Making Doll Beds

Yes, it’s been a while since we’ve ‘talked’ – I have been busy with several projects, one of which I might have some more detail for you later (if it all works out as I’m expecting).   Hope you enjoy my post today it has been a big project.

Blue BedEvery year on the last week-end in November, I am involved in making projects to sell at a local craft fair. One of my ideas for this year was to make doll beds, complete with custom made quilts, sheets, etc. With the movie just out at the theaters “Kit Kittredge, An American Girl”, I thought that the perfect doll to make these beds for would be the American Girl® doll which is an 18” doll. I found some curtain rod finials in a clearance area one day, and thought they would be just perfect for my bed posts – and that sealed the deal! After talking my husband into constructing and painting the beds, I knew it would be my job to complete the project with the custom made sheets, dust ruffle, pillow and quilt.

To make the bed my husband cut a platform 18” x 24” – the perfect size for an American Girl® doll. The legs were cut from 2” X 2” lumber – 6 1/2” tall for the legs at the foot of the bed. For the head of the bed, the legs were 16 1/2″  and had the curtain rod finials added to the top of them. And don’t forget the head-board! Once I got him started on this part I knew my work was going to be cut out for me as well. The quilts just had to match up to the craftsmanship and artistry of the beds.

Mattress: I went to the fabric store and purchased a 2” thick slab of foam to use for the mattress. It was cut 18” x 24” to cover the bed platform. (The best way to cut foam is using an electric knife, but if you don’t have one then I recommend a segregated knife such as a bread knife.)
Mattress Cover: I cut a piece of fabric 24” X 30”. From each corner I cut out a square measuring 2 ½”, then I sewed the two edges of each corner back together, creating a dart shaped corner. I used my serger to finish the bottom edge all away around the sheet with a rolled hem. The last step was to cut 4 pieces of elastic about 6” long. Find the halfway point on the elastic and pin to the center of each darted corner. To finish each corner, stretch the one side of the elastic (3”) as far as you can and sew the whole 6” long piece of elastic around the corner of the sheet, stretching as you go. This will create the nice corner we expect for fitted sheets. Continue until you have completed all four corners in the same manner. Slip the sheet over the foam and you have a fitted sheet for your mattress.

Pillow: I simply made a pillow by cutting a rectangle of off-white cotton fabric and sewing around the four sides leaving an opening big enough to stuff with fiber fill. Whip stitch the opening closed. You could even make a pillow case for the pillow if you wanted too.

Dust Ruffle: A poster bed wouldn’t be complete without a dust ruffle! Because the bed platform was cut 18” X 24”, I cut a piece of off-white cotton fabric 18½” X 24½”. Finish the side of the fabric that will be at the head of your bed by hemming or serging. Next, I cut three 7” strips (width of fabric – 45”) from the dust ruffle fabric. I sewed the 3 strips together making a single strip approximately 7” by 130”. On one edge of the dust ruffle I surged a rolled him edge making a finished edge (hem) on the dust ruffle. On the top of the ruffle I zig-zag sewed over a string to create a way to gather up the ruffle. I sewed the gathered edge to the 3 edges of the off-white cotton fabric to make the dust ruffle. Remember – the head of the bed would not have any dust ruffle only the two sides and the foot of the bed. You can now lay the finished dust ruffle over the wooden platform and place your mattress with the fitted sheet on the bed.

Quilt: The last step is completing the quilt. I had so much fun going through all my scraps of fabrics and creating color combinations. I had already decided that all the quilts would be made using the log cabin quilt design, perfect for an American Girl® doll bed.

I made 48 quilt blocks for each of the quilt tops. Each block has a center piece, two rows of light and two rows of dark fabrics. The quilt is 6 blocks across and 8 blocks down. You can play with the layout of the blocks and get different looks but the way I decided to lay out the blocks it makes it look like a diamond shape radiating out in lights and darks. This layout is called “The Barn Raising” design.
You can refer back to my very first blog post on Jan 24 for some more detailed tips for making a log cabin quilt. Below is a quick explanation of the cuts I used.

Blue CoordBecause I was making a miniature quilt, I cut these strips 1¼” wide (which means the great ruler I talked about in that post would not work for this project). Seam allowance is ¼”
Center block was cut 1¼” square.
First light also cut 1¼” square and then cut 1¼” x 2”
First Dark cuts were 1¼” x 2” and 1¼” x 2 ¾”
2nd light cuts: 1¼” x 2¾” and 1¼” x 3½”
2nd Dark: 1¼” x 3 ½” and 1¼” x 4¾”

I cut the border pieces 2¾” wide to go around the finished blocks.
Cut your batting and backing to finish.
I used embroidery floss to tie the quilts in the centers on each of the blocks.
My final step was to bind the edges of the quilt.

When we put out all the beds and took the pictures it looked like we were running an orphanage for dolls. What a fun project and I simply used fabric out of my fabric stash to make these wonderful “scrappy looking” log cabin quilts.


We had so much fun making these that we ended up making 28 beds. Here is one of my favorite color combinations with the country green colors.

Of course the first one to get a doll bed made was my granddaughter. Grandpa made sure the bed was sturdy and Grandma made the bed comfortable. After a long day of playing not only did the doll go to bed but our little Mommy was found sound asleep with her legs sticking off the bottom of the bed!

Sheila Reinke, Heart of Sewing

Kaleidoscope Block = Fabric Transformation

Yesterday, I showed you how to make a kaleidoscope quilt block, and you saw the steps as I made a block using a stripe fabric (and the finished paisley block).

Today, I’d like to talk about how the kaleidoscope block really transforms the way you look at a fabric. For instance, what type of a block do you think a fabric like this one would make?

Can you see this as a repeated image? The design twisting around a center point? Well, one of the participants at the recent seminar I taught saw the potential in this fabric, and you’re going to be amazed at the results she got from this pattern. (You may want to click on the image of the fabric above to see the detail of it.)

And here are some of the blocks she got from this one piece of fabric – as you can see, some very different looks depending on the repeat chosen.

If you look carefully, you can pick out the areas she pulled each repeat from in the original piece of fabric.

And here it’s pictured again, with the original fabric and the quilter. Great job! The lilacs have really transformed into a brand new type of flower – what would you call it? A Lavender Star Flower?

Next, we have this lovely black fabric, a very striking pattern, as I’m sure you’ll agree. But when you look at it, what color do you see? Black, red, even white?

What about green? Yes, that’s the same fabric used in the blocks pictured on the left of the picture. And again, we have the quilter’s standing with their creations. The sage used on the corners of the blocks really does match nicely with the hint of green in the original fabric – and it showcases the kaleidoscope making it ‘pop’ nicely.

In contrast to this style, the quilter on the right has chosen a fabric for her corners that blends right into the original print – making it look almost as if the block is actually a printed image instead of a pieced one.

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And here, a soothing cream/tan color. Once again the elements of the print have created a floral effect in the center of the block – this is particularly evident in the yellow ‘flower’ center on the left.

Do you see the difference made in these blocks? Just the fabric used for the corners is going to give these two similarly colored blocks a completely different look in the final quilt.
This set of blocks is actually finished off as octagons – can’t you just see these sitting on a side table in the living room?
And these great patriotic blocks started off as a simple striped fabric – what a terrific look!
These blocks are going to make an absolutely gorgeous red and white quilt – wish I could see the finished work!
I nick-named this batch “garden bouquet”, doesn’t it just look like you could go out to the garden one summer day and pick these flowers? Look at the contrast effect the quilter is getting by using the different red and yellow corners for her blocks.
Here are a couple more of the “garden bouquet” blocks – giving you a bit closer look at the actual fabric repeats used.
The quilter, and a peek at the original fabric used to create the kaleidoscope.

So as you can see, if you look at the fabric in just the right way, you might see a great kaleidoscope in the works! If you’re wondering how a repeat of a fabric will look beside itself – here’s a trick you can use…. for small prints, you can use a simple mirror set at a 90º angle to the fabric – look in the mirror and you’ll see a mirrored image of that section of the fabric (not really a true repeat).
Or, you can take the fabric, lay it out and locate the repeat you are looking for in two places, now draw those two sections together so you can look at them side by side.
I also like to use my template (which is almost always going to be a clear ruler of some sort) to view the fabric section – this way I can see just how much of an image I can capture (such as in the paisley print used in yesterday’s finished block – I wanted to capture an entire paisley in the repeat).
Sheila Reinke, Heart of Sewing

Colorized Photo Quilt

Today, I have one last photo quilt for you – a rather unusual idea, but one that worked out very well as you will see from the photos in just a moment.

The quilt designer, Carol, wanted to make a quilt for her husband that could be hung on the wall of their cabin/retreat. She wanted it to be in colors that would coordinate well with the design of the room, and didn’t want the photos to detract from the quilt’s colors.

So, she took several black and white pictures of landscapes and images around the cabin, and took them to a printer to have the photos professionally recolored. If you have access to a good photo editor and are familiar with it’s operation, you can do the same thing at home using your computer (more on this later).

The photos were recolored to coordinate with her fabrics, a subtle green for one set of images, and an orange that is almost a pumpkin color for the other set. She then bordered each picture with two different frames (in their coordinating colors), as you can see below.

Here is an orange/pumpkin block – picture is of a barn.


And a sage green block – the cabin itself.

As you can see, the colorization of the photos adds a nice subtlety to the images. Since this quilt was made not with several small photos, but with nine large blocks – it makes the pictures the focus without making them stand out too harshly.

And here is the finished quilt!

Okay, I promised more about the idea of colorizing blocks. This is for those of you who are willing to experiment a little bit. If you want to colorize photos like this, you will probably need an editing program other than the one that came with your digital camera.

For this blog, the images are all cropped, brightened, and so-forth by my secretary/assistant using a program called Gimp (she tells me it is very versatile, and best of all it is a free program).

Here are the steps she took to colorize the image of a stuffed bear she had on hand when I asked about pictures.
Original Image
Changed to Black and White photo, using the “Colorify” command (no color was chosen so it defaulted to black & white)
A purple hue applied to the black & white image, using the “Colorize” command (the Gimp program uses sliders in this section, simply adjust until you like the color – if colorizing multiple images, make a note of the color values to repeat the exact color).
In this image, the “Colorize” command was used, adjusting both the hue and lightness sliders – to show more of the background the bear is sitting against.
If “Colorize” doesn’t provide the result you like, you can also try the “Hue Saturation” command – which is how this image came about.
Or perhaps red is more the color you are looking for? The choices are truly endless!

If you want to manipulate photos this way, then I suggest trying out the Gimp editor before investing in a more expensive program. The free download can be found here: GIMP – The GNU Image Manipulation Program.

Or, if you prefer to leave such things to the professionals, just about any location where you can make copies or get photo prints can assist you with this.
Sheila Reinke, Heart of Sewing