Thursday, September 5, 2013

American Girl Playset: The Thrift Version

My girls are absolutely bananas about American Girl dolls and all the endless accessories and clothing you can buy to outfit your doll and her world. I shudder to think how much money we have spent at this store over the last three years! But it is wholesome and imaginative play and I would much rather have my kids playing with dolls than many other things that they could be interested in. However, all the little purchases of an outfit here and a playset there add up and it is time to draw the line: no more American Girl purchases except for very special occasions, like birthdays and Christmas.

I expected disappointment from my girls, but I underestimated them. Instead of pouting about not getting more stuff, they decided to use their creativity and resourcefulness and make some stuff of their own. They borrowed my laptop, logged onto my Pinterest account and began to peruse the many wonderful DIY American Girl ideas and tutorials that exist in blogland.

And here is where the thrift comes in. If you've been reading along for any length of time, you know that I always comb the arts and crafts sections of thrift shops for supplies. My cabinet contains beautiful ribbons, trims, laces, vintage pipe cleaners, wood pieces, paints, fabrics, threads, and so much more. Additionally, I save little things that I think might be useful for making things, like bottle caps and lids of various sizes, and weird plastic and foam pieces that come in packaging. I know it sounds like I might be a hoarder, but I promise you I am talking about a baggie full of these things, not boxes and boxes full! My daughters had a ball pulling out some of my things and brainstorming what they could use them for--my older daughter exclaimed that her head was exploding with ideas!

Here is the couch (inspired by this tutorial found on the AG Doll Play blog) that my older daughter made with fabric from my stash, an empty clementine crate, and trim that I thrifted.

I just promised I wasn't a hoarder but I freely confess that in the past, I've had a hard time actually using some of my vintage notions. It is only recently that I have learned to let go and enjoy using all the little beauties that I've so carefully collected over the years.

And here are a pair of doll slippers she made, also inspired by something she saw online (possibly this).

Any Janie and Jack fans out there? If so, I'm sure you'll recognize the little ribbons that used to come on every tag--well, of course I couldn't throw those away!

And I've saved the best for last. We all fell head over heels in love with the art studio also pictured on the AG Doll Play blog, which is packed full of the most creative ideas for making things for the dolls.

We copied the same structure (scored foam core covered with scrapbooking paper, in this case leftover AG paper from another project) for the walls, as well as the "Art Studio" banner and string of artwork.  My daughter enjoyed making the art. If you look closely, you will see that the middle painting was awarded a blue ribbon! (This is another idea borrowed from the original model, although that version utilized the "Best in Show" blue ribbon from the AG dog show set, and we couldn't find ours. We made do by gluing together several thrifted vintage blue foil Christmas stars and some ribbon--I think it is almost as nice!)

The art stand was also thrifted; it was originally a recipe stand and I paid around 10 cents for it. The trash can (don't you love the trash piling up inside the receptacle? My daughter thought we needed to be very realistic!) is a pencil holder from the dollar store. The trim on the walls, as well as the cording on both garlands were both thrifted vintage sewing notions. The poster on the wall behind the stand is actually a ticket stub from a small doll museum in Paris that I kept as a souvenir of my visit. The little ceramic cat was painted years ago by my daughter at a party.

On top of the pretty blue art cabinet (a box leftover from a Melissa & Doug craft) is the Best in Show trophy from the AG Dog Show set, a repurposed cap holding paintbrushes, and a few jars holding art supplies. The tall glass container in the back is holding a homemade colored pencil made from a toothpick--more are in the process of being made.

On the cabinet shelves are a stack of vintage Paris images that will be used by the dolls for inspiration--these came from a wall calendar my sister gave me a few years ago. The bowl of thrifted wooden apples came from our doll house, as did the little vintage house, also thrifted.

The drawing table is made from two thrifted candleholders (for table legs), scrapbook paper and more thrifted trim. I believe the flowers are also from the Dog Show set, and my daughter made the pencil and still life.

All in all, this playset cost about $2 to make. All I purchased for this was the foam core backdrop and the trash can. Everything else came out of our craft cabinet or our doll play collection. And we had such a fun time making it! Thank you to the super-creative folks behind the AG Doll Play blog for these wonderful ideas. We are now working on our second playset--one we thought of all by ourselves!!--photos to come soon.

1 comment:

  1. So cute! I loved making miniatures when I was younger, and these ones are so creative!