Sunday, April 26, 2015

Nothing Like a Good Night's Sleep

I think that my favorite room to decorate is a bedroom. My guest room is the Lady Bug room with an iron bed, vintage garden hats on the wall, and a lady bug patchwork quilt that I made some time ago--the only quilt that I will ever make. The room is red and white and I love it. I enjoy preparing it for company, washing the sheets with Clorox to get them bright and white, adding Downy Lavender and Vanilla fabric softener to make them sweet and soft, then ironing the pillow cases with lots of spray starch to make them crisp and fresh. I do cheat by ironing only the sheet cuff that will be turned down. I don't iron sheets, though I knew a lady who did. I never knew why.

A good night's sleep begins with a nicely made bed. My grandmother taught me long ago how to properly make a bed, unlike mom who did not make her bed, nor did she train me to make my bed each day. She wasn't a housekeeper; in fact, she admitted to hating housework. In all fairness she did work along side my dad and her father-in-law in the family egg and poultry business. She was a busy, hard working mother, who cooked fresh food, canned, sewed all of our clothing, seldom complaining about her heavy load in life. I, in order to get out of hard work outside, tended to the housework. At a very young age. I ironed, scrubbed floors, did dishes, and tended my baby sister.

Now I make beds for fun.

You might remember this bed in an earlier post that I made for the Ballet Studio, but decided not to use. This week I have been making bedding for the other two beds that I made from kits. I used my mistakes to dress this bed. For example, the fitted sheet is wrong side out because I sewed the corners on the wrong side. It was easier at the moment to cut a new sheet than it was to rip out the four corners. And the pink top stitching on the top sheet is not so perfect. But you won't tell, will you?

Grandma taught me how to make square or as she called them hospital corners for the flat sheets. Today we have fitted sheets, so of course I made fitted sheets for the dollhouse beds. I tried to make the mini bed as I would I my own bed, but we have to remember that much of the mini world is for show and real life does does not always work in miniature.

I searched Pinterest for How To's on mini sheets and found this great tutorial for all of the bedding; however, her patterns and instructions are sized for 18 inch doll beds. For my 1:12 scale, I looked up the standard sizes for sheets and pillow cases. The math is pretty simple: 1 inch=1 foot. Full sized sheets are 54x72, so my full sheet was 5 1/2x6 1/2 inches finished. I added at least 1/4 inch on each side and the bottom for the hem. But the top sheet needs to be longer if you want a nice fold-down at the top, so my top sheet pattern is 7 1/2x10 inches. I may make the next one even wider so that it will lay more naturally.

To make the fitted sheets, I traced around the mattress and added 1/2 an inch on all the way around for the hem. Visit Made: Pieces for Reese because she has a really good tutorial on how to sew the fitted sheet.

Following other dollhouse builders who say to save everything that might be used for a mini, I saved these packing materials from some UPS shipment.

This mattress is some sort of shipping packing, paper pouches filled shredded stuff, soft and fluffy. I trimmed down the packet, rounded the corners, and scotch taped the edges back together then taped the sheets to it, wrapping them around the mattress.

The finished bed. My dear blog friend at Cornish Cream in England sent me some (as she would say) bits and bobs of lace, ribbon, and the vintage crocheted pieces that I am thinking were dainty little coasters. I folded one up to make it look like grandma's crocheted afghan at the foot of the bed.

This is a bed that I built from a vintage XACTO kit. The mattress is piece of foam that was easy to measure and work with. Easier than the packing material. 

The pillow cases are so much fun to make. Cute 2 pieces of fabric 3 1/3x2 1/4 for each pillow case. Choose a light weight, thin batiste or cotton. Stitch on the sewing machine 1/8 inch seam. I stitch one side seam first, press it open, then add the lace on the wrong sides together then press it flat. Then I stitch the other two seam. This bit of lace is so special. 

In 2006 I toured England with a group of university English Education majors who were going to be teachers. Our favorite stop was Haworth, home of the Bronte sisters. I was searching for bits of lace that we could use on the christening gown for my first grand child. In an antique store just down the hill from the Rectory, I found an entire bolt of this edging, so I use it very sparingly. Such good memories of a fabulous English tour. 

I still have to make the little pillows which will be 2 3/4x 3 inches with a 1/8 seam. As a side note, the pillow cases are just a wee bit big to fit nicely on the bed, so I will probably cut the pillow case the same size and take a large seam next time. I finish all of the bedding pieces by ironing them with a coat of spray starch to give them a nice crisp, clean, fresh look--just like the bed in the guest room.

I adore this Tester bed purchased as a kit from Houseworks Ltd. It is a canopy bed; I followed the same principle to make the canopy as I did for the fitted sheet: traced around the top of the canopy then added inches until I thought I had the correct length. My friend is cleaning out her attic and she keeps sending me lace and stuff, so here I added one of the vintage lace trims that Patti sent me. Thank you, Patti Rose. Another note: I am finding that mattress sizes vary from bed style to bed style, so measure to make sure that your bed sheet will fit.

My daughter scored a dozen XACTO furniture kits at the thrift shop yesterday. (I'll share a photo next time). There is another Tester canopy bed, so I will be making more bedding. 

Meanwhile,  back in the kitchen I have made a set of rooster canisters. I have ordered some really cool items from Etsy shops, but I drew line when the cute little ceramic rooster canister sets were $12+ with shipping doubling the price. I decided to make my own. Dollhouse Miniature Furniture Tutorials: 1 inch minis has this fabulous tutorial, which, of course I tweeked--a lot.

While she uses card stock to make her canisters from scratch, I used the moisture absorbing plastic thingies that come in my prescriptions. 

Materials: Moisture absorbing thingy, an image, scrapbooking brads, paint, Modge-Podge.

Step 1: the canister may have a paper wrapping around it, so remove it. This one has the cautions  printed directly on it. I covered it with 3 layers or red craft paint to to get good coverage.

I was going for a vintage shabby chic worn-out look like the canisters my mom had. Her's were tin, white with red flowers and green leaves, chipped and dented, well aged. 

After  3 coats of white over the 3 coats red, I sand them with a light 180 grit sanding block. If I sanded too hard, all of the paint wore off, exposing the plastic underneath. I was okay with that.

This is a shot of the computer screen: Word document with image sized to fit the canister. Trial and error here, friends. I found the image tumbling upon printables in Pinterest. You can search Pinterest, finding a plethora of good images.

 I trimmed the red border from the image, but I do wish I had used a black fine tipped scrapbook pen to draw around the image once it was glued on the canister to give a little more definition, but I was afraid that the Modge-Podge would smear the black ink.

I worked with the little canisters on these t-pins so that I could hold on to them and then poke them in to work stir-foam so that they could dry. Once painted and sanded, the canisters are ready for the decal. I used Modge-Podge to glue the image on and then covered the entire canister with Modge-Podge, giving them a final buffing when the Modge-Podge had dried.

For lid handles, I used little brass scrapbooking brads from that stash of stuff, using two sizes. The little absorbing thingies had natural ridges that worked as lids. 1 inch minis tutorial  will show you how to make lids and handles for a different look than mine.

They look cute in this little Hobby Lobby hutch, though I am not sure that it will be in the dollhouse or not. For display purposed only. The canned foods? Printables. And another blog post.

Well, I certainly am having fun with dollhouse building and making. I  am not so good at it sometimes; I feel clumsy and awkward, but I am enjoying myself. And I love your visits to the blog and the comments that you leave. 

Until next time. Take time to play. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Blue Farm House Kitchen with Lamp Tutorial

The kitchen always seems to be the heart of the house where most of the action takes place aside from its main purpose, food preparation and serving meals, homework, paying bills, and a general gathering place. The kitchen in each of our homes has been the center of every party and family gathering. In my real world, our kitchen is undergoing a bit of a transformation with new granite counter tops, back splash, and under counter lighting. In the Blue Farmhouse, the kitchen remodel has neared completion, too. I have two things to share in this post, the kitchen reveal and the little lamps that I am making for a very pink master bedroom.

I have used my iPhone to take all of the photos for this post because I like that I can get decent quality close ups, not perfect, but nice.

The Hoosier, the stove, and the refrigerator, all wooden, came from my favorite dollhouse store and actually the only one I know of in this part of Colorado. For me it, is located 2 hours away on the south side of Denver. A long drive from anywhere, but Norm's Dollhouse has everything that a miniaturist would want and even need, except that the sink in the grouping is on back order. I am patient, though.

I made the bake center from balsa wood that I had on hand. I ordered the unfinished round table from an online site; the chairs I purchased at Norm's, and the hutch came from Hobby Lobby. The unfinished furniture has received few coats of pecan stain and a layer of polyurethane. I haven't finished the chairs yet because they already have nice finish, so I may leave them alone.

I made the curtains and throw pillows from scraps in my scrap stash. 

The lights were ordered on line, too. The bench was in a box of several furniture pieces that I purchased months ago from the local antique dealer. I am thinking that it is a Shackman piece, a popular miniature furniture maker in the 1970s and '80s. The flooring is original to the house. I did buy some plastic tile flooring with black and white tiles, but decided that I would use the original flooring to keep in character with the house and in keeping with the other wood floors that were already glued in. The wall paper is from Itsy Bitsy  that I purchased at Norm's. 

Other items in the kitchen I ordered from various online sources including Etsy, and Superior Doll House Miniatures My favorite item in the kitchen? I think I love the kitchen Aid mixer the best from an Etsy shop. But the lamp is pretty cute, too.The counter underneath the window came from I am undecided as to which one I will use in this house, the baking center that I made or the really cute, fancy one that I need paint. The little cherry dishes came Hobby Lobby, while the little dish drainer and the bottle of Fantastic came from an Etsy shop. I made the lamp, which is neither perfect nor lighted, but I think it is really cute. I downloaded a picture of a rooster from a printable that I had pinned on Pinterest,  using modge-podge to attach it to the lamp.

As I work on the little kitchen, I am reminded of the important kitchens in my life, inspired by them all, but not recreating any of them. my grandmother Duston's kitchen where I spent a lot of time with her as a very little girl was the best. She had the first in-sink garbage disposal that she called The Pig, explaining to me that the table scraps always went out to the real pigs before her fancy machine that gobbles up the garbage.

I spent a lot of time in my mother's farm house kitchen, a small space where I watched her cook everything from scratch, can the vegetables that dad grew in the garden, and where I was the one who always washed the dishes. It was a very small space with those white metal cabinets, the sink with a large drain board, and red linoleum counter top. The house had been built in 1890, but remodeled in the 1950s. 

My husband's grandmother's kitchen was a big square room with a huge picture window view of the farm yard, the milk barn, and corrals full of brown-eyed Jersey milk cows.  The family gathered at the end of the day everyday from their various jobs--farming, construction, office, machinist-- to share their day's events. When we first married, we were so poor that we couldn't afford our own home, so we lived with the grandparents. Later after grandma died we moved from our little cottage in town back to the farm when I became the Mistress of the kitchen. Sadly stuck in the 1950s with its cherry wallpaper, a worn and very outdated linoleum kitchen floor and the same red linoleum counter top, this kitchen had many stories to tell. I wanted a bit more modern kitchen, but still with that old farm homeless that fits the blue house.

I wonder what stories the Blue House kitchen will have to tell? Now, how did I make that cute little lamp?

First I must give credit to for the great instructions and inspirations. Make sure to check out her blog to see all of her wonderful DYI tutorials for mini builders. Rather than going step-by-step, I will show you an abbreviated process of my lamp making, and encourage you to visit her blog to see the best instructions so that perhaps you can make your own little lamps. 

This is the lamp that I am working on now. I am making a pair for the master bedroom for a couple of reasons. Lighting is very expensive and while I am struggling to come up a good way to make chandeliers, these little lamps are rather easy. I have modified Kris' instructions. My lamp will be hard wired, not battery operated. 

I still need to perfect the lamp shade, a bit tricky. This one is nearly finished.

The supplies are rather simple: the little spindles can be purchased at Hobby Lobby in the section where all of wood supplies  for wood hobbies are shelved.  They come in a package of 8 for $1.99. I like to add a jewelry finding for the top of the shade to make it look more decorative. The finding comes as ball, so it has be separated, so you get two pieces. The flowers are manicure appliques that I found at Sally's.

I always search the internet for good patterns when I want to create something from scratch. I have a small collection for lamp shades. 1inchminis provides these templates for the shade. I only used the round circle which fits on top of the lamp and inside the shade to hold the shade steady. I have another pattern that I use for the shade itself. 

 The round circle is made of clear plastic that you can recycle from any plastic packaging. It is meant to sit on top of the lamp and go inside the shade to stabilize the shade. See the top photo.

CDHD: Custom Dolls Houses and Miniatures 
If you want this pattern, follow the link for the best instructions

I did not use her lamp shade pattern; instead, I used another one that I found on CDHDThis one folds to give the lamp shade a more defined shape. This pattern has the star shaped top that fits inside the shade. I don't use it in this shade for it is very tedious to make and glue in; instead, I glue the jewelry finding to the top of the shade, which does require some resizing. The resize my pattern, I copy it into a Word document where I adjust the size of the image--sorta trial and error to get the right size. 

Step 1: cut off the excess wood.

Now you have a dowel that looks like a lamp. Lightly sand the top and bottom to make a smooth surface where the ends have been removed.

Step 2: Mark the center of the lamp. I first use a T pin to make small hole, then I use my hand drill to get the hole started to create a place for my Dremel bit to fit as I begin to drill the hole. I suppose you could drill the entire dowel using the hand drill, but it would be very difficult and a long process.

Step 3: Drilling the hole:  I use my Dremel, a battery operated tool that my dear husband bought for me a few weeks ago. I am using a 3/32 size bit. You must hold the dowel very tightly, being ever so careful that  the bit does not slip and drill your skin. Now, Kris used various sizes of drill bits, working up the final size. I kept it simple, using the size that I wanted the hole to be. I did drill half way through one end then half way through the other end.

Step 3: A channel  on the bottom must be also be cut for the light cord to fit through. I carefully used my Dremel to cut the groove. Be careful. I put it on a slower speed and pressed firmly to keep the drill bit from slipping into my finger.

Step 4: Painting. Now the lamp is ready to be painted. I used acrylic craft paint, applying 3-4 coats and sanding the final coat lightly. I used  Testers  enamel gold paint to paint the bottom of the lamp for a touch of elegance.

Step 5: Making the Shade. The tutorial uses cloth that she has stiffened with modge-podge. I have used both a heavy card stock and this fabric paper that has a peel off backing for the adhesive fabric. Really not the best, but I liked the flower pattern and it is what I had on hand. Heavy scrapbook paper or card stock work very nicely.

I use these self gripping tweezers that clamp down to hold the glued edges together.

Step 6: Adding the top to the shade. (What would you call it?)

Once the seam is set, I then put a dab of tacky glue around the top of the shade to hold the jewelry 
finding in place. 

Step 7: finishing the lamp: A plastic disc will be glued to the top of the lamp to stabilize the lampshade. With the smaller shade, the plastic disk had to be sized smaller. I used a dime to get the correct size. It fits inside the shade so that it is invisible. 

Once finished, the lamp will light up. I am sorry to say I do not remember when I bought the 12 volt light bulb--one of the many online sites for minis. I will show more of the electrical wiring once I install it in the house.

Step 7: Finish by decorating the lamp. I have used nail decals because I can't--don't--paint.

Making this little lamp is easy, an evening project, not counting the time in between coats of paint to dry. The possibilities are endless and for only a few dollars you can have custom, personalized lighting for your dollhouse. 

The only drawback is the need for an electric or battery operated Dremel to easily drill the center hole. Not particularly cheap, the little power too becomes necessary for a serious miniaturist. 

So with the kitchen finished, I am now focusing on the master bedroom. I purchased a pretty pink striped wallpaper at Norm's and I have already assembled a tester bed from a kit and sewed the canopy, bed spread, and pillows, and bed sheets, which I will save for another post. 

Thanks so much for stopping by. I do love your comments, so please let me know what you think.

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