Princess of the Universe and I have been making blankets for the doll house. In the gift from Louise was also a piece of cheery fabric -- just perfect for a doll house creation.

Little doll boy has a new blanket, trimmed with pom-poms and a dream-filled little pillow to match.

Louise, thank you again


A Sweet Gift

A special gift from a sweet on line friend. Louise must have known we needed blankets in the doll house.

The dolls are snug under this beautiful, warm, handmade quilt. Thank you.

And Louise sent an exquisite piece of art for the little dolls to hang in their modest home. (Miss Priss attached it where she wanted it with a little piece of sticky-tack.)

She is adorable!

Oh, and there is a book for the dolls to read! How did you know they were interested in faeries?

Louise, I want you to know that little Princess of the Universe set to work straight away drawing faeries and baby faeries in the book so her dolls would have lovely pictures to look at.

Louise, thank you ever so much.


The Prudent Man

"The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going."

Princess of the Universe and I talked about this verse from Proverbs and I told her what I thought it meant. The moment trouble stirs, the simple jump in with both feet without looking. A too-good-to-be-true "deal?" The simple run right after it. Not so the prudent man.

It was such a simple gesture, but last night in her room I picked up a couple of dolls and had them talking to each other.

"That kid is a pain. Let's do something to him so he can't play with us anymore. Let's tell him he's not welcome around here."

Princess of the Universe walked right over, smiling.

The next thing you know these two little kid dolls were whispering their plans about how to get rid of the kid they didn't like. No one wanted him around because he was mean.

Of course an older, wiser kid asked the two children if what they were about to do was very prudent.

"Do you think you should try to correct that little boy on your own, or should you go tell your mom?"

Princess of the Universe took over.

She had the little dolls walking into the parents' room (of course waking up the newborn baby during a nap, who cried WAAAAAH WAAAAAAH), and they told Mom what they were thinking.

Mom sat down with the children and explained to them (my daughter's words, not mine):

"Children if you try to correct that little boy, then he might go home and tell his mother about you and then you will be in trouble too. It's always best to tell a parent."

As we tucked all the dolls into their beds we lamented over the lack of adequate blankets in the house. What is the use of a fancy bed if you don't have a proper blanket? We should have planned more wisely perhaps?

I told her it reminded me of The Virtuous Woman and how she was not afraid of the snow for her household because all of her household were clothed with scarlet.

Proverbs is so wonderful. It is like a treasure of practical advice for all, including children, and then the marvelous deeper meanings can be uncovered as we grow older and older. In fact, it would be a life-long project.

The next doll house project? Homemade blankets for the dolls' beds.


Doll House Decluttering

We have done some decluttering of the doll house.

Hey. Even dolls can only move around and function so well when there's too much clutter. Of course, it won't do to throw out something you use from time to time, even if you're in a decluttering frenzy. Now, that's a lesson to teach!

You'll see the fancy dog bed that Princess of the Universe made from a little tin from the thrift store and some fabric scraps. That dog sure has a nice bed.

She put a couple of pieces of wood on the "fire." Of course the fireplace was drawn on paper and then decopauged to the wall.

The bathroom was also moved to a room with a fireplace (made from a cardboard papertowel roll), and yes that's the man of the house in the bathroom currently. Ahem. I desired to edit this out, but Princess of the Universe insisted it should stay in. It is real life, after all.

How would you like a huge, round bathtub which allowed you to step out and dry in front of a roaring fire? Could be dangerous. But it could be warm. :)