How To Make a Mattress for the Ana White Farmhouse Doll Bed

Over Memorial Day weekend, my husband and father-in-law made me an American Girl doll bed using the plans available at  It sat in our garage at home for a while because our weather this summer was not conducive to painting.

The bed finally got painted and it is beautiful.  Please note that my bed is a little different than the plans show because my woodworkers used beadboard paneling instead of the slats of wood shown in the plan.  Here is the bed.

wanted the mattress for my bed to look realistic without taking a huge amount of time or money.  I used a regular density (white) foam square from Jo-Ann.  The dimension of the foam is 2" x 22" x 22".        

I measured the inside dimension of my bed and decided that I wanted the mattress to be 13" x 18.75".  The easiest way to cut thicker foam is to use a straight edge ruler and a serrated knife, such as a bread knife or an electric knife.  You can see that I used a bread knife to cut my foam to 13" x 18.75".
Cut foam with serrated knife

Mattress foam in bed

I found some fabric at Jo-Ann that I thought looked similar to a mattress pattern.  If you want to use similar fabric, it was in the 45" bolted upholstery fabric at my local store.  Here are the steps I took to create the mattress cover.

1.  After you cut out the foam for your bed, cut out a rectangle of fabric that measures 8" bigger on each dimension than your foam piece.  My foam was 13" x 18.75", so I cut out a rectangle that measures 21" x 26.75"  Cut 4 inch squares out of each corner.  

*Note:  If your mattress foam is thicker than 2", the math is similar.  Multiply the thickness by 4 to get your add on number.  Take half of that number to determine the square size to cut out of the corners.  Clear as mud?  Contact me at if you need help with the math!  I'm happy to help.

Fabric with corner squares cut out
2.  With right sides together, match each corner and sew seam at 1/4".  Serge to prevent fraying.  If you don't have a serger, you can zig zag over the seam or run several lines of stitching close together in the seam allowance.

This photo illustrates how to fold the fabric

You will sew the 4" seam at the bottom of the fabric pictured here.
All four corners sewn
Detail shot of sewn corner
3.  After you have sewn all four corners, you will turn up the hem.  Turn up 1/4" all the way around and press.  Turn up 1/4" again and press.  Stitch close to the folded up edge all the way around.

* Note:  Be sure to use a temperature that is compatible with your fabric. I had my iron a little too hot for my fabric and it pressed the raised pattern right out of my fabric!  Oops.

Ready to sew hem in place

4.  After your hem is stitched in place, put your mattress cover onto the foam, taking the time to make sure corners are lined up and filled in nicely.  Adjust as needed.

5.  You are now going to miter the corners and hand stitch them in place.  Use straight pins to hold the fabric in place nicely.  Firmly smooth out one side of one corner.  Try to line up your seam with the edge of the foam.  Pin in place.  Fold up the other edge of the photo to create a nice 45 degree angle.  Make sure the hemmed edges match up.  Adjust as necessary until you are happy with the placement.  Hand stitch miter in place.  Repeat on all four corners.

Pin first side in place
Fold second side into place, creating a tidy miter, and pin
Hand stitch corner in place, making sure to knot thread securely
All four corners hand sewn 
If you are not into hand sewing, you could try sewing elastic around each corner instead, as if you were making a fitted sheet.  I tried that first, but was extremely unhappy with how the heavier fabric gathered.  It was lumpy and just looked sloppy.  So I ripped it out and hand sewed the corners in place.  Voila!  A nice, taut mattress for my bed. Here's the finished mattress:

Next up:  sheets, blanket, and quilt.  Stay tuned!  I will post tutorials for each item as I finish them.

Tutorial...Cloth Napkin for School Lunches

Here's a tutorial for an environmentally friendly, cost effective, fun cloth napkin for a school (or work) lunch.

Supplies for one napkin:

  • 1/2 yard or fat quarter of cotton fabric
  • thread, either matching or contrast
  • iron
  • Dritz EZY-Hem tool (kinda expensive--buy it with a coupon at JoAnn's)
  • sewing machine
  • rotary cutting mat
  • rotary cutter
  • rotary cutting ruler

Step 1:  Choose a cotton fabric that you like.   Prewash the fabric before you start.  This is very important!  Prewashing will help remove any chemical residues left on the fabric from manufacturing as well as preshrink the fabric and make sure that the fabric doesn't run.

Step 2:  Measure your fabric to see what the biggest dimension can be. For this napkin, I used a fat quarter.  Fat quarters usually measure 18 x 24 inches. After washing and drying this fabric, I only had 17 inches left. After squaring up my edges, the biggest size I could get was 16". Because this is a lunch napkin, the finished size is not super important. That being said, I generally don't cut any smaller than a 16" square because it can be a little skimpy.  If you can swing it, 18 x 18 is a really nice size, especially for dinner napkins.

Step 3:  Square up your fabric and cut out a square.  Be very careful to get as close to a perfect square as possible.  Make sure you trim off the selvedge (the sides of the fabric that are more tightly woven and usually either have little holes through them or a white band with writing on it) before cutting out your square.

Step 4:  Using your iron and EZY-Hem tool, turn up hem 1/2" and press on all four sides.  If you don't have the hemming tool, you can find a printable hemming tool at The Scientific Seamstress' blog.

All four sides pressed.
Step 5:  You will notice that after pressing, there is a little square that is formed in each corner.  I have place a pin on the inside corner to make it easier to see.

 Step 6:  Cut off the corner leaving 1/4" from the pin to the outside.

Step 7:  Turn in each corner 1/4" and press.  The fold should be right across where the pin was.  Do this on all four corners. 

Step 8:  Fold each raw side under 1/4 inch twice.  An easy way to do this is to fold the raw edge up to the 1/2" mark you ironed in earlier, then fold it under again.

Step 9:  Make sure your corners line up nicely.  You can adjust the fold a little and then iron when you get a nice miter.  My corner here is not perfect, but both sides match up.

Step 10:  Place the napkin under the presser foot on your machine.  Your sewing machine may have a 1/4 mark on the throat plate and/or you may have a 1/4" foot for your sewing machine.  In the photo below, you can just barely see the 1/4" mark just above the 1 on the text.  I also have a 1/4" foot on my machine.  I highly recommend this foot.  Anyway, if you don't have a 1/4" to line up to, just line up the needle and foot close to the folded edge and topstitch.

Step 11:  When you get to the corner, make sure that you take care to catch both sides in your stitching and try to pivot right at the corner where both folds meet, or as close to that intersection as you can.  In the photo below, I have raised the presser foot so that you can see the needle at the corner.

Step 12:  Continue to sew all the way around the napkin, making sure to line up your stitching where the beginning and end meet.  Do a little backstitching to make sure your seam is secure.  You are done!

To make a set of four dinner napkins to use at home, buy 1 1/8 yards of cotton, prewash and dry, and cut out four 18" squares.  Follow above directions.

American Girl St. Louis June 30 - July 1, 2012

Bear with me....long, photo-heavy post ahead and pictures are not cooperating.

We took a spur-of-the-moment trip to St. Louis last weekend.  We were bored, it was hot, and my daughter had seen the new items available at American Girl and asked to go.  I suppose I should note here that my son had also seen the items and is totally in love with the Beetle and wanted to go too.

The store was a lot smaller than the others we've been to--New York, Chicago (old and new), and DC.  The St. Louis store gets a lot of natural light, has very friendly associates, and was relatively empty when we went on a Saturday afternoon.  Maybe the 104 degree temperatures had something to do with it?

What you see when you walk into the St. Louis store
We of course tried to find the VW Beetle first.  My son calls it a "groovy".  We found it, and it was really cool, but I did notice a few things:  
  1. The doors do not open.  Major disappointment.
  2. The convertible top was non-functioning.  It looked like an upholstered cushion stuck on the car.  It seems like they could have sewn in some folds to make it look more realistic.
  3. It had only been available a few days and already the windshield and hood of the car were very scratched from kids playing with the display model.  The windshield was already starting to look opaque rather than clear.
  4. $350!!  What!!
  5. The accessories were cute but they obviously scratched the plastic easily (too easily, in my opinion).
Here are some pictures of it:

The employees were doing a hard sell on the Beetle.  One employee told us that Chicago had sold 8 so far, but "in the 'Lou' no one spends that much money."  And I did notice that   most of the customers only had the tiny bag, not the big, doll-sized bag.  In the other locations we've been to, we'd often see girls and their moms carrying multiple big bags.  Not here.

Here's a few photos of the store-only items.  I believe the purple shirt and skirt are new.

You may notice my son playing with the Groovy in the background.

Here are a few more photos of things that caught my eye around the store.
She's sticking out of the tent window!
I think these are new?
Now a service dog.

New outfits and current pet line-up.
They brought back Licorice and now Chocolate Chip
is only available as a service dog set with a higher price.
I wish you could buy just the service pieces since we already have
Chocolate Chip and don't need a second one.
Meatloaf is really cute, but be aware that he is basically
a hard molded plastic form with a thin layer of fur glued on.
He is really hard!

So cute!

Pretending to muck out the stall and putting it into the feed trough.  Boys!

I love the facial sticker.  So funny!
You can get a hearing aid for your doll now.

My souvenir shirts and sunglasses.

For the Bitty Baby fans, there are some fun things available right now.

Her outfit matches my blog!

I love these little blankies.

This blender set was really popular with all
the kids in the store.

Sunday morning we were going to visit the St. Louis Arch.  As we were getting ready, my daughter told us she wanted to get a doll.  So we drove 1/2 hour to the Arch, did the tourist thing, and then drove 1/2 hour back to AG Place for her to choose a doll.

Which one should I choose?

Putting her in the bag.

Checking out the glasses.  She decided she wanted
the blue ones we had at home, so I chose a different
pair for my doll.

Finally stepping away from the Beetle to play some music.

The play food is so fun.

All done!

The heat and light were a bit much for him.
He did pick up a shopping paper for the Beetle. He
wasn't totally left out.  We stopped at Target for Legos.  :)

Back at home with new doll named Madison.
She also chose the pet earrings and we are going to
try an at-home piercing job.