My Material Life

Miniature Felt A-Frame Cabin With Zipper Closure

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This project sprang from an idea I had to build an A-frame shelter or grotto for a St. Francis statue in my yard. While I was searching online for A-frame structure ideas, I ran across an image of a ski cabin for dolls from the 1960s like the one shown below.

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Though St. Francis still has no shelter, that ski cabin has inspired me to make two miniature A-frame cabins, the first in cardboard and now this one in felt.

The cardboard version was really practice for this felt one. I knew when I saw that old doll toy that I wanted to create a felt version that would close with a zipper. It’s fun to think of a shelter that’s created by zipping it together, but using a zipper (and the fact that this A-frame is an equilateral triangle) also means that this house folds flat into thirds for storage.

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The felt version is a lot like the cardboard version, but this time I used book binder’s board sandwiched between an outer and inner layer of felt in contrasting colors. Each color of felt was cut in one long piece, with an additional 1/2 inch on either short end of the outer piece for the zipper application. I initially thought I could use plastic instead of cardboard for a rigid bottom and sides, but the plastic pieces I cut weren’t rigid enough. In the end I used the book binder’s board because I already had it on hand. Any rigid kind of art board should work. I didn’t use corrugated cardboard because I wanted something thinner, but even corrugated cardboard should work if you cut your felt with some extra space to accommodate a thicker board.

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I cut each piece of felt (one outer and one inner) and three separate pieces of board (though the sketch indicates plastic) according to the measurements shown above. Keep in mind that your felt must be cut with more fabric extending beyond the edges of the window you have cut in the board it is covering (and of course, the window is optional). I stitched the two long edges of felt together first, about an 1/8″ away from the edge. Next I marked two stitching lines across the felt piece by finding the center (make a fold in half across the short side) and measuring out 7-1/4″ on either side. I stitched across one of those lines (doesn’t matter which), then inserted the board for the bottom of the A-frame and stitched across the other line to enclose the center piece of board.

After inserting the other two pieces of board I was ready to tackle the zipper.

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Begin by separating your zipper. Mine was too long for what I needed, but not to worry – I’ll show you how I dealt with that later. Place each side of your zipper right side together with the outer edge of your felt piece. Be sure you attach the bottom edge of your zipper to your felt. Just to be safe, pin each piece and then put your zipper together to see if you’ve got it right before you stitch. It should look like this …

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Now you’ll need to cut off your excess zipper tape. Separate your zipper again and cut each top piece of tape right at the edge, between two of the teeth. Finish the edge with a product like Fray Check or Fabri-Tac.

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Use a zipper foot to stitch your zipper to each top short edge of the outer piece of felt.

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Next, make a few hand stitches (I used embroidery floss) between the first two teeth on either side of the top of the zipper tape, so the pull doesn’t go flying off. And don’t worry if it does fly off before you get to this step. You can get that pull back on if you try. I know because I’ve done it.

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The last thing I did was to hand stitch (with three strands of embroidery floss using a running stitch) a line down either side of the zipper tape and around the window edges.

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Did you like the fireplace? I cut it out from a magazine and gave it a little shape with a cardboard tube and straw. I was able to scrounge most everything else from things we already had (dollhouse sofa) or that I’d already made (yellow throw). The only thing I bought new was the deer, 40% off at Michaels today 🙂

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The background is black foam core with chalk. Very last minute after I’d tried a lot of other things. I love black foam core. I wonder where I can find some more …

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