As a consummate fool for DIY, it is difficult for me to pay full price for an object I know I could make. My daughter has an obsession with putting her dollies and stuffed animals to bed. She covers them with little blankies and says "close your eyes" and tells me they are sleeping. So I knew it was time to give her Barbies a proper place to lay their nappy heads.
I shopped fruitlessly for a sturdy looking, affordable bed choice for the dollies, and concluded that I was either going to spend $20 on some sub-par plastic garbage from somewhere in Asia, or $30-$50 for a hand-crafted wooden model. For a doll, this was too much. I knew immediately I had to make it myself.
Upon reading several tutorials about making one out of a cereal box, pencils, & colorful duck tape, I hit the local Michael's Crafts to see what I could find. Lo and behold, in the unfinished wood aisle I came across two shallow wooden boxes that nested perfectly within each other, for under $10 combined!
The important thing is to find a base that is at least 12" long, to fit the height of the Barbies. Even if you do not find two boxes that nest perfectly, if you can find something as wide or slightly wider that you can butt up against the base as a headboard it will still work.
I measured the headboard box (which was 10" square) at the 3 1/2" mark and cut it with a skil saw set on it's shallowest depth to reduce splintering. If you do not have this option, perhaps you could find two shorter plaques to use as the ends, or leave off the footboard.
The next step was to wood-glue the ends on, clamping them with simple kitchen bag clips for a couple hours until the Tacky Glue dried.
See, doesn't Barbie look comfortable? Oh wait, maybe she needs a mattress or something! LOL
After painting the entire thing navy blue (the flash brightened it up) with basic craft paint, I wood-glued a sheet of sequins to the inside of the header & footer for interest, topped with a row of acrylic jewels to fill the gap at the top.
The white you see showing behind the sequins is actually wet glue. It will dry clear in a few hours. I painted hot pink behind the jeweled sheet so anything showing through would match. And because, well, Barbie!
After the paint was dry (and I may go back and add a layer of clear with glitter in it to seal it later, we'll see...) it was time to make this bed a little more comfortable for the fake plastic ladies who would inhabit it. (And maybe someday, Ken if he's lucky. Although I may have to make a couch for him. Or a doghouse. LOL)
I used fabric scraps to make a little mattress and pillows. Using the size of the bed base for a measurement, I cut the pieces 1/2" wider all the way around to allow for the 1/4" seams. I sewed it inside out, leaving a hole in one end to stuff it with batting. Then I flipped it and stuffed it with flat batting. You could use a piece of flat foam or a scrap of bubble wrap if you don't have any batting, lots of things could work. Then I simply sewed the end shut by rolling the open part over once and zig-zag stitching. The pillows were made the same way.
I found a couple blanket scraps I liked and made both a thin navy and a thick pink blanket for the bed. I suppose the thin one could be used as a sheet if your kiddos are old enough to get that concept. I did hem the edges about 1/4" all the way around to give it a finished look. If you are sewing by hand and using fabric that doesn't fray, you could get away with skipping that step and still be fine. make sure to measure a little wider than the bed so the blankies drape nicely over the sides.
At this point you could really do anything with this, paint little designs or stencils on it, embellish it with those wooden painted hearts or flowers they sell in the wood aisle at the craft store, cover it with acrylic jewels, whatever your little girl would like best. I tried to keep it simple because my daughter is still really young, but if your child is older perhaps including them in the process, or making a little quilt together for the bed would be fun.
Hope this tutorial helps save you money and give you the perfect custom option! Join me for other costume and crafting fun at Isles of Day on Facebook!