Category Archives: tutorials

A Hankering for Something Pretty

It has been a longer pause than I thought for a posting. Finally, the miniature magic has returned after a break doing another interest – hand stitching.

Life can get complicated, as the present situation shows.  HOW YOU HANDLE IT is the only part you have control of — SO deep breathes and a time to find some inner calm.  Creating something by hand is always a good place to be — YOU are in charge completely and it takes your mind away from the news, etc..  It doesn’t have to be overwhelming.

How often have you said if only I had the time………

So a little mini dabbling may do you some good. I had switched to hand stitching this fall and winter for a change of pace and the ease of  stopping and starting multiple times a day.  I have longer time periods again and wanted to share a possible project to do at home.

There are 2 requirements………a good printer and fabric sheets to print on.

I have resized and tweaked colors of various Vintage Hankies in Miniature to play with on a pdf file for your use.  Enjoy! Please remember this is for your use, not for resale.

A few note for the printing……….. this is the brand I use (there are others). I leave the plastic backing on after printing to cut out the individual hankies.  It is a sharper cut with it still in place because the hanky is stiff. After I am done trimming and touching up edges THEN I remove the backing. Fabric sheets are pricey so that is why I filled your sheet so you have a bunch instead of a few per page.

The brand I used

Here is a gathering of various ideas to use them………

My favorite is the boxed hankies…..

A few samples of boxed hankies

Making the narrow rimmed boxes can seem hard but here are the walk thru steps of how to go about it.

Make a 1 inch square of cardstock/mat board.  I doubled it for ease of use.  The better the squaring, the better the box form as you will see. Using colored cardstock wt paper take an exacto knife to score the fold lines. You may lose a few to get the hang of controlling how deep you cut to score the lines but not cut through entirely.  Remember it is only paper so it is not a hard to come by material. Fold on the score lines.  Cut and trim to get flaps for the “box”. Glue the flaps in place. Clips are great help if you have some.

Making the box

Trim the top edge as needed.  Put a square of light color paper in the bottom.  If the flaps seem to bother you cut a skinny piece to glue over them to hide them.  Find some paper with a tiny design to cut a decorative strip for the outer rim of the box or thin washi tape if you have some. Another tip is to color the top edge with a gold stamp pad ink to get rid of the white cut edge of the strip.

Embellishing the plain box
Possibilities for the outer trimming of the box
Use a gold stamp pad to get rid of the glaring white edges

Now it is ready for the hankies!

As I mentioned earlier do not peel off the backing after printing so the hankies are stiffer for cutting out and trimming.  Use good scissors for this for the best results. After they are cut out I like to retouch up the edges with color.  Use a piece of scrap to test your markers FIRST for color and bleeding!  Also, color the edge laying flat on scrap cardstock.  You will have better control that way.

Test marker on scrap and apply edging while laying flat on a surface

This shows the arranged folding for a couple of boxes.  Remember you do not want the second layer hankies to lay completely flat or you lose the look.  You make need a tiny bit of cardstock filler to get the raised effect. Trim with tiny silk ribbon bows,etc.

Example 1
Example 2 – Hanky cut in half and use a  db cardstock filler stake to keep it from appearing flat
Example 2- Back side of the half with cardstock stake and then trimmed
Example 2 – The front half piece and placement in box

Now for draping ………. I used Aleene’s Stiffen Quik. Have your hanky cut out, edges colored if desired and backing removed. Pour out a little stiffing liquid in a small bowl. Dip the hanky in it and cover complete it. Remove it and dab off the excess on a paper towel.  Now use a pincushion to drape and mold the shape you want.  I did not pin through the hanky but around and over the top of the hanky to shape it.  Let it dry and you will be amazed how cool they look when unpinned later.

The stiffening agent I used to drape the hankies
Pinned and waiting to dry

Hopefully, you will find this fun and entertaining.

Just remember to put a timer on the phone so you do not forget the pot on the stove if you get into playing around — but that is another story……..





The Secrets Within the Walls

This could be a title for a mystery story but actually it is the reveal of construction methods of the first floor of the Orchid Hill House. Perhaps they will aide you in a dollhouse/roombox project!

If you studied the parlor and entry way pictures of the last posting you might be wondering how to do that — so here you go!

As I had mentioned the stairs had railing on both sides – this really took away the realism I was trying for in making a miniature version of a staircase. I also stated my carpentry skills are slim so this is an modification I could do with what I had.

Lastly, I am happy to note — these stairs are available on Ebay,  Mine came with the dollhouse.  Search for dollhouse staircase and you will find them in the selection. I was glad to see them there otherwise this  staircase information would be of limited use.

The original staircase with both railings

Here is mine after it is stained, inner handrail removed and spindle holes filled and attached wall.

Now it is has a more elegant look

I do not have a step by step guide but pictures do tell a good share of it.

Here is the back side.  It tells you several things.  I tacked the fitted wallpapered wall to the staircase with tiny nails.  I wanted a strong connection and did not want to deal with glue and it sliding around until it set up and have glue in places I didn’t want.  The other thing is this is fabric instead of paper wallpaper.  More on that in a minute! I can not remember for sure but I think I have may started the wall curving by ironing it around an oatmeal container after the fabric was attached to gently curve it and then attached it to the staircase so it was not as big of a fight getting it to curve.  Time makes some things fuzzy.

Attaching the curving wall

Make a paper mockup of the wall to get the size.  Check it several times – the old saying measure twice and cut once really applies here!  Now use the paper pattern to cut the wall out of crescent board – illustration board – not matt board.  It is sturdier and less apt to warp ( it does a little but not as much as matt board). Below is the two I use regularly.  The thicker one is for flooring and the medium weight is for walls.

Available at art supplies stores or online

 Now for the reasoning behind using crescent board walls instead of just wallpapering the existing walls.  First – it is SO MUCH EASIER to wallpaper on a flat surface than to fit your body in odd angles to get the wallpaper attached in such tight quarters as a dollhouse.  Second – you can have wider options on wallpaper choices!  It doesn’t always have to be paper!  Fabric is an option – sounds odd but it is a good one but it is not glued – now I have you attention – use the iron without steam and fusible craft interfacing to attach it.

the interfacing I used.  I did not wash the fabric.

With this project I needed the wallpaper to flow from the upstairs hallway, down the stairs into the entry way.  My fabric wallpaper allowed a change to the bolder William Morris print in the rest of the entry way.  The entry hall paper coordinates with the parlor paper (another William Morris print).  In a miniature project you are seeing all the areas at the same time so it needs to be a smoother transition versus real life when you walk from one room to another area.

The colors and patterns that worked together

Third – it hides the wiring.  Walls are smooth without areas being lumpy due to wires or tape underneath.  That is all on the back side of the papered crescent board.

NOTE:   these are construction methods picked up in classes taken a long time ago with Brooke Tucker and Ray Whitledge.  Neither are teaching anymore and these are good design techniques that need to be passed along and not lost!

The use of crescent board for walls expands your options on adding interesting features in your rooms so I heartily recommend try it out sometime! Examples in this project is the curved wall of the staircase and the built in bookcases and window seat.

Now back to the construction……….the floor has to in place before the stairs goes in NOT afterwards.  Make note of that!

Wall in place
No supports yet, so it is floppy

The wall is in place but needs supports so wood “beams” are glued on the back and make a firm fit at the ceiling and the floor to anchor it down. Stairs are glued to floor.

Needs a firm ending beam here
added three or so beams around the curve

I added a another wall that butted up against this wall to create a little nook that tucks into the corner of the dollhouse. I curved it slightly but the baseboard joining is masked by the floor urn since it wasn’t a perfect match to the curve. I covered the wall joining with some wood trim.

A nook for a small floral accent.

The key is to have supports to keep the walls braced and stay in place.

Now for another trick… this is my ceiling for the entry hall.  It is merely a embossed foil wrapping paper painted.  It was available at TJ Maxx and seems to appear in varied colors around the holidays. It may or not be there but keep an eye out for wrapping papers as an option for inexpensive textured ceiling paper. I used tube paint and liquin to color it but probably could use regular acrylic paints also.

transforming the gift wrap into a textured ceiling

My front door visible in the very back is a little bit of a cheat but may be of use to you.  In this dollhouse, the back in not visible – just ugly with wires and window openings that are crudely cut.  So I reversed the door so the pretty exterior trim is now my interior trim.  Now it you are a purest or want to see both sides this won’t work for you but I thought you like to know that trick.  I also changed the arch trim to match my big windows in the parlor windows.

The exterior view on the left vs the the usual interior on the right.

Now for the arch way……….

I used an arch way available from Lawbre.  It starts out white and you can paint it to suit your tastes.  It fit a 1/2 in thick wall.  The wall can be solid wood OR something else.  I used Gator Board – this is different from foam board.  It is stronger and does not warp.  This is the material Rik Pierce used for his structures.  It is lightweight and you can carve a tunnel in it to tuck wiring in.

Gator board with a tunnel carved out for wiring
The yellow line shows the path of my hidden wiring.
A smooth wall with no wiring lumps in the wallpaper.
The beginning pieces
Painting really transformed the arch pieces!
The painted archway that makes a statement!

Here is the beginning of dreaming of the window seat area………the start but no clue how to implement at the time.

Details later…………out of time today!


Enjoy the secrets the walls reveal and possibly incorporate some techniques to translate that dream in your head to your dollhouse!

My China Overflows…..

Pretty dishes are the start of a great meal.  It announces that it is an occasion with good food and conversation to follow.  My love of beautiful dishes overflow from the dining table to the walls and shelves of my home. I enjoy the artwork of these treasures so it is no surprise that it spills over into my miniature world.

I actually painted and sold sets of Chrysnbon dishes many, many years ago before I discovered the laser.  So following a miniature whim this year, the dishes were calling. My goal this year is to explore and actual DO some of the things I have bookmarked on the web.

One pin of bunny plates had caught my eye many times while I was browsing on Pinterest.  They were actual tags that someone created for embellishing packages.  I reduced them to mini size and printed them.

Unfortunately, they were not that great in mini size.  When reduced the colors became muddy.  So I had to tweak them to bring the colors and graphics out.

Comparison of the graphic tweaking of the image

Oooh — that worked! I was excited and combined a bunny postcard graphic with the plate rim pattern for another style.   Another success!


Then the hunt was on for more dish images to shrink down for my mini china obsession.

A sampling of china ….the garden hose rubber washer, metal washer and button are my dish shaper from found objects at home.
I liked the red and blue combinations together.

I decided to make some cardstock dishes forms (these are a little larger than the Chrysbon sets) so they could be punched out with a paper punch for a perfect circle cut.  I used a 1 inch and a 3/4 in circle sizes due to the ease of available punches.

The cardstock blanks need to be shaped to look like a plate otherwise it doesn’t look real. My shaper isn’t fancy or perfect but I was experimenting with what I had laying around. It is in the bottom of the sampling photo.  The basics requirements of the shaper is to have some way to hold the cut out circle over a center hump to shape the paper so there is a rim.

I did come up with some improvements of this and have two shapers for 1 inch and 3/4 in circles available at my website ( but this can be done by other means as you can see. Sorry but I have closed the website and it is not available any longer. See the first photo of my homemade start for ideas of how to make a shaper from things at home.


Dish shapers for 1 inch and 3/4 inch cardstock circles

I shaped two cardstock blanks and glue them together so my dishes have a bit of body to them.  I then glued a dish image to this form.  I used a piece of parchment paper to protect the image as I rubbed the image down.  You don’t have to use parchment paper but if you have on hand it is helpful

Use a strip of double stick tape on a piece of mat board to hold the dishes stationary for the next couple of steps.  Color the rim edge with a color from the dish or get fancy with a gold edge.  Now the dish is ready for a coat of glossy varnish to get that that china look.  Apply the varnish with broad strokes with a very loaded brush so it is a thick coat but avoid the temptation to repeatedly go over the plate to smooth it out. You will work in air bubbles in your strokes doing this and makes it even messier than what you started with. If you have a few air bubbles – touch the bubble with a wet brush tip of water,  The water dissolves the bubble.  Allow the dish to dry and apply a second coat —now it looking like china!


An overflow of china……

Now comes the really fun part!!!!


Check out my youtube video for a visual tutorial and more in depth details on creating some wonderful china……….

an easy way to create dollhouse dishes

Here is the pdf file of dishes sized for Chrysnbon dish forms.

chrysnbon bunny plates GIVE away

Here are dishes for 1 inch and some for some 3/4 inch circles.

dishes for 1 inch circles give away 3

dishes for 75 in dishes give away

The original creator of the bunny plates/tags was gracious to allow me to share these with you… is her blog if you wish to visit her site also……….

original bunny tags

more pretty plates/tags

Here is another blog posting that will give you more china facts and her tutorial of miniature dish make too….

wonderful china info and mini tutorial too

Hopefully you will find this as fun as I did  and create some cherished china for your mini home.