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Thursday, January 25

Thatched Dollhouse Roof Tutorial

If you want to thatch the roof of your dollhouse for an authentic English look, then I recommend thatching with faux fur. There are many other methods for achieving a thatched look but this method seems to be the most realistic looking. I learned this technique from Deb Roberts.

First, you need to buy the faux fur. I recommend buying 2 yards for a medium size cottage. It's best to have some material left over than to end up short. You also want to have extra fabric for any mistakes. Remember, you might not find that same fur next time you go to the fabric store.

You can get the fur in any color and texture you want, depending on the type of thatch your looking to achieve.

As an example, I’m going to thatch the roof of the Glencroft Dollhouse by Greenleaf. I bought light brown faux fur.

You first want to make templates of your roof. If your roof is already in place, then you need to use paper and crease it along every edge of roof panel to transfer the roof shape onto it. Cut along the creased edges with scissors. If your roof panels are still off your house, you can trace them directly onto fur.

Label each and every template with the name of the roof panel it belongs to. You also need to label each side of each panel with a FRONT and BACK mark so you don’t position your templates wrong side up on the fur.

Turn the fur over to the back side where the batting is visible and trace out your roof panel, whether your using the actual wood panel or paper template, and cut them out. You can trace using a fabric pencil or chalk so that its visible on the dark fur.

Make sure you position your template so that the side you marked FRONT is facing down on the batting. That way your template will be furry on the correct side. Also you want the fur grain to run in the same downwards direction on every panel. You don't want any of them running upwards or sideways because you won't be able to comb it down correctly and you’ll have a hairy roof rather than a thatched one.

If it's confusing for you to do all of this with the fur facing down, you can always place your panels on the fur side instead and cut them out that way. The only difference is that you won't be able to trace them and the side marked FRONT must face up towards you so the panel is furry on the correct side. Getting the fur on the correct side of the panel and running in the right direction is the trickiest part to this whole process because it can be a little confusiing.

It's going to be very difficult to cut fur to the exact shape and size of your templates because it's such a tricky fabric. The goal is to always cut it a little larger than the template so your not short. It doesn’t have to be exact. You will cut it to a perfect fit once it's on it's corresponding roof panel. If you decided to place your template on the furry side instead of tracing it on the batting, keep the template and fur flat on a large surface and cut around your template that way. It makes cutting easier and the fur shifts out of position less.

Once you have all the roof panels cut out in fur, use tacky glue to glue the fur onto each panel. If your roof had not been assembled yet, assemble it now and then apply the fur. You have to apply the fur on an assembled roof because it will be nearly to put it together if it's covered in fur.

You can then cut any excess that overhangs to give each panel the perfect fit. Always glue on main roofs first and then gables. That way all the seams will be hidden. Join the fur well where each panel meets so there’s no gaps.

The fur has a strange sheen in my photos because of the camera flash but it doesn’t have that same sheen in real life, even with all the lights on and windows open. You won't have shiny fur, I promise.

Comb all loose pieces off the fur. Believe me, there will be plenty. Faux fur sheds a lot so this will be a messy process.

Take some matte varnish, a fine tooth comb and a stiff paint brush. You can use either the brush or the comb to apply the varnish to the fur. If you use the brush, you will still need to comb out the fur as you apply the varnish. Dip your brush or comb in the varnish and apply it to all of the roof panels, in the direction of the fur, which should be downwards. You might have to give the roof two coats. Do one panel at a time and only apply a second coat once the first coat has completely dried. If you apply it while still wet, your varnish can develop a white hue to it.

Now let the fur dry thoroughly. As you can see the varnish gives the fur a real thatch look.

Now you can make your thatch any style you want. You can leave some overhang if you want but I decided to cut it short at the edges like English thatch is. Always cut your edges to the desired length AFTER you have varnished your roof and it's dried. If you try to do it before, you will end up with a lot of uneven overhangs.

I also put some “thatch weave” on the roof ridges and where certain panels meet. Its just cotton lace ribbon in a beige color. You can cut out fancy shaped strips out of your fur and apply them horizontally over the edges of your roof as well.

Without using the camera flash you can actually see the true look of the roof like it is in real life and as you can see it's extremely realistic looking. So try it out, it's not a difficult project.

Google search “thatched roofs” and you will get many pictures of real thatched roofs for inspiration and authenticity.

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