Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Retail therapy

You will know if you have read my other blog posts, that Gil convinced me that I should learn to make dolls house furniture rather than just going to a shop and buying it. I see the attraction for making the items...I am so thrilled that the Aga, dresser and cabinet are unique and rather than buy something that is mass produced and will be in hundreds of other dolls houses, my furniture will only be in my house.

But the time had come where I felt I needed to buy things that I couldn't make very easily. I don't think Gil was convinced at my declaration that I couldn't make a washing machine...but I wanted to buy a few items anyway. These were really things that I didn't feel comfortable attempting to make or that I had tried and failed so spectacularly that I couldn't face another attempt. Sofa and chairs for example...material and glue don't work well in my hands. I can sew, but to upholster a sofa needs precision and care and I am just too messy.

So plans were made. My birthday was in June and I requested a shopping trip to Maple street dolls house shop.

As you can see from the battered state of the catalogue I have been planning my shopping trip for a long time!

My husband agreed to drive me there and after we dropped Annie at school we made the journey to the shop. Adam took Jakey around the shop and left me to browse alone and unhindered....well the excited shrieks coming from Jakey were enough to put anyone off their shopping, but I tried to ignore it and enjoy the retail therapy.

As you can see from the picture below, the house decorating had come to a standstill. This is how the house looked when I went shopping at maple street. As you can see the bedroom needed carpet, the sitting room needed wallpaper and carpet, the hall was completely bare so needed wallpaper and tiles and the kitchen needed flooring. I was also unhappy with the kitchen walls and planned to re-do that as soon as possible.

I had already bought the wallpaper for the sitting room. I had been to the Laura Ashley sale and found the perfect wallpaper for £1.50 a roll

Needed green carpet for the bedroom and peach carpet for the living room. Matching peach carpet for the stairs (this worked out well as the peach carpet compliments the flooring in the other two rooms that have stairs)

I chose stone flooring for the kitchen. Maple street do a textured cladding but it is very expensive and I wasn't sure whether stone was the right choice. So I chose the cheaper alternative of printed effect paper deciding that if I do like it then at some point in the future I can invest in the more expensive realistic option.

I had seen the hall I wanted on an ebay sale and had nicked the picture to keep for reference.

I adored it as soon as I saw it and knew that that was how I wanted the hall to look. I found the tiled paper at Maple street and popped it in the basket.

Sadly I couldn't find the wallpaper but a quick trip to a D.I.Y shop saved the day when I found a lovely warm yellow emulsion tester pot.

So all flooring chosen....I managed to find other bits I needed. I found bargain brass knobs at 99p a packet (for 12) and grabbed three packets for future furniture making. Also I got some hinges as I wanted to make cabinets with doors that opened.

I managed to locate a plain sink - most of the sinks come with a cabinet attached but I wanted to make my own kitchen cupboards. Matching up wood finishes would be way to difficult. Luckily this one is very plain and I can build a wood surround very easily.

Found a gorgeous green chair....for the room....hall......????

Set of four jars for the country kitchen

A dish for the kitchen


Then I encountered a problem....I couldn't find any of the other products I wanted. I found an assistant who very sullenly said they didn't have any of the other items I wanted in stock. No offer of help or any solutions - don't you just love shop assistants who hate their jobs. I thanked her for her help (not without a tiny hint of sarcasm) then I went to find another assistant who couldn't have been more helpful. She apologised that I was unable to get everything I wanted but she said she would be happy to place an order...and as they do free postage on any order over £40 she would be able to combine what I buying that day with what I was ordering to be able to get the free postage.

The only thing that really bothered me about doing this was that I didn't like buying the items without seeing them. I could have just ordered the whole lot online, but I had made the journey there so I could see the items and check they were right for me. I explained this to the assistant and she said she understood, glanced at my list and went into the back room and emerged with several items from the list (which were at that moment being packed to post to customers) she said that now I could see what at least some of the items looked like - this was especially helpful with the sink drainer as I was buying a sink that day and wanted to know if the drainer would fit on it. It did so was added to my list.

So all the items bought that day were added up and then she ordered the extra items for me. Now to show you the items I bought -

A sofa and chair, cheap and cheerful and sadly damaged when they arrived - nothing a dab of glue can't fix but made me sad all the same not to have them arrive in perfect condition. But they were soooo cheap it is no wonder they weren't perfect!

An American style fridge - I LOVE these! Couldn't resist having one for the dolls house.

A mahogany bed - again another reason to see before buying is to check colour. It is much redder than appears in the catalogue and it is really too bright. Gil suggested painting it which is an option as I haven't made any other furniture for the bedroom so the bedroom is still a blank slate really.

A washing machine

Set of copper pans

Monday, 26 July 2010

Cabinet Calamity and Bathroom Bliss

Oh dear.....I have not spent much time on my blog at all. I feel thoroughly ashamed of myself. I had planned to be posting blogs every few days but sadly my back problems kept me away from the dolls house for a few months...but I am ready to get on with it now and have a few posts to catch up on. For this blog I will talk about two pieces of furniture and how a disastrous mistake led to a beautiful room....

First thing to talk about is that bookcase that I totally messed up. I wanted it stained dark wood but I forgot the stain and glued it all together and only realised that I had forgotton the stain when it was all done.

Too late to apply the stain? Well, maybe the professionals are all wrong and you actually CAN put stain on after you have glued the wood together...

No...It seems all those warning tales are true - You simply CANNOT use stain after glue, however much you might believe otherwise.

I am a determined person though and I will not be beaten. Chuck this furniture away? Nooooooo. Somewhere it can be used. I need it painted though and the only room (at the moment) that will allow for painted furniture is the nursery in the loft, a nice white painted bookcase will look lovely up there. But, alas, the walls are not tall enough to take the bookcase so drastic measures are needed and I decided to chop the bookcase in half.

Quickly I add on another base to one half and there I have two smaller bookcases.

However they aren't suitable for use in the nursery because they are just slightly too big for the room....But I don't give up and I paint them white and plan to squeeze them in somewhere. Luckily white acrylic paint will always cover a multitude of sins. furniture making isn't going too well. I make very silly mistakes all because I want it completed as quickly as possible and I don't take the time to think about what I need to do next. Luckily Gil told me about some dolls house furniture items that were on sale at Lidls. Nice and cheap items, some were terrible and not worth any money but some were ideal. I went along and bought a bathroom set. Plain white, not what I had originally planned but then I change my mind about the house all the time. I had already painted the room and the furniture looked fantastic in it....but it needed more. The room was too large to just have the sink, toilet and bath sitting in it. I needed additional furniture...Suddenly ideas began to float into my mind - a nice cabinet based on the kitchen dresser plan, peach marble, wicker basket....I wanted to do it all (quickly of course)

No photos exist of me making the bathroom furniture as it was way too stressful an experience to even think about picking up the camera. I should point out that stressful might seem like a harsh word to use, that it might seem to others reading this that I am explaining that the experience was awful. It was stressful but in an exciting, challenging, difficult, occasionally exasperating, growl inducing way. But it wasn't anything that would make me think that I want to give up on my dolls house dream. Perhaps stress is too negative a word - complicated? difficult? challenging?

I managed to make a sink unit (the sink was very plain and I felt a sink unit would look fantastic) I saw the plan in my mind and made it from stratch with no plans or ideas drawn up. Maybe it is because I was moving on from the safety and reassurance of using designed plans that I just copy, cut and glue, to creating a piece of furniture that I have only seen in my mind - whatever the reason for the pride I feel - I am very proud of this piece of furniture.

I based the unit on the dimensions of the sink. I first planned to have a marble surround surface for around the rim of the sink with drawers placed on top of it either side of the mirror and cupboards underneath (basically the welsh dresser design), but this made it look larger then 1/12th scale. So it now has a marble back with a mantlepiece and drawers at the side.

There was room in the bathroom for another cabinet and I remembered the two white painted bookcases that were sitting all forgotten and lost in the loft, worried that they might never see the light of day again...I got them out and began to think what I could do with them. No one has bookcases in the bathroom (though I think that would be my mother-in-laws idea of heaven) so bookcases they were not to be. Maybe.....maybe ....I can glue them back together?...Stick doors on the base section....Nice cupboard for lotions and potions and bits and bobs and towels and flannels and general bathroom junk.

Well now they aren't lost, forgotten and sad. They are now a lovely bathroom cupboard. A bit empty at the moment but the day will come when I can begin making all those little bits.

So a mistake led to the beautiful bathroom. The tiles on the floor were nicked from a D.I.Y site. I simply found the tile pictures online, saved image to my pictures and then put them in a windows document (once I had done two or three rows in the pattern I wanted I just copied and pasted those few rows over and over again....very quick and simple). Printed on glossy photo paper and I had shiny floor tiles. I had bought also some pale peach carpet for the living room and had changed my mind deciding to use cream carpet so I used this peach carpet for the mats in the bathroom (my mind changed back yet again afterwards of course and the living room now has that same pale peach carpet!!!)The bathroom was the first room to be completely finished (furniture wise) but now I think that the walls are too dark so I want them painted a paler blue - Will I ever be happy with the finished house?

Monday, 22 February 2010

A challenge

This is a rare type of blog - my second in one day! But there won't be many like that. I did the sewing blog today but I have been making the quilt for over a week and it is nowhere near finished as it has been interupted by illness and boredom, and I really don't want the blogs to be in the wrong order. You see, I made three items of furniture last night - insommnia strikes again! and to be able to write this blog I had to sneak the sewing one in before!

I mentioned before wanting the bedroom done but do not have the right stain. I do have the right stain (indian rosewood) for the craft room so thought I would get started on furniture for that. I have been reading the books that Gil very kindly lent me and one features an art room. I really liked the work table and chair and I knew I wanted a bookcase in the room...


I got greedy I am afraid and decided that while I am cutting out one piece of furniture why not cut out two?...why not do three?

I found some banister rods that would make perfect chair legs, had some toothpicks and some wood to cut out. I cut out all the parts for the table and then designed a bookcase based on a store display cabinet in the book. I am getting more confident at manipulating the designs I am finding. Knowing that the basic shape is 1/12 gives my imagination the freedom to create what I want. I would be too unsure of sizes to design from scratch....I saw a cabinet in the film "The devil wears prada" which I loved and want for the sitting room...I know I can take the basic shape design of the kitchen dresser and by adding on cupboard doors instead of shelves I can have that cabinet featured in the film.

So all cut out and ready to go....


Staining is soooo messy and as yet I haven't found a clean and tidy way to do it. All I can do is just make sure I don't ruin our dining table with it!


All stained and drying...


I think I might leave it till tomorrow...but I find I am still unable to sleep so am getting on with the seat padding while watiting for the furniture to dry.

I find a lovely dusky rose material in the material is perfect for the craft room that has cream wallpaper with tiny rose coloured flowers. I cut out two pieces of card for the back and one for the seat. Cut some wadding for one of the back pieces and for the seat and glue the material to all of the pieces of card, securing with pegs.


I plan to join the two back pieces together and glue them and the seat to the chair. When I did stick the two chair cushion parts together there was a very large gap along the seam despite the edges having been held togther by pegs. Once the glue had dried I sewed the edges togther and was very impressed at the final finish - I think you can barely see that it was originally in two parts.


I also did some very tiny stitches in the seat padding to emphasise the padding in the chair..although you can't see it very well from this picture


I decided to make the seat backing mainly because after I had cut out the back of the seat, I decided I didn't like it very much and I couldn't be bothered to cut out another!


Making the chair - very very difficult. Getting the toothpicks stuck on is a nightmare.


Making the table - again very hard to do. The legs were determined to be wonky!


Making the bookcase - slightly easier


All done!


WOW! so much furniture! I just had to do some room layout pictures. This is not how the room will be...I just put most of the finished items in there so I could see what a room might look like. What it will actually be like in the end is very much surface covered and paper on the floor, lots of books around and generally representing how I total mess! But until that is done have a sneak peek at what a room in my dolls house could look like.....