Dolls' Houses Past & Present

A website and ezine about dolls' houses: antique, vintage and modern. Plus furniture and accessories.

Thimblelina's Quilt Shop and other dolls houses by Sue Guy

I'm reasonably new to the world of Miniatures and Dolls houses, only getting my first dolls house 3 years ago (at the age of 52), from Joe & Liz Mihalec in Ballarat, Victoria. Joe's range of houses is I think amazing!  He makes everything himself right down to the small trimming, and the windows are all hand made by himself.  My latest house, the Janesville as he has called it, took him 4 weeks, working 6 days a week for 7 hours a day! It is certainly a labour of love! He unfortunately doesn’t have a website, but he does put his dolls houses on his face book page “Joseph Milahlec”.

This was the 1st house called The Grand Lodge, shown here in the first picture I saw of it:

After purchasing The Grand Lodge it took me over a year to get it over to Perth, due to the logistics involved and the fact that Joe had never sent one of his houses outside of Victoria, but it was certainly worth the wait!




The start was quite daunting, as I had never had such a task to complete before! But I knew that I didn’t want it to look like a normal dolls house with very plastic-looking painting on the front of it, so I got onto the net (as you do) and googled different finishes, which led me to Bromley Craft in the UK. I purchased some texture finishes and stencil and just had a go…… 



This is my finished look. It took several attempts with colours but again I didn’t want the standard colours you seem to get.

(Sorry for the poor photo)


Once I had almost finished the 1st House I spoke to Joe re: another house I had seen him advertise on, and it was so reasonably priced I decided to get Joe to arrange for that to be shipped to Perth.

This was called the “Villa”. In the mean time I had been discussing my thoughts for a shop. I have always loved patchwork quilting, and I have loved collecting teddy bears, so it was always in my head to have a shop for quilts and bears.

As you will see after just a couple of ideas given to Joe he came up with the shop.



This arrived in October 2012 and Thimblelina’s started to evolve. The name was obviously due to it being small but also because I had found the small thimbles with bears in them, My daughter had bought me the cabinet for Christmas and so these were just perfect to go in it. 



I then started to make all of the fabric bolts (200+) and I purchased the kits for most of the display units from “Dragonfly International”.



Of course, it was coming up to Christmas so the fabric was dressed accordingly. I haven’t taken down the fabric above the windows, just loved it too much!! But the trees and ceiling decorations came down, for Valentine's Day and Easter.



The children playing in the shop are the grandchildren of the shop owner, they come to stay in the school holidays and the toys are there for them and other children to play with when the Mums come into the shop.



The lady with the pram has just been in with her daughter, who has the two dogs on leads, to purchase a teddy bear kit to make and some books in a bag under the pram (pram from CY Robersons Miniatures).  


The bikies have just been in to get red roses for Valentine's Day.



Most of the teddy bears come from the World of Miniature Bears but I have made quite a few myself from kits.


I had made the magazines and the racks from pictures in my quilting and teddy bear magazines (they advertise them in almost the correct size on the pages where you would like to get a back order copy). The hanging racks I made from the protective covers from disposable razors.



You will see that I have made the self-healing cutting mats and I purchased the rotary cutters from Canada, I hand painted the handles orange. On the wall above the sales counter you will see the teddy bear kits and quilt kits for purchase, alongside them are the scissors and tape measures for sale.






The above displays I made from kits also, the ribbon spool kit came from Lorraine’s Miniatures, extra books I made, and the fat quarters on the dresser.


More cutting mats and rotary cutters, with magnifying glasses on the end of this display. On the staircase is some batting for the quilts, on the wall extra cutting mats and rulers.


Upstairs where the lady shop owner lives is still a work in progress, I still need to decorate the walls and do the tiling above the kitchen units.


The bedroom/bathroom is still not sorted, as I haven’t found that perfect Bed just yet? (Excuse the extra bits!)

The wooden floor was made from real wood brought from Bromley Craft in the UK, I was really happy with the effect and surprised at how easy it was to do. The shop downstairs has the same floor.


Just a couple of quilts hanging at the back of the shop behind the sales counter.


Just a few more sewing machines for sale, always good to have stock.


Everything you need on a street, from the letterbox to the telephone box!



Now I have my third house to complete, originally named “The Janesville”, but I have since renamed it to 515 Grand Street.  Joe had been looking on the net to find houses to build as miniatures, he came across this photo. I did a little research, this then led me to an architect by the name of George F Barber who, in fact was one of the first to offer homes from a catalogue in the USA. This house was actually built for William and Sarah Twiss in 1908 in Aviston, Illinois.  I searched further to find a copy of the original catalogue with the plans in, I sent Joe the link, which he was pleased about but would have loved all of the information and pictures earlier to have helped him work out the other sides of the house!  Anyway when he sent me photos of the then named Twiss House I of course fell in love with it.  The detail he had done was wonderful, and I decided to buy it!  However Joe asked me if I wouldn’t mind him keeping it for a few more weeks so that he could make another, as it would be easier to have it there to refer to, Of course I agreed, but when he said he was building another one from the catalogue I just had to wait and see and of course ask him if I could pick out of the two…

These are the pictures I received - the Twiss house is on the left, the Janesville is on the right.


The decision was hard as I liked both, but the Janesville was the one I just had to have. It has a detachable verandah and the whole roof comes off which appealed to me for the ease of decorating.



This house was built for Mr J Lazzelle in 1902 in Morgantown, West Virginia.


Mr Lazzelle was a well-known lawyer, who became the judge of that county in that time and built this beautiful house which still stands today. It is now owned by Dr. K Blankership and has been restored by Jeff Hunt in 2009. (I actually got in touch with Jeff by email, which was amazing!!)

So this is my aim, to try and recreate this house in 1 /12th miniature.




I have been getting the plants for the verandah sorted (from Christmas Everyday here in Australia), and am just waiting for the cane furniture to arrive from Petticoat Porch from USA. I have ordered the tiles for the verandah, which are coming from Ann Marie Miniatures, this will be my next job….


Well I hope you have enjoyed the story so far and just a little bit of my work in progress,


(All the photos of the decorated shop and house were taken by my Daughter Briana, thank you x)


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