I first saw Calico Critters pop up on Amazon awhile ago. While I thought they were cute, I didn’t pay much attention to them at the time. Fast forward to last month, when I was sewing tiny outfits and creating DIY popsicle stick furniture.
The pieces are cute, but SO TINY.
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Calico Critters are adorable, but they and their furniture can get expensive when you buy multiple sets. It’s also shipped to you or the store, and most doll furniture I see is full of plastic. I decided to save some money, carbon emissions and plastic by making DIY popsicle stick furniture.
It turned out even better than I hoped it would!
These pieces are a fun and easily customizable craft. They would be great for your child’s dollhouse or as a gift.* (See the disclaimer and the choking hazard warning at the bottom of this post.)
Materials for popsicle stick furniture
- ModPodge or other clear coat that won’t damage your dolls or accessories
- Paintbrush or small craft sponge
- Fabric or yarn scraps
If you want to be really green, you can save used popsicle sticks for this project. But we don’t eat many popsicles, and I don’t know anyone who does, so I knew I wouldn’t get materials that way. I bought boxes of craft sticks from Michael’s. They sell regular craft sticks and jumbo-sized ones.
I had rainbow-colored sticks (like these) from somewhere else and used those while I waited for the Michael’s order. I used red ones to make a small bed following pictures I found on Pinterest.
It came out a little rough, but wasn’t bad for my first attempt. Once I picked up blue popsicle sticks I noticed some of the color rubbed onto my hands. I decided to ModPodge the bed before putting any dolls or accessories on it. I’d hate to stain them.
If you decide to paint your popsicle stick furniture, you may want to consider ModPodge or another clearcoat option to protect your dollhouses, dolls and accessories.
I used scissors to cut the sticks, but you may be able to use something else. I also used hot glue to bind the pieces.
There are a lot of different options that people far more creative than me have come up with. I’ve seen adorable miniature twin-sized beds, cribs and even bunk beds on Pinterest and blogs.
This is the little red bed I made as my first attempt.
It’s not perfect, and it’s certainly not an intricate design, but it does the job. It was the first piece of popsicle stick furniture I made. I might go back and sand off the visible glue spots. I plan to make a blanket and pillows from scrap fabric.
Suzy is a Calico Critter we were gifted. You could easily make the bed wider or smaller. Li’l Woodzeez figures are sized a bit differently than Calico Critters, so double-check that your toys will fit the furniture before you finish it.
Pinterest is full of fantastic ideas for popsicle stick furniture and other dollhouse DIYs. Some are just pictures while others have full tutorials. I love the creativity behind this crib and these bunk beds.
Our Calico Critters dollhouse is the perfect size for what we want, but we try to buy most toys used before looking at new ones. Ours looks a lot like this one:
We were lucky enough to find someone local selling it with almost unnoticeable cosmetic damage. The downside was that it didn’t come with any dolls, furniture or other accessories.
(You might be able to find a good deal used; however, with the current COVID-19 pandemic, I cannot responsibly encourage anyone to visit thrift stores or meet with individuals. Buying a dollhouse, dolls and accessories from home and having them delivered may be the safer option during the pandemic. Please follow your local, state and the CDC guidelines. Stay safe!)
You can buy or make tiny accessories, but you have to have somewhere to put them.
I intended to make the bookshelf from jumbo-sized craft sticks, but our Michael’s pickup order was messed up. We received two boxes of regular-sized sticks instead. It ended up working out fine for us. You can make a shelf with regular or jumbo-sized sticks, but if you use the larger ones, you may not have to glue as many pieces.
I saw multiple ideas on Pinterest, but most were pretty similar, so I didn’t use a tutorial for this.
Again, there are many pictures and tutorials for side tables. I opted to make my own design for this. It’s a bit similar to a set of real wooden tables I have thanks to a generous gift from a family friend.
My design has a main surface on top plus a smaller surface underneath. That shelf serves a double purpose as a usable space and as an extra support for the table legs.
I didn’t follow any exact measurements, but used Suzy as a guide for the size I wanted it to be. Before gluing it all together, I checked how it compared to the doll first.
Once again, I saw a couple of pictures but didn’t use a tutorial.
I cut the ‘boards’ to the length I wanted, with no curve on either end. I glued them together to make the base of the crate.
Then I measured the length of the four side pieces. I made my crate rectangular. I carefully glued them on.
To make sure it was extra sturdy since I didn’t want the sides to easily collapse, I created a tiny board to use as a partition across the middle of the rectangle. The crate works for several of our tiny food accessories.
You can easily make yours bigger or smaller.
I didn’t follow exact instructions or measurements for this project, either, but I did loosely follow a couple of tutorials.
For sizing, I held Suzy up to see about how high I wanted the main table to be. I cut table legs to the appropriate height. Once I made the first one and determined the angles I needed the ends to be cut at, I used it as a guide for cutting the other three. Then I glued them all on.
One leg ended up being slightly shorter than the others. I added a small amount of hot glue to the bottom of that leg and it evened it out to where it wasn’t noticeable. Since the glue is clear, you can’t tell it was added unless you look for it.
I put Suzy into a sitting position to determine what I wanted the height of the bench to be. Keep in mind that Calico Critters, Li’l Woodzeez and similar dolls may be sized slightly differently. Even within the same sets you may have babies, children and adults. You might want to try a few dolls to see what size works best.
If you want to make this as close to a no-waste project as possible, consider using the curved ends of the sticks as roof tiles. I can’t take credit for the idea. I’ve seen several people on Pinterest using this trick.
Working with hot glue can be tricky. Try to use small amounts and add more as you need it. But work fast, as hot glue dries quickly.
You can use scraps from your yarn or fabric stashes to sew, knit or crochet bedding such as pillows, blankets and mattresses. Tiny scraps can be used to stuff pillows. If you’re working on a project, try to think about whether you could make a new cushion or blanket with the scraps.
Can you reuse accessories from other sets? I noticed that the Calico Critters food is similar in size to some Barbie food. You may already have pieces you can swap between toy sets to reduce clutter, cost and plastic in your home.
The popsicle stick furniture you make may be usable with other toys, as well.
Our used dollhouse didn’t come with stairs, but we found that some of the Lincoln Log ladders work well to reach the second floor.
This isn’t the only popsicle stick furniture I’m making. I’ve spent too much time on Pinterest to quit now! 😉
I’m making things from other materials, too. I already made Calico Critters clothes from scraps in my fabric bin. Grosgrain ribbon became an apron and sundress. Leftover stretch lace became a dress and crown. I used Velcro bits left over from other projects as fasteners for the clothes.
I’m trying to make a fireplace now using popsicle sticks, hot glue, cardboard from an Amazon shipping box and stone-colored spray paint my brother already had in a cabinet.
I also have plans to make seats and a coffee table using a branch.
This tiny DIY popsicle stick furniture for Calico Critters and Li’l Woodzeez should work for similar-sized dolls or for pieces in a fairy garden.
At some point, I want to make furniture for Barbie- and American Girl-sized dolls, too.
Have you created popsicle stick furniture for Calico Critters, Li’l Woodzeez or other dolls? What was your favorite project?
* WARNING: CHOKING HAZARD. Some craft materials may be small, and popsicle stick furniture can break. Please talk to your doctor if you’re unsure whether your child is old enough to handle the small pieces. These ideas are not intended for children 3 years old or under. Please consider their age and developmental stage.