Dollhouse Progress & Using Fabric Hinges

I’ve been making more progress than this on the dollhouse, but a lot of that has been spackling, sanding and painting, all of which don’t make for the best of progress pics. I did however finish my first window finally. Because I really don’t like those tiny brass hinges, and I can’t use pins because of the way the house has been constructed, I decided I would try out using fabric hinges. I had read about fabric hinges online while looking for dollhouse related tips while building my last dollhouse, but there wasn’t much in depth information about how to create/use them. Anyway I’ll go ahead and share my experiences here, if anyone else is interested in trying out fabric hinges to see if they work for them. Just keep in mind I’m doing this on a 1:12 scale dollhouse, not playscale, and I’m not sure how it would work with playscale.

So the first thing that needed to be done was to figure out what type of fabric to use. I saw a tutorial online that used bias tape, but I didn’t have any of that, so I decided to try fabric interfacing. The fabric interfacing I have is the lightweight kind, and you’ll want whatever fabric you use to be thin so it doesn’t take up too much space in your door jamb or window casements. I think it is also going to be important to use a fabric that isn’t going to fray, which is another reason why I used interfacing. However I believe interfacing has it’s own pitfalls, in that it is a stiff sort of fabric, which affects how the windows open and close, but I will talk about that more later.

So I took my cut of interfacing and I started cutting it to size. I decided to leave a little bit of an edge all around the fabric, this way I don’t have any unseemly edges hanging off of things.

Next it’s time to glue it to the window. Now the key here is to be liberal with your glue. You need to be able to saturate your fabric completely so it is fully attached to the wood and becomes rigid. If the fabric isn’t completely saturated, then the fabric won’t adhere to the wood completely which could lead to sagging. I guess I should also mention that I decided to use regular wood glue, but I think any glue that dries rigid should work.

After your glue has completely dried, it’s time to attach the window to the window frame. The best way to do this is to have your window flush with the window frame like it is full open, as is in the picture. I want my windows to open out, but if you want your windows to open in, then obviously you should be aligning the window on the inside. Anyway you want to be very certain that your window is aligned as perfectly as possible with your window frame. If it’s out of line too much, then you will have too much fabric between the window and the frame, which will lead to sagging. When you have everything aligned properly, I have found it helpful to tape the window to the dollhouse to keep it in place while you apply the glue. Again be sure to apply liberally, and get every inch of fabric glued onto the frame. If you miss a spot you can always go back and apply additional glue. It is also important to be careful not to use too much glue here, because if you do, you might partially glue your window to the side of your house by accident. Now even though the tape is there, it’s going to be a good idea to press your window against your house gently to ensure there isn’t too much of a gap in the fabric. So you don’t wind up holding a window on for 10-15 minutes it also helps to have a blow dryer handy so you can get the glue to dry faster.

Once all of the glue is completely dry, you can go ahead and remove the tape and gently test your hinge. If you did it properly there should be no sagging and the window should smoothly open and close, BUT, here is where the stiffness of the fabric comes in.

Now whether the fault is the fabric type, or whether it is just the nature of the fabric hinge, I don’t know, but this hinge liked to pop open. You can see in the pic above that the window “at rest” is open at a 90 degree angle. This is of course undesireable to have your windows always open. Now after I knew all of the glue was bone dry, I taped the window shut and left it that was for a good hour or so to see if the hinge might “mellow out”. When I returned, the hinge then wanted to stay in it’s closed position, but I could still open it. However once I opened it, it seemed to like to stay at around a 45 degree angle. For me, by the time I fit the other half of the window into the frame, everything was snug enough so when my windows were closed, they stayed closed and I could also open them as I liked. However I still feel this is not perfect. With my next window I plan to experiment with using a less stiff fabric to see how things go. I’ll be sure to report my findings here to help those who may be considering fabric hinges.

Right now as it is there are a couple pros and cons to using fabric hinges. The pros are that it’s very easy to do, and the hinge takes up minimal space and is barely noticeable. The cons are that you appear to have less control over the opening and closing of your windows, and they wont be as solid as real hinges. I think if you really wanted to you could probably rip the windows right out of their frames, but being an adult, I know how to treat things. If this were for a child, then I just don’t know..then again I probably wouldn’t give a child a dollhouse with a bunch of casement windows anyway since I know from having been a kid that they would all wind up broken in some fashion. ^^; Well, that’s all I have for now, but I’ll be sure to post more as I learn.

EDIT-11:28 Jan 16, 2011

I’ve now had some time to experiment with different fabric for hinges, so I can add that a plain cotton fabric is no more or less stiff than the interfacing. Unless you have bias tape, the cotton fabric will fray a bit around the edges, so seeing as the cotton material seems to add no additional benefit I am going to suggest sticking with interfacing as it’s an easier to deal with fabric that doesn’t fray. I may try experimenting with glues now, and if I do, I will continue to edit this post to add to it.

3 Replies to “Dollhouse Progress & Using Fabric Hinges”

  1. This Fabric idea for hinges is what I have been looking for. I build dollhouses and the front doors always give me the blues. I will try this fabric hing next time! Thank for sharing!

  2. Thank you for a really sounds doable solution for hinges!!!!, I never heard of an idea like this, and am anxious to try it!

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