Can anyone give me any creative, frugal tips for making my own doll furniture, etc.? I am decorating a miniature house and also a Barbie sized house for my daughter. I was hoping to make durable furnishings for the Barbie house for her to play with while she is little and can make the more fragile items for the miniature house to keep for when she is older. The websites I have found cater to serious collectors or they are selling kits. I am not a wood worker, but would welcome any simple hints people may have.
Thanks for such a great website, I visit daily!
Lee-Ann from Canada
Check the pattern books at your sewing store, they often have a section devoted to dolls and accessories patterns. Also, check out the American Girl book on making miniatures. It has some cute ideas for using household objects and turning them into minis.
I made dollhouse furniture for my daughter using the inexpensive (pressed cardboard) cigar boxes. The wooden ones are hard to get for free since a lot of crafters are willing to pay for them, but many of my local stores are more than happy to get rid of the pressed cardboard boxes. I made beds, dressers, armoires, tables, chairs, sofas and even a vanity using an old compact mirror.
For instance, for the bed, I used a whole box as the bed frame and made a mattress with fabric and stuffing scraps that fit inside. I made pillows and bed linens from an old flower print dress of my daughter's, and glued round wooden beads on the bottom for legs. The pieces took some experimenting to get them just right, but boy, did they come out looking great! Better than any I'd seen in stores, and I'm no crafts person.
Good luck! (08/24/2004)
Buy a bag of the old fashion wooden clothes pins at the Dollar store. Cut to the right length, they can be used for table legs, lamp bases or bed posts. To make a bed, cut small slits in the 4 corners of a checkbook box or child shoe box lid and stick the clothes pins in the slits so the round part provides the top posts and the split section of the clothes pins provide the legs so the box is raised up off the floor. Now just make a small cushion to fit in the box. (08/26/2004)
Years ago I built a fairly small doll house for my daughter, along with most of the furnishings. I bought a few wooden dowels of various sizes and found some thin wood from fruit crates (or something; a wooden cigar box would have worked fine). Then with an electric drill secured on its side to a table via a 'C' clamp, I chucked up table legs, chair legs, bed posts, etc. cut from the dowels. Using an X-acto knife to cut and shape the pieces the drill made a serviceable lathe. This made for a nice kitchen table and chairs.
If you have access to a Dremel it will really come in handy for a lot of this stuff. I did this in the mid-70s and I've wanted one ever since but at the time just had to make do with the drill.
If you can get stuff free (or very cheap) such as popsicle sticks, tongue depressors, cool cloths, or thin leather scraps, etc. get it and let your imagination run wild. Don't throw that old leather purse away...you may be able to cut it up and use it for upholstery.
After careful shopping I found good deals on pre-made windows, a staircase, and a bathroom fixture kit (tub, sink, toilet, etc.). Mostly though it's great fun to take nothing and make something out of it; I believe I enjoyed making this stuff more than my daughter enjoyed playing with it. (08/27/2004)
I found a great pattern from the fabric store for sofas and beds and such for Barbies. You use boxes as the base, and cover them with fabric. It is fun, and something that can be "redecorated" with new fabrics for a "trading spaces" project. Scrap denim works great for sofas as well, and it is durable. A CD with some doweling for legs can make a nice table - just need a scrap of fabric to cover it. (08/27/2004)
I love seeing all of these "creative" uses for ordinary things! When I was growing up in the 70s, my sister and I used to use Pepsi cardboard boxes set next to each other or piled on top of each other for the Barbie house. (You could use any box you have as long as it's tall enough for Barbie.) Our grandmother used to save tops from bottles, shaving cream cans, or whatever would spark our imaginations to make furniture! I'm doing the same for my girls. I think it's more fun and creative than going to Toys R Us and buying a house and furniture. One idea I have for you all is the plastic tops that are removed from the Glade scent jars before you put them into the plug ins. The little plastic lids look like lamps. My girls have them in EVERY room of their house! (12/28/2006)
There is a book called Tiny Treasures by Pleasant Company Publications, which shows one how to make detailed miniatures from everyday items. It is out of print now, but well worth an Ebay search. One can use the projects for 1'' or Barbie scale. (09/14/2007)
When I was a little girl my grandfather made me some barbie furniture, and it was really neat! He used a couple pieces of wood (1"x4") about 7 or 8 inches long and nailed in an "L" shape, then took a little bit of stuffing that you would make pillows with and some really pretty fabric (any color, any print, and you could even do as you would decorate your own house), and he stapled the fabric to the wood and cotton stuffing. Then he took 4 penny nails (the ones with the little round heads on them) and nailed them in the bottom of the furniture to make the " legs". He made me a couch and a chair. I'm planning on building my 5 year old a house for her barbies and I'm going to make all of her furniture, right down to the kitchen sink! I hope it turns out the way I plan. Wish me luck! I would love to take pictures and post on here when I'm done, too. (09/04/2008)
Hello, I make miniature room boxes and dollhouses from scratch. I live in Kelowna, B.C.. I started out about 5 yrs ago and I literally haunted dollar stores. There you can find miniature ceramic dolls in the toy section, as well as many other things. To make wood looking floors, try buying wooden tongue depressors from the dollar store and cut off the rounded ends and measure them and cut them. Use a hot glue gun and place them end to end and you will have a real wood floor! Visit thrift shops for all your fabric needs, be it bolts of cloth or clothes you can cut up for your curtains. Leather purses cut up are good for hope chests etc. Happy miniaturizing! (01/06/2009)
By sue weldon
About 60 years ago my uncle made a wood doll house for me, it wasn't one of these fancy delicate looking ones that you see now. It was made out of wood about 1/2" thick from what I can remember. For the shingles he used slats from old wooden venetian blinds. He used one slab of wood for the base (a little yard around the house and also for the floor). The stairs to the second floor weren't attached.
In the yard he used miniature evergreen trees (I think they are called bottle brush trees and are usually in the stores around Christmas time). My aunt made the furniture. For the table she used a round salt box and cut it off to the proper height, then cut four legs evenly spaced around it and left a little margin around the top for balance. She then painted that brown. I can't remember what she used for the chairs.
For a couch she used the bottom of a Velveeta cheese box and covered it with some burgundy, tan and black striped fabric. I imagine for beds things like cheese boxes could be used too, and attach appropriate fabric for bedspreads. Other shaped boxed could be used for dressers, etc. and painted. A piece of cardboard covered with tin foil could be glued to walls for mirrors. The doll house lasted through me, two younger sisters, and my two daughters. (10/11/2009)
When I was a kid, a friend of mine had some barbie furniture made of cigarette packages glued together and covered with scrap fabric, we used to play barbies for hours. I've since made furniture for my niece and daughter. I have found that it helps to stuff the packages with scrap paper or whatever. I've used scrap wood and nailed or glued it together and covered it with scraps of material as well. The things you can use are only limited by your imagination. I do have another new little daughter and I'm planning on making her some, too. When I do, I'll upload a photo. (10/28/2009)
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Years ago my boss bought his daughters a dollhouse for Christmas. We put it together in the breakroom and decorated it on our breaks. We made tiffany lamps out of broken necklace chains and ping pong balls cut in half. We crocheted rugs and tablecloths. We made everything in it and had the most fun ever.
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