Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Fairest Cottage of Them All: How to Make It

A couple of weeks ago I posted about Magnum Opus to date:  
Snow White's Cottage.  It is a felt fort I made for my daughter in my free (stolen) time.  I have had several people ask me how I made this.  It's wasn't extremely difficult, but it's wasn't easy either.  It was a time-consuming project.  And... it is my Princess's favorite plaything :)

So here goes:

Like all good half-baked ideas of mine, I started with a plan.  The structure of the cottage is my dining room table (like we needed one more reason to eat dinner on the sofa!).  So... first things first... I measured the table.  Then I drew a basic sketch of the design I had in my head.

The top of my table measured 60"x36".  To determine the amount of felt I would need for the top I added a 1" seam allowance to both the length and width.  The height of the table was 30".  So, I had two sides that were 30"x60" and two that were 30"x36".  Again, I added a 1" seam allowance to the height and width for all four sides.

I knew I wanted the top to be dark brown, as well as the details of the Germany-like-architecture (my apologies for the very technical terms).  So, I guesstimated at how much extra dark brown I should buy.  If you've read any of my other posts you have probably learned that I am a fly-by-the-arm-of-my-singer kind of girl (meaning I don't always use exact measurements).

I was looking for a beige for the walls and I didn't need any extra of that.  For the rest of the design I was willing to take whatever colors of felt I could find in the remnants bin (I hoped) or else by the yard.  I had some basic colors in mind such as green and light blue.  I ended up having to sacrifice the light blue for light purple.  I also ended up using a light fleece for some of the accent pieces and that worked out just fine.

First step after returning from FIVE fabric stores on a wild goose-chase for cheap (inexpensive) felt (thanks Jo-Ann's for closing on my Spring Break without telling me!!):  take a nap.  Next step:  cut out the top and sides, remembering to account for my seam allowances.

When making a felt house, it is easiest to decorate all of the sides before putting it all together.  It is really hard to decorate a house that is already constructed.  I started with the window side.  I just used object around my house to create shapes.  The rectangle of the window was cut out by tracing two books side by side.  I traced the cut-out rectangle to create the shapes for the top and bottom of the window pane.  However, I did make the both a bit wider.  After cutting out the bottom portion I folded it in half and cut the sides in an angle free-hand.  The shutters were used by tracing square books and cutting out the hearts free-hand.  I put those aside to use as decoration on the front of the cottage.

The trim at the top the walls was made with the scraps leftover after I cut the roof piece.  Originally, I wanted the dark brown trim to go all the way down the sides of the cottage, but I didn't seem to have enough.  So, I opted to have the curves go down partway.  I free-handed one curve and then traced it to create symmetrical curves on all corners. 

** Edited to add: I also free-handed some brown strips that were above the window pane.  I am not sure why I did not take a picture of them at this stage.  But... it is the same principle that I used on the other sides of the house.  Sorry for any confusion.  ***

Once I had the basic elements of this side pinned down, I sewed all on with my trusty machine.  Then... on to the next side.  The front of the cottage

This is the front of the cottage folded in half lengthwise.  I traced a portion of a round plate right about where I wanted the top of the door to be.  Then I used a straight edge to draw a line from the curve to the bottom.  While folded, I cut this shape out.  Once I un-folded it I had a hole where the door will be.

I used the piece that I just cut out at a pattern to cut a door from the red felt.  However, I made the red door slightly larger than the door opening so that I could sew it on to the front of the house just over top of the doorway.  This also ensured that there was no gap between the doorway and the door along the sides.  For now, I just pinned the door in place.

As you may have guessed, I free-handed the brown strips.  I pinned those on as well as the hearts (which were left over from the window panes). I also free-handed the 'hardware' for the door.  I happened to have some sticky-back glittery black felt left over from a halloween costume.  So I drew the design on the paper backing.  **CHEATING ALERT**  I DID NOT want to gum up my machine with the adhesive from that felt... so I admit it... I used fabric glue for the black 'hardware' pieces (sigh...holding my head in shame...).

OK, OK.  I feel better now that I admitted that.  Please don't judge me :(

I digress... back to the story.  I sewed the brown strips on BEFORE the door so that the door would be over the strips and not below.  Otherwise I think it would have looked strange.  Also, the dark brown frame at the top was sewn on last.

On to the next two sides.  These were both pretty simple.  Just free-handed brown strips and the edging at the top.  The back and side both have one long brown strip that goes from the top to the bottom, and two smaller strips that are diagonal and start half-way up.  It reminds me of a peace sign, only upside-down and without the circle.

Once the basics were completed I started with the embellishments.  The vine seemed like the easiest so I started there.  I didn't even draw these out.  I just cut out some viney looking shapes and pinned them down.  I sewed the vine down before adding the leaves.

I cut leaf shapes using some light green fleece and dark green felt.  I played around with where to put them before pinning them on.  To attach them I sewed a straight line right down the center of each leaf (kinda where the natural vein of a leaf would be).

princess fort snow white cottage

Next up:  flowers for the window box!  I cut these out freehand with pink and blue fleece, and yellow felt.  I sewed them on by hand using a variety of buttons.  I did not sew around the edges.

We all know Snow White would be very lonely without her woodland creatures.  I found these images online, increased their size and printed them out.  They still weren't big enough.  So, I had to wing it (ah-ha-ha-ha) a little.  I also added a foot to the turtle because, well, he only had two when I found him.  

Here is the progression of the first bunny:

I taped the bunny to my pink fleece (I realize the original bunny isn't pink, but I needed colors other than brown and beige).  I traced way outside of the bunny to make hum even bigger than my cutout.  After cutting out the pink bunny, I placed it on top of my light blue fleece and traced.  I removed the pink bunny and tried to replicate the facial and body feature of the bunny.  I cut out all of the blue pieces.  Because I could still see the tracing marks on the bunny pieces I flipped them over and played around with where to put the blue.  I cut out black ovals for eyes.  I pinned those pieces together and sewed them all up BEFORE sewing the bunny on to the wall.  It would NOT be easy to try to construct a bunny on a wall.

I used the same method to create the other woodland creatures.  
Here are some highlights:

     OK, I didn't actually make that one in the middle.  But, he is cute, no??

And, of course, the famed bucket of apples.  This bucket is a trapezoid (I had to look that one up).  Once again I used the adhesive black felt to make strips so I (dun..dun..DUUUUUN!) used fabric glue on those.  I sewed the edges and bottom to the wall while leaving enough of a gap that I could put the apples in the bucket.  The apples are removable.

I wanted the apples to all be slightly different in shape.  In order to make them, I stacked two layers of felt on top of each other and cut out an apple shape (freehand).  That way I would have two identical pieces for each apple, and yet each apple would be slightly different.  I cut out green leaf shapes just like before, and brown rectangles for stems.  I pinned in all together and stitched around the edges, leaving a small hole at the bottom for the stuffing.  I stuffed those babies up and sewed the bottom seam.  Easy-peasy!

Let's see... what am I missing.  Oh... I know.  Those gigantic polka-dot mushrooms that look like they came from Alice in Wonderland.  Let me say this.  At first I thought I would make a large fawn on the back.  However I quickly realized that I would not be able to print out a fawn even close to that size and I didn't trust my freehand abilities.  Then I thought a bush with more flowers.  But, frankly, I was tired of making flowers and I wanted something different.

So, I scoured the interwebs for photos of Snow White to see if I could come up with anything else.  BESIDES a dwarf (read my cop-out of the fawn above).  I came across a picture of Snow White and her woodland friends mingling along side some mushroom.  No, really.  So, I figured that would be easy enough and I went with it... as you can see here.

As soon as my precious little daughter walked around to the back she squinted up her nose and said, "there's mushrooms in Snow White?"  "Of course there's mushrooms in Snow White!"  I reassured.  "Didn't you notice them before?  Smarty-pants!"  OK, I didn't actually say "smarty-pants" out loud, but I was thinking it!

Last but not least... the assembly.  This is the moment of truth.  This is when I help my breath and hoped that all my hard work was not in vain.  I laid the front wall down and positioned the sides and roof around it.  I carefully lined them up so that the brown trimmed edges would meet at the right spot.  I sewed the roof to the front and the back.  Then I sewed sides to the front.  Finally I sewed the roof to the tops of the sides and I was D.O.N.E. DONE!

This was all a huge surprise for my daughter.  She was soooo excited!  She plays with this all the time.  She has tea parties under there.  Although she did ask me why there wasn't a deer.  Smarty-pants!

And there you have it folks!  This has been my longest blog post EVER!  I guess that is only fitting since this has been my largest project to date.  

Please feel free to contact me with any questions.  I love comments!!


  1. This is pretty awesome. I love the vines and the apple basket. Such cute details. This may have inspired me to make a felt fort of my own. Thanks for sharing!

  2. So fun and beautiful! I can see why it is her favorite thing to play with. Thank you for sharing at Sharing Saturday!!

    1. Just to let you know, I'll be featuring this post this week! Thanks again for sharing!!

    2. That just made my day! Thank you so much :)

  3. What a cool project! I bet your daughter absolutely loves it. (I know mine would!)

    Thanks for linking up at my Felt Food Roundup on OneCreativeMommy.com. I hope you’ll be back for ideas as the party fills up. I’d also love for you to come back when you have a new felt idea to share. I’ll be pinning all of the ideas to my pinterest page and featuring posts every few weeks.


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