Guest Post: Plastic Canvas Dollhouse by Mel Dawn

We’re excited to announce our first guest blog post by our friend Mel Dawn! Mel is a writer and crafter based in New Westminster BC, with a love of cats, Doctor Who, and a passion for creating unique pieces with plastic canvas. Below Mel shares with us one of her plastic canvas projects, a custom made dollhouse!

Don’t Turn Away, Don’t Look Back, and Don’t Blink: You Don’t Want to Miss This Craft Project!
by Mel Dawn

Many people collect action figures from the Doctor Who, Marvel, and DC Comics universes, but then are puzzled as how to display them. A collection should never be stuffed to the back of the closet. Over time, you may think you’re imagining the words, “We must escape the bat cave! Exterminate! Resistance is futile!” and loads of other phrases to guilt you into unpacking your geek collection.

Perhaps it’s time to help your lonely action figures find a home. But with a quick scan of eBay, you realize you can’t afford the Tenth Doctor’s TARDIS interior and console room. But you can afford to make your own action figure dollhouse.

It took me two years to make this miniature dollhouse from plastic canvas and yarn. It was actually a Mary Maxim kit, but you can buy plastic canvas from most dollar and craft stores. It doesn’t take a lot of yarn to make—you can use your yarn scraps from finished knitting projects.

Before I started, I didn’t have any specific dollhouse in mind. You can create an idea from Dollhouse, Doctor Who—the house from Blink, a haunted house, or headquarters from Deadpool.

I actually kitbashed my dollhouse. Finished, it’s 14 inches wide by 17 inches tall, but originally the pattern called for it to be around 12 inches by 12 inches. I wanted it to fit not only my action figures, but my Dawn Dolls too. These toys are about six inches tall, though I do have a smaller scale of action figure—Melanie from Doctor Who—who is about four inches tall—in the living room of my dollhouse, as well as a red Dalek. But David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor and the Weeping Angel—made by Nick Norris on his 3D printer—stand about six inches tall.

I decided to make the rooms wider, and taller. I actually had to buy extra plastic canvas as the kit didn’t contain enough. I also didn’t follow the guidelines for yarn colours. I kept the colours of the kit in the bathroom and kitchen/dining room areas, but I changed the bedroom to mauve, and the living room to burgundy and red. I also had to use my own yarn as there wasn’t enough in the kit to create the new size of walls.

Plastic canvas is a lot like cross stitch, but you work your stitches on a rigid form of canvas instead of flexible canvas material. You also need to use yarn, though there are smaller gauges of plastic canvas that can be worked with embroidery floss. I worked with the Darice seven count plastic canvas (7 holes to one inch), the largest scale I’m aware of. These come in rectangular sheets, but you can buy other shapes and sizes such as hearts, circles, and squares too.

The stitches are worked a lot like on cross stitch, but instead of creating an X, you create only a row of //////s. You can work a variety of different stitches with your pattern, much like cross stitch, but with my dollhouse it was most //////s.

You can see in this photo where I have first done all the stitching for the front panel of the house. I have also added the brown overhang. The windows are stitched with yarn, but can be cut out.

In the next photo you can see the inside panel of the walls, as well as the left wall attached, and one short inner wall between living room and kitchen. I also made a rug for the living room. This was a pattern I found online. That’s one nice thing about making a project—you can constantly add to it over the years.

Here is the finished inside of the dollhouse. If I did this project a second time I would have added a sturdier form of plastic canvas between the floors and the walls, because you can see it sagging a bit in the photo. Or, you can accept it as the nature of the materials you are working with.

You can see how much fun it is to add your own action figures to the scene. The pattern I had also came with instructions for making the furniture. Again, I had to modify the pattern so the furniture fit the scale of the action figures. I also found patterns online to make other furniture, such as the burgundy chair in the living room.

The dollhouse even has an attic. I made a pirate’s trunk to fit up here. I added a rod to the closet, and made the bathroom cabinet open up.

In this photo you can have a better look at the burgundy chair that I made from a smaller scale of canvas mesh (ten count), so there are more stitches per square inch.

I found a clock pattern, so the kitchen has a clock above the fridge. The kitchen is a bit crowded, and I never made all the furniture that the dollhouse was supposed to have. I also eliminated a third room on the second story, a nursery. In hindsight, I should have made a cat room.

This project took me about two years to make, but others may work it faster if they have no other projects on the go. I still have other patterns I want to make, such as a dining room hutch. The playing options are endless, and gamers can even think up ways to incorporate the house into a game.

Plastic canvas is about 99 cents per sheet. You can buy special plastic canvas needles, scissors, and yarn, to make your plastic canvas crafts easier to make. Patterns and kits can be expensive, but you can create your own patterns and designs. Most people who try the hobby get hooked after the first few weeks. If you’re like me, you’ll end up having several folders of project ideas on your computer.

Thanks again to Mel for sharing her dollhouse with us! If you want to see more projects made by Mel or learn about her writing services, please visit her blog website.