Monday, September 19, 2016

Easy Little Projects

While I work to get the downstairs family room in order for the carpet cleaning, I am taking a break from working on the farmhouse. I don't think that I will ever have it completely finished, yet there are some final touches that I want to add. Waiting in the garage is the Bellingham farmhouse that I will begin to glue together soon. I hope to have a good plan for the theme, the decor, and accessories when I begin.

I am a big fan of HGTV's Fixer Upper with Chip and Joanna Gaines. I love their modern farmhouse look that they create, so I thinking of doing a modern home, updated with mostly a white pallet, clean, and simple with Texas on my mind. (I have family and friends who live in Texas, so I think I can create a really cute house).

In the meantime, idle hands are troubled hands, so I have been building furniture. Inspirited by potting benches/hall trees that appear on Pinterest and Caroline's hall tree that she created over at Cinderella Moments, I set to work.  I built two, designing my own pattern, using things that I had on hand. The hall trees are an easy build. Watch:

The first hall tree came from a door that I replaced in the Blue Farmhouse. There were two narrow doors on the 3rd floor that were damaged when a previous owner and the I tried to remove them. They were tightly glued in, making removal very difficult.

The doors had been nicely finished with a glossy urethane. Even after sanding the door, I had to use 5 coats of craft acrylic paint to cover the surface. Love this little table, but as the photo shows I cut the table a bit wide, so it laps over the sides. Actually, the table top fits perfectly, but I forgot to measure in the sides that we pop sickle sticks that added that extra width on each side.  The legs are stair balusters that I had on hand.

The tricky part of this little project is making sure that the legs glue on straight. I use Aileen's tacky glue for a quick, tight bond.

For the second the hall tree, I used a faux door that I had ordered by mistake. This door arrived without the door jamb, making it impossible to hang. A door frame could be created. Instead I decided to use it for another hall tree. I have found that craft (pop sickle sticks) sticks really don't work the best because some are not straight, some are warped, have knots; nor do they cut nicely. So from Hobby Lobby I purchased a 1/16 inch x 1/2 inch x 24 inches. It cuts nicely and is straight. I had the other basswood from which I cut the table top and bottom shelf. 

Once again careful as I was, the top is still just a teensy wide. I'll do better next time. This hall tree remains unpainted so that I can decide what I'll do with it later. It will go in the Texas farmhouse. 

Here are the finished hall trees. On the left is the one made with the reclaimed door. The one on the left is the unpainted new door. I decided not to paint it until I decide where I use it. I've posed them on the upper porches of the Farmhouse, not their permanent home.

I also finished the rose trellis. I hot glued the trellis in the tiny clay pot. I had this one hand, but I did find them at Joann's Fabrics. It is not 1:12 scale, but works nicely for potted rose trellis.

On my recent visit to Norm's Dollhouse shop, I purchased these potted hydrangeas for the front porch  along with he gardening tools.

I also purchased two hanging baskets of pansies for the front porch. At the miniature show, I found this pot of sunflowers. They are hand made from a kit. The vendor makes these tiny flower from kits which she also had sale. I'd rather buy the flowers already made for the pieces are just too tiny for me work with.

A New House: The Dura Craft Bellingham Farmhouse 

I began in earnest the work on the Bellingham. The last time I worked on it, I painted the first two floors interior walls with primer. Saturday I painted over the interior paint with latex water based paint, applying it with a small, smooth sponge roller. The roller givers a smooth, clean surface with very easy, fast application.

With the paint dried (while it dries quickly, I let give it 24 hours to completely dry), I started to glue the pieces together; thus, my first error. Trying to follow the instructions to the word, I got it wrong. While the glue had set up nicely, I was able to pound window wall on top apart. I quickly discovered that the instructions left out a step, so I am deviating from how the directions say to assemble the house, placing pieces in the order that works for me. Deviating from the directions is allowed! So stay tuned. I'll be updating as I go. It may get ugly--already has. Uglier. 

New Furniture

What sort of bits and bobs (as my English friends call this-and-thats) do you have in your stash? What do you think you could create?

My dollhouse stash includes a variety vintage House of Miniatures furniture kits that my daughter and I have collected. These are still available on and Easy and range in price. These upholstered pieces are tricky and not for the faint of heart. I am torn between making these pieces from the kits which will turn out looking home made and the really pretty made in China pieces or my favorite pieces made in the '60s and '70s by Shackley, which are rare.

I have several kits that are upholstered furniture. I decided to make a sofa for the Farmhouse's upstairs family room. I wanted to practice first, so assembled this wing backed chair.

I did some research first to see if I could tutorials on the best way to assemble these pieces. I found two great blogs: Paper Doll Miniatures  that led me to Magpie Shines. Unfortunately both of these blogs haven't had any activity for a long time; none the less, they offer great instructions.

They both take a unique approach to attaching the fabric to wood pieces by fusing iron-on fusible interfacing to the fabric then applying it to the wood using a Clover craft iron. It works. Gluing is just so messy and takes long to dry, especially on fabric.

I use a seamstress pen with disappearing ink to trace the shape of the pattern piece after I have ironed on the fusible interacting to piece of fabric--muslin here.

I cut out the pieces as the instructions show, apply the fusible interfacing, and iron the piece in place.

Paper Doll Miniatures added an extra step: using fusible fleece that a quilter might use. While I did this on the chair, I skipped it on the sofa. You might want more body or fluff underneath your upholstery, especially if you want the chair to looks over stuffed and comfy.


I needed some examples to look at, so pulled out the kit made wing backs from my vintage house to see how they were made. They aren't perfect, which bolstered my courage.  I made the third chair with the pink ribbon trim myself, pattern pieces copied from the kit. It's quaint, to say the least, looking a rescue from the thrift store. 

Here is the finished chair. I'd give it a B-. I am going to add some crochet string to cover the seams as cording to cover the raw edges and to give it a more finished look. This chair may be bound to the Bellingham.

While the chair assembled nicely, the back was especially hard to get in place; thus the cording.

Next project: the sofa.


I chose this nice faux suede in a olive green The color is hard to see here on the ironing board. I applied the fusible interfacing on a large enough area for all of the pieces.

These upholstered kits come with card stock pieces that are supposed to be upholstered then glued onto the wooden pieces. You can skip this step if you use the craft iron to adhere your fabric.

The craft iron gets really, really hot, keep your fingers out of its way, make sure you place it on the stand not on the ironing board or table because it will leave an ugly burn mark; most importantly test the iron on a scrap to avoid ruining a pieces, as the photo demonstrates. With the iron set on high, this synthetic fabric melted instead of adhering. On the right side, you do get a nice finish, but why mess with the templates when you adhere the fabric directly to the wood piece. The template is supposed to be a way to eliminate raw edges.

Yes. It works.

Now I begin stop struggle to glue the sofa together. The glue doesn't set up quickly, the back doesn't fit right. Instead of walking away, i got out the hot glue gun. I have a mess seam in the on the  back sides now. But from the from the little sofa looks great.


I'll cover up the bad side with a afghan.

With the sofa made, this room is ready to finish by  moving in the furniture. Now that the carpet in the family room has been cleaned, I am setting up the dollhouses, so soon I'll have photos of the finished Farmhouse and progress on the Bellingham. 

See you soon. Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

A Comedy of Errors.

The Denver Museum of Dolls, Miniatures, and Toys held its annual miniature show last weekend. I had waited a whole year to attend, after my first visit last year. I invited my daughters to go with me and plans were taking shape then life got in our way.

My sister-in-law has done family genealogy for years. Since her husband passed two years ago, she has returned to her research with renewed vigor, determined to proof her family's link to the Revolutionary War of 1776 in order to qualify for the Daughters of the Revolution, the DAR. After having done so, she decided to join and wanted my daughters to join with her. The meeting was Saturday, the same day as the miniature show. I told the girls they must go with their aunt because she worked so hard. I ended up going too because my aunt and grandmother had been members, so all I had to do was to update me own records. It was pretty impressive and a rather emotional moment for me when the four of us were introduced as protective members. The admission process is long and tedious with our ancestry and link to the our revolutionary war participant carefully studied and verified before the organization votes on our admission. So now we wait.

I came up with a brilliant plan to go to the show on Friday, recruting my husband to drive me to Denver who can navigate the dreadful traffic. I looked up the address on Map Quest--long story short, I had the wrong address and the wrong day. We got lost. Following my Map Quest directions, we couldn't find the hotel, so I looked up the address on my phone. It was 7801 instead of 2801. We programed the address in the GPS on our SUV and found the hotel easily. Once there, at the door we were informed that the show for public didn't open until Saturday. Oh man, was I bummed and felt a bit foolish in front of my husband. He was very kind and understanding. I owed him a trip to Bass Pro Shop on way home, making him very happy. And I was able to attend the DAR meeting with the girls, too.

Because the show is once a year, I decided to make another trip to Denver. I talked my daughter who had to drive home to Denver into going to the show with me, a little out of her way, but she has a dollhouse too.

I found the show to be unexciting because the same venders were there who were there last year, some with the very same items for sale, such as the lady who makes exquisite miniature Victorian style fashions--delicate slips and under clothing, dresses and such. Same pricey pieces that she had last year. They are so beautiful. Many of the venders are artists with exceptional workmanship, but not the sort of things that I am looking for.

On Friday since the show was closed to public, the lady suggested going to Norm's Dollhouse shop, which made the trip to Denver worth it. I had more fun there and found things that I needed wanted, as well. I found that Norm's pricing is so much more reasonable than the online stores. I bought 2 hanging baskets of pansies for half what the online stores sell them for. So the day turned out fine after all.

I did take some photos at the show. Would you like to see them? I knew you would.

The haunted house was one of the few houses for sale on the main floor. I took this picture because I have a Dura Craft San Franscican house in pieces in a tub that a friend bought on a garage sale for $5. (Thank you, JD) that my daughter wants to use make a haunted house. Cute, isn't it?

 On the lower level, the show displays room boxes done by members. I am overwhelmed by the detail and artistry each entry. These are some of my favorites.

I am working a sewing area in the large Farmhouse, concerned that I have the scale right. I love all of the detail in this room.

I love this one. Pink is my color, so I was especially drawn to it.

These glass domes are unusual and look like a lot of fun to build

I have seen the kits for these 1/44 scale houses. I am thinking that I should build one--while I still have some dexterity and eye sight.

Next is a collection of cabinets decorated so beautifully. Humpty Dumpty is so cute and I love the snowman.

I do wonder where the designers find all of the beautiful little items and how much they must spend on them. So pretty.

This one is really fancy. 

More pink, love it.

For the quilter/sewer, this one is perfect.

Love this one. I like rabbits, too.

This diorama is in a box with glass. Very pretty glass and china pieces.

But this one is my very favorite. I wish I had a better photo of it--one that doesn't show my reflection in the glass. I am thinking that I will build one for my 7 year old grandson. He'd love it. When I first looked at it, I didn't see the sleeping boy. All I was was the teddy bear fighting the dragon and loved that. Then I saw the little boy. And OH WOW. 

I am not so sure that I will return next year to the show. I'd rather go to Norm's on a more regular basis to buy my supplies and support the local retailers instead of the online stores. Hubby thinks I should go every two or three months. Now that I know how to get there from home instead of relying on my daughter to take me, I just may do that.

The carpet cleaner had to postpone his visit here. So the downstairs has been to of commission all week, so I haven't been able to work in the craft area. I am in-between houses anyway. The carpet will be cleaned today then I can get back my work.

Thanks so much for by. Your comments keep me company. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Ballet Studio closed last week for a few repairs.

The shingling on the roof need to be finished and the stair rail upstairs had to be installed. I had put off these two projects so long that it was time to finish the little house before I take on another house build (The Bellingham Farmhouse waiting to be assembled in the garage).

Shingling isn't t hat hard to do, just tedious. I began last year using a wood joint compound that once dried the shingles did adhere, but I wasn't happy with it. It was messy, the shingle wood did't like it, and it was very hard to squeeze out of the tube. I went with that product based on advice from builders around the net. The thin shingles tend to curl with a water based glue they . Wood glue dries yellow, which it does, so any drips that aren't wiped up will be yellow. Hot glue hardens two quickly; however, the builder at Norm's Dollhouse store in Denver said that they use hot glue to install their shingles. So to finish the job, I used Eileen's Tacky glue, which I have come to like very much. This glue hardens more quickly than Elmer's with a firmer hold. Some of the wood furniture that I glued together from kits need to be re-glued because the Elmer's didn't bond strongly.

The shingles also had to be dyed. I mixed an entire pack of dye powder, but dyed only a couple of handfuls from a full bag of shingles that I had ordered from Real Good Toys. Not a hard job, but it is a messy process, and the shingles take a few days to dry.

So now the roof is finished. Next, the stair rail had to be install. Since the studio was my first build, I wasn't quite sure how to go about doing certain things, but now I was able to build a stair rail out of scraps that I had.

The studio will be back in business, soon. I  have to move all of the dollhouses to another room so that the carpet can be cleaned in a couple of weeks. In my real life, I am reorganizing and cleaning up the downstairs room, especially my craft area. It has been such a mess with the blue farm farmhouse remodel that now that it is done I am organizing and putting away supplies and tools before I begin the next build that will be done mostly in the garage. I want all of the current project finished before I begin a new one.

I thought about hardwood on the upstairs floor, but with the wiring on the floor, I decided against that. Instead I will put the carpet back in place even though the piece is not quite large enough. It's an attic room, so of course a remnant piece of carpet has been used. 

With each stair that I install, I get better. I used a Houseworks stair kit from Hobby Lobby instead of the stair pieces included in this Real Good Toys kit, It didn't quite fit, but I liked it better than the pieces that came with the kit. Nor did the kit have the pieces for the rail upstairs. Luckily I had scraps that I was able to use. 

Now the upstairs looks fresh and clean. It will be the sewing room where all of the costumes are designed and made.

Tryouts for this year's Nutcracker were held just before the repair work began, so I know that the girls and -----are anxious to know which parts they got. The girls will be back in  few weeks to start rehearsals. Headmistress drops in each day to feed Jasmine, the guard kitty.

Eventually this little house will go my middle granddaughter, Lucy, who is our little ballerina. She just found out that she will be an angel in her Nutcracker production. I have been looking for another small cottage to build for the oldest granddaughter, Elinore. She loves animals so I am thinking of building an animal rescue/sanctuary. After looking at Real Good Toys for another house, it looks like they have discontinue the Alpine House kit which makes me sad because it is such a cute little cottage. 

I have been working on other projects, too: hall trees made out of old doors and House of Miniatures upholstered furniture, a wing back chair and a sofa. I'll be back too so share those with you.

Most importantly, I will go the Denver Museum of Dolls,  Miniatures and Toys Show in Denver Friday. I am so excited. I will be going alone on Friday since my daughters have other obligations on Saturday. My sister in law has prepared their applications for the DAR (Daughters of American Revolution). While I really wanted them to go with me to this once a year event, I think that it is most important for them to attend the DAR meeting with their aunt who has worked so hard to get them qualified to join. Other than making the hour and half drive too Denver alone, I am excited that I will be able to wander the show without distractions. I've saved money. I want to look for garden flowers, especially this time. Of course, I'll have a full report for you when get back. 

Thanks so very much for visiting.