Trying outer walls


Busy, busy over here but the paper has arrived for dressing the two side walls and I have started to make an attempt on the ‘mausoleum look’ of this peek into the world of remembered deco emporia.

I’ve promised myself that I’ll get back to this ASAP, before I forget what I intended, but meanwhile am trying to gee myself up for the spring clean-up in the greenhouse, before getting seeds potted up for the new season, which I think I can just about see over the horizon.

The very hot spells followed by this winter; cold/warm/cold, causing damage to all my remaining plants in there (ones I’ve had for many years) and so there’s a lot of ‘deep’ cleaning needed to get rid of any remaining fungus/rot that’s happened, I’m sorry to say.  However, I can have the fun of replanning and possibly buying the odd replacement ‘green friend’ –  if only I knew how to guess what sort of plant might stand a better chance in this changing environment.


Three pairs of glasses, three pairs of scissors and four approaches

This piece is edited from a lengthy photo record I’ve made 
for myself to keep track of the methods I used 
when trying the current self-challenge.)
Old self-challenge “Last formal report - comparing air-drying clays

A cack-handed elderly klutz takes up the self-challenge

We (or I) tend to fancy an item or imagine a build which I know full well is probably going to be more than a little beyond my capabilities and at the very least will set me a challenge.

Back in November I was willing myself back into the mini-ing malarkey after six months of inertia and had dug out a rather lovely hand-built fireplace – many apologies to the brilliant maker but I’ve lost track of how I bought it  – and I was playing around with the idea of a one room scene, possibly relating to the Borrowers(?) as I’ve got some bits of 1:24 and 1:48 knocking about, but more probably destined to become a Victorian Christmas scene with children around a tree.  These imaginings were conjured up still just in time for Xmas ’22.

To egg me on further, I bought a wonderful set of instructions for making my own 1:24 figures using stockinette fabric.

The beautifully designed and presented patterns I bought on Etsy come from Prairie Crocus Studio and I can highly recommend them if you want to have a go at making your own fabric figures – there are patterns for other scales and ‘beings’ too as well as dressed dolls.  They have a wire armature and stuffing so can be shaped and bent to suit your needs and be given the character and clothing you fancy .

I really was aware that buying this pattern was probably not the most wise choice for me to make.  I can be very clumsy and needlessly careless without knowing I’m doing whatever it is I’m a-doing-of.  Nevertheless, they were sooo tempting I could not resist the temptation to at least try.

Starting out

The pattern has clear lists of materials and equipment required, some of which I could see at once I’d have to compromise over.  The biggest one being I no longer have an accessible sewing machine.
(And oh yes, it has been.  Most of the challenge has turned out to be finding a work-around for this.)

The materials were, on the whole, easy to get hold of, but two things I had to research a little.  One was the gauge of wire and the other was the freezer paper.  I’m not sure if American gauge of wire measurements are the same this side of the Atlantic but here’s a table I used so I could buy in something suitable as all the sellers I came across quoted in millimetres. (gauge to mm).  It has worked for me as the wire I now have is very easy to cut and handle but strong.

Now, freezer paper – hmmm, I had been going to use ordinary parchment paper/butter paper as that’s mostly what I use between layers of items (eg homemade fish cakes or similar) in the freezer.  However, the mention in the instructions of ‘the glossy side’ of the paper used for tracing gave me pause for thought and so I went in search of freezer paper and am very glad I did.

Once the tracing of the pattern has been drawn on the dull side of the paper it is then ironed onto the folded fabric, making it stick to the surface, not unlike adding a transfer to a T-shirt, but you keep the paper on while you stitch through it.  Keeping the paper pattern stuck to the fabric gives a template for machine sewing around and holds the  pattern to the fabric much more strongly than pins.

Now’s the time

With most, if not quite all the materials to hand, and as the deco department store is on standby waiting for its stonework, I finally made myself have a go at one of these figures; a bit late now for a Christmas scene – or do I mean early?

The following is a brief saga of what can happen when a beautifully designed set of instructions, very clear and easy to follow, are let loose in the hands of a true cack-handed klutz  OK, a bit of tautology there, but the result is still the same.

I was concerned from outset that hand stitching would not give the required result but I wanted to know if it could be done by hand, and as it turns out, sewing machine stitching is pretty important to the making, not just for neatness/strength etc, but mostly so that the ironed down paper pattern will remove more easily.  I’m not that sure I could have done the stitching on a machine these days, as turning the underarm, crutch area and neck to head angles is probably beyond my current capabilities.

Results and decisions, noted in my photo aide-mémoire.

I’ll break off the photos here for a moment to tell you the changes I’d made in my method(s) for the 2nd run.

On the 1st run I found that the sealing of the cut seams with glue pre the cutting out of the figure, although painted on as a fine line, when turned right side out, made the limbs narrower internally and made trying to turn them out difficult causing extra stretch in the limbs. I was also surprised by the damage the glue did to the fabric of the head and I ended up covering up the original head area with a balaclava bag shape rather like a cushion cover.

I also judged that the hand stitching I’d done had caused some problems so I needed to eliminate one self-made problem at a time and chose to try to work on the difficulty turning right side out to work on first.  For the 2nd run I drew around the pattern rather than tracing exactly on it, to give me some elbow room as it were to investigate the ways of turning the figure to its right side after gluing a freshly cut edge.

Regarding gluing the cut seam, I’ve cut the figure out a little bit at a time and glued the cut edges (on their very ends) as I go round cutting out.  It also gave me the opportunity to use a thicker white glue in very small amounts rather than having to be absorbed by two layers of fabric when painted on. This eliminated the excess bulk I had made on the first run when I laid on the glue pre cutting out.

The glue to the edges of the back slit stops the fraying but there’s still a danger of me laddering/stretching when adding the armature and stuffing.


I did try putting a little stuffing at end of limbs before inserting the armature but it would be great if there were a way of wrapping the armatures in wadding pre insertion.

I put the vertical armature in and stuffed head and legs before adding arms supports and found it much easier – I’ve never worked with an armature before and it confuses me re getting the shaping for the back and front when stuffing the body.

I also stitched up the back opening while gradually stuffing to help judge body shaping; that is, once the legs were stuffed I stitched up the stretched opening to just above waist level.

3rd run

Pulling of stitches

As the instruction is to machine stitch round these little folk, I’m assuming the paper pattern gets so nicely perforated by the machine needle as you go around that taking the paper off should be almost as easy as separating postage stamps, except where you start and finish off.  Hand stitching does not provide the same perfs.

And I still caught the paper and couldn’t get it off cleanly.  So far haven’t taken this one any further.

4th run

Still wasn’t deedy enough to easily get the paper out around and between the legs so a bit of stitch ‘harrassing’ there.

theinfill blog, theinfill dolls house blog - 1:24 stockinette figure

4th run: Outcome so far
Will continue with this one and finish off the other two waiting for their detailing.
I notice that our little chappy has come up a smidgeon under size perhaps(?)

Bit f a lengthy edit but it is three days worth of trying it out and has been a great learning experience at the end of which there’s a group of little people – what more can one ask for?  Haven’t yet decided who and what they will be but will keep on with them and will probably have futher goes in an attempt to get more comfy with the stuffing-armature combo which, sadly, I still do find confusing.

Perhaps I should have bought the 1:12 pattern in the first place but so it goes.

The wallpaper for the deco shop room box has arrived so must push on with that too.


Three pairs of glasses?  Yup, distance, close up and very close up.

Three pairs of scissors?  One fabric, one paper, one thread.


An outside look?


There are still Deco shop fronts (or rather top halves) visible in many UK towns and cities: quite a number of those remaining were built for Woolworths or Burtons.

It helps that what I’m working on is, very obligingly, a box shape upon which, theoretically, it should be possible to add some Woolworth-style Deco hints.  I’m going to be leaning towards various features shown in the following buildings – and then go off ‘on one’ with some exaggerations of style here and there.

So far – rough faffing and twiddling around

The foamboard is cut higher than the roof line for three reasons:

  1. to allow a hidden space for the wiring/lighting socket strip
  2. to cut back various areas a little mimicking a bit of the style in the Dumfermline building
  3. somewhere to possibly add a store name board

All to be painted and shaded for a stonework look.  I had intended to mark up my own paper (above) for the stonework but I’ve given in and bought some ready printed paper which I’ll probably re-colour a little.

From the start of this project I’ve had the Lewis’s store on Briggate Leeds in mind; in particular the atmosphere of the restaurant they had in the 50s with its luxurious woodwork and carpet, potted palms and general feeling of warmth and welcome – including, I seem to remember, a small fountain set in front of the reception/cloaks desk.  I also recall their superb high chairs and round tables!  Sadly I’ve been unable to find any pictures old enough of the interior look.  I’ve tried with the room box department store to reflect those memories and feelings with a suitable carpet and striking woodwork, but, sadly no fountain (✿◠‿◠)

The imaginings and memories covered the internals, but for the outside I’m thinking less of the Lewis’s mix of stone and brick and more of the Greco/Roman mausoleum-bathroom tile style stonework.  Perhaps, though Bath stone would be a preferred colouring, I reckon.  We’ll see.


Pillars and kites

theinfill blog, theinfill dolls house blog – 50s department store

Added an edge pillar to each vertical of the opening.
Still thinking about how/if to dress the outside of the box

theinfill blog, theinfill dolls house blog – 50s department store

Made two kites a-flying to give some height and a little more ‘welcome’ to the children’s display

theinfill blog, theinfill dolls house blog – 50s department store

Can’t hide from the decisions about the outside of the box, having got this far with the internals


  • The MDF box kit came with a shaped store front roof-standing name board – a bit curly looking for my taste and not sure if want to use that
  • Also box front trim framing pieces were provided – neither the name board or these edgings seem to be usable if the perspex (also provided) is being used(?)
  • Wall lights at the back are falling off again – drastic decision to be made or just play along with them?  Not exactly earth shattering but v annoying
  • External side walls – use brick papers which are to hand and give least work necessary or make new stonework?
  • Roof cover???

None of these are major (except poss those dratted lights) and may set the tasks aside to simmer for a while and turn to a little something else.