Change the fabric on the furniture to suit your decor
Do you like the shape and style of some 1:12 scale furniture you have bought, but the colour or fabric doesn't suit? It is easy enough to reupholster the piece to fit in with your miniature decor.
This lounge suite, which I have in my Edwardian dolls house, started life as a cheap, mass-produced, miniature upholstered in dull red velvet. I quite liked the style with the carved details; I hated the fabric.
My daughter was living in London at the time and she sent me a piece of William Morris fabric, designed in 1877, called 'Wilton Bough'. As my husband's surname is Wilton, this seemed like a perfect opportunity to personalise the furniture. And the fabric also suited the muted green colour scheme of the room.
To re-upholster furniture you will need:
embroidery cotton or braid for edging
The secret is to take your time and work carefully.
Gently prise off the old upholstery, taking care not to tear it. You will find that inside the fabric is a cardboard template.
Lay the cardboard template on your new fabric and cut around it, leaving a quarter inch extra all around.
Put glue on one side of the cardboard. Smooth the fabric over it and fold the edges to the underside. Glue these place. Leave to dry. (If the piece is circular you may need to cut nicks into the edges so the fabric will fold under neatly without bunching.)
Glue the new fabric piece onto the furniture.
Use a toothpick to glue a fine braid or embroidery cotton in a coordinating colour around the edges to neaten them off.
This is another way you can transform furniture and personalise your dolls house to make it unique to you.
I am in Devonport this week and while wandering up the main street, looking in shop windows, I spotted this painting in a gallery. It's called 'Ruby and her Cool Caravan' by Emma Butler. You can't help smiling when you see it! A little red and white caravan just like the one I'm making. It's even got the red and white spotted material for the curtains like the fabric I've used for the upholstery. Talk about great minds thinking alike. I love it!
A view of one side of the miniature caravan interior
The cabinets are all fitted in now so you can get a good idea of the layout of the caravan. They are supposed to look a bit 'rough and ready' as if a home handyman has built them! Many of the real caravans were adapted and renovated by their owners over the years so I wanted this to have that sort of look. Nothing too perfect.
Looking into the caravan kitchen
To make the cooker unit I used black twist ties as the metal grid, 2 buttons as the burners and off-cuts from spindle ends as the control knobs, painted with chrome nailpolish. Next job is to fit the windows, the pelmets which I've already made, and the curtains. I've got a real 'retro' floral patterned material for them.
It's been a horrible rainy, misty, windy so-called 'summer', so I've spent time in the studio doing the cabinets for the caravan. I have cannabilised a couple of old kitset pieces from another project for the sink/drawer cabinet and as a unit for the gas cooker. With a bit of strategic trimming and pruning with a craft knife and sandpaper, they fit into the space along one side. To get a metallic look on the sink bowl and the top surrounds of the cooker I used chrome nail polish.
They are all undercoated now; top coat tomorrow. I'm not sure how I'll make the gas cooker but I have a good photo from a real caravan to copy .
If you want to add more ways of making miniature hats to your repertoire of 1:12 scale crafts, you could try using felt for the hat base. Use felt that is not too thick and stiff; you want to have material that has some flexibility to mold it.
You will need:
felt in the colour of your choice
PVA glue mixed with a little water
a piece of dowling or something similar for a mold
a rubber band
lace, braid, ribbon, feathers, etc
Here is the method:
Cut a piece of felt into a circle slightly larger than the diameter of the brim you would like the finished hat to be.
Soak the felt in the PVA glue/water mixture.
Cover the piece of dowel with plastic wrap.
Mold the felt over the dowel and place the rubber band around it, positioning the band at the depth you would like the crown of the hat to be.
Leave till the felt is completely dry, then remove from the dowel. Trim the brim if necessary to get a regular shape.
Decorate the hat base as you wish.
My hat here is slightly flattened looking because I didn't leave it on the mold until it was completely dry! Let that be a lesson to you. Have patience!
Making a 1:12 scale miniature hat can be fiddly and time-consuming. But these two were very simple and fun to do.
Use a plastic lid as a hat base in 1:12 scale
I used plastic lids as the bases - yes, that's right, plastic lids. These hats are on display in the master bedroom and housekeeper's room of the Edwardian dolls house. They were definitely not designed to be placed on dolls' heads!
For the cream hat I cut down a shallow plastic lid till it was the right diameter to be in scale. I glued cream lace all over it, leaving one edge overhanging the front to give a veil effect. I bunched up a finer piece of lace and pulled it together with a few stitches to create the tall rosette. In my stash I found a feather which was perfect to drape across the top of the hat. The hatpin is a flower-shaped pink bead stuck onto a brass lace pin. To add interest to it I stuck little bindi jewelled dots on.
The black hat was equally simple to make. I covered the plastic lid with a very thin black velvet ribbon and, once the glue had dried, I edged it with a fine picoh braid. This neatened up the edges. Bunched and folded fine black gauzy material created interest on the crown and a lace rosette added some height. A thick black feather finished it off nicely.
You could make a variety of hats this way in all sizes and colours for your dolls house or miniature hat shop. Get creative! Experiment!
What a beautiful, beautiful book this is: The Enchanted Dolls' House by Robyn Johnson. Any young girl who loves dolls houses would, I'm sure, adore this.
The enchantment starts with the cover which is flocked and embossed, with a gold tassel. Inside on the first page is a large cabinet with doors you fold back to reveal toys that will feature throughout the book. The stories of each of four dolls houses and the society of their times are told through the lives of the toys.
The cardboard dolls houses pop out from the pages to become three-dimensional. You can peep through the windows and open the doors, looking to find the answers to various questions posed by the dolls. There is a mediaeval dolls house, an 18th century neoclassical one, a late Victorian dolls house and an early 20th century one.
For each era , a double page of information has beautiful drawings of people, costumes and accessories of the times. And there is a two-page spread of 'secrets' that tell about everyday life. The special thing about these pages is that they have flaps you can fold up to reveal hidden interiors, fancy envelopes to open with messages inside, even a piece of velvet to stroke to show the fabric Tudor women wore.
I bought the book to give as a present to a young girl who is keen on miniatures. But I have fallen in love with it and am tempted to keep it for myself! This is not just a book to look at. It is an interactive experience that truly is enchanting.
Happy New Year, everyone. I hope 2012 will see you doing some wonderful miniature projects.
I bought this tiny angel last time I was in London one New Year, at Harrod's sale. She's only 2 inches tall and has a cheeky smile on her face. Looking at her always brings a smile to my face as well. A great way to start the year.
In my miniature world I have declared 2012 to be 'The Year of Completing Projects'. If you are like me and every other miniaturist I know, you will have, tucked away in boxes and drawers, unfinished projects. Things you started but put aside when a newer idea struck you. Things you didn't even start. Things that are still in their unopened packets, shoved in a cupboard to stop you feeling guilty every time you see them! Furniture kitsets, N scale house kits, craft materials, even perhaps, a dolls house to build.
A friend sent me this little ditty which made me laugh. It explains a lot about the Unfinished Projects Syndrome we miniaturists are subject to, doesn't it?
Why is it when I'm halfway through
Creative joys diminish?
It's far more fun to start a thing
Than it ever is to finish!
Now you'll have to excuse me, I'd better get back to the studio. I've a retro caravan to complete!