Do you know those doorway puppet theaters that were all the rage a couple of years ago? Well, I thought they were ingenious, but I also thought it was time to move beyond the hanging, two-dimensional idea to the realm of the three-dimensional shapeshifting tent houses.
This is Kate's birthday present. I decided, after making a round princess pavilion table tent and a little blue PVC-frame house, I needed a totally new structure on which to build the last of the trilogy. Come on in!
All you need is three (or more) strategically-placed tension rods, and you'd have a morphing house
that can also have a table-tent-esque flat top
or a vertical townhouse facade (and everything in between)
and that, because of the adjustable tension rods, can be jammed into doorways to amuse/confuse the living daylights out of postal workers
or suspended over staircases for a faux loft feel. Not.
Disclaimer: I wouldn't encourage obstructing stairways, of course, but I had to do this today to get decent lighting. So don't show your kids this photo, OK?
The point of this multi-location photoshoot is to say that you don't need much to put up this house - unlike table tents and PVC frames and those blankets-over-chairs forts that my kids also love, all you need for this is two things between which tension rods can be wedged.
I also want to add that I chose to use just enough fabric for the front of the house, plus a little back roof overhang, because that's what 54" (the width) got me. If you used a longer piece of fabric than I did, and several more well-placed tension rods, you'd be able to make a full house, including the back. And then it would be so much fun for the kids to pick their own house shape each time they set it up, just by adjusting the relative positions of the rods.
Now let's break it down!
I'll walk you through the how-tos, but don't be disappointed with the lack of templates and dimensions. You can figure those out yourself, and in so doing, take just my idea and make a house that's truly your own.
First, the roof -
channels were sewn on the wrong side of the fabric for the tension rods. Choose where you want these channels to be and you have created the dimensions of the house.
The particular channel for the roof apex was split into two to allow the hanging of light fixtures.
As we said, with the tension rods, the roof can take on different shapes and heights.
The shingles were bias tape (I made my own, since I needed about 7 yards) sewn into scalloped curves.
The windows were first cut out to final dimensions in interfacing, which was ironed onto accent fabric,
as was the doorframe.
The windows were sewn on like the welts of welt pockets, or floating inset pockets, and then curtains added,
along with tie-backs.
The mailbox was also a welt/window
shaped with interfacing fused onto the wrong side. The door was also interfaced since I was using hopelessly floppy cotton.
As with the windows, the seam allowances were folded into the wrong side and pressed to give crisply folded edges
and the entire mailbox top-stitched down as an appliqué, with the door inserted into its bottom edge.
This is the wrong side of the house, with contrasting thread to show the top-stitched outline of the mailbox.
Other details were layered on by appliqué - the light sconces
the white picket gate
and the flowers on the welcome doormat.
All fasteners (for the gate, mailbox, tiebacks) were hook-and-loop tape aka velcro. I didn't even consider ribbon because while pretty, they also frustrate small children who haven't yet learned to tie bows or knots.
Also did you notice that I used zero print fabric? Even the gingham curtains are a sort of weave pattern. I was going for a Land of Nod look, see. Or rather, it's what I would sew if LON employed me as part of their design team. Ahhhhh..... a person can dream.
How long did it take me? Compared to the little blue house and the princess pavilion? Nothing. Milliseconds. No piecing, no joining seams, no fitting - everything was simply embellishment on a flat piece of fabric. Also, I know it's fashionable these days to reveal the cost of one's projects, so I'll tell you - $3.51. That's what I paid for the yard of white "sportswear" twill fabric, anyway. The tension rods we already had, but you can buy them from Walmart (or any store with a home dec section, like Target) for under $3. All else came from my stash. I suppose it would probably cost more if I bothered to total up the various scraps, but who can be bothered? That's why we have stashes, right? So we can dig in and use up and feel like we got freebies?
So there -one flat piece of fabric -
turned into a little house-in-our-hallway.