Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Dome Project - Mott Miniature Workshop Manual & Lithograph Dollhouse

This is the last installment of the "Dome Project".  This entire year, a total of 8 blogs for 2018, has been dedicated to tutorials from the two sided "Dome of My Own" club project - another SAM (Society of American Miniaturists) day long project (see links to join).  Next time (2019) I will have a new project to describe.

1/144 Scale dollhouse, “Patricia House” and Book Review, Mott Miniature Workshop Manual

This 1/144 scale dollhouse was a project found in the Mott’s Miniature Manual.  It isn't open in the back, and there are no furnishings, very simple and fit the need I had for being viewable from both sides of the window. 

A little about the Mott Miniature Workshop Manual.  I recommend this book for anyone who likes to build and wants to learn a lot of techniques.  It is a wonderful old book chock full of awesome, unique scratch-built furniture projects.  My copy was published in 1978 but I know there are newer versions out there.  There are no photos of finished projects, except for those on the cover but there are very nice diagrams and patterns along with instructions and nicely printed brightly colored graphics for decoupaging several of the pieces.  Some projects are more involved and require some un-common woodworking techniques (such as lathe-turning and scratch made cabriole legs).  Among the projects is a French Harpsichord (with strings and lovely graphics to decoupage).  If you happen to find a copy, make sure all of the graphics at the end of the book are un-cut.  I photo-copied the graphic for the little dollhouse so I wouldn’t have to cut it out of my book.

The little dollhouse is called “Patricia House”.   Instructions start on page 193 and the graphics for it are all found at the end of the book.  Most parts are cut out of 1/16th inch thick basswood to which the graphics are applied.  I left off the 'tower' on the left side so it would fit on the window sill (see diagram below):

I will warn you that I had to read through the instructions a few times and mark the pattern pieces so I could understand it.  There were more little pieces than I anticipated.  Here is what the original graphic looks like in the book (section marked “10-B” in photo).

I modified the dollhouse to be shallower to fit in the window sill (photo below, I used only the narrow portion of the side pieces).  I also eliminated the “tower” section (since it was too wide) and the porch posts since the back of the love seat would interfere with them.

For my final step, I added some gold highlights with a fine paint pen to the scrolly sections of the dormer and door and window frames.  I think it turned out kind of cute, something like those old Bliss litho type houses.

A Little Bit About the Other Items in this side of the dome:
Settee / Love Seat – this was made in a workshop taught by Jeffrey Steele back in (eighties?). 
Draperies, shelf niche cutouts – see links to my January (shelf niche) and April 2018 (draperies) blogs.

Dolls on shelves – Three of the four are by Angel Children.  The one with the little bed was a recent show purchase by Almundena Gonzalez.

Dolls on sofa – three on the left were estate purchases with no known artisan.  The knitted doll is actually a topsy-turvy doll, one that turns inside out with a different character inside and was made by Helen Palenski.  The pink sock monkey was by a dear friend, Janice Shaw, with whom I recently was a member of a swap club.

Doll on floor under sofa in a crocheted basket – purse was by my bestie, Karen Haggard.
The little teacups are Chrysnbon, painted by me (maybe a future tutorial??).

Next blog – hmmm.. I want to start another multi-installment project but maybe something short and quick in-between would be best?  Here are some options for the next blog.  I will see if I get any comments that suggest which should be next:
  • Skirted party table
  • Mini-kitchen
  • Teacup Pincushion with painted Chrysnbon teacups

I will probably not blog again until after the new year so Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy New Year to my followers!


Sunday, December 9, 2018

Dome Project - Silk Bolster Cushion Tutorial

Almost done with the Dome project.  I have another group of related projects that I am excited to start when I have wrapped this up.   Below is a tutorial on making the silk bolster cushion on the couch.  Next blog I will describe how I made the 1/144 scale dollhouse in the window behind the loveseat.

This project involves a little hand sewing (but not much!).  You will need:
  • Small piece of aquarium tube 1/4” diameter by 1-1/8” long.
  • 2 Piece of flannel or white felt, about 1-1/2” by 2-1/2” long for padding
  • Fabric scrap, about 2” by 4”
  • Ribbon for bows, thread, needle
  • Fine needle-type glue dispenser/applicator with Sobo fabric glue or Crafter’s Pick Ultimate.
  • Scissors
  1. Roll the flannel around the tube.  Overlap and secure with overcast stitches.  Trim off even with ends of tube.

  2. Make a glued hem by folding up one short end of cover fabric and securing with a fine line of glue.  Roll the fabric around the tube starting with the raw edge (unhemmed) and ending with the hemmed edge on top.  Glue the hemmed edge down.

  3. With needle and thread, run a gathering stitch around one end, just beyond the end of the tube.  Do the same on the other end.  Pull the thread gathering the excess fabric.  Poke it into the tube with the end of a paintbrush.  You can tie off the threads and secure with a little glue.  It shouldn’t show once you have covered the ends with a ribbon bow. 

  4. Make a bow with multiple loops.  I use myBitty Bow bowmaker (see link in the sidebar) to make a 6 loop bow.
    The ribbon used here is hand dyed, from “Trenway Silks” which I purchased at a local Austin needlework store (or maybe it was Dallas?).  The color is “Pink Peony”.   I love the hand dyed ribbons - they give a nice, variegated color. 
  5. In this last photo you can see how I assure my ribbon tails don’t fray. 
    I put a little glue on my finger and just brush the forked tails across it.  If using Crafter’s Pick Ultimate glue, I rarely see any discoloration or staining of the ribbon with glue spots.  To shape the bows so the tails face down I just pinch the loops in the direction of "gravity", so they all "fall" nicely toward one direction.  Do this while the glue is damp.  You might have to hold them in place for a minute or two.

Well, that was a short one!  One more installment then on to the next project!

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Tutorial - Decoupaged Desk

More about the two sided dome project.  I won a blue ribbon at a S.A.M. (Society of American Miniaturists) event for this project (there were only 7 entries so good odds!).  In this blog I will describe the rest of the items in this side of the dome including the desk.  The painted rug, window shades and slipcovered chair were covered in previous blogs.

The desk is a modified Robin Betterley “Lydia Pickett” desk kit.  The original desk was too deep to fit inside the dome so I sawed off about ¾ inch from the back of the desk top and used the cut off piece as a shelf over the window.
I painted the entire desk with a pale shabby pink color then applied a wallpaper to the legs, desk top surface and inside of the hutch compartments.  The legs were pretty easy since I had a pattern in the area of the wood where the laser cut leg piece was punched out.  I just used the open area as a pattern to draw the shape on the wallpaper.

After applying the paper, I ‘aged’ it with diluted burnt umber paint.

Other items in this side of the dome (made or embellished by me):
The sewing machine is a 3D printed item from “Mini Etchers” (  I added painted details in blue.  This was very bumpy and I had to sand it a lot.  It still didn’t look very smooth after several sandings and coats of paint but the design was good and not too much like the common ones you find on Ebay (“Aztech”).

The framed bulletin board is a Metal Miniature frame (; their Catalog Item #461-A) which I painted.  The zipper and needle packet on bulletin board are from Vilia Miniatures
Pink clock is Metal Miniature #934a which I painted and added a clock face.
Left of the clock is a pill capsule dome containing two Ilisha Helfman ( buttons and belt buckle suspended on a piece of lace with green bow.
Right of the clock is a boxed pincushion in a Chrysnbon teacup.  At the right end of the shelf is another pill capsule dome with a silk ribbon rose on a metal stud base.
Left of the sewing machine is another metal miniature dish (metal minis catalog item #90) painted to look like Majolica with tiny ‘pins’ (no hole beads and short cut pieces of fine brass wire for pins).
Tote bins on floor – another kit from Robin Betterley.  I stuffed with fabric and trim scraps.

Other items from my collection:
Glass vase with beaded flowers next to pincushion (unknown artisan, a show purchase).
Bowl of notions at right of the sewing machine was made from mini Easter cards sewn together with thread by Karen Haggard.
Crocheted sewing basket  -unknown artist. This can be seen in the very first photo at the beginning of this blog.  I mounted it on a stand  (part of a House of Miniatures candle stand kit)
White and blue sewing basket on shelf – unknown artisan, estate purchase.
Petit Point picture “Sunbonnet Girl” above shelf – by Ligia Durstenfeld (in faux bamboo frame I made, here LINK)
Buttons in round frames above window – Ilisha Helfman (
Doily by Suzane Herget in wood frame.
In my next blog I will focus on the other side of the dome - the side with the sofa and tiny dolls. I will also include a tutorial on the silk bolster pillow and the 'lithograph' dollhouse in the window.  Hope you enjoyed these little tidbits!

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Tutorial - Slip Covered Slipper Chair Part 2

Here is part 2 of the Slipper Chair tutorial.  Seat back with faux pleat and seat cushion.

Supplies for Part 2:
  • Sewing machine, matching thread
  • Fray-Check (sewing seam sealer)
  • Shirt cardboard, index card
  • Small blob of polyester fiberfill (or fluff from an old pillow)
  • VERY FINE glue applicator filled with craft glue (I used Sobo in my applicator)
  • Pattern sheet (link here)

  1. For the seat back slip cover, cut the two pattern pieces “C” and “B” from fabric. (note that in photos my piece “C” is not straight across the bottom because I was using a scrap piece).
  2. Down the center back of the chair is a faux pleat.  To make this, “draw” down the centerline of the back piece (wrong side of fabric) with a THIN line of glue.  Make it wide enough so that when you cut on it, it will be sealed on both sides of the cut.  The glue line is hard to see in the photo. Don’t cut this yet.
  3. Using a sewing machine and very small stitches (I used a stitch length of 2mm long), sew the back to the front RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER on the seam line (see photo).
  4. Put a line of “Fray Check” seam sealant all around the raw edges on both sides. Don’t let the solution spread past the line of sewing.
  5. Clip into the center of the heart where marked on the pattern but be sure NOT to clip through the stitching line.  Trim the seam to about 1/8 inch.

  6. Turn inside out.  Cut a piece of shirt cardboard to pattern “A”.  Slip the cardboard piece “A” up into the back and make sure it fits.  Remove cardboard piece and set aside (link to pattern - see supplies).
  7. If the glue on center back cut line is dry, cut on the line almost to the top (about ¼ inch from the top seam).
  8. Cut a “gusset” or faux pleat of a contrasting fabric using pattern piece “D”.  Glue the gusset inside the split.  Before it was dry I pinched the split together a little near the top, so it would look like it was bulging (and bows added later were holding it together).

  9. Place cardboard “A” piece up into the slipcover.  Stuff the FRONT of the seat (side opposite of the gusset) with a little fiberfill.
  10. Glue down the open seams below the sewing line as needed to keep the sides together.  You can see where this needs to be done when you have the cardboard inserted.

  11. Glue the back cover to the cardboard down both sides, covering the cardboard.  Glue the raw edge of the cover against the cardboard just to seal in the stuffing (it should just touch the base when the back is glued on).
  12. Trim off any extending gusset.  Fold up a ‘hem’ on the bottom edge of the slip cover and the gusset.  I allowed mine to extend slightly past the bottom of the chair to look sort of like a train.

  13. Glue the back against the base covering the raw edges of the ruffled fabric skirt on the base.
  14. Cushion – (sorry I didn’t take many photos of these steps).  Cut pattern piece “E” out of shirt cardboard or index card.  Trim to fit your seat (a tiny bit smaller). Glue a small blob (size of a grape?) of stuffing to the middle of this cardboard seat.  Cut fabric about ½ inch larger than seat on all sides.  Fabric was wrapped over the stuffing and glued to the bottom of the cardboard.  To do a neat job on rounded corners, first glue down the center of each side.  Then when that is dry enough to handle, clip little tabs of fabric at the corners to try to minimize thick folds.  Glue down the tabs on all corners neatly as possible, smoothing out any wrinkles.  After covering with fabric, I ‘tufted’ two small dents using a needle and thread tying it at the bottom of the cardboard.
  15. Glue seat in place.  Finished!
  16. To decorate the back, I tied three bows using my BittyBow bowmaker (you can buy it from the link at the right side of my blog!).