Dollhouse Decorating

Miniature Decorating Ideas |Articles on decorating dollhouses and the history of this artform


I have had a life-long love affair with dollhouse miniatures, and careers in art education and interior design. I hope to combine these life experiences to help other miniature enthusiasts get more out of this wonderful hobby we enjoy, a hobby that often reaches the level of an art form. Susan Downing

Posted on 18 August, 2017


It seems the choice is unlimited. But out of all these bolts of fabric, the right one to use in a dollhouse miniature may be missing.

The Perfect Curtain Fabric

When looking for the elusive perfect curtain fabric, think beyond color. The weight of the cloth and its pattern or weave are critically important.  I feel that when we focus primarily on color and don’t consider the “technicalities” of pattern size and the weight of the fabric, we risk falling in love with an inappropriate material. The color is gorgeous, but perhaps the pattern is too large, or the fabric too stiff and heavy.

But it’s such a beautiful color! That’s when we force this gorgeous material into our project. The next step is often a return trip to the fabric store. But we can “audition” fabrics before we buy them. More on this later.

Brick Mortar Stores

Educators tell us we all learn in three different ways: visual, auditory and kinetic (touching. The trick for teachers is to figure out which the three is the primary portal to the brain for each of their charges. We have a kinetic learner in the family. When he encounters something new, he says, “Let me see!” grabs the object. This darling is kept out of fine glassware and porcelain shops. Fortunately for miniaturists, fabric stores give us the opportunity to hone our kinetic skills, without fear of breakage.

Choosing The Right Pattern

One trick is to cut a one-inch square out of a piece of stiff paper or a plastic card. I prefer a plastic card because it’s convenient to keep in my wallet. Scan the bolts of fabric in the rack and pull several that might be suitable. Remember, you are considering color, pattern, and weight all at the same time. To zero in on the pattern, pass the one-inch window over a fabric. This expands your choices because even large flowered prints may have areas like stems, buds, and leaves that may be useful to your design.


Audition Fabric

Watch  Joanne’s Minis video for a good demonstration of the One Inch Window technique

Wrinkles Are Good

If you need pleats on curtains, dresses or furniture skirts, the fabric must hold a crease, Scrunch the material in your hand and see if it wrinkles. If it does, it’s a prospect.

Stains Are Bad

Wet a small spot with some saliva and see if the fabric stains. This will be important if you want to use glue anywhere and don’t want it to show.

Fraying – Sometimes It’s Good

Check out the cut end of the cloth to see if it frays. You don’t want to be sewing tiny seams and have it fray apart. On the other hand, you want it to fray a bit, if a fringe is in your plan.

Weight Control

Pay attention to the weight of the material. If it is heavy, it may be too thick for miniature work. I feel comfortable working with cotton, light-weight wool, cotton and silk blend, rayon and some other light-weight fabrics. Regular quilting cotton or similar materials have the qualities I like for most projects

Online Shopping

No local store can compete with the variety of fabrics available online. And you need not be overwhelmed by the number choices. A “long tail keyword search” gives you ample control on what is presented to you.

As an example, start with “fabric tiny prints.” Narrow it down by adding “cotton” or “large weave.” Use as many key words as you can, before the search engine gets totally confused and nothing but irrelevant choices are offered.

Using Both Online and Local Shops

Here is a recent experience I had. Custom made curtains are a popular item in my online shop. I received an order for pleated curtains in shade of gray that aqua throw pillows would love. The local JoAnns had nothing useful; same at Jay’s Fabrics. Online shopping was next.

First I went to several tried-and-true websites and used the internal links to browse. Still no luck, so I went to my favorite browser and entered this long tail keyword string in the search field: “dollhouse curtain fabric brocade cotton gray” and got links to three possibles. The descriptions of the fabrics looked good. I did a screen print of each and emailed them to the customer. She made her choice, I made and shipped curtains. All is well.

It would have been much easier, less time consuming — ergo more profitable if I could have found what I wanted at a local fabric store. They sell to a mass market, and the miniature artisan gets lost in that demographic. In the end, there is always a way. Sometimes we just have to learn new things.

Susan Downing, with Patrick Owens


I invite you to visit my Etsy Shop where I offer many accessories and pieces of furniture in 1:12 scale. Subscribers to this blog receive a discount on all Featured Products. Click here for details.


Posted by Patrick Owens

Categories: recycled

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