Hello everyone! We interrupt Patch and Dot’s regular quilt-y content to bring you … a dollhouse! I built this from a kit for some littles for Christmas, so I’m excited to be able to share it now that it’s been gifted. I had an absolute ball putting it together and decorating it (I almost feel like I’m ready to start another one and it’s only been a couple of weeks).
The exterior blue paint on the farmhouse is Benjamin Moore’s Forget Me Not 2049-60, and the door is a butter yellow from a Martha Stewart craft paint line from a few years back.
You may not be surprised to hear that I started this project mainly interested in all the things I could sew for it. I had grand plans for tiny little quilts, hand-sewn curtains, the works. I especially wanted to make a dollhouse family, because the vintage ones out there are somewhat scary, and tiny stuffies tend to be insanely expensive. (I’m looking directly at you Maileg!)
So yeah, none of that happened. I would say I probably spent 40 – 50 hours total on the dollhouse, and that is after I cut out a lot of details, like the front porch, window boxes, and shutters. But I worked at a leisurely pace and never really felt like I was in over my head. I mention this because when you start researching builds of a specific dollhouse you tend to run into a lot of stories/forum questions from people who are confused/stuck/in an absolute panic. But I would actually say, as a quilter, if you are used to the time/money that goes into planning, piecing, and finishing a quilt, tackling a dollhouse project won’t feel that unreasonable to you at all.
So here was my original palette/inspiration.
As you’ll see, I strayed pretty far from this and that was because, it turns out, it’s a lot easier to get your hands on cute fabric than it is small scale paper. So that would be my first big tip: find your wallpapers first, and go from there, then bring in fabrics that will work with the paper you can find (not the other way around). I used a mix of scrapbook paper from Michaels and wrapping paper. The white floral is by Mr. Boddington, and the pink in the living room is by Red Cap Cards.
The dollhouse kit itself was the “Vermont Farmhouse Jr.” from Real Good Toys. I researched this quite a bit to try and find one that was a good balance of quality materials and enough detail, but no so much complexity that it was going to be too difficult to assemble. I was really happy with the materials for the price, most of the pieces were MDF (which gives a nice smooth surface to work with, which I don’t think is the case with the Greenleaf brand, though I think those may be easier to assemble) or actual wood. My one big warning would be that this project involves a lot of sanding and painting individual pieces. (Though I opted to leave the shingles unfinished, and that saved a lot of time.)
Some interior shots:
The little dog and penguin are actually Christmas ornaments! (From Anthropologie and Homesense respectively.)
Of course all of this was inspired by the dollhouse my dad made for me as a kid, complete with patterned wallpaper and real glass jars of candy. I played with it forever and I hope this one will get a lot of use over the next few years. And I definitely plan to follow through with my plans for dollhouse-sized quilts and a handmade family … now that this project is finished I feel like I have all the time in the world on my hands. Plus the world’s biggest collection of glue, ha ha.
Actually speaking of glue, one other thing of note: I followed the instructions pretty much to the letter, the one thing I did differently was use real wood glue for the main structural body. The instructions advise against this because it dries yellow, but I wanted to make sure it was sturdy. I used Aleene’s tacky glue and Elmer’s white glue for things that were more cosmetic. I also used Beacon Quick Grip glue for the shingles. That is the one area where you need to use a non-water based glue, as anything waterbased will make them curl. Huge shout out to Jennifer of the Sewing Report for this recommendation, as well as all of the videos in her dollhouse series, which helped me understand and visualize the end-to-end process in a way that paper instructions really can’t.
Did you finish any big handmade projects for Christmas? Have you ever built a dollhouse? I would definitely recommend the whole process, especially if it’s something you’ve always wanted to do – so fun, and very satisfying to see it all come together. And if you have any questions about this one, let me know in the comments!