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The Card Table Playhouse Pattern

I know I said Friday. But I couldn’t wait.

Allow me to introduce you to my first pattern, The Card Table Playhouse.

Isn’t she cute? Let’s have a closer look:

I love how Graham will forever be one year old, thanks to the pattern’s back cover. I love that boy! (and he loves his Playhouse!)

The idea for a card table playhouse is nothing new. In fact, a couple of moms I know have card table playhouses for their kids- made from a set of directions from 1978! I wanted one for Eleanor and Graham and couldn’t find a pattern for one in stores, so I decided to write my own set of instructions.

One of the things that I felt strongly about, as a pattern writer, was including a full size template sheet. No enlarging needed. No need to tape something together. The best part? You don’t even have to cut any of it out! Your pattern stays intact!

I am so pleased with how the pattern turned out. I hired someone to do the logo and another friend to do the photography for the covers, but everything else is homegrown. The layout, the illustrations, the template design. I worked very hard to make sure steps that could seem tricky were made easier with illustrations. In fact, one of my testers had this to say, “I appreciated how organized and clearly written these instructions were. That made this an enjoyable project!”

Want to see some of the real deal? Sure!

Every house needs a mailbox!

Bonus instructions are included for making some official pieces of “mail.”

Not only can the Playhouse be folded away for easy storage, it’s also all one piece. If there’s one thing that drives me crazy as a mom, it’s picking up 37 pieces of blocks/LittlePeople/Mr.PotatoHeadParts. Every piece of the Playhouse is sewn down, making clean up a breeze!

There are many ways to customize your Playhouse- color, of course, but also the address and curtains, too. The address on this one? Our anniversary!

So, I’m all set. I spent time today during Eleanor and Graham’s naps bagging up patterns.

A giant thank you to my fabulous pattern testers. They worked so hard to give me excellent feedback and I know it resulted in a very solid pattern.

You can pick up your own copy of The Card Table Playhouse pattern in digital form in my PDF pattern shop or at many of the stores listed on my Patterns page, under “Where to Buy.” If you are looking for an online source, Pink Chalk Fabrics carries my whole line.

I’m working on making a couple of samples for some stores, too. If you are a shop owner (or you know one!) and would be interested in carrying this pattern, I’d be happy to discuss wholesale details with you. I can be reached at shea (at) emptybobbinsewing (dot) com.

Now that was a fun post to write!

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71 Responses to The Card Table Playhouse Pattern

  1. Marcia Kosturock February 3, 2011 at 5:10 pm #

    I love this.. my kids are all grown now.. but I always did something like this with my daycare kids. Another idea you might want to consider is creating a tent with all of the camping gear outside and little camping critters..
    Also, a cave, with dinosaurs. When we did the cave, we would tape paper up under the bottom side of the table, and do cave drawings.. the kids had so much fun especially on rainy days.

    • Shea February 3, 2011 at 9:29 pm #

      Goodness! You have a lot of ideas! :) I’m glad you like the pattern!

  2. Mary Anne February 3, 2011 at 5:28 pm #

    Shea – this is brilliant – no wonder why you couldn’t wait until Friday! I’m going to share this with my young Mom friends…and my young Grandma friends! Congratulations!

    • Shea February 3, 2011 at 9:29 pm #

      Thanks, Mary Anne! I appreciate you sharing it. See you next week?

      • Mary Anne February 3, 2011 at 11:40 pm #

        You betcha’! Safe travels…and don’t forget your scarf and mittens! :)

  3. Cali February 3, 2011 at 6:07 pm #

    Hooray for your very own business! Yea for Empty Bobbin! Cheers for Shea!

    • Shea February 3, 2011 at 9:30 pm #

      Thanks for being a good cheerleader, Cali!

  4. kristin February 3, 2011 at 7:14 pm #

    Hooray!!!! I love this so much. I’m expecting my first little one in August, but I’m buying this pattern right now! (You don’t have to mail it – just bring it the next time you’re at Guild!) Congratulations on an awesome pattern!

    • Shea February 3, 2011 at 9:31 pm #

      Congrats, Kristin! Exciting! I’ll be at guild next week. Will you? I’ll bring it for you. And, I was able to refund your shipping on Paypal. Yeah! It’ll still mark as “shipped”, but you’ll get it from me.

      Thanks for buying it!

      • kristin February 4, 2011 at 5:32 pm #

        I got the refund! Thanks so much. I will definitely be at Guild next week (as long as the snow holds off…)

  5. Vicki February 3, 2011 at 7:22 pm #

    This is so cool! Congratulations on your .com and your pattern! I’m working on my first pattern right now too…. :)

    • Shea February 3, 2011 at 9:31 pm #

      Thanks! I’m excited to see what you’ve got cooked up, too!

  6. sincerelydesigns February 3, 2011 at 8:42 pm #

    SO proud to be the owner of one of the playhouse tents! Max loves his and I wish every little guy or guy could have their own. Very happy and proud of you!

    • Shea February 3, 2011 at 9:32 pm #

      Yeah! Thanks, Allison. I’ve been meaning to get a photo of Max’s, now that it’s all done. Think you can hook me up?

  7. Kate February 3, 2011 at 8:50 pm #

    That is so clever and looks fantastic!

    • Shea February 3, 2011 at 9:33 pm #


    • Judy Holt November 23, 2015 at 7:42 pm #

      Would it work wheel time make the house and embellishments out of felt?

  8. Greta February 4, 2011 at 4:09 am #

    This is such a clever idea and one I think my 8 and 10-year-old granddaughters would enjoy making with some help from Grandma. I gave them a sewing machine this year and they love ‘projects’ that can be used for imaginative play with their dolls and My Little Ponies. Do you think it is within the reach of young beginning sewists if they have available a little patient coaching from the sidelines? I can’t tell from the pictures, but it looks like a perfect project for practicing straight seams and simple corners, all good stuff and the basic building blocks for more elaborate projects ahead. They love challenges but, like the rest of us, not if they can’t succeed. I would appreciate your thoughts!

    • Shea February 4, 2011 at 10:04 am #

      Hi, Greta. Thanks for your question. I’ll answer it here in the comments in case someone else wonders, too. There are some steps that they can help with, but it’s definitely something they’d need you for. There are a lot of straight stitches and of course all of the tracing and ironing of the decorations where they can help. Once the walls start to go together, you’d want to be the one running the machine- there’s a lot of fabric (weight/size) to move around and it might be a bit much for them.

      It also takes some time, so if they are patient it’s good! :)

      I do have a downloadable pattern I’m sending to testers right now that should be ready in the next month or so. It’s super quick and involves only a straight stitch. Keep an eye out for it!

  9. jaybird February 4, 2011 at 6:05 am #

    congrats!! i know the combination of stress & excitement that you have leading up till the “release” day so i understand you wanting to reveal it a bit early!!

    your pattern looks great! i’m glad you made the decision to have a full pattern page & lots of pages of directions. nice job!!

    • Shea February 4, 2011 at 9:56 am #

      Thanks, Julie! It is funny- all of the excitement just to hit the “post” button. You are exactly right!

  10. Nancy Hammer February 4, 2011 at 8:23 am #

    Congratulations Shea, what a neat website, you must be so proud. I’m so glad I got to be one of the testers as Hazel loves her house and they use the top to store all her puzzles so no wasted space. Best Wishes, Nancy

    • Shea February 4, 2011 at 9:54 am #

      Thanks, Nancy! You were an awesome tester! Look for your copy of the pattern in the mail- I just packaged it up last night. I think you’ll find it’s much nicer than the home printer version you tested with! :)

      I love that Hazel enjoys her Playhouse so much. What a cutie she is!

  11. monica February 4, 2011 at 2:55 pm #

    congratulations!! and well done, it’s a great idea. My boys are a bit too old now, they would have totally loved it when they were younger…

    I’m sure you’ll sell loads!!

  12. Kris February 5, 2011 at 7:35 am #

    I love it! What a great pattern!

  13. Marymarybethbeth February 5, 2011 at 9:46 am #

    That’s the cutest thing I’ve ever seen!!! And certainly a step up from the sheet-over-the-table we used to get! What a lucky kid you have!

    • Shea February 6, 2011 at 12:33 am #

      Thank you! Agreed! A little more labor intensive, but yes, a step up! :)

  14. Allison February 5, 2011 at 11:37 am #

    I gave a shout out to you and this adorable pattern on my blog this morning. Can’t wait for more people to view it and see what a great product you have! Great job, friend!

    • Shea February 6, 2011 at 12:33 am #

      Thanks, Al! Glad Max likes his house!

  15. Carla February 5, 2011 at 4:50 pm #

    This is so, so cute, Shea! Congratulations for filling a whole that needed filled in the pattern field! Now, I want to know about those fabulous doors in the background behind the house….are those yours too! LOVE!

    • Shea February 6, 2011 at 12:35 am #

      Thanks, Carla. I’ll be bringing your “prize” pattern to guild Thursday!
      The doors are not mine, though I do want to steal them…. they belong to none other than Sorell Images! Sarah took all of the cover shots. They are in the (un)studio space that she uses… just a block over from Harper’s.

  16. Jen Eskridge February 6, 2011 at 7:18 am #

    OH my goodness, this is so cute! Very fun, indeed. My kids would be all over it!

  17. Ann Marie February 6, 2011 at 9:56 am #

    Great idea! Love the little details such as mail in the mailbox. If I had kids, I’d buy this pattern.

  18. The Lazy Mom February 7, 2011 at 8:26 am #

    O. M. Gee.

    That is adorable! Congratulations on all the exciting new things happening for you! How fun!

  19. Kay Hobby February 8, 2011 at 1:02 pm #

    Shea, a friend sent me the link for your pattern. I’m thinking of it for my granddaughters. My question is, what weight of fabric did you use..I was thinking maybe cotton duck?
    This is a very cute idea! Thanks :)

    • Shea February 8, 2011 at 1:36 pm #

      Hi, Kay. I used Kona cotton solids on the playhouse that is on the pattern cover. The directions are written for 44″ wide quilting fabrics, but the playhouse can easily be made from felt or you could use a heavier home dec type of fabric for the walls and quilting cotton for the rest of the house. I’ll post some photos soon of houses made from felt. A couple of my testers used felt and it is cute that way, too. Thanks for your question!

  20. Jennifer Lewis February 10, 2011 at 10:16 pm #

    Congrats!! I’m pretty sure my family made a tent from a 1970s patter (back in 1970, that is). What fun. Congrats, congrats, congrats!!

    • Shea February 10, 2011 at 10:46 pm #

      That’s funny! A friend of mine has one made from a pattern from the 70s- I bet it’s the same one!

  21. Melissa February 18, 2011 at 12:17 am #

    I just love this! I think it would be a perfect Christmas gift for my friend’s three kiddos (made up of course).

  22. Kayla February 22, 2011 at 10:37 am #

    I just think this is the cutest idea ever!

    by the way, I gave you a Stylish Blogger Award over on my site!

  23. Faith March 4, 2011 at 6:29 pm #

    This is the freaking coolest thing I have ever seen! Do you think a 4 year old would like this? I think I need to make one for me!!

    Ok, is this too snoopy? Where did you get your patterns printed up all fancy like that? I have digital patterns (pdf) but I would love to make nice printed ones like you!

    • Shea March 5, 2011 at 1:47 am #

      Thanks, Faith! Not snoopy at all! I printed the booklets at I’d seen a post by Hilary at Wee Wonderfuls where she’d printed her Gnome pattern with PsPrint. I’d wanted to order that pattern and it also doubled as a way to see a sample of the printers’ work. Loved ordering from them. Super easy to upload files and really easy to follow the status of your order. They often have specials on a variety of their products. I printed the template sheet at Tri-State Printing in Ohio. Another Printer I almost went with was Palmer Printing. Hope that helps!

      • Faith March 5, 2011 at 7:55 am #

        Thank you so much for the information! I love Hilary’s Wee Wonderfuls stuff – have her book. :) Off to check out the options, this should keep me busy today! Thanks again. :)

  24. Laura April 11, 2011 at 3:26 pm #

    I saw your playhouse on the Quilting Board forum and fell in love with it!! The woman there made it out of nylon she got from Joanns. I saw that you are going to post pictures of houses made out of felt, but have you heard about anyone making them out of nylon? Just wondering what you thought was best! I just ordered mine and can’t wait to get it!

    • Shea April 11, 2011 at 7:54 pm #

      Thanks! I’ve not used nylon before, nor have I seen someone use that. Just tested in in felt and in quilting cotton myself and also had testers try those. I liked the look of quilting cotton more since it doesn’t stretch over time like felt, though it does require a few extra steps to keep the edges from fraying.
      One person asked about the possibility of making it out of cotton duck (which I have seen in solid colors that would be bright). I’ve not sewn with it, but after looking at it I think it could be a nice sturdy option for the walls/roof. Regular cotton could be used for the rest.
      I just liked the (virtually limitless) options with quilting cotton. Can’t wait to hear what you use!

  25. Laura April 15, 2011 at 5:31 am #

    Thanks so much…I will probably use quilting cotton, since that is what I love, but not sure yet. I can’t wait to get started, but since my first granddaughter isn’t arriving til June 10th, I have plenty of time!! I am just so excited and my girls loved play houses, so I can’t wait to make this !!

  26. Julie Bernson April 15, 2011 at 1:31 pm #

    My children played with a playhouse like this at their Grandmother’s 20 years ago. I am so excited to be able to make one for my grandchildren.

    • Shea April 15, 2011 at 9:21 pm #

      Awesome! If you have a photo of the ‘vintage’ one, I’d LOVE to see it!

  27. Morgan November 23, 2011 at 10:22 pm #

    So amazing! Just saw on pinterest and can’t wait to make one for my son!

  28. k8ezoe December 13, 2011 at 4:25 pm #

    I am just about finished with my attempt at your pattern. I used a light weight denim for the walls/roof and whatever fabric scraps I had around the house for the rest. Hoping that my daughter enjoys it for Christmas this year!

    • Shea December 13, 2011 at 11:18 pm #

      Awesome! I would love to see it when you are finished! Lucky daughter!

  29. Shelly December 22, 2011 at 4:57 pm #

    Love your idea! I must learn to sew!

  30. gail wissmar February 18, 2012 at 11:36 pm #

    I have the pattern and can not wait to sew. Are the windows cut out? Thanks, gail

    • Shea February 21, 2012 at 7:55 pm #

      Hi, Gail! Yes, the windows are cut out. Be sure to let me know if you have any questions as you go along. Can’t wait to see your playhouse!

  31. Tricia June 29, 2012 at 7:14 pm #

    I am at the stage of putting everything on the walls and then sewing the walls together. I thought I would never get to this point, but now it’s going fast.
    I used a denim colored knit for the walls and roof and fabric scraps and the end of bolt pieces from Johann’s, Hobby Lobby, etc for the rest. Lots of fun, and I can’t wait until my grandson sees it, I know he will love it.

  32. Heather B July 25, 2012 at 1:13 pm #

    Hi! My little guy was with me @ Harper’s today & he LOVED the one on display there! He’s 3.5 already but Grandma & I are thinking of making him one but more big boy themed (fabric/decs etc). I need to get the pattern (saw it on fatquarter bc Harper’s was out)…. but curious – for the embellishments (mailbox/key etc – not windows) do you think velcro-on would work? After I left the store I was talking with my mom & my idea was to make it neutral fabric & a few sets of decorations to convert it from house to army tent to super hero hideout etc. Is that nuts? Would it work? I didn’t inspect it closely, but it seemed fairly sturdy (thinking you used some sort of interfacing?)….. Getting the pattern regardless but what you say will help with our fabric choices.

  33. Barbara August 10, 2012 at 11:50 am #

    I’m in the process of making this. I can’t wait to iron on the cute stuff to the walls! This is by far the cutest pattern out there. I cannot wait to finish and give it to my granddaughter. It’s killing me not to tell my son and daughter-in-law about this latest project, but I want it to be a surprise! It’s super cute!!

    • Shea August 14, 2012 at 4:19 pm #

      Yay! Can’t wait to see it!

  34. Katie March 6, 2013 at 12:28 am #

    I found this pattern at a quilt shop in Kansas City while there on vacation, and I made it a couple months ago. This has been so much fun for my 3-year old and I to play in all winter! Thank you! (Also, I am a beginner sewer and all the instructions were very clear and easy to follow, and easy to modify to fit my table)

  35. Janice March 24, 2014 at 1:14 pm #

    I’m going to make this for my grandkids to have at Nana’s house. I am going to embroidery their names on the leaves of the tree.

  36. Sandra Atkerson December 29, 2014 at 10:03 am #

    I just finished my playhouse. Thank you for such a well thought out pattern and instructions. My grand kids love it. I deviated some from the details adding some Velcro attached interactive pieces and also lined the playhouse so I could have “inside activities” as well. It was a big project and having the pattern and instructions were so helpful in not having to do as much pre thinking. Thank you for all the work you put into this and sharing it.

  37. Lynne Tilley August 25, 2015 at 11:29 pm #

    I am 57 years old and as a young child in the 60’s my Grandmother had a card table cloth playhouse we spent many hours playing in whenever we visited. She had 9 grandchildren that got a lot of pleasure from that, and I’m not sure where it ended up. I’m so happy to find your pattern to make for my own grandkids who are now 1, 3, and 7. The details in yours are just great! Thanks for making it!

  38. Theo owwsley September 28, 2015 at 10:08 pm #

    i love the pattern. I have a friend who is a foster mom for 2 todlers and wants this type of play house. How much is the pattern??

  39. Cathleen Markham June 30, 2016 at 12:03 pm #

    I’m half way finished and just saw the helpful message inside the back cover to visit this website. I’m lining mine with flannel and making the bushes and tree out of flannel so our little one can play with felt cut outs. She’s learning letters, numbers, shapes, etc. So, I’m going to cut out those as well as leaves and flowers to make this more interactive.

    Love this pattern!


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