Monday, May 28, 2012

Ava's Dollhouse -- A Tour

     I thought I'd post the finished product now that the dollhouse is done! Well, mostly done . . . it's as done as it's going to get for now. I still haven't settled on a roofing solution, but it doesn't seem to matter at present. It's busy getting played with!

     You can look back to see what it looked like when I started. It's come a long way! After many hours of scraping, caulking, painting, decorating, and furnishing -- it turned out like this:

This was probably one of my favorite projects ever. It was rather time consuming, but I love how it turned out. And, even more so, I love how much Ava loves it. She's already spent many happy hours playing with her little bunny family. 

Shall we take a tour? :)

First, the exterior -- I went with Becky's suggestion (from the comments of this post) of a pale taupey grey for the shutters, and the gables are a very pale pink. As I mentioned in a previous post, I really liked this palette that I pinned on Pinterest awhile back. Simple and sweet. The exterior is the only part of the house that isn't entirely finished. There is actually a little front porch that attaches under the door. I've painted it a darker grey-brown, but haven't put it on yet. 

 I kept all of my interior stuff fairly simple. There is a ton of Calico Critters &/or dollhouse stuff out there, but most of it involves a lot of little tiny pieces. I knew we weren't ready for that yet! Ava is just barely three, after all. And we have our little Samasaurus to worry about! I'm sure he'd happily eat all the tiny dollhouse accessories he could find. :) Anyway, larger, more sturdy furniture pieces are best for now, and we can add more to the house as Ava grows up.

Also, I'll point out that all of the interior wallpaper came from the Nana's Nursery scrapbook paper stacks (view here and here) which I already had in my paper collection at home. I attached the paper to the back walls with double stick tape so we can easily switch it out if we ever want to redecorate!

The Kitchen

    This little shelf was the only piece that came with the dollhouse. I think the seller just threw it in because it was slightly broken and she had no other use for it. (We bought the house off a Craigslist ad from a lady who collects and restores dollhouses.)

    Anyway, it used to be red, had one door (the other was missing), and some half-broken feet on the bottom. I cut off the door and broken feet and painted it a springy green on the outside and yellow on the inside. Much more cheerful! 

    Then I cut out a little tea set and the cake & flowers and mod-podged them to the shelves. I cut them out of a piece of scrapbook paper from the Nana's Kitchen stack. I made the little clock on the wall (pictured above), but the other art on the kitchen wall was cut out of another paper from the same stack. Cute!

    The kitchen table is made out of a small oval wood plaque (70¢ at Hobby Lobby) that I painted blue, and a small wood candleholder. I just hot-glued them together. Easy peasy!

    The chairs were also purchased at Hobby Lobby for about $2 apiece. I cut off the legs of both the chairs to make them a little shorter. The bunnies aren't very tall!

The Living Room

I blogged about the little sofa here, and the red side table was a dollar store find! I printed off the little sunburst mirror and the other art, too. It was found by doing a search for vintage butterflies. We'll definitely have space for more furniture in this room. Maybe we can add some armchairs and such later on.

The Nursery

    Pretty simple! I like the little birdies on the wall. Sweet. The triple baby bunkbeds were a gift from Nana. And, she now has three baby bunnies, so all the beds are filled. :) Sam gave her the third one for her birthday! Such a nice, thoughtful brother . . . hee hee.  

    I made this simple little bunting out of scrapbook paper and thread. It took all of about 10 minutes to make, and looks pretty cute. :) To make one, just cut out a bunch of little triangles and string them together. Quick & easy!
    The little picture on the other side of the room (shown in the main nursery photo above) was just a little bunny cut out of a Nana's Nursery paper.

Sister Bunny's Room 

    Ava told me that this is her favorite room. :) It's probably the pinkness. She's still a fan! How long do most little girls like pink, I wonder? Maybe she will always like it. 
   The little gallery wall is a combination of scrapbook paper, google images, and pinterest finds. All the art in the house is attached with tape so we can switch it out later. If you wanted something more permanent, Mod Podge would work best!

    This little mirror was already in the house and was glued to the wall very well. It's a bit too high for Sister bunny to use, but oh well! :) I made a little frame for it out of paper. Before, it was just a little oval mirror . . . with paint smudges all over it that I had to scrape off. I think this house has been through several owners, because I could tell it had been though many paint jobs in the past. Layer after layer of different colors!

Brother Bunny's Room

   Are you still with me? This is the last room! The little shelf on the wall was in the house when we got it, and I thought it would be fun if it sort of looked like Brother bunny kept his toys up there. Someday, when we're ready for more little pieces, we can have real Calico Critters stuff for the shelves, but this is fun for the meantime. Ava likes it! She pretends that Brother bunny likes to play with his dinosaurs. It's adorable. :)

Thanks for joining us on our tour!

Here's a bit o' Ava cuteness on your way out . . . 


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Easy No-Sew Dollhouse Couch

Here's the latest addition to the birthday dollhouse -- a lovely new couch for the living room. It was very easy to make. I don't think it took much more than half an hour to put it all together and was a nice cheap addition to our little house. (Free since I used things I already had!)

Want to make one? Here's what you'll need:
Small box
X-acto Knife
Batting or Polyfil
Hot Glue
Beads or Buttons (optional)

 First, find a smallish box that works well with the scale of your room.

 Mark how high you want the back of your couch to come to and draw a line all the way around the box.
 Cut it out with an X-Acto knife.
 Cut out a rectangular piece of fabric to cover the cardboard. Make sure to cut a generous amount of fabric so you have plenty to wrap around. I had this pretty green fabric from another project and it worked perfectly for my little house!
Now, simply wrap the fabric around the box and hot glue it on!

 Notice those little curved arms on the couch in the last picture? When I started covering it, I quickly found that it was not going to work well. I ended up just cutting a slanted arm for the couch instead. The fabric laid much nicer on a straight line.
 Pull the fabric nice and tight and it will look something like this!
Next - cushions! Start with the bottom cushion first.
Cut out a rectangle large enough to wrap around a small bit of polyfil and with enough at each end to fold over like an envelope. Hot glue it together. Super quick and easy!

Tip - before glueing, test the cushion in the couch to make sure it's a good fit.

Now, make your back cushion using the same method.

Did I say this was a no-sew project? Well . . . I lied (sort of). :) I decided to add two small pearl beads to my bottom cushion to help it keep it's shape. And to make it look a bit more couchy! If you want to add some too (or small buttons could be cute!), just make one stitch through the cushion, pull it down tight, and tie it on the back side.

I decided to glue my cushions into the frame so that things would stay together nicely, so that is the last step!

All done and looking good in the living room. Cute! :)

Ava got her early birthday present from Nana and Papa yesterday! The Cottontail Rabbit family will be ready to move into the dollhouse soon. They also gave her a new bike! Can you tell? :)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Our Ava is turning THREE on Sunday! My life is currently consumed with working on her present -- a dollhouse. :)  Last fall sometime, we were at the toy store and Ava discovered Calico Critters. Have you seen them? They're these cute little animal families with all sorts of little sets to go with them. Ava doesn't actually own any yet, but she's getting some for her birthday!

They do sell houses for them, but they are rather ridiculously expensive. I decided to start looking on Craigslist and found this house for $20 -- not too terrible, but it did need a lot of work. We bought it from a slightly eccentric lady who lived at the tip-top of a mountain. I probably should have at least tried to offer less . . . but I think I'm sorely lacking in bargaining skills. :) Oh, well!

 Lots of missing shingles, missing trim here and there, broken windows, and, in general, just dusty and in need of a lot of freshening up!

We replaced some of the trim -- all of the old trim on the gables was pretty crooked & poorly cut, so it was easier to just start over. We found this trim at Home Depot for about 2 or 3 dollars. It was a quick fix!

I painted the inside all white to brighten things up a bit. I've started wallpapering some of the rooms, but haven't taken pics of that yet. It's looking cute, though!

Here's where I could use some input -- I decided I didn't like the yellow pictured above (it was looking a bit garish), so I mixed up a pale blue which I like much better. But . . . what color should I paint the gables and shutters? As you can see below, I've tried out quite a few, but I'm not really set on anything yet. Any opinions? Let me know!

I really like this palette, so I may try to go with the pink . . . we'll see! 

Also, any roofing ideas? Right now it is just painted white, but definitely needs to be covered somehow. I can't seem to find the perfect solution . . . share some brilliant ideas with me! :)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Sparkle Dough

I discovered The Imagination Tree blog when Ava was still pretty tiny, and just loved all the fun/educational play ideas. It's awesome! If you're looking for some creative activities for your little ones, go check it out! 

Ava and I made some sparkle dough awhile ago. We do love glitter, after all. :) Here's the recipe directly from The Imagination Tree site:

- 1 cup of salt
- 2 cups of flour
- 1.5 cups of boiling water (important that it is straight from kettle)
- 2 tbsp oil
- 2 tbsp cream of tartar (or a squeeze of lemon juice)
- a few drops of glycerine to add extra shine and stretch (this is my own special ingredient!)
- black food colouring
- silver glitter

Mix it all together in a bowl until it starts to come together. Then knead it for a few minutes and add the colouring and glitter. It will be very hot at first! It comes together beautifully and will last for months in a zip-loc bag in the cupboard.

 We made a half batch of the recipe (which was still a ton) and used blue food coloring since we didn't have black. Ava was a good little helper! She liked to help me stir. :)

Initially, we put in just blue glitter, but it wasn't nearly as sparkly as silver, so then we added some of that, too!
In the end, it looked like this: 
Fun and sparkly and ready for play!

Ava loved it, but be warned, it was very messy! See the glitter all over the table? Oh, well. :) We like our messy projects in this house. 

Go make some! :)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Super Capes!

Awhile back I said that I might post about how I made the capes for Sam's Party, and I thought I'd finally do it! They were fun and really quite easy to put together. I consider myself a beginner when it comes to sewing. Seriously, I think I have to read the instructions pretty much every time I have to thread the machine or fill a bobbin with thread. So, I really do think anyone could figure this out. :)

As you probably noticed, there are two different sizes of capes in the photo -- baby-sized, and toddler/preschool-sized. I'll be going through the steps of making Sam's baby-sized cape, but if you want a larger one, just add on a few inches to the length and width. Also, I'll apologize in advance for the less than stellar photos . . . having a 1 and almost 3-year-old means I do most of my sewing at night, and therefore didn't have any nice, natural light to take pictures by. Nor do I own a fancy-schmancy camera . . . someone want to get me one of those? :)

First of all -- here's a list of supplies you'll need:
2 pieces of fabric - approx. 2/3 of a yard of each
craft felt
fabric glue
rotary cutter (makes it so much easier, but scissors could work, too.)
cutting mat

Before we begin, I wanted to show you how the measurements worked out for the two different types of capes in the images below. Sam's baby cape was 14 inches long (from the base of his neck to about mid-thigh) and 18 inches wide. Ava's preschool cape was 18 inches long by 20 inches wide. For both sizes, you could add 2-4 inches to the length if you want it to come down to the knee. To do your own measurement, just measure your child from the base of the neck to wherever you want the cape to fall to, and presto! There's your cape length. :)

Now we're ready to get started! First, layer both pieces of fabric together and fold them in half. I neglected to take a picture before I cut out my cape . . . but I think you'll still get the idea. Before cutting, you'll need to trace a general outline.

As shown below, I used my daughter's old bib as a template for tracing the neckline. It was a quick and easy way to get the shape I wanted. If you don't have any old bibs laying around though, I'm sure you could just freehand it and make a shape similar to what I have here. Make sure you leave enough room for your seam allowance around the neckline! After tracing your pattern, cut out the cape shape with a rotary cutter, and probably cut around the neckline with scissors. My rotary cutter is pretty big so it was hard to go around the small neckline curve with it.

Now, before sewing the cape together, add your little superhero's logo! I decided to make my logos out of felt because I didn't want the edges to fray out and I don't know how to applique. :) If you're a sewing pro, you could definitely use fabric and fusible webbing and applique something on. 

You can pretty much do anything for your logo . . . the possibilities are endless!

Letter A with a small felt heart.                                               H as a Hydrogen atom. :)   (design by Adam!)

V with a little felt butterfly I embroidered.

If you're nervous about free-handing the logo/letters, you could print out a large letter and trace it, or find different shapes online to print out and then trace onto your felt. 
Once you've settled on your design, cut it out and position it on your cape. Use just a bit of fabric glue to tack it down so it won't move when you're sewing around it. Or, I suppose you could just glue it down really well and not sew around it at all! I zigzagged around all of mine. 
Here's what that looks like up close . . .  
Somewhat straight . . . ha. 
I used a smaller zigzag on Sam's logo, but I think I used a larger one on pretty much all the others (which you can see in some of the logo photos above). 
Tip: smaller zigzag works much better on curves, larger zigzag is great for straight lines. The S had lots of curves, obviously :) -- so the small zigzag was much easier to use.

Now you're ready to sew your two pieces of fabric together! 

Place your two pieces right sides together and sew away! There's really no need to pin it together. I never had any trouble with things getting out of place. (Anyone else hate pinning?)  hee hee :)
One tip though -- start sewing around the collar of your cape first so that there's no chance of that part getting out of alignment.

When stitching around a tight curve, it may be easier to go slowly and take breaks to lift your presser foot and turn the fabric from time to time. It was much better for me, but my machine is old and doesn't feed the fabric all that well, so maybe it wouldn't be so difficult on a newer machine. :)

After you've sewn everything together, snip around the small curves so that they will lay nicely when turned right-side out.
And . . . I hope you remembered to leave a hole in the bottom to turn the cape through! I forgot on at least half (probably more) of the ones I made for the party. :) My seam-ripper is my friend.

Once it's turned, you'll have to carefully iron your seams before topstitching.

Try to iron the edges closely enough so that you can just barely see all of the stitches from the inside . . . does that make sense? Hopefully this photo will help a bit.

See the stitches showing along the edge? Once it's all ironed out, you're ready to add your topstitching. You don't need much of a seam allowance here. I let my fabric run right along the edge of the space in the middle of the presser foot.

Next -- Velcro! Cut out a little oval and stitch it on. Maybe your machine will stitch it on for you, but mine refuses to do such a difficult task, so I had to do it by hand. Velcro is pokey. Ouch.

Look!!! You're done!

It'll probably be past midnight by the time you finish, but since you're so excited, go ahead -- wake up your baby and make him try it on whilst in his footie jammies. Awww . . . cute! Super Sam to the rescue!
Just kidding -- I waited until he woke up in the morning. :)

If you make a cape for your little one, I'd love to hear about it! :)

Also, feedback on this tutorial would be appreciated! Did everything make sense to you? Does anything need to be clarified? Let me know!