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Walk-in closet with clothes

Want to make your own clothes with hangers? Scroll to the bottom of the post for a tutorial!


I have always loved the idea of closets in dollhouses. Usually mini closets are bump-outs, like the Timberbrook closet kit I used way back when in my Orchid. But adding the laundry closet to the Victorianna’s bathroom gave me an opportunity to build a real, walk-in closet in the bedroom on the other side of the wall.

I forgot to take an establishing shot before I started on this project, but here’s what the room looked like before I added hardwoods and started wallpapering.

I made a clothing rod out of two Northeastern Scale Lumber brackets and a dowel. I got this idea from Greenleaf forum member LadyGunn who made 1:12 curtain rods this way.

Initially, the dowel was very tight in the holes. I actually snapped two brackets in half trying to cram them in. (Good thing these come in packs of four!) It loosened up as I was playing with it, but I still decided not to paint the rod, just so added paint thickness wouldn’t interfere with assembly.

I made a shelf to go on top of the rod. The hanger and overalls are a Mark Richards 3D sticker that I stumbled upon at Tuesday Morning. They only had one packet, which included four dainty hangers made out of wire. I looked online and tried another local Tuesday Morning but couldn’t find any more of these.

The closet door is a Houseworks door, positioned with the trim on the inside. I added basswood to the outer edges so it fits snugly in the opening. I’ll add a piece at the top to close in the closet, and then add wallpaper and casing around the edge of the door. But it’ll be next to impossible to rearrange things in the closet once it’s all glued in, so I have to do everything I need to inside before finishing the outside.

And that means making some clothes! I agonized over how to do this. I wanted a realistic looking closet for the tween girl whose room this is, but sewing is not my forte. Then last week someone asked about making clothes on the Yahoo half scale group and Carol Jones posted about making dresses out of printouts from the web. And I thought, hey, I can manage that!

I started by searching for pictures of girls’ dresses and tops, and stumbled upon joules.com, which has really cute clothes and good sized pictures of both the front and the back. I also got some from gap.com — those are the ones with wooden hangers. I thought I would be able to cut out the hanger and just add a hook, but it didn’t work out, so most of the clothes in my closet are Joules brand.

Initially I tried sizing them to the actual size of a half scale girl, using some kind of voodoo math that made sense in my head, and they came out way too small. The hangers from the Mark Richards stickers are .75″ wide so I ended up sizing the clothes with the shoulders slightly larger than that. Some of them (like this dog sweater) are possibly too big for a half scale tween, but these are never coming out of the closet, so it’s all about the illusion!

Since I couldn’t find any more to buy, I made my own hangers out of safety wire. The first few were horrible but I got better with practice. (Scroll to the bottom of this post for step by step instructions for the clothes and the hangers.)

When I put my rod with clothes in the closet to see how it looked, the clothes bumped into the back wall, so pushing the brackets all the way to the back of the closet wasn’t going to work. I made a new shelf with a 1/4″ spacer at the back.

Here are my finished clothes. I included two of the nice hangers at the end with nothing on them, but once I got the hang of it (heh) mine were almost as good! Before gluing in the rod I tightened the tops of the hangers with needle nose pliers so they can’t easily fall off the rod.

I didn’t want to glue the rod and shelf together outside the closet because then it would have been challenging to get the whole thing into the closet. Instead, I first glued the shelf to the back of the closet. Then I put in the rod, with glue on the top of the brackets to attach to the underside of the shelf, and on the sides of the brackets to attach to the walls.

The crates in the photo above are 3D printed, from Shapeways. I plan to paint them and fill them with stuff, and then will probably glue them onto the shelf before I finish assembling the closet.

Finally, I added a hook to the inside of the closet door. This is a Chrysnbon 1:12 hook, but it works fine as an oversized back-of-the-door hook in half scale.

Not an easy picture to take! Luckily there’s a window right here, so you can see into the closet pretty well.

Here’s a hint of how it’ll look with wallpaper (the window hole isn’t cut out yet).


Tutorial: Miniature Clothes & Hangers

To make clothes:

1) Search online to find pictures of clothes you like. Look for websites that show both the front and the back. Most of the pictures I used came from joules.com, but I’m sure there are tons of other options.

2) Resize the pictures with Photoshop or other image editing software. First I changed the resolution to 300 dpi for better print quality. Then I scaled the image down so the shoulder width was a little more than .75″ (the width of my hangers). I think this is slightly larger than half scale hangers should be, but they look fine to me and anything smaller would have been hard to work with.

(The black line in the screenshot above is .75″ wide; I used this as a guide during resizing.)

3) Print the graphics (preferably on photo quality ink jet paper) and spray with matte sealer. My ink cartridge is losing its mojo, so I ended up with some stripes and funky colors, but for this purpose it’s totally fine.

4) Cut out the front and back of a piece of clothing. Open areas (neck, bottom, wrists) should be cut right at the line. For everything else, leave a small amount of extra paper. This will be folded under and glued to make a seam. Anywhere the fabric “turns a corner” — like the curve of the shoulder, or a gathered waist on a dress — cut a little notch so your folds can accommodate this.

5) If the front image has a piece of the inside back peeking out at the neck, cut this out and glue it to the inside neck area of the back image.

   

6) Fold the tabs. Using a toothpick, spread glue on the back image’s tabs and glue to the front image’s tabs. Depending on the style of clothing you might need to insert a hanger before gluing.

7) Trim any sharp corners or white edges where the back of the paper is showing. You can also manipulate the paper to shape the garment, add folds and wrinkles, and glue on ribbon or other findings to make it look more real. Since mine will be at the back of a closet you can barely see into, I didn’t get too fancy.

To make hangers:

1) Use nails to make a triangular jig. I used one of my “good” hangers from the Mark Richards sticker pack as a guide to figure out the spacing. The side nails are .75″ apart and the top nail is .5″ from each side nail.

2) Wrap a piece of wire around the two side nails, squeezing with needle nose pliers as needed to get a tight fit. The tails should meet underneath the top nail. To remove the wire from the jig, you might need to wiggle the wire out of position a little to get it over the nail heads.

3) Where the two tails meet, grasp tightly and twist 2-3 times. (In a lot of my attempts I mangled the hanger at this point, and tossed it. Easier to start over than try to straighten out bent wire…) Snip one of the tails with wire cutters.

4) Wrap the remaining tail around your clothing rod to form the hook.

5) Snip off the end. Ta da!

7 Comments

  1. Thanks for the tutorial. Your closet looks so realistic! I really enjoy reading your blog.

  2. This is fabulous! Thank you for sharing! I love the dress hanging on the back of the door. Usually dolls clothes seem just so out of scale in closets, I love this!

  3. Those clothes are cute! I’m going to try some of those though I also want to try making a few with fabric. I’ve made 1″ scale but this made me realize – my half scale lady has nothing to wear in her house!

  4. Thank you so much for that great post and fantastic tutorial. Now I have a great reason to get a new house kit to add a built-in closet! :)

  5. Thanks for the tutorial – it is really helpful. Maybe a great idea for the next halfscale swap too ;) Love the clothes, you have achieved a very realistic effect and its a lovely detail to have in the bedroom.

  6. Bravo! Great idea for the clothing! I just love it :D

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