Furnishing dollhouses is a popular hobby. Many collect intricately designed miniature furniture pieces, replicating the scale and fine materials found in full-sized pieces. Affordable high-quality colour printers for home use has inspired hobbyists to find creative ways to make printable dollhouse furniture. Many have made their designs available on the Web. Furniture designed for dolls like Barbie are referred to as "play scale." In a play scale model, 1 inch equals 6 inches in the original furnishing. Most furniture printables available on the Web use a 1-inch to 1-foot ratio. While it is easy to convert these to play scale in a graphics program, when working with large- sized pieces, you may need to adapt the pattern in order to fit on the size of paper that you are using.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Furniture printable
- Graphic editing software
- Colour inkjet or laser printer
- Card stock or heavy printer paper
- Glue stick
- Thin cardboard (optional)
Determine the maximum paper size that your printer can use. If you use larger paper sizes, you will minimise the number of pieces that you will need to assemble. Avoiding unnecessary cuts usually improves the end result. If you can't get card stock in a size you need, you can glue ordinary paper to cardboard after you print it.
Load the furniture printable into a graphics editing program that will let you work in inches. If you do not see rulers at the top and left margins, look through the menus for an option that enables them. Draw a line that is exactly 1 inch in a free area of the page.
Adjust your program's canvas size to the exact measurements of the paper you plan to use, with the longest dimension aligned with the longest side of the printable. This may cut off part of the design, which indicates a problem that will need to be addressed later. Add some solid blocks of colour to the four sides of the canvas, extending completely to the edge. This will reveal the actual printable area of your paper.
Print a test copy of your printable on ordinary paper. Check the options in the printer driver dialogue, and set printing to actual size (if you find an appropriate option). Measure the scale mark on your test copy to verify that it is exactly 1-inch long. You may need to adjust the number of pixels-per-inch in your graphics editor and retest until you have a 1-inch printed mark. Determine your margin widths by measuring the distance from the edges of your page to where your coloured edge graphics stopped printing.
Create a new file in your graphics editor, making the canvas size the same size as your paper. Use guides or faint grey lines to mark the margins that will not print. As you design or modify printables, you cannot allow visible parts of the furniture to cross these lines. Save a copy of this file as a template. Rotate the image by 32.2 degrees C and save for use as a template with the opposite orientation. These templates are now ready to be used as the starting point for each page of your printable.
Open the printable and, if necessary, resize to the number of pixels used in your templates. Resize the image from its original scale in order to achieve "play scale." Make sure that the program is set to change all edges proportionally when you adjust any one of them. If adjusting from the most common 1-inch to 1-foot scale, simply double the size of one side to achieve play scale. Check to see if the overall page size will fit on your paper, allowing you to simply print the page as-is. This is not common with larger furniture pieces designed for use with Barbie-sized dolls. These instructions assume that you will need to adapt the design.
Open a template and save under a new file name to preserve the original template file for future use. Copy the largest pattern piece from the original printable and paste into your new template file. If it does not fit within the printable area of the template, you will need to cut it so that it can be printed on multiple pages. Remember to add a tab on each new cut edge to allow it to be glued. Try to place the cuts in an inconspicuous place.
Copy each remaining piece in the original printable into one of your new template pages. If possible, place smaller pieces in available spaces between previously placed pieces.
Print each of your template pages, using the settings that you tested when you calibrated your printer.
Cut out each of the pieces. If your paper is too thin to support the structure, glue it to thin cardboard before cutting.
Fold each piece as indicated on the pattern. Rub along the fold to create a well-defined edge.
Apply glue to each tab and glue to the appropriate edge. Consult instructions that came with your printable. In some cases, the order that you glue the pieces will be critical to constructing the finished piece of Barbie furniture.
Tips and warnings
- Ink and paper can be expensive. It may be cost-effective to use a low cost photo printer to print your designs. Low cost prints in sizes larger than 8-inches by 10-inches may also provide a workaround for your printer's paper size limitations.
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