tutorial :: making tiny cakes

Last week I posted tutorials on making a recycled cardboard doll house and some little beds.  Then, earlier this week I posted a tutorial on creating little doll tables. Today it's time to dream up something festive for your dolls to bring to the table.

I was introduced to this tiny cake recipe by none other than the inimitable Anna Branford.  You can click here to see the original post where Anna's cakes first made their appearance.  Anna surely rubs elbows with members of the fairy community in order for her to know how to create such delicacies as these.


-- Wool felt in flavors to suit your taste:
    chocolate, vanilla custard, lemon curd,
    banana cream, strawberry swirl, sugared
    violet, etc...

-- Glass beads in complementary flavors
    (might I suggest sweet cherry cordial or
    essence of rose?)

-- A very fine embroidery needle & floss 

-- Scissors

STEP 1 ::  Cut 5-7 circles of wool felt per cake.  For smaller cakes, the circles should be approx. 1/2 in. (12 mm) diameter. For larger cakes, the circles are 1 in. (2.5 cm) diameter each.

STEP 2 ::  If you would like to stitch a platter, cut a circle from felt 3/4 in. (2 cm wide) in a contrasting color.  For a decorative touch, you can use blanket stitch to trim the edge.  Note: I only made platters for the smaller cakes.  I find that large buttons make suitable platters for the larger cakes.

STEP 3 ::  Arrange your cake layers and choose pleasing decor for the top.  If you don't have beads, you can make nice decorations by sewing tiny french knots with embroidery floss (see photos of Anna's cakes here).

STEP 4 ::  Hide your knot between the bottom 2 layers of cake (or between the bottom layer and the platter).  Then sew down through the bottom layer/platter, take a tiny stitch, and come up again through the center of your cake.

STEP 5 :: Put your needle through a bead, and then draw the needle & thread back down through the center of the cake.  If you would like to add more beads, bring the needle back up through the cake to the spot where you would like to add another bead and repeat process.  Note: I found that, to keep the cake a nice shape, it worked best if I did not pull the stitches tight when adding beads.

When you are done adding beads or french knots, bring your needle and thread up between the bottom two layers and knot discreetly (out of sight) between the layers.

Now it's time for cake!

Be sure to invite all your friends.
They like cake, too.


tutorial :: making a peg doll dining table


Last Monday I posted a tutorial for making a peg doll house.  Last Wednesday I posted a tutorial for making peg doll beds, and today I have a tutorial on creating tables for your peg doll house.

As with the peg doll house and beds, I used only items I had in my cupboards and did not buy any special materials for these projects.  I also made the furniture designs as simple as possible so that even a small child could have success creating these items.

(note: the supplies listed are suggestions and you do not need all the supplies to create just one table. Pick and choose from the supply list according to what you have on hand.)

-- Cardboard
-- Small cardboard gift/jewelry box,
       2 1/4 in x 3 1/4 in (5 1/2 cm x 8 cm)
-- Decorative paper or card-stock (optional)
-- Paint & paint brushes (optional)
-- A spool of thread
-- Buttons
-- Scissors
-- PVA/white craft glue

STEP 1 :: For an oval shaped table, cut an oval out of cardboard (my oval is 3 1/4 in/8 cm at it's widest point).  For a rectangular table, cut a rectangle from a piece of cardboard (my rectangle is approx. 3 in x 4 in/8 cm x 10 cm).  

STEP 2 :: Paint your table-top, or cover the top of your table with paper. (I covered my rectangular table-top with blue paper and painted the oval.)

STEP 3 :: A small spool of thread or lid from a jewelry gift box would make an excellent base for a table.  Use PVA/white craft glue to secure your table-top to whatever sort of table-base you choose.  

Once your table is created, you might consider whether your peg dolls would like to sit on some cushions or chairs.  My peg dolls enjoy using colorful buttons as chairs.

"Hello. Please come in and join me at the table. I've prepared a nice supper for us!"

You can find tiny wooden bowls available for purchase here.  And please come back on Wednesday for another tutorial.  It's a surprise, and you will be utterly delighted.  I promise.


tutorial :: making peg doll beds

On Monday I posted a tutorial on creating a little house for peg dolls (of course other sorts of dolls are invited to use it, too!).  However, little doll houses need little furniture, so today here is a post on creating tiny doll beds.  Next Monday there will be a tutorial on dining room furnishings, and after that, there will be another secret surprise tutorial.

The furniture I've created for my little doll house is utterly simple.  I used only scraps -- bits & pieces I already had in my cupboards (i.e. I did not buy anything special or fancy for this project). I also kept the furniture designs simple enough that a child around age 5 could have success completing much of the project on his own.  I'm enjoying the fact that my own 5 year old is moving toward doing more product focused craft (as opposed to process focused art), so it's fun to figure out projects he can do with little assistance.

-- Small cardboard jewelry/gift boxes.
    My smaller box measures 2 1/4 in x 3 1/4 in
    (5 1/2 cm x 8 cm). My larger box measures
    3 5/8 in square (9 cm square)

-- Decorative card-stock  or plain cardboard
    (which can be painted or embellished)

-- Fabric scraps (I used wool felt, but cotton
   flannel makes nice doll bedding, too.)

-- Scissors and (optional) pinking shears

-- Needle and thread

-- PVA/white craft glue

-- A pencil and ruler

STEP 1 :: Measure the height and width of your little jewelry box. Cut a piece of decorative card-stock (or cardboard) which is the same width and twice the height of the edge of the box.  Trim the top edge of the headboard into a decorative shape.  Your headboard could be topped with a simple curve or it could have corner bedposts -- whatever you wish.

After you have designed the head board, repeat the process for the footboard. Note: the footboard is generally not quite as tall as the headboard, but it's your little bed, so you get to design it to your own preferences!

STEP 2 :: Use PVA/white glue to affix the headboard and foot board to opposite sides of your box (see photos).

STEP 3 :: To create mattresses, I cut strips of felt which were the same width of the boxes, rolled the felt so that I had approximately 5 layers, and then sewed my layers together using a simple running stitch. You could achieve the same effect by cutting 5 pieces of felt to fit the interior of the box and stitching the layers together.  Just for fun, I added a stitch in the center of each mattress.

STEP 4 :: Cut small squares of fabric for "pillows" and larger rectangles for blankets. I like the effect of cutting the edges of the blankets with pinking shears but plain edges are fine, too.  I have also knit tiny blankets for dollhouse beds which look very cute.

STEP 5 :: Tuck your wee dollies beneath the blanket and sing a lullaby.

I hope you will join me again on Monday for a tutorial on making tiny tables.


tutorial :: making a peg doll house

Over the past three years I've received many requests for tutorials (and book content) related to peg doll houses & accessories.  I love getting feedback and requests, however, I've hesitated to create tutorials (and book content) for a peg doll house because there are already so many good online tutorials. Last week I posted a round-up of some of the nicest tutorials I've spotted on the web, however, in the course of doing research for that post, ideas started brewing in my head.

Up until now, if any of our peg dolls felt the need to cook a meal or take a nap, they marched off to a doll house which was handed down to our family 11 years ago; in case you want a peek, the doll house shows up in my first book as home to the Three Bears, and in my second book, it appears on page 74.  The peg dolls in my home also sometimes take up residence in castles made of wooden building blocks, so there really hasn't been a need to make a doll house.  

But after seeing so many doll house ideas online, the impulse to make my own was too irresistible. Today I'm posting a tutorial for the house, and later in the week (plus next week) I will have a series of posts on creating peg doll furniture.

-- A cardboard box: I started with an 8 in (20 cm)
    cube box, however you could stack smaller
    boxes or use a larger box if you prefer.

-- Extra pieces of cardboard

-- Decorative paper, fabric or paint and pens

-- PVA (white glue) and a glue-stick

-- Scissors, Exact-o knife (or box-cutter), a ruler,
    and pencil

STEP 1 :: Cut the flaps off the box and turn it on it's side.  Cut back the roof section half the depth of the box (for example, my "roof" was originally 8 in (20 cm) so I cut it back 4 in (10 cm) -- see photo above for clarification.

If you'd like to cut windows in the sides, now is a good time (just be sure that they are low enough so that they are not obscured when you add the second floor).

STEP 2 :: The sleeping loft/bedroom is 3/4 the original depth of the box, i.e. the original depth of my box is 8 in (20 cm) so the depth of the sleeping loft is 6 in (15 cm).

To create support for the sleeping loft, add 1 in (2.5 cm) around 3 sides of the floor. Score the cardboard along the added 1 inch sections and cut out the corners (see photo above). Use PVA glue on the three flaps to secure the sleeping loft in place (see photo below).

If your box is a different size from mine and you plan to add a second floor, you can adjust the measurements accordingly.

STEP 3 :: Once the sleeping loft is glued in place, set the house on it's side, use a ruler to draw lines from the top corners of the box down to the bottom corners, and then cut away the sides.  This will allow light into the house and also make it more accessible.

STEP 4 :: To add a peaked rooftop, cut a long piece of cardboard the width of the roof, score & bend in the center, then glue it to the sides of the house (see photos above & below).

STEP 5 :: After construction  of the house is complete, you may choose to cover the floors and walls with decorative paper, fabric or paint.  If using paper for covering the walls and floor, you will want to secure it in place with a glue-stick (PVA/white glue will cause your paper to ripple). You can also add a decorative carpet, and framed pictures to the walls.

Having a selection of decorative card stock on hand is wonderful when working on a project like this. Several years ago, I invested in a several books of paper-crafting card-stock: the designs I used for this project are no longer available, however I own this card-stock book, and thought this one and this one looked nice, too.

In addition to papering the floors and walls, I was tempted to add curtains to the windows and cardboard shingles or paint to the exterior; however, I ultimately decided to keep the decor of my house simple, flaunting it's origins as a recycled cardboard box.

How will you or your children decorate your little peg doll house?  Please email me photos (or post photos on my facebook page) if you're so inclined. And come back soon -- I will have blog posts on creating furniture for your peg doll house!


peg doll homes (and accessories)

doll house & photo :: made by joel

Over the past three years I've received many requests for tutorials (and book content) related to peg doll homes & accessories.  Feedback and requests always make me feel very happy, however, I have hesitated to create tutorials (and book content) for peg doll houses & furniture because there are already so many excellent online tutorials. I didn't feel the need to reinvent the proverbial wheel, however, I thought I'd do a round-up of some of the nicest tutorials I've spotted on the web.

And, of course, in doing research for this post, I've come up with my own ideas.  So next week, I defer to popular clamor and will offer you some simple tutorials of my own for a peg doll house (and furniture!!)  Now, on to my list of charming, clever and very fun ideas for peg doll houses & accessories.

windmill & photo :: creative learning

Might your peg dolls like to live in a windmill?  There is an excellent tutorial here at the blog Creative Learning (a few judicious cuts, and that front door will open right up so your peg dolls can march inside).

For peg dolls who aspire to live in a castle, there is a wonderful tutorial at Inna's Creations, while for peg dolls who admire classic, mid-century design, there is this Cheerio box house from Made by Joel.

The design for this well-decorated doll house at the blog Sweet Things is simple & ingenious, this cardboard doll house at the blog Ikat Bag is truly inspirational, and the colors of this box-village at the blog Se7en make my eyes happy.

If it is fairies who need a home, I highly recommend looking at the tutorials over at Daily Colours. There is this cork-covered house, and instructions for building a tree-house here.

Finally, there are these wonderful ideas at Crafty Crow. Or, if you prefer to start with a pre-fab kit, I recommend having a look at these cardboard house-building sets from Lille Huset.

fairy chairs & photo :: anna branford

Marilyn Scott Waters aka The Toymaker, came up with some well-designed peg doll furniture; all you need to do is print out the PDF's, cut and use a few drops of glue to put it together. Might I also suggest you have another look at the doll house over at Sweet Things? I love the bed, the table and the carpets, but what I really admire are the bathroom fixtures sculpted from polymer clay. Additionally, there are a lot of ideas on Pinterest for using Popsicle sticks to make doll furniture.

Now, for fairy furnishings, lovely Anna Branford has instructions for creating a very pretty table plus chairs and drinking goblets, while at Daily Colours, there are instructions for this patio set plus another furniture set fashioned from twigs.  There are also more fairy furnishing ideas here and here.

miniature kitchen & photo :: made by joel

You can find instructions for creating this tiny kitchen set at Made by Joel, while the tutorial for a fairy tea set (made from acorns!) can be found at the blog Twig & Toadstool.

egg carton boat & photo :: life at the zoo

The dolls in the photo above look so happy to be traveling by boat.  If your peg dolls would like to travel by boat, too, you can find this tutorial at the blog Life at the Zoo.  Would your peg dolls prefer to travel by submarine?  There is a very peg doll friendly tutorial for a submersible here at the blog Se7en.  Finally, for those truly adventuresome peg dolls who aspire to visit outer-space, a fine rocketship design can also be found at Se7en. (and oh, my goodness, those space aliens made from bottle-tops? too funny.)

fairy candle & photo :: daily colours

I hope you find some good ideas within the links I've posted.  Do you have any favorite links to places with ideas for peg doll accessories?  If so, please let me know in your comments below. Also, if you're interested, do come back next week for a visit to (and instructions for) my own peg doll house and furnishings.


tutorial :: fishing game

Have you ever spent hours (or maybe even days) working on a beautiful handmade gift for your child, only to have him consider it, set it aside and go back to jumping on the sofa or tossing dirty socks at the cat (or better yet, tossing dirty socks at his brother)?  Okay, so maybe I'm not actually asking about your experience and really just telling you what periodically happens when I make a play-thing for one of my own children.

The upshot of those sometimes unenthusiastic responses, is that I carefully consider whether I, again, want to put time and energy towards making something for them which may (or may not) be played with. And so, a few weeks ago, when I wondered whether my little one might enjoy a magnetic fishing game, I was reluctant to dig out needle & thread and embroider some lovely little felt fish for him to play with.  Instead, I cut out some fish from paper, had my boy do a bit of decorating with crayons, added paper-clips to the fish, tied a magnet to a string -- and within twenty minutes, we had a new toy (which, by the way, he played with for quite a long time).

My son's response to the paper fishing toy was so positive that I did, in the end, decide we should put more time and energy into making another magnetic fishing set.  However, instead of stitching up the fish, I considered the fact that my son enjoys working with Sculpy/Fimo type clay.  Hence, creating a fishing game from this material was a great success, and the best part was that my newly turned 5-year-old was able to do most of the work himself.

2-3 squares of Sculpy or Fimo clay in various colors
6 or 7 small, but very strong magnets
1 round magnet with a hole in the middle
a small piece of cardboard
pencil & scissors
a wooden toothpick
a length of string (perhaps half a meter)
a short stick
a rolling pin or a drinking-cup with flat sides
a baking sheet and oven

STEP 1: Take small chunks of 2-3 colors of your Fimo/Sculpy clay, squeeze together in a ball, press into a pancake and then roll out to approx. 3/8 inch (1/2 cm) thick.

STEP 2: Using a pencil, draw a simple fish shape on a piece of cardboard and cut it out with a scissors.  Our fish-template was approx. 2 inches (5 cm) long.

STEP 3: Lay your fish shaped template on the rolled out clay and use a toothpick to "draw" around the edges of the cardboard template, thus cutting out the fish shape from the clay.

STEP 4: After cutting two fish shapes, lay one of your small (but very strong) magnets in the center of one of the clay shapes, place the other fish shape over the magnet, sandwiching the magnet between the two, and...

STEP 5: Carefully pinch around the edges to seal the magnet inside (note -- I did a bit of smoothing around the edges of the fish after this step).

STEP 6: Place your fish on a metal tray lined with baking parchment or aluminum foil, then carefully read the instructions written on the Fimo/Sculpy packet for baking and follow the instructions exactly as printed.  

Note: DO NOT accidentally heat the oven 100 degrees over the recommended temperature.  DO NOT ignore the timer when it rings. DO remove your Fimo/Sculpy items from the oven in a timely fashion.  Burnt polymer clay smell horrendous.  I speak from experience.   You're welcome.

STEP 6: Tie one end of a string to your stick (our stick is approx. 4 in./10cm long) and tie the other end of the string around your magnet.

STEP 7: Go fishing! Make fish soup! Have fun!

FINAL NOTE: It is important to wear rain boots on fishing expeditions as you will want to to keep your feet nice and dry.  It may also be important to bring along green paper and scissors as it might possibly be necessary to add some aquatic plants to your fishing pond.