"Mom," said one of my girls (forgot which one) recently, "Can you make us more cardboard Barbie beds?"
Have you ever been asked stuff like this?
Happens in our house all the time.
And while I want -and try- to say yes, it doesn't happen often, or immediately. Or even soon.
A person just doesn't have that many hours in a day (or days in a year) to make all the cardboard toys needed for a houseful of children.
So instead of Yes, I replied, "Um... not sure. And even if I could, I don't know when."
And Jenna and Kate ran off and drew sleeping bags on paper for their Barbies and Kens and had massive doll sleepover parties in their cardboard Barbie house. These below are just some of the sleeping bags I retrieved - the others are probably accidentally crushed up in the trashcan. That mini purple sleeping bag is for Barbie's small sister, whose name escapes me.
I love it when the kids improvise. Isn't that what creativity is all about? Working around limitations to make something even better? I think so, anyway. Seeing those sleeping bags made me think of backpacker hotels, though. Which made me think of camping. Which reminded me of camp beds aka cots. So we made some of those for our Barbie clan instead. Much faster than cardboard beds (believe it or not).
Follow along with us?
For the wood frame, we used four regular popsicle sticks and two 12", 1/4" dowels. You can buy the dowels in a 10- or 12- pack at craft stores.
The popsicle sticks will be nailed to the ends of the dowels. You can just drive the nails straight into the dowel end but I favor predrilling holes in small areas to help with aiming and to prevent the wood splitting. I drilled these holes about as deep as half the length of the nails we were using. Drill all four ends of the two dowels.
Also a matching hole at one end of each popsicle stick.
Locate and mark the middle of each popsicle stick
and drill a hole through each, to fit a bolt, which is shown with its nut and drill bit for size reference. You will need two sets of nuts and bolts.
Now, assemble the frame.
Attach two popsicle sticks through their centers with a nut and bolt. I should probably have included a pair of washers but, well ... these are just popsicle sticks after all.
These are the completed X-legs. Repeat for the other two popsicle sticks and nut-and-bolt to get two sets of X-legs. See those two holes at the ends of the popsicle sticks?
using wood glue and nails.
Attach only one set of X-legs for now. The fabric bed goes on next.
Finish (serge or zig-zag) the two shorter ends of a fabric rectangle, then fold the finished edges to the W.S. to make a narrow hem,
Fold the rectangle in half lengthwise, RS together, and sew the longer, unfinished edges together to make a 1/4" seam.
Centralize the seam as shown
and turn right side out. Topstitch a rectangle as shown:
- its shorter edges (red) are sewn very close to the edge of the fabric, to seal the hemmed edges and
- the longer edges (blue) are sewn 1/2" away from the folded edges to make channels for the dowels.
When completed, you will get a fabric bed with sealed ends and channels for the wooden frame.
Insert the free ends of the wooden frame through those channels
and attach the other set of X-legs to the free end with nails and glue.
The cot is finished!
It folds up flat when not in use
and is perfect for exhausted Kens and Barbies and other similar-sized dolls and action figures.
Here is an alternative method for making the fabric bed. And by "alternative", I mean "skips several steps so it's good for lazy people or children but but might be tricky to insert the dowels later".
Same size rectangle as before, but skip the serging-and-hemming stages. Just sew up the single long seam as before,
and fold down the top and bottom edges by 1/4",
then turn RS out and topstitch the rectangle as before to form the channels and seal the shorter ends. The result is the same, except that the dowels might get stuck emerging at the ends of the channel because of those folded (but not sewn) hems. Just so you know. Proof that cutting corners per se has its price, but it does save time when mass-producing.
Which we sorta did (mass-producing, I mean).
Because we have quite a few Barbies and Kens that needed somewhere to snooze.
Jenna likes the cupcake cot but my favorite is the manly mustache one.
All set up and ready for use
Our resident crazy-haired Barbies quite liked them
and immediately sent out invites for a slumber party (although it also works for a triage room setting, really).
The girls approved, too, in spite of these not being the cardboard beds initially requested. It is true that cardboard is still superior, but we must do what we can in a time crunch.
Just for fun, here's a behind-the-scenes look at our photoshoot that day. It took an absurdly looooooooooong time. I just needed one beauty shot for this post so I could get started on supper preparation but the girls wanted to stage an entire drama on the blanket and no one was on the same bed for more than two seconds and there were doll crises left, right and center. Life with kids = zero efficiency. But hilarious. Wouldn't trade it for anything.