Today my daughter and I found a beautiful doll at the thrift store. For 99 cents, we brought her home to her very own doll house. She immediately had a family to invite her in.
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. Lynn 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. 🙂
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.
The make this light, airy material hang down arond the cradle, we sewed on two pretty card decorations I had at my art desk.
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.
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.
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.