When we moved into our 1950’s house (with pink and green tiled bathrooms in all their glory), we were pleasantly surprised, shocked even, at the amount of closet space. If you own a midcentury house, then you probably know what I’m talking about; storage wasn’t top on the list of priorities in the 50’s. Lucky for us, the folks who built this house put two closets in each bedroom. We hit the storage (hoarding) jackpot! For our daughter, who was only 2 when we moved in, this meant one closet for clothes and one for toys. I know one day in the not-so-distant future she will probably have both closets packed to the gills, but for now at 5-years-old, I’ve managed to keep her closed reined into one.
We took the doors off of closet #2, and for a year or so it sat there. Every toy stared at me from this “nook” in her room. It drove me BANANAS. I like things put away, hidden if you will. I can’t remember why we took off the doors to begin with, but I think there was a good reason… maybe. Either way, I wanted to create something that would cover up the profusion of dress up clothes she had in there, but also entice her to play. I’d seen felt houses placed over card tables, but I couldn’t find anything that would work in a closet doorway that wasn’t a permanent fixture. So, this is what I came up with: A simple garden house using felt and tension rods.
It’s perfect. It goes up easily, and also stores away flat when needed. This craft is easily created in an afternoon or morning, and I did most of the shapes (door, window, flowers, etc.) by freehand drawing. They’re not perfect, but it’s a kids’ playhouse, so they don’t have to be. If you’re more precise, simply use a ruler or create a stencil (for the flowers and window) on a piece of cardstock and you’ll be set. Also, it could be NO-SEW if you’d like to simply adhere the pieces with spray fabric adhesive and create the rod pockets with iron-on adhesive. So even non-sewers can swing this project! Let’s get down to it:
2.5 yards felt (for the front of the house- any color you like)
1.5 yards brown felt (roof)
1 yard colored felt (window and door)
various small pieces of green, red, yellow felt (for grass and flowers) I actually used the small packet of assorted felt.
thread or spray fabric adhesive
3 tension rods (1/2 inch)
Step One: Measure the space (width and height) where your garden house will be (doorway, closet opening,etc.). Remember it doesn’t need to go all the way to the top. Add 2 inches to the height of your house for creating the rod pockets.
Step Tw0: Cut your large piece of felt using the height and width measurements you made. Then, create the rod pockets by folding over an inch at the top and an inch at the bottom; pin and stitch in place.
Step Three: Create door by measuring your child to see how high you’d like the “door.” Our’s was 46 inches tall and 18 inches wide. Stitch or adhere (with adhesive) “door” to the front of the garden house (it doesn’t open yet, so don’t worry). Then cut a square out of the same fabric for a window (mine was about 13 inches square). For our window, I used a fabric pen to draw four panes, and I cut them out before stitching on the window. Once the window was stitched on, I simply cut the felt inside the panes to “open up” the window.
Step Four: Create an opening in your door. I did this by drawing a line down the center of the “door” I’d stitched on. Then, where my line ended at the bottom (before you get to the rod pocket), I simply made a line of 6 to 8 inches on each side. Basically, the lines you’ve drawn should look like an upside down T. (See the top image if you need a visual.) Cut along this line. If you’d like extra reinforcement, then you can stitch along the edges you made to secure the two felt fabrics to one another. (See below.)
Step Five: Cut flowers of various colors and green triangles out of felt and either stitch or adhere to the bottom. You could even create a mailbox or a light!
Step Six: Using the width measurement for your house, take your brown felt and cut it to the appropriate width, then on one wide end draw a scalloped edge with a fabric pen. Cut out scalloped edge (Again, this doesn’t have to be perfect). On the other wide end, fold down an inch of fabric and stitch to create a rod pocket.
Step Seven: Put it up! Slide the tension rods into the pockets you created (one at the top of the house, one at the bottom of the house, and one in the roof piece). Squeeze top house rod together and adjust until it’s at the appropriate height and tension, then adjust the tension of the bottom rod. Hang the roof by mounting the rod higher and further back than the house front and let the scalloped edge drape over the top of the house front.
Last Step: Stand back and admire your handiwork!
These basic instructions could be adjusted to any kind of play house you’d like to make: fire station, police station, castle. I know your kids could definitely help you come up with ideas for a fun play space for them!