Thursday, August 7, 2014

How to Make a Felt Colonial House

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We will be finishing up our Native American Unit Study later this week and next week we will be beginning our Colonial Times Unit Study! So to go along with the unit study and the Jamestown Settlers TOOB, I made a couple felt houses! I made two small houses and one large house (it's twice as long as the small house). They did take a couple days to make, but only because I have been sick and did not have time to make these houses in one sitting. I would estimate that each house takes about an hour or two to make. That includes the time it takes to trace all the pieces, cut them out and sew them together. 

You will need:
Felt - two shades of brown or use whatever colors you want!
Thread - we used dark brown DMC Embroidery Floss
Sharp Scissors - fabric scissors work best
Disappearing Ink Pen (optional) - for marking the lines to cut along
We found this image and used it as the inspiration for our houses. The Founding of Virginia was also a great resource to read and learn from. 

I measured the Jamestown Settlers and drew out a small cabin. Projects like this I involve the kids in the making of, so they were able to help decide the size and colors of the house. We decided on a medium shade of brown for the walls and dark brown for the doors, windows and roof. Bean noticed that many of the settlers lived in "tiny" houses, many of them being only one room, so the houses we made are on the smaller side. We made one larger house for a bigger family. 

These houses are free-standing, but because they are made out of felt, they blow over easily! Bean has tested this out many times ever since reading The Three Little Pigs. So if you want stiffer walls try using Stiffened Felt or if you simply want thicker walls, use Wool Felt (check sales at your local craft stores!). We used regular acrylic felt, which is cheaper but works just fine if it is taken care of. 

Here's the run-down of the dimensions of the small house:
Roof and base (3): 4" by 3 5/16" 
Short side wall (2): 3 4/16" by 3 11/16"
Long side wall (2): up the middle - 5 13/16" sides - 3 10/16" top of roof to side - 3" by 4 3/16"
If you add a flap to your roof: 2 1/2" by 2 1/2"

The large house:
Roof and base (3): 6 5/16" by 4 4/16" 
Short side wall: base to top 5 13/16", 3" from top to side, side to base 3 1/2" 
Long side wall: 6 4/16" by 3 10/16"
Roof flap: 5" by 2 1/2" 

Window: 1 5/16" by 1 5/16" 
Door: 2 9/16" by 1 10/16"

Sorry about the complicated dimensions! I drew this first and then measured, so you can probably adjust the dimensions so they are rounded up. 

I cut out each piece and had them set up so the assembly was quick and easy. I used a combination of whip stitches (door, windows) and blanket stitches. The blanket stitches look much nicer on the edges. 

Before sewing any sides together, I traced the windows (which I cut out bars on) onto the wall so I could cut out the right size square. 

Cut out the middle square, this way you can see into the house.

I used a whip stitch to sew on the windows and then tied off the ends. I used the same stitch to attach the door.

Even blanket stitches look lovely!

Here are all the pieces waiting to be assembled! 

I kept the edge of the roof long on two of the houses and shortened it on one. 

Plenty of space inside to store people and objects (small dollhouse furniture fits).

I wish the walls were flat, but that is the nature of felt.

The door opens and stays open easily, and stays closed when you shut it.

Here's a reference for the size of the figures compared to the house.

John Smith and an elderly settler moving in. Like I said, they are on the smaller size, but perfect for small world play because they don't take up too much space. 

There is space inside for a couple of people to stand. We made small felt blankets for the Settlers that sit on small wooden beds and used tiny dollhouse furniture to furnish the homes (wait til you see our Safari Ltd. review!). 

We decided not to leave one half of the roof open (easy to reach into and move around people and objects). So I cut out a square on one side of the roof and then sewed a flap on, using the same shade of felt as the roof. This way it is still easy to reach into and the roof isn't flapping around and making the house unstable.

What do you think? I'd love to hear your opinions in the comments!
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