I am a big fan of handmade toys. This castle and tower are made of felt, embroidery thread, scrap cardboard and an oatmeal canister. I got my felt on sale. My total cost: four dollars! Assuming you already have a 50 cent skein of embroidery floss and the scrap cardboard on hand, you too can make this for almost nothing! How recession friendly is that?!
The lighter colored castle in the photos is about eight years old and has stood up unbelievably well over time. Since our move, I couldn't find our old tower and royal family, so my eldest helped me make some more for these photos. I'll concentrate on the the castle and tower for this tute, and hopefully do a how-to later for the dolls.
You will need about one yard of felt. (If you can afford it, buy real wool felt as opposed to 100% polyester felt. You're going to put a lot of handwork into this, so you want it to stand up to the test of time). All sewing is done with embroidery floss.
Fold the felt in half lengthwise with the fold at the bottom. This will be the bottom of the castle. I used green painter's tape to mark off sections every 6 inches. These green tape lines are where I am going to hand sew the blue seams you see running up the sides of the castle. I'm going to make at least five sections so that once the cardboard is inserted into the top, the castle will have a shape that will allow it to stand up. (The castle folds nearly flat for storage too).
Put a few basting stitches in the two layers of felt to hold them steady and start cutting the turrets all along the top.
You are going to cut five and a half inch sections of cardboard to fit into each pocket you've sewn. The cardboard gets inserted from the top and then the turrets are blanket-stitched closed. (There is no cardboard in the turrets. The double-layer felt stands up fine on it's own).
But before you sew all the tops closed, why not cut out a door and perhaps a window? Cut out a door on both your felt and your scrap 5.5 inch cardboard. Blanket stitch around the open door and then insert your cardboard. It should fit like a glove, but if not, simply trim it.
Save that felt door and piece of cardboard to make a functioning door. Insert the cardboard and blanket stitch all around your door. At the bottom of the door, insert a piece of dowling (I used a colored pencil). Insert the dowling into the bottom of the castle.
Voila! Functioning door to keep unwanted dragons out.
And here's a window for the queen to gaze upon her mighty subjects.
You are all done except for the two open ends of your castle. You are going to overlap the felt and sew this section closed using embroidery thread. Remember that you still need to insert a piece of cardboard from the top, so don't sew through both layers at once. Cut your last scrap of cardboard to fit, insert from the top and sew the turret closed. Don't worry if it is not as wide as your 5.5 inch sections. My castle has one 3.5 inch section and still stands up.
You can embellish with some embroidery on the sides... vines and flowers, a coat of arms, embroidered "jewels" on the turrets. Have fun!
Clean out your canister so that mischievious princess people can hide inside.
Trace around the bottom of your canister. Add about .5 inches to your circle and cut out.
Roll your canister in felt, overlapping a little bit. Allow extra at the top so that you can cut turrets.
Cut turrets at the top and either now (or later) blanket stitch them. Blanket stitch the side seam as shown.
An embroidered ladder would look neat going up the side of the tower.
Update: Check out this castle one awesome blogger made for her son.