I love Miss Priss loves to make new play scenes for her American Girl dolls. She has a Tri-Fold Project Board Display, the kind used for science fair projects, that we periodically change out for different doll activities. So far, we have made a Restaurant, a Dress Shop, an Art Gallery, and a Hair Salon with the project board. Last week, Miss Priss asked if we could convert the background scene to an office space.
You don’t have to ask me twice, so we loaded up and headed to Hobby Lobby where all of my great crafty projects start.
We used a hot pink desk organizer and tipped it on its side. The openings that would have held pencils, paper clips, or Post-it notes became shelves across the front of the desk.
We found 5″ sparkly candlesticks and glued them to the desk organizer. I used E6000 Glue, which is a heavy duty craft glue. I did measure the distance from the edges of the desk organizer and center the candlesticks on each side of the desk organizer box before gluing to make sure the candlestick legs were evenly spaced.
In order for the scale to be about right, desks and tables should be roughly 9″ tall.
The Bulletin Board
Purchase a pre-cut mat for a picture frame. The interior dimensions of my frame mat is 4 1/2″ x 6 1/2″. I used the thin corkboard on a roll with adhesive back that I had from making Doll Sandwiches. Cut a corkboard piece a little larger than the opening of your frame mat. Run a line of glue around the front edges of the corkboard and press it to the back of the frame mat. The corkboard sheet rolls up a little, so I placed books on top of the mat and cork on a flat, hard surface (like a kitchen counter) until the glue dried.
Once the glue dried, we attached the framed bulletin board to the science fair backboard. I put the science fair backboard flat on my dining table and measured the placement of the bulletin board before gluing, so it would be straight and centered. You can remove the sticky back paper to attach the bulletin board to the project board or attach with craft glue or hot glue.
Map pins work well for attaching notes. Your pins will go all the way through the cork and the backboard.
Look for mini plant containers at Hobby Lobby, Michael’s Crafts, or gardening centers. We purchased a block of that green oasis material that florists use to make flower arrangements and some fake greenery.
Cut a chunk of oasis to fit in the bottom of the container.
Cut pieces of greenery and stab the ends into the oasis block.
We went through the art supply section at Hobby Lobby and found a 6″ x 8″ watercolor paper notepad with the spiral binding on the top (portrait orientation).
Using Sharpie markers and a ruler, Miss Priss and I drew a few different graphs.
We set the notepad on a small tabletop art easel.
Using my paper cutter, I cut notebook paper, printer paper, and colored cardstock into 2″ x 3″ pieces of paper.
Using mini rubber stamps and ink pads, we stamped designs and monogram initials onto the top of the papers, so it looks like personalized stationery.
I also found colored paper clips that are smaller than standard size, and we clipped assorted papers together.
Hobby Lobby has plain craft boxes with lids in a variety of sizes. We bought 2 boxes that measured 2″ x 3″ x 1 1/2″ and separated the lid from the bottom. The bottom parts of the boxes fit in the desk like a drawer and hold some desk supplies. I used an X-acto knife to cut a small half circle out of one side of each lid and then sanded the rough parts down with a nail file. The lids look like in/out desktop file boxes. Miss Priss has papers in the file boxes.
We used a sparkly candle votive for a trashcan. Miss Priss wadded up scraps of paper to make the trash can look full.
We found small folders (about 2 1/2″ x 3 1/2″) that have the string to tie the folder closed like an interoffice mail envelope in the scrapbooking section of Hobby Lobby.
We pulled several of our items from the American Girl School crafting binge like the pencil and pencil cup to add to the office play scene as well.
Miss Priss likes the office so much, we needed a second science fair backboard, so this scene can stay up permanently, and our second backboard gets traded out for other scenes. We have also recently become the proud owners of an original Samantha Oversized Book of Cardboard Scenes and Settings. The American Girl village happening in our TV room is quite extensive. I may need an intervention.
The school where I teach runs American Girl camps in the summer. The history teacher in charge of AG camp is pregnant and had to go on bedrest at the end of the school year, so the school needed last minute subs to run the two camp sessions. Clearly, I am totally qualified to run this camp, but I was hesitant to accept the job. I immediately had visions of American Girl crafts run amok since I tend to think big and have difficulty prioritizing and gauging what is realistically possible for little hands. 20+ campers and overly complicated mini craft projects are not always a good combination. Nevertheless, I took on the challenge, and we just finished the last day of American Girl camp today.
I recycled many of my American Girl craft projects, but I also designed some new ones too. This past Monday was Kaya Day. With the help of my nieces who are still staying with me, we engineered tepees out of brown butcher paper, strung Nez Perce-like beaded necklaces, and wove mats for the tepee.
brown butcher paper (I used painter’s floor covering paper from Lowe’s)
wooden dowels– 1/4″ diameter, 24″ length (4-5 per tepee)
duct tape or masking tape
mini hair bands or Rainbow Loom bands
My oldest niece has the original Kaya tent. She traced the outline of the cloth tepee cover for me to use as a template. The tepee shape is basically a half circle. The diameter is 48″ with a small circle cut out at the center of the straight edge.
Using the template, we traced the shape onto the brown butcher paper and then cut out the shape.
I added Native American looking patterns and symbols. I cut geometric shapes out of poster board for the campers to use as templates for designs on the paper.
I also shared a handout with some Native American symbols.
After decorating, turn the tepee paper over and tape 4-5 dowels to the paper. Space the dowels evenly around the tepee shape, and the bottom of the dowel needs to be even with the bottom edge of the tepee.
Fold the paper in half and stand up. Pinch the first and third dowel together and wrap a rubber band around the top of the dowels. Pull the rest of the dowels together to make them look like the poles at the top of the tepee. Add another rubber band around all of the dowels. (We also wrapped some twine around the top to make it look more authentic).
Spread the part of the dowels that touch the floor out and fiddle with the paper to get the desired tepee shape.
waxed cotton thread
plastic beads– various shapes (perler beads work well too)
lanyard clips (2 per necklace)
Cut 3 pieces of cotton thread in 3 different sizes– 14″, 13″, and 12″.
Line up the 3 pieces of thread so the ends are even. Keeping the ends even with each other on one side, tie a “granny knot” around the lanyard clip.
Thread beads onto all 3 pieces of string. You can create any bead order and partially fill the string or fill the string full with beads. Leave space at the end to make it easy to tie the threads into a knot.
After adding beads, gather the loose ends of the strings and even them up. Tie them in a knot to a second clip making sure the ends are even with each other.
When the necklace is on the doll, the strings will hang at 3 different lengths in a similar way to the quill necklaces worn by the Nez Perce Indians.
Cut scrapbook paper into the mat size you would like. Our mats were 5″ x 5″.
Fold the mats in half with the design facing in.
On one side of the folded paper, draw guidelines for cutting. The lines begin at the folded end of the paper and stop about 1/2″ from the opposite edge (the open side of the folded paper). My lines are 1/2″ apart. You can adjust based on the mat size you use.
The campers made cuts along the lines being careful to stop when the line stopped. Then, kids opened up the paper flat and weaved strips of scrap paper over and under securing each end with a glue dot. My strips are about 1/2″ wide, and I used a paper cutter to make all of the strips.
The mats fit neatly inside the tepee, and if our American Girl doll had been living with Kaya in the mid 1700s, the mat would have helped keep rain out of the tepee.
For more DIY American Girl ideas, visit my other AG posts or check out my Crafts link in the menu bar to the right!
Guess what Miss Priss got for Christmas? An American Girl dress shop craft book! I practically ripped the book out of Miss Priss’ hands. I did control myself briefly while we visited my parents during the holidays, but then some of my nieces asked about AG crafts, so I made one tiny stop at Hobby Lobby, and you can probably fill in the rest.
Miss Priss actually did a lot of the work on the hats and purses, but there is hot glue involved in the gowns, so I have been handling most of the design on the dresses while Miss Priss acts as consultant.
The craft book kit comes with two shopping bags, a receipt book, play money, a foldable paper laptop computer, and other paper items you can use to decorate your store. The book gives suggestions for using old clothing and other found items to make doll hats, purses, and gowns. I did source my massive craft supply inventory and end of the year donation pile, but I still needed a few trips to Hobby Lobby for odds and ends to make the shop look really professional. I have a materials list at the end of the post.
We used tiny bottles I had leftover from the American Girl Campout and wrapped them in fabric. We put a strip of double sided tape around the bottle first, then brought the edges of the fabric up and tied around the top. You can then add a strap by tying another piece of ribbon around the gathered fabric at the top or hot gluing a looped strap near the top. You can add little beads or sparkly stickers to the sides.
I found small, round bead boxes at Hobby Lobby. We covered those smoothly in fabric using double sided tape and hot glued a fabric handle (see the little white round purse in the picture of the purse wall above).
There are mini drawstring gift bags in the wedding or bead section of Hobby Lobby. We added trim to the bags and other sparkly buttons for another type of purse.
First we painted wooden discs, candle stick looking things, and knobs I found in the wooden pieces section at Hobby Lobby with acrylic paint. Once the pieces dried, we hot glued them into hat stands. (We also painted mini wooden spools, which are used to hang the purses on the wall of the shop.)
I purchased round cardboard gift boxes, and we covered those with fabric, trim, and buttons or sparkly stickers to make pillbox hats. The lids work better than the bottom half of the box, but we used both top and bottom box pieces for hats.
I found tiny clips and baby barrettes, and we hot glued tulle and little flowers leftover from the American Girl wedding cakes to make fascinators (very Kate Middleton).
My favorite hat is the stocking cap. We made a trip to Goodwill and bought blouses and knit tops that had fun designs or fancy fabric. I cut the sleeve from a silver knit sweater about 6 inches from the wrist end. Then, I turned the knit inside out and tied the cut end tightly with a piece of thread. Finally, I turned the tied sleeve right side out and added a little button decoration to the outside.
I went through the remnant section and trim section at Hobby Lobby and bought things that seemed fluffy and fun. I also used some of the lacy ribbon I had leftover from the American Girl Sweet Shop and other scraps of fabric I have lying around. As I mentioned in the hat directions, we made a stop at Goodwill for blouses and tops that we could cut apart.
For the gowns, I cut the sleeve off of a blouse or stretchy sweater and put it on the doll to size. Then, I would remove the sleeve and cut the length as needed. From there, I would hot glue or sew trim on the dresses. Do NOT do any gluing or embellishing while the gown is on the doll. Always remove the dress before adding anything permanently. I did use my sewing machine a little, but most of the design could be handled with hot glue and safety pins. On some dresses, we simply wrapped and clipped with small hair clips (kind of like a toga). Miss Priss takes the wrap dresses on and off and re-wraps a new design each wearing.
We made some armholes by cutting small slits about 1 1/2 inches from the hemmed edge of the sleeve. Pull the dress or top on the doll by starting at her feet.
Hobby Lobby even has those tri-fold science fair backboards, so I did not have to make an extra stop! Use a science fair board to make the background of the shop. We hot glued mirrors to the sides of the backboard. Along the sides of our “full length” mirror, we hot glued the small painted spools, so we could hang purses on display. We used glue dots to stick the posters that came with the craft kit to the center of the backboard. I did have to measure everything to make sure it was centered and even.
I bought a handful of clear acrylic boxes in a variety of sizes. We stuffed the insides with colorful tissue paper and leftover fuzzy boa trim. Stack the boxes around the store and use them to display the hats and purses.
Cost is (almost) no object when it comes to my crafty projects. I happened to see this pink hanging rack at a local store before Christmas. I did not get it at the time, but when we started building the dress shop, I knew we had to have it– um, I guess I mean Miss Priss needed it. The rack really does add a little something special to the store! It even came with hangers and the bench seat box. The Doll Boutique Kit comes with a cardboard hanging rack that mounts (glues) to the wall. Wooden dowel to complete the hanging rack is not included.
The Fashion Show
The last page of the Doll Boutique book gives an address to mail pictures of any favorite fashion creations. Guess what we are doing next? Any votes for which dress design we should submit?
Kit is wearing a cotton striped tube gown with lace and bead trim. There is a one shouldered floral strap. The drawstring purse has matching bead trim, and the look is finished with a smart pill box hat.
Kit is wearing a lilac satin pleated skirt with ruffled waist band. The outfit is finished with a silver tank top and tulle fascinator. Kit has a small lilac purse with wrist strap.
Kit is seen here in a white satin evening gown with red floral overlay and off the shoulder straps. The top is finished with delicate pearl beading around the neckline. A red flower fascinator completes the look.
Kit looks stunning in this silver evening gown with matching fur trimmed poncho. She is red carpet ready and even has a small pill box purse to finish the look.
The Materials List
tri-fold project poster board
3-5 clear acrylic boxes, variety of sizes
mini bottles, small bead containers, little pill boxes
Miss Priss ran out of sleeping space for her American Girls, so I offered to make some sleeping bags. Well, if you make an American Girl a sleeping bag, she will need a campfire to go with it. If you have a campfire, you will want to toast marshmallows. If you toast marshmallows, bugs might show up for a snack. If bugs show up, you will need a bug jar…
Cut one piece of 30″ x 21″ cotton and one piece of 30″ x 21″ fleece.
Pin the two pieces of fabric together. The cotton should have the wrong side facing out.
Sew the two pieces of fabric together about 3/8″ from the edge. Leave an opening along one long side.
Turn the fabric right side out through the opening. Push the corners out with a finger, so they are square. Fold the fabric in half.
Cut a piece of ribbon about 30″ and fold the ribbon in half. Insert the folded end of the ribbon into the fabric opening and secure the ribbon with a pin.
Pin the fabric along the edge that has the ribbon and halfway up the open side.
Sew the edge with the ribbon and the partial side together.
Campfire and Toasting Marshmallows
tissue paper in fire colors cut into small squares (2″ x 2″?)
Miss Priss is attending an American Girl camp this week, which got my creative juices flowing. Since the camp is being held at a school site, I thought we could make school supplies for the dolls. Like all good mother/daughter projects, Miss Priss got bored; TheRoomMom went overboard.
I will say that the 2-ring binder requires a steady hand and a glue gun, so some of the school supply construction was beyond Miss Priss’ capabilities. She made all of the pencils and did most of the work on the pocket folders. On the horizon are some sort of camping supplies for American Girl. Project brain is already engineering fake s’mores and lanterns.
American Girl Pencil Cup with Colored Pencils
Sharpie markers, various colors
sharp cutting tool (like an X-acto knife)
plastic lid from a non-aerosol bug spray bottle (these are the same lids I used for the smoothie/milkshakes)
Cut the toothpicks in half and sand the cut end until smooth.
With a Sharpie marker, color the very tip, leave some space, then color the base of the toothpick all the way around.
The proportions are a little small for American Girl, so you may want to cut the toothpick down about 2/3 to get a longer pencil than what we have.
Use the plastic lid as a pencil cup and place all finished pencils in the lid.
American Girl Pocket Folders
cardstock, variety of colors
paper cutter or scissors and ruler (highly recommend a paper cutter)
little decorative stickers, scraps of paper
Avery labels (1/2″ x 3/4″), optional
Cut a piece of cardstock into a rectangle 5 1/2″ x 3 3/4″. Carefully fold in half and press the crease firmly.
Cut 2 pieces of cardstock into rectangles 1 1/4″ x 2 3/4″. These will be the pockets. If desired, cut a diagonal out of one side to make the inner pocket edge slope. We liked the pockets in contrasting colors, but you could make the pocket color and folder color match.
Put a thin line of glue around the bottom and outside edge of the pocket piece. Press each pocket piece onto the interior bottom of the left and right side of the folder. Let dry. Remember to leave the top and center sides unglued, so you can add papers to the pockets.
Cut scraps of paper into small pieces. I used some junk mail I had. Slide papers into the pockets.
On the exterior of the folder, decorate with mini stickers or the Avery label with a class subject written on the label.
American Girl 2-Ring Binders
cardstock, variety of colors
paper cutter or scissors (recommend a paper cutter)
ruler (recommend metal)
printer or notebook paper
silver jump rings (7 mm)
silver paint pen
silver colored poster board
hot glue gun
needle nose pliers
I originally saw the the binders in this Pin. This woman makes items for dollhouses, so the proportions were too small, but her directions are very good.
Cut a piece of cardstock into a rectangle 6 1/2″ x 3 3/4″. Put the piece of cardstock landscape direction on a table. Draw a line 3″ in from the left edge and 3″ in from the right edge. Using a ruler (I recommend a metal ruler), wrap and crease along the lines.
Cut a piece of silver posterboard 3 1/2″ by 3/8″. Round off the ends if desired. Glue the skinny piece of posterboard to the center of the cardstock between the 2 folds. Let dry.
Cut 3 pieces of printer or notebook paper 5 1/4″ x 3 1/4″. Stack the 3 sheets and fold in half.
With the pointy end of an X-acto knife, poke a hole through the folded sheets of paper near one end. Repeat at the other end. If you want a 3-ring binder, you could poke 3 holes, but this stuff is tiny, and I think 2 holes are sufficient.
With pliers, pull open 2 jump rings. Thread the jump ring through the paper. With the pliers, close the ring.
Hold the papers with the jump rings over the skinny silver posterboard piece and eyeball where the jump rings sit. Put 2 small blobs of hot glue on the silver posterboard piece and push the jump rings into the glue. You can use a toothpick to push things around if needed. Blow on the glue to cool.
It is easy to get the folded side of the papers stuck in the hot glue. I was able to peel the paper away without separating the jump rings from the glue.
Finally, put 2 silver dots on the outside spine with the silver paint pen to look like the screws on the outside of a binder.
You can add pockets to the binders following the directions for the pockets in the pocket folder above.
American Girl Clipboard
flat, wooden rectangle 3 5/8″ x 2 5/8″
mini binder clip (I think I found these in the fancy brad fastener area at Michael’s.)
Paint the wooden rectangle or decorate with stickers (or both). We left ours the natural wood color and added mini stickers from the American Girl Mini Scrap Books (see below).
Cut paper to fit the clipboard.
Clip paper to the clipboard with the mini binder clip.Metal “handles” can be up or down.
In the American Girl craft aisle at Michael’s, we found a Mini Scrap and Stuff Books set. It came with the tiny spiral notebooks and the little stickers we used on the clipboard and outside of the pocket folders.
I located the mini manila file folders in the gift label section of Hobby Lobby. We wrote on the mini Avery labels and attached the white label to the tab.
The teeny tiny envelopes with enclosed notecards were in the baby shower/party aisle at Michael’s. The package had a variety of envelope and note sizes.