Sunday 26 February 2017

Representations of rotary cutters

Well I had a go at making rotary cutters out of Fimo for my quilters. They didn't come out that well, but at least they are representing rotary cutters.  For those who don't know, a rotary cutter is an essential fabric cutting tool for the modern quilter, it's a bit like a really sharp pizza cutter and you run it along the edge of a thick acrylic ruler to cut exact strips and shapes from fabric.

I measured my real-life rotary cutter to be 6.5", so that's about a half-inch long in 1/12th scale.  It was less than an inch thick, so the dollshouse size would be very slim. I decided against trying to represent the silver blade of the cutter which would just be too tiny, so I have represented the other side of the rotary cutter with its black sliding protective cutter peeping out.

My Fimo is a bit old and crumbly, and my basement dollshouse room is not very warm which didn't help matters. But I mixed a transparent yellow with another yellow and did my best to cut out six uniformly sized tiny cutters.  Then I mashed one end flatter and cut it into a round shape.  I added six tiny black pancakes to represent the protective covers, and a little button of black which is the nut that holds the blade and cover to the yellow handle.

This is what they looked like when they came out of the oven.  After this I sanded them lightly which helped smooth them out more.

They aren't great, I freely admit.  But I have put them in the shop and the workroom for now.  Maybe one day I will try again.

Sunday 19 February 2017

Just about there

This week I've been finalising the placement of items on the main shop floor and gluing or fixing things into place. I think I'm just about there, it's fit enough for the dollshouse club visit anyway. There are still things I would like to improve, like a better dust cover and to figure out why the bulb inside the laundry cupboard doesn't seem to be working any more. And I'm sure I might find more figures or items to add to the scenes.

Gluing people in

Ha ha, sounds like a weird title, doesn't it?  But I had a problem with dolls falling over and looking like some kind of serial killer had torn through the shop.  Starting from the front of the shop (or the back of the space if you are looking inside from the open back), I fixed in dolls using silicone glue, fixed down display racks with tacky wax, and glued in the cash desk and the cutting table with tacky glue.

I had a nice resin figure that looked very much like a typical quilter, but she had a small dog stuck to her ankle. My quilt shop is a dog-free zone, so the dog had to go. A bit of careful work with a Dremel rotary tool and a cutting disk and the dog was history.

A bit of a touch up with paint, and she is a dog-free customer waiting patiently at the cutting table.

When I was tidying away the last of the clutter from the big unpacked Willowcrest box, I found this little bag of gems hiding away. I think I bought it at the Arnhem show.

They were the perfect items for finishing off my counter display unit. I also added a couple of tape measures (probably from Shepherd Miniatures) and a couple of silver buttons that look like they might be gadgets.

The unit fixed in place on the glued in cash desk, with a glued in sales clerk helping a glued in customer.

There was a back corner which was looking a bit bare.

 I made up a few 'patterns' by cutting out book covers and gluing them into plastic covers cut from bags.

Then I made a 'quilt' by gluing hems around a square of suitable fabric, and starching the fabric into  folds hanging from a gathered neck.  The resulting 'quilt' hanging from the display unit, and the patterns, brightens up the corner.

On the outside

I decided to leave the letters white, and I glued them to the shop fascia using a similar-sized font from my computer as a guide to spacing.

I needed an ampersand, which wasn't provided in the box of letters. With a bit of experimentation, I made an ampersand by cutting up a J, S and U and gluing them back together.

I smoothed over the seams with a smear of filler, and a bit of gesso, before repainting in white.  The ampersand has come out slightly bigger than the other letters but I'm quite pleased with the sign overall.

I  had a kit I bought a while ago for an outdoor display board.

Gluing up the boards in a magnetic jig.

Boards are hinged with surgical tape and painted. The 'chalkboard' was printed on the computer by using white letters against a black background, and a free chalkboard font I downloaded.

The finished display board outside the shop.

I've got one more thing I need to make, which is the essential tool used by most modern quilters: the rotary cutter.  I need several and I am going to try making them out of Fimo. But if that doesn't work then I will need to think of some other way.

Then that is probably that for a while anyway, as I need to move on to finishing up other houses ready for July. But it feels really good to have finally progressed this house to a more or less finished state, and I love looking in at all the detail.  The Willowcrest was always a kit I wanted to make, right from when I was a child, and I love all the period detail. Greenleaf certainly don't make it easy, but with a fair amount of work these are really nice houses.  I hope you like it!

Saturday 11 February 2017

Some nice finds

I had a good time at the City of London Dollshouse Festival.  It's not very big, so I was finished in 75 minutes, but there were some nice things there.  Here's what I got, I'm going to post them here even thought they aren't all for the Willowcrest.

I've bought several things from Shepherd Miniatures for the Willowcrest in the past, their prices are very reasonable and they do a lot of shop display items.  The button display boxes and the knitting patterns are for the Willowcrest. The beach windbreak is for a seaside scene I'm thinking of making for a club project. The map and box of rose food are for my garden shed writer's retreat.

I bought a whitewood bookshelf from World of My Own for the shed as well, the map will go behind the desk (just propped there at the moment and not stuck down yet).

I couldn't resist these reasonably priced and quite cute cross-stitch cushions, which look lovely on my Victorian gazebo porch (below).

Another couple of bargains from, made from real seashells and jewellery findings. These are to add some glam to my Mulvaney Georgian roombox, which is furnished in Art Deco style.

A hidden corner

The Willowcrest is a bit notorious for the completely inaccessible staircase once assembled. Mine isn't as bad because I cut out a big opening into the knitting shop, but it's still not great.  And annoyingly, the one bulb that has burnt out in the whole house is in the upstairs landing where it is impossible to get at.  But although the landing is not really visible from the back of the house, you can see it quite clearly when you peek in the front window.  For a long time I've had this empty table sitting in there. I don't remember where I got the table, I might have made it, it looks like it is made from a kit. I wanted to put a display onto it so there is something to look at when you peek in the window.

I had a beautifully knitted cardigan I had bought a while ago, but nothing to display it on.  So I got out my box of dolls, most of which came free with magazines or were bought cheap at sales.  I chose one that had a solid body and was falling apart a bit already, and took it apart so that I just had the torso and arms.

I needed it to be a bit taller so I glued together a crude stand from balsa wood. Generally I don't like using balsa because it is so soft, like crusty sponge, but the stand will be hidden from view.

Then I wrestled the cardigan onto the stand, which was quite difficult because the cardigan came sewn shut, and the arms are bent. Not to mention the thumbs catching on everything.  I got there in the end.  Then I added two of the display boxes I bought at the show. I also had a knitted basket I had bought a while ago, which I filled up with little coloured pompoms to look like wool. And I had a couple of crocheted potholders from a longago swap.

The next challenge was to manoeuvre the finished display table through the knitting shop onto the landing, without knocking anything off in the knitting shop and without taking out the bored husband standing at the doorway.  When I finally got the table into position, I pressed down to bed the tacky wax onto the floor.  And a leg promptly broke off...

So I had to work the table back out through the knitting shop, fish around blindly for the leg and retrieve that, and then glue the leg back on and wait until the glue dried. Then repeat.  This time, I pressed down only on the feet themselves, not the table.  Success. But very hard to take a photograph of. I can also see all the dust on the floor in the photographs, something that you luckily can't see in real life as the floor is pretty hidden from view, lol.

Counter display

I'm putting together a little display to sit on the end of the cash desk, using one of the Model Village display stands I made a few weeks ago which I have now painted white.  I'm thinking it should be full of impulse buy items that you might pick up and buy while you wait to pay.  So I've glued on the scissors on cards that I made last week. And I saw at the dollshouse show someone selling miniature decorative needle packs which I thought would be a good idea. Theirs were printed on photo paper which I don't have.  I found some suitable pictures online and printed them on my normal printer paper which isn't so sharp but I think it's good enough.  I cut them out and folded them over, and decorated a couple with no-hole beads to simulate a closure, and ran a gold felt pen around the edges of another one.  It makes a good start on a display but I still need more items.

Shop Sign

I've been thinking for a long time about how to make a sign for the front of the store. I've decided to call my store 'Patches & Purls', which I like and I don't think is too commonly used in the needlecraft world. When we visited The Range a few weeks ago, I spotted little boxes of wooden letters, already painted white. They were only £2.99 for a box of 73 letters so I bought a couple of boxes in the hopes that they might work.  I'm delighted that they have turned out to be exactly the right size for the shop fascia.  I've stuck a few up with wax to see what they look like.  I had been thinking I might paint them but actually the white is quite eyecatching.  What do you think?  Leave them white or paint them a colour (what colour)?

Saturday 4 February 2017

Slow progress

I had intended to get enough done for the Willowcrest last week to put together another post, but instead a cold virus came my way and I spent several days plonked in front of the telly trying not to move because everything hurt.  I am now on the mend and back at work, although still coughing and sniffing like many of my colleagues around me. Which is probably where I caught the virus in the first place.

Before I went sick, I had painted several pairs of scissors, a couple of irons and a telephone. I'm not very happy with the irons, the castings are quite rough and the resulting paint job rather crude.

The telephone went into the knitting shop so they can keep in touch with customers. The black handled scissors have gone onto the cutting table in the quilt shop, and the irons have been partially hidden towards the rear of the workshop  so you can't see them too closely.  The orange handled scissors and the gold needlework scissors have been stuck on card for use in a shop display that I am contemplating.

I had a couple of empty shelves under the bay window.

I had a bag of fabric sample squares from long ago, and I found that if I ironed them into quarters, they looked about the right size for 1/12th scale. So I selected groups of four toning squares and ironed them into quarters, then set the folds by smearing a little tacky glue into each fold and ironing them again so that they were nice and flat and not too 'poofy'. Then I glued them into stacks of four. I made labels on the computer and then folded a strip of plastic cut from a magazine wrapper around each stack.  This filled up the shelves nicely.

I put one on the cash desk with some other fabric purchases someone is making, also ironed with tacky glue to flatten them.  I've stuck down another phone to the right of the till, and filled a little basket with thread spools made from segments of painted cocktail stick with punched circles for ends, left over from a Lisa Engler kit.

I'm off to the City of London dollshouse festival tomorrow so I will keep my eyes open for anything that might work well for the Willowcrest.

Saturday 21 January 2017

Now I have a deadline

So it's been over a year since this house was unpacked. In the meantime I haven't been completely inactive with dollshousing.  I've put together this Real Good Toys porch kit and modified it to fit my oldest house.

and I did a scratch build 'fantasy shed' project for a group display by my dollshouse club.

 But now I have a deadline.  My dollshouse club summer outing, which is normally to a shop in the area, will this year be coming to my house to see my collection. Eeek! So I have until early July to finish (or hide) all my ongoing projects.

The Willowcrest, while largely finished, has never had the interiors completely sorted out.  Issues like dolls and furniture not fixed down yet has led to scenes such as this, with mayhem and empty shelves.

Meanwhile for several years I've been chucking things into a box labelled 'Willowcrest' that I thought might find a place in the quilting/knitting shops.  The first job was to unpack the box, when it became apparent that I would need another Willowcrest to fit everything in.

This triggered another bout of procrastination as I didn't know where to start.

So I have started small, nibbling away at small projects.

I put together three Model Villages kits for display stands.

Then I filled up the lefthand display stand with fabric and used it to help fill up one of the empty display units in the quilting shop.  This  unit got fixed into the right hand corner as you look in the back.  The display of lavender products on the top shelf is from a long ago online workshop. The bag is one I handsewed years ago using a tiny Log Cabin foundation pattern.

I had collected various laser cut wooden signs, so I gave them a paint job and fixed them in.

I had previously set up the righthand shop window display for the knitting shop, so it just needed a bit of repair to fix things down again.  But the lefthand matching display for the quilting shop had been empty for years.

I decided I needed to break off a couple of shelves to make more room for display items, then I looked through my collected stock to choose/adapt items to fill the shelves.

That looks better.

The cat decided she had better investigate this large box that I was spending so much time with.

I will keep plugging away. I've still got empty shelves to fill and more decoration to add.  I did cut out a number of paper 'quilts' and added them to the inside of the porch above the entrance. That's what real quilt shops are like, colour and pattern everywhere.