miniature tutorial

How to Make Miniature No-Sew Shopping Bags

With Earth Day this past month and an effort to be more eco-friendly, I knew a miniature reusable shopping bag was in order!

This dollhouse miniature no-sew shopping bags tutorial couldn’t be easier, and you can make them in any color or style you choose! So, let’s say farewell to plastic grocery bags and get started!

Learn how to make dollhouse miniature no-sew shopping bags

What You Need to Make Miniature No-Sew Shopping Bags

I don’t know about you, but I love no-sew projects, and this one is SO easy that it’s perfect for beginners. It’s also very inexpensive to make! Here’s a little more about the materials I used:

Materials to make miniature no-sew shopping bags

Lightweight Cotton Fabric

Since these bags don’t require sewing, I actually like a lighter weight fabric for this project. I used a light linen color, but you can use any color or pattern you like! Just stick with thinner, natural materials – I haven’t tried synthetics and don’t know how well the glue would hold for those.

Tacky Glue

As I’ve mentioned before, this Quick Dry Tacky Glue by Aleene’s is my favorite and it dries pretty quickly with the fabric in this project. Also, fun fact: you can bond your fabric with glue almost instantly with a quick pass of the iron. And I do mean quick! Just don’t let it get too hot or you’ll have a singed, sticky mess.

Suede Cord

For the bag handles, I used 2.6mm suede cord that comes from the jewelry and beading section at the craft store. I love the way it looks, but you could substitute ribbon or other cording if you prefer. However, I’d stick to something that’s flat rather than rounded.

Craft Wood

I used little unfinished wood rectangles that came in an assortment from the craft store. They’re very thin and a little rough out of the bag, so give them a quick sand before you get started. The piece I used measures 1-1/2″ long by 3/4″ tall. However, this project affords a lot of flexibility in terms of size, so you can use a different sized base if you like. I’ll give you tips for calculating the measurements below.

Rotary Cutter

This isn’t required – you can use fabric scissors, but I like the rotary with a steel-edged ruler to get clean, straight cuts on the fabric.

Fabric Transfer Paper

If you want your bag to have a logo or graphic, you’ll want to use fabric transfer paper that you print on your inkjet printer. I like the Avery Printable Heat Transfer Paper for Light Fabrics and use it for a wide variety of projects.

Fill your miniature shopping bag with groceries and other goods from the market

Tips for Making No-Sew Shopping Bags for Your Dollhouse

Ironing

You’ll need an iron to press the hems on the fabric and to iron on the transfer (if you’re using one). Any average household iron will do, but if you like making miniatures, I highly recommend the Clover Mini Iron. This makes working with small pieces SO much easier. And fewer burned digits. Trust me.

Check the instructions on the transfer paper for what iron setting you should use. Generally speaking, though, you should use a dry setting (no steam) and don’t let it get too hot – this can cause the fabric and the transfer to discolor.

Mirror Your Graphics

If you decide you want to include a graphic on your bag, make sure you remember to reverse/mirror the image before printing it. That way, when you iron it on, it’ll be facing the right way.

Resizing

For this project, I’m giving specific measurements for the wood, fabric and suede cord; however, you can definitely resize your bag as desired by measuring your wood base to calculate the size of the fabric you’ll need:

Length of fabric = (2 x Length of wood base) + (2 x Width of wood base) + 1/2″

Width of fabric = Desired height of finished bag + 1/4″

So, for example: If your wood base measures 1″ long by 1/2″ tall, your fabric will need to be (2 x 1″) + (2 x 1/2″) + 1/2″ = 3-1/2″ in length. And if you want the bag to stand at 1-1/2″ tall, you’ll need the fabric to be 1-3/4″ tall.

This formula doesn’t give you a lot of extra fabric to work with, so if you’re feeling unsure, add another 1/2″ in length and you can trim it down when you’re ready to assemble the bag. Better to have a little extra than not enough!

Centering the Iron-On Transfer

Getting the placement of the graphic just right is a little tricky. I just eyeballed it, but the best way to test the placement is to pick up your rectangle of fabric and hold the unhemmed short end near the center of the long edge of the base. Then wrap it around the base fairly tightly. The hemmed short end should overlap the unhemmed short end just slightly. You can take a pencil and make a very light mark near the center of the front panel to help you when you place your transfer.

How to Make Miniature No-Sew Shopping Bags

How to Make Miniature No-Sew Shopping Bags

Yield: 1
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Active Time: 10 minutes
Additional Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Difficulty: Beginner

Learn how to make no-sew shopping bags for your dollhouse!

Materials

  • Lightweight cotton fabric
  • Tacky glue
  • Craft wood - 1-1/2" by 3/4"
  • 2-3 mm suede cord
  • Optional: Fabric heat transfer paper

Tools

  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Self-healing mat
  • Rotary fabric cutter
  • Iron
  • Optional: Inkjet printer

Instructions

  1. Take your wood base and glue it onto a piece of the fabric. Allow to dry for a few minutes and then trim around the edges with scissors. Repeat for the other side of the wood base.


  2. Lay your fabric out on a self-healing mat and cut a rectangle with your ruler and rotary cutter measuring 5" long and 1-1/2" tall. If you're resizing this project, please refer to my tips above for calculating the dimensions.


  3. Heat up your iron and move to a heat-safe surface. Fold the fabric of one short side over about 1/8" and press with the iron. Also fold and press 1/8" on both long sides. Once these are firmly pressed, run a small bead of tacky glue under each fold and hold in place until the glue begins to set.



    To reduce the bulk a little when assembling the bag, I leave one of the short ends unhemmed. You really won't see this when you have items in the bag, but you can hem all edges if you'd prefer.
  4. If you're not using an iron-on transfer, skip to Step 6.
    Print your graphic (make sure it's mirrored) on your inkjet on the heat transfer paper. Use the best quality settings you can. The graphic I printed for this project is about 1" wide and 5/8" tall. Cut it down to size, leaving a small border around the graphic. You don't have to get very close when cutting it because it will be transparent when you iron it on.


  5. With the hemmed edges facing down and the unhemmed edge on your right, iron on the transfer in the center of the rectangle (see tip above for placing the graphic correctly). Apply even pressure and make sure to go over it several times. Go over the edges carefully, too. Allow this to cool a few minutes, then carefully peel away the paper backing. If the backing isn't coming away clean and the transfer isn't sticking, you need to put it back and iron some more!


  6. Apply tacky glue to the side of your fabric-covered wood base. Start at the center of one of the long edges and apply a thin bead all the way to one of the short edges. Start with the unhemmed short edge and carefully align the bottom of your long hemmed edge with the bottom of the base and wrap it around the side. Wipe away any excess glue as you go.


  7. Continue to apply tacky glue along the front and opposite side of the base and press firmly to adhere. When the fabric is wrapped around three sides, add glue to the back of the base and along the hemmed short edge.


  8. Carefully press the hemmed edge in place over top of the unhemmed edge, making sure the top and bottom are aligned neatly. You can clamp this in place while it dries. You now have a clean, finished seam at the back of the bag.


  9. Cut two 4" lengths of suede cord. You can make these longer or shorter if you'd like, but I think 4" creates a nice handle length. Before applying glue, see where you want to place the handles. I adhered mine just on either side of my Farmers Market graphic. Apply a very thin bead of glue on the length of cord that will touch the bag and clamp in place to dry.



    Once dry, curve the cord into a U-shape and glue the other end down in place. Clamp to dry, then repeat on the back side of the bag.
  10. Once all the glue has dried, you have a fun little reusable shopping bag you can load up with mini groceries! To make mine look extra full, I placed a little bit of polyfill at the bottom of the bag and then added the groceries on top of it.

Notes

© 2021 Erika Pitera, The Petite Provisions Co.

This tutorial is for personal use only. Please do not repost it without permission. Sharing a link with attribution is fine!

Please feel free to tag me on Facebook or Instagram @petiteprovisionsco with your version of these miniature shopping bags, and let me know if you have any questions!

Halloween Luminarias and Brick Walkway Tutorial – Part 1

Dollhouse Miniature Halloween Luminarias and Brick Walkway Tutorial by The Petite Provisions Co.

Luminarias are traditional Mexican Christmas lanterns made from a tea light or candle set in sand inside a paper bag. Also known as farolitos (which translates to “little lanterns”), these festive lanterns became particularly popular in New Mexico. Over the years, they’ve grown quite popular in America beyond just Christmas celebrations, and nowadays you’ll often see them set out at Halloween to illuminate those October nights.

I’ve always really liked the soft glow they create, so I decided to try my hand at creating some in miniature scale for Halloween!

In order to hide the wires from the battery-operated light set, I created the brick walkway, and I’m thrilled with the overall result.

This tutorial uses really simple materials – some of which you can get on the cheap at the dollar store – so I hope you enjoy!

Basic Tools & Materials:

Most crafters are likely to have the items on this list on hand.

  • Acrylic paint in shades of red, brown, black, beige
  • Paint brushes
  • X-Acto blade or other sharp utility knife
  • Aluminum foil
  • Quick dry tacky glue (I like Aleene’s)
  • Masking tape

Specialty Materials:

These materials are more specific to this particular project.

  • Set of LED lights from the Dollar Tree
  • Foam board from the Dollar Tree
  • Awl
  • Bone folder or ball stylus
  • Low temperature hot glue gun – these are made specifically for using with foam (mine is made by Woodland Scenics)
  • Templates (optional)

A quick note about the lights and foam board:

For this project, I picked up a set of battery-operated orange LED lights from the Dollar Tree. They also had purple for Halloween.

For only $1 per set, they are perfect for this project! Each light set has 10 lights, but of course you can use other types of lights if you don’t have access to a Dollar Tree. You’ll just have to adjust the overall measurements for the walkway to accommodate the number of lights and/or length of the wires.

Safety Note – Fire Hazard: Because the luminarias are made of paper, it’s important that the lights you use do not run hot. LEDs are a good choice for this reason, but for safety’s sake, whether you use the LEDs or another kind of light, don’t leave them on and unattended for any length of time.

I also really like the foam board from Dollar Tree for projects like this because it’s super cheap, and it’s easy to peel the paper off. Again, you can use different brands, but I’ve found the Dollar Tree foam board is easier to work with.

Dollhouse Miniature Halloween Luminarias and Brick Walkway Tutorial by The Petite Provisions Co.

How to Make the Miniature Brick Walkway – Part 1

The finished piece measures about 4″ wide and 8″ long to accommodate 10 luminarias.

Dollhouse Miniature Halloween Luminarias and Brick Walkway Tutorial by The Petite Provisions Co.

If you’re going to use my templates, go ahead and print them out so we can get started!

Get the Brick Walkway Template here.

Let’s start by preparing our foam pieces for the brick walkway since this is the base for everything. You will need to cut 6 pieces that measure 1″ wide by 8″ long (the wall pieces) and 2 pieces that are 4″ wide by 8″ long (the walkway pieces). It’s important that you use a fresh, sharp X-Acto blade so you don’t rip and tear the foam.

Take one of the 4″ by 8″ walkway pieces and cut a hole measuring 2″ wide by 6″ long – this leaves 1″ around on all sides.

Dollhouse Miniature Halloween Luminarias and Brick Walkway Tutorial by The Petite Provisions Co.

Peel the paper off both sides of each foam piece.

Next, let’s add our brick pattern! You can use my templates as a guideline, or you can create your own designs. I made my bricks about 3/4″ long and 3/8″ wide. Start with 2 of your 1″ by 8″ wall pieces. These will be the top layer of the brick walls on either side of the walkway.

I used a bone folder to create my brick patterns, but you can achieve the same effect with a ball stylus.

Mark the brick pattern on these two wall pieces, and make sure you don’t forget the sides! You can ignore the bottom of these strips, since you won’t be able to see them.

Dollhouse Miniature Halloween Luminarias and Brick Walkway Tutorial by The Petite Provisions Co.

For the remaining 4 of your 1″ by 8″ strips, you only need to create the brick pattern on the sides. The easiest way to do this is take a pencil and mark every 3/4″ next to a ruler, then go back with your bone folder and create the vertical brick lines. You’ll want to offset each row of bricks, so stagger these measurements slightly to create that effect.

Dollhouse Miniature Halloween Luminarias and Brick Walkway Tutorial by The Petite Provisions Co.

Next, crumple up a piece of aluminum foil into a ball. You’ll use this to add texture to all of your foam pieces. Lightly press the foil into the surface of each wall piece in a random pattern. Don’t forget the sides, but again, you can skip the bottoms since you won’t be seeing them once they’re glued together.

Dollhouse Miniature Halloween Luminarias and Brick Walkway Tutorial by The Petite Provisions Co.

Now we’ll repeat the process for the brick walkway. You’ll notice that I didn’t create the brick pattern all the way to each edge because those areas will be covered up by the walls. You will, however, want to create the vertical brick lines on all four edges.

Again, texture the top surface and all four sides with your aluminum foil ball.

Now, we’ll work with our last foam piece – this was definitely the trickiest part of the project and required a lot of trial and error to figure it out! You’ll need your light set handy so you can measure and test the placement of the wires. I created this last layer to conceal the wires from the lights, and it worked out quite well.

Dollhouse Miniature Halloween Luminarias and Brick Walkway Tutorial by The Petite Provisions Co.

This design worked for the 10-light set I used, but if you’re using anything different, I’d recommend testing out the placement and measurements on a piece of scrap paper first.

Each light is placed approximately 1-1/2″ apart, starting about 1″ in from the bottom, and about in the middle of the 1″ strip on the left and right, so take a pencil and mark these spots on your foam base.

Once you’re happy with the placement of your marks, take your awl and carefully punch a hole through. Make sure the holes are big enough in diameter for your lights to fit through. In fact, now’s a good time to test fit your lights and make sure that you have enough wire to work for this pattern. Follow the photo above for placement: your first light (the one closest to the battery pack) will go in the bottom right hole, then you’ll go across to the bottom left hole with the second light, etc.

If everything fits so far, now we’ll cut out the places for the wires to run. I did these cuts freehand, but the channels are about 1/4″ in width. If you follow my photo above, you should have enough room to tuck the wires away.

Dollhouse Miniature Halloween Luminarias and Brick Walkway Tutorial by The Petite Provisions Co.

Now, we need to punch our holes through the brick walkway and the six wall pieces. You’ll want to make sure everything lines up properly so the lights can be inserted from the bottom piece all the way up through the walkway and the three layers of brick wall.

At this stage you might want to dry fit again, so here’s what I would recommend: grab some masking or painter’s tape and tape your brick walkway to your base. Then, stack three wall pieces on either side and tape those in place, too. Now, you can insert your lights, pressing the wires into the channels you cut out, and make sure everything is looking good before we start to glue pieces in place. Now, remove the lights and tape, and on to the next step!

It’s really important that if you use a glue gun, make sure it’s a low temperature glue gun made specifically for use with foam. Foam does NOT like regular hot glue, in my experience. If you don’t have this, just use tacky glue (and wait patiently for it to dry)!

Assemble all of the pieces with thin lines of glue between each layer. If you’re not careful, you can end up with thick globs that create unsightly gaps between the layers. Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything. 🙂

The glue gun isn’t particularly forgiving, so make sure you get everything lined up quickly. Or, if you want a little more freedom to make adjustments, just use the tacky glue since it takes a lot longer to set up, giving you time to work with it.

Once everything is glued in place and fully dried, see if you want to add any more texture with the foil. If not, we can start painting! A few tips on painting on foam: you’re not going to get full coverage in every tiny little nook and cranny unless you’re very heavy handed with the acrylic paint, and we don’t want that! Go for one or two lighter coats instead, and don’t worry, our dark washes will help fill in some of the spots your initial coats of paint might miss.

Dollhouse Miniature Halloween Luminarias and Brick Walkway Tutorial by The Petite Provisions Co.

I started with an application of a greige color called Driftwood. I painted everything this color, but I especially made sure it got into all the “mortar” lines. Let dry.

Next, we’ll work on our actual brick color. I blended together Alizarin Red with Raw Sienna for a nice brick shade, but you’re free to create whatever color you want here! Brush your brick color over every surface, but this time, don’t concentrate on the mortar lines. Again, let dry thoroughly.

Dollhouse Miniature Halloween Luminarias and Brick Walkway Tutorial by The Petite Provisions Co.

See what I mean about the paint not getting into every crevice? But that’s exactly what we want! Next, I mixed up a dark wash. This is a VERY watered down mixture of black and Burnt Umber. You’ll brush this on pretty liberally, and you’ll see it pool up in some places and fill in those cracks and crevices. Keep a clean paper towel handy so you can blot up the excess – you can always add more dark wash, but you can’t take it away once it’s dry!

Dollhouse Miniature Halloween Luminarias and Brick Walkway Tutorial by The Petite Provisions Co.

Here, you can see the wash hasn’t dried yet, but look at how it’s bringing the texture alive! Once you’re happy with your dark wash and it’s completely dry, we’re going to dry brush on some highlights. I used the same color from before, Driftwood, with just a touch of white added to lighten it up.

When you dry brush, you want to make sure your bristles barely have any paint on them and use a very light brushing motion. The highlights give the brick even more texture and visual appeal, but go easy on the dry brushing and don’t apply it everywhere. Trust me.

Dollhouse Miniature Halloween Luminarias and Brick Walkway Tutorial by The Petite Provisions Co.

Once everything is dry, you can go back and add a little more dark wash here or there, or add some extra highlights if you so desire. You can even add a few little mossy spots like I did. Just take some PVA glue and model railroad foliage and apply it (sparingly) in some of the crevices and mortar lines.

Time to add the lights! We’re nearing the finish line for the walkway!

Dollhouse Miniature Halloween Luminarias and Brick Walkway Tutorial by The Petite Provisions Co.

I used my low-temp glue gun again here to secure my wires in place, but you could tape them down instead, if you’d rather. My goal here was to ensure the wires stayed flat, and it worked out really well. The walkway is completely flush with the tabletop.

Dollhouse Miniature Halloween Luminarias and Brick Walkway Tutorial by The Petite Provisions Co.

This should give you an idea of how much of your lights should be sticking through at the top.

Our walkway is done! The hard part is over, and now all that’s left is creating our luminarias. Since this is already so long, I’m splitting the tutorial into two parts, so check back tomorrow for the instructions for making our little Halloween lanterns!

Dollhouse Miniature Halloween Luminarias and Brick Walkway Tutorial by The Petite Provisions Co.

If you decide to try this mini project and have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to ask in the comments below or contact me. I hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial so far!

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