This Bunkbed Playhouse was inspired by my children and memories from my childhood. All three girls became sick at the same and needed quiet play in their room. They wanted to turn their bed into a house with windows. Our first incarnation was made from paper I keep on hand for drafting. It was such a hit that the paper one wore out and I set to making one that can handle the amount of love my girls dish out. The decision to make it out of felt came from the memories I have of my big felt board I had as a child. My sisters and I could spend hours creating stories, making the characters and their environment. My girls are no different and are constantly coming up with new things to add.
59 ¼” x 36” Sizes may vary. For your bed, measure from the inside of the headboard to the inside of the ladder. Bottom of the bottom bunk bed to the top of the top bunk’s rail + the length required to tuck in at the top (mine is 3”).
2 yards of 72” felt (1 yard of white and 1 yard of green shown)
8 drapery weights (can be omitted if your kids are chewers)
Thread to match fabrics
Paper and Tape
Marking pen or pencil
Yard stick or tape measure
Multi colored felt squares for decorations
Wind the bobbin with one of the 2 thread choices and keep that felt on the bottom after tacking the weights in place.
Drafting your pattern
Step 1. Start by folding one of your Yards of felt in half width wise. Since our finished height is 36” and we purchased a yard of felt, our height is done. We just need to draft out the width of our fort. Mine measured 59 ¼” so I will measure out from the fold half of that, 29 5/8”. To get a nice parallel line measure out this amount in at least 3 different places along the fold and connect the dots.
Step 2. Cut through both layers on that line. Now your width is done and we are on to the center notch for the upper bunk support and the center slit for the door. If your kids would be happier slipping in and out the sides feel free to leave it out. My kids want a central opening.
Step 3. My support is 1 ½” wide and 3” long. I will want my notch out of the felt to be 2” wide by 6” long (3” for the support + 3” for the tuck). On the fold I will mark down 6” and out 1” (half the total needed) the length of the 6 inch notch.
Step 4. If doing a center slit, make a mark 4” below the 6” mark, a total of 10” from the top. This will be the top of your slit. At the bottom of your fold make a mark to signify the bottom of the slit.
Cut out your notch.
Step 5. Make you window template. I wanted my windows to be 11”x11” so I taped 2 sheets of paper together and folded diagonally and trim off the excess (old school origami style).
Place your window template on you fort and find a visually appealing place for your window and measure how far from center it is and how far from the bottom it is so you can place it in the same place on the other side. Mine is 8” from center and 13” from the bottom.
Step 6. Trace around the window template and then fold it half and draw the center pane lines both vertically and horizontally.
Step 7. Open your felt and lay it flat. Connect the two marks you made on your center fold for you door slit. Then measure over from the door mark and up from the bottom for your second window. Trace around your template and mark out the panes.
Now we are ready to sew!
Step 1. The first thing we are going to do is to attach the drapery weights on the back side (not the side we have been drawing on) to all four corners, to each side of the notch out, and to each side of the bottom of the door slits. The weights make tucking the top in easier and keep the bottom just taught enough. Attach the weights according to package instructions. I (using the same colored bobbin and thread) just zig- zagged them in place. Keeping your weights far enough from the edge as to easily get your presser foot around while sewing the edges together.
Step 2. Once that is complete you can lay out your second yard of felt and place your first yard on top, sandwiching the weights between the two. Using safety pins, pin the two layers together, working out any wrinkles and air bubbles as you go. Even though felt has the natural ability to stick to its self, there is a lot of felt to cram through the throat of the machine, which is also why I used safety pins rather than straight pins. OUCH!
Step 3. With the colored bobbin now loaded proceed to sew (keeping the colored felt on the bottom) along the edge of the top layer using a longish (4mm) straight stitch. You will want to encase the weights by sewing around them as you encounter them. When you encounter the line you made for the central door slit you will want to sew up one side and down the other leaving at least a ¼” gap between the two. I also used a zig-zag stitch at the top of the door slit for reinforcement.
Step 4. Straight stitch around the outside of your windows and down through the pane lines. I do this all in one step so that I just keep going around in a figure 8, eventually getting at least a double line of stitching on the outside of the window.
Step 5. To reinforce the window panes sew over the straight stitches with a triple zig-zag set at the widest width and a length of 2mm.
Step 6. Now all the sewing is done you can remove the pins and trim your bottom layer to match the top.
Cut your central door slit open, by cutting carefully between the seams down to, but NOT THROUGH your reinforcement.
Step 7. Cut out your window panes. You can just plunge in pointy scissors or fold the center of each pane and snip an opening, then just cut along the edge of your sewing all the way around.
Felt just naturally sticks to felt so the fun part is coming up with all the decorations. You are only limited by your imagination! My girls wanted mermaids, fish, hearts, and flowers. They keep coming up with new stuff every day!
Some of my first and most favorite memories are my mother teaching me to sew and crochet. Thanks to my library card I taught myself how to draft patterns and gobbled up fashion history as if it were food. I had to shelf my passion to make it at my 9 to 5 (that turned into soooo much more). Now, as the mother of 3 ages 6 and under, my creativity has reawakened. I am inspired daily by my girls. They show me the meaning of perseverance, the joy/magic of discovery, and the beauty of trial and error.
Tutorial & Photography © 2012 Lija Silvers. Contact
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