Sunday, January 1, 2012

DIY Doll Beds and Tiny Quilts

Ryan's nieces love their American Girl dolls, so I wanted to make them something for Christmas that their dolls could use. Their dolls already have millions of outfits. Why not furniture? I came across lots of ideas including this picnic table, which I'm also dying to make. Ultimately, I decided on these farmhouse beds from Ana White

For our first wood project together, I would say that Ryan and I did a pretty rockin' job. And we did it for only $20 each! I'll break down the cost at the end of the post. I also made my first quilt ever. Actually, two. They may have been mini, but that's two mini victories for me.

One niece likes pink and the other likes purple. I spent a long time in the fabric store choosing fabrics to go together. So long in fact, that some woman asked me for help, because she thought I worked there.

 The beds fit 18" dolls.

The reverse side of the quilts are awfully cute too.

We used step by step instructions for the farmhouse bed from Ana White's blog. If you've never been to her site, you have got to check it out! She is incredibly talented, a lumber goddess really. The best part of it all is that she makes it easy for you to build beautiful things too. Go to her site, you'll see.

A couple of things we did differently from Ana White's instructions. We only used four panels in the headboard and foot board (with five slots it was wider than we needed). Also, to save money, we used thick cardboard (instead of plywood) to support the mattress.

The beds coming together.

My man hard at work. We realized that we desperately need a larger work space if we're going to do more projects like this in the future. Somehow he made it work with just the top of his tool chest and two not-so-sturdy sawhorses.

Once Ryan finished putting the beds together, I used wood filler on the screw holes then sanded the whole bed down. I then primed and painted the beds with some paint I had leftover from the antique dresser and hutch.

Now for the bedding. Remember I'm no expert. But I'll try to explain how I made the doll quilts.

For each quilt you'll need:
- 7 fabrics of your choice, 1/8 of a yard each
- 1/2 yard fabric for reverse side (I had extra so you could probably use 1/3 yard)
- batting for inside of quilt
- binding in coordinating color (3 yards length)

Start by cutting your seven fabrics down to 3 inches wide. I'd use a rotary cutter if you got one, it's a lot easier than scissors.

Stitch together the strips using a 1/4 inch seam allowance.

Iron down the seams so they'll lay flat. Now cut 3" strips running the other way.

Arrange the strips in a diagonal pattern to form the size of quilt you'd like. You'll have to pull apart some strips to form a square. My quilts were 7 x 8 squares. Although in the future I'll probably make the quilts a little wider, maybe 7 x 9/10. 

Iron down all of the seams again. Then cut batting to fit the size of your quilt. Do the same for the reverse side fabric. Sandwich the batting between the quilted fabric and the solid piece.

Now pin every few inches to hold the outside fabric layers to the batting. Run a stitch diagonally through squares about every 5 inches. Then again running the other way. I finished the edge of the quilts with binding. I've never used binding before so I watched this easy-to-follow tutorial on binding.

Now for the mattress. The instructions call for making a mattress out of 1-2" foam. I had no foam, so I decided to just wrap some thick cardboard with batting. It worked just fine. 

I made the sheets out of flannel since it was on sale and it's cozy. A yard turned out to be the perfect amount to make a fitted sheet for the mattress and a top sheet. To make the fitted sheet, just sew it like you would a pillow. Cut it to fit the mattress with a 1/4" seam allowance. Then stitch three sides. Insert the mattress and hand stitch the sheet closed.

For the top sheet, I folded the top down and then back up and stitched in place. I had a bit of binding left from the quilts, so I used iron-on hem tape to add the binding to the sheets.

The white fabric for the pillows has a paisley pattern (if you look closely you'll see it). I bought 1/2 yard for all the pillows, which was more than I needed. I used fabric scraps to add a pop of color on the pillow cases. I also used fabric scraps to make the decorative pillows.

Of course, I had to finish them off with a big pretty bow. Can you spy the wiener dog? She's camouflaged on hardwood floors.

You can see how stiff the quilt looks. I learned the hard way not to use fusible batting. I thought that it would make it easier while I was quilting, but apparently it doesn't break down and get soft very easily. I washed the quilts so they would have that cozy worn quilt look, but they still stayed pretty stiff. So avoid fusible batting if you can.

Total materials cost for both beds:

     $9.74   Fabric for quilts
     $5.40   Batting (I used this for the mattresses, quilt, and pillow stuffing)
     $5.98   Binding for quilts
     $5.58   Flannel for sheets
     $2.10   Fabric for pillows
+ $11.98   Wood for bed frame
   $40.78 for the materials for both beds, which means that we made each bed for $20.39!

Now that's a steal for these beautiful handmade beds. I know the girls love them and the beds are so sturdy, they'll last a long time. Noni (Ryan's Italian grandmother) said, "Now that's something that can be passed down to their kids." Of course his brother freaked out at the thought of his little girls having kids. They grow up so fast, don't they?

Thanks so much Ana White for the incredible projects that your site provides.


  1. Gotta love Ana white! Those are adorable

  2. Beautiful work! I still have the doll beds my mom made for me :) They will be cherished for sure!

  3. Ummm that's simply amazing!!! Wonderful job, Ashley and Ryan!

  4. These are the cutest things EVER! I just love them! Great work!!

  5. Thanks everyone! It's fun to make mini versions of anything, I would say.

  6. I absolutely love the mini quilts. Do you have any idea of the name of the purple fabrics? My little granddaughter's new room is in purples and this would look great for her doll bed.

  7. Thanks Sugarbabe! They are fabrics made exclusively for Joann's. All of the fabrics that I used were called Quilter's Showcase Fabric.

    Here are links to two of the purple fabrics:

    If you go to a Joann's you should be able to find the rest of them. I thought they were the most beautiful quilt fabrics in the store and they also happened to be the cheapest at $3.49 a yard. Happy sewing!

  8. The doll beds are really adorable! And, those tiny quilts are beautifully made. Thanks for your post!

  9. Thanks for the great tutorial, I made the same bed for my daughter for her last christmas present. I never got around to make the bedding. Can you give me an idea of the dimensions of the pillows and blankets? thanks so much

    1. The quilts and sheets were about 17 1/2" x 20". And the pillows were I think 5" x 3.5" which included a 1/4" seam allowance. Hope that helps. Happy sewing! Your daughter will love it!

  10. I'd like the dimensions for the bedding as well. Thank you!

    1. The quilts and sheets were about 17 1/2" x 20". And the pillows were I think 5" x 3.5" which included a 1/4" seam allowance.

  11. Great ideas, the doll beds are beautifully made!

  12. This is adorable and for some reason I have a thing for miniature furniture and items, even though I'm 24 haha. Too bad my nieces are already past thinking dolls are cool. They grow up too soon, I was into dolls till I was 10 or 11.

  13. What did you use for a matress?

  14. Ok. The first time I read this post I didn't see the matress section. Now I see it. Beautiful job. We are headed to Hobby Lobby today to buy the materials for bedding. My husband already made the bed. thanks for sharing. This will be my first quilt also.

    1. Yay, good luck on your first quilt! Hopefully the directions are easy enough to follow. Let me know how it turns out! :)

  15. Super cute! The other thing to consider for quilts is that polyester batting is going to be more stiff (nice for wall hangings) and cotton is softer (for a cozy, more puffy look).

  16. Those are gorgeous! You two are both talented!

  17. Omg!! I love your tutorial on the bedding! Thanks so much for sharing! I am working on the bedding right now . But if you don't mind me asking? What size did you cut the top panels for the headboard and footboard , since you guys had minimized the bed itself?


Let me know what you think. I'd love to hear from you!


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