I love browsing through miniature houses on Pinterest, Etsy, and Facebook. It is one of my favorite pastimes while I am using my stationary bike, and helps the hour pass by quickly. Many crafters base their designs on old Putz houses from the 1920s and after. While I am not a glitter kind of girl, I still enjoy seeing all the various styles people make. A lot of them are fairly simplistic, but there are more elaborate designs. Recently, I saw a post in a Facebook group where the poster had recreated a disintegrating cardboard Putz house that she thought was probably from the 1950s. Her husband had sketched out a rough pattern on graph paper and she wanted to share the pattern with the group, but she wasn’t sure how to do so. I thought it would be interesting to take someone else’s complicated design from sketch to finished SVG so I volunteered.
Thus the Abandoned Mansion is a collaboration of Shabby Shimmer Designs and A Cottage in the Forest. My pattern is not an exact replica of what she made. I changed the proportions a bit so that would size well with the Original Tim Holtz Village. Shabby also used reproduction Putz windows and had a Putz-style back (round hole in a blank back.) I provide Halloween themed window and door frames, and also offer two options for the back – either the traditional flat Putz back with a hole, or backs with windows and doors so that the Abandoned Mansion looks like it belongs with the Tim Holtz Village and the other buildings I design.
Below is the Abandoned Mansion made by Shabby Shimmer Designs out of embossed paper.
As you can see, when using the reproduction Putz windows the mansion doesn’t quite have the Halloween abandoned mansion feel that I wanted, though the moss does help create that impression. I decided to add creepy window frames. At some future date I will remake this as a Christmas Mansion and provide a file with suitably redesigned window and door frames for a more stately look.
Update 9/2022: I have now fixed the file for the Abandoned Mansion so that it will import into Cricut Design Space at the correct size. I have also included a 1″ square in each of the files so if Design Space breaks again in the future, you will know to resize the file. At the same time, I made some slight changes to a couple of the elements of the house. For example, the Popout Roofs are now wider. Each change I made is a change that you can eliminate with scissors if you prefer.
This Is How You Make the Abandoned Mansion
Size of the finished building as designed will be approximately 5 3/4″ W x 5 3/4″ D x 6 1/2″ H. These measurements do not include the size of the base. I consider this an intermediate/advanced pattern.
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Abandoned Mansion Pattern Specific Materials
- My free pattern for the Abandoned Mansion from the A Cottage in the Forest Library. Design #4. Get the password for free by filling out the form at the bottom of this page
- Orange Vellum Paper
- Optional if you want to make it look like an original Putz house: Reproduction Putz windows
- 7 Way Nail File and Buffer Block (aluminum cans only)
Favorite Materials Supply List
- Cardstock, Cardboard (Kraft Board), 30 point Chipboard, or Aluminum Can – your choice!
- Translucent Vellum or pictures to go in the windows.
- Glue – If using cardstock, I suggest Bearly Art Glue or Art Glitter Glue. For aluminum cans, I use Aleene’s The Ultimate Glue. For cardboard or chipboard houses, I like Aleene’s Fast Grab Tacky Glue. I put it in a bottle with a thin metal tip.
- If using chipboard or kraft colored cardboard, start with a base of either Liquitex white gesso or black gesso as primer.
- Decorative papers (optional – for cardboard.)
- Multi-surface satin finish acrylic paints or Ranger Distress Inks or Distress Crayons (for cardboard or cardstock.) Both the FolkArt and the Craftsmart paint brands work equally well. If you use distress inks, make sure they dry thoroughly before handling the pieces or you will have stained fingers. I speak from experience.
- Glitter Gel Pens. I love these for coloring in small details. The company also carries another set with metallic, neon and fluorescent gel pens.
- Tim Holtz Texture Paste or Tim Holtz Distress Grit Paste to make brick or stone chimneys, walls or sidewalks. I actually prefer grit paste as it makes my stonework look rougher or more craggy than texture paste.
- Stencils to use with the texture or grit paste to make stone or brickwork. Be careful to buy or make stencils that fit the scale of your building. For brickwork I often use the Honey Bee Salvaged Bricks stencil or the Stretcher Bricks stencil I cut myself. For stonework I usually use either the Chimney Stone stencil I made myself, or the Stampers Anonymous Tim Holtz Mini Set #28 Stencils.
- Bone folder (optional, but strongly suggested) A bone folder helps you make sharp folds when you are using cardstock or cardboard. I have found it even helps with aluminum cans. I now use my bone folder to deepen score lines all the time.
- A Cutting Machine like a Cricut Maker or Cricut Explore
- A hand-held craft blade like an X-Acto knife or Cricut TrueControl Knife. I also have a hand-held knife called the Excel Knife. It is nice in that it uses the cheaper craft blades, but the blade doesn’t work its way loose like the blade in my X-Acto knife often does. You will also need a cutting mat or a glass media mat to cut on.
- Metal Edged Ruler with cork backing
- An Embossing Machine and folders.
Steps to Make the Abandoned Mansion
- Download the Abandoned Mansion pattern from A Cottage in the Forest Library
- Import the Abandoned Mansion pattern into your design software
- Cut out the pattern – I use my Cricut Maker
- Texture the pieces (necessary if using aluminum cans.) I use my Sizzix Bigkick
- Glue on window frames, then attach vellum windows
- Assemble the house structure
- Add bottom insert & roofs
- Attach chimney & final trim
- Make base, including Jack-O-Lantern fence, and decorate as desired
How To Make The Abandoned Mansion
Download the Abandoned Mansion Pattern
Download the Abandoned Mansion pattern from A Cottage in the Forest Library. It is Design #4. Don’t forget to unzip it. The pattern is available in multiple formats – as a SVG (scalable vector graphics), DXF (drawing eXchange format), as a studio3 file for Silhouette, or as PDF file. I now include a 1″ square in with all of my SVG, DXF and Studio3 files. Scale the pattern so that the square is 1″ to make the building in the size it was designed. Of course the wonderful thing about SVG files is that you can easily scale them to make your building whatever size you would like.
Choose between whether you want a regular back with the light hole at the bottom of the building (this is the option I make below) or if you want to use the Putz Back, where the light hole is in the back of the building.
Import the Abandoned Mansion Pattern into Design Software
I included the bottom insert piece as this building has a large footprint and you may need it to stiffen up the sides at the bottom of the building depending upon what material you are using. It probably isn’t necessary if you are cutting out of cardboard, but is needed with the aluminum cans and cardstock. This tends to happen whenever any wall is more than a few inches wide. Use heavy cardstock or a thicker aluminum can.
If you are using a Cricut machine, remember to change the solid score lines in Cricut Design Space from cut to score and attach them to their shapes before sending them through your cutting machine. Here is a great tutorial from Jennifer Maker’s website on attaching score lines. The score lines are the set of lines included with many of the building shapes. There are a lot of pieces to this building and thus a lot of score lines.
You will see that I have included some optional shutters and boards in the Abandoned Mansion files. You will need to duplicate these items if you need want to use more than the number I provided. Do NOT change the cut lines on the shutters to score lines. However, you still need to attach the horizontal shutter cut lines to the shutters.
Cut out all of your cardstock, cardboard or aluminum can pieces using my pattern. If you are using cardboard and don’t intend to glue glitter onto your house, I suggest visiting Lucy Foxworth’s blog at Paper Glitter Glue where Lucy explores multiple ways to paint and texture your cardboard house.
This pattern is complicated enough that I named each of the main pieces we will use. You can find a list of the pieces and a picture of each in the PDF included with the SVG file.
Texture The Pieces
If desired, texture each of the house shapes using your embossing machine and texture folders. I used the Sizzix Tim Holtz “Croc” folder for the walls. This has been discontinued, but a similar embossing folder is the “Rock Template.” Then, I rubbed side 4: Even Out, of the 7 Way Nail File and Buffer Block over the rock bumps. This gently rubbed some of the color off the cans, crating an aged look.
I used the Crackle embossing folder by Darice, making sure that peaks of the crackle were on the outside, to texture the window frames and doors. Then I ran them through a second time sandwiched between two cutting pads. This flattens the impression made by the embossing folder but still leaves enough of an impression that it makes the window frames look aged.
If you are making your Abandoned Mansion out of cardboard, this is when you would either glue on your decorative papers or paint each of your pieces. Once your paint is dry, apply a layer of clear glue and glitter if you are making a traditional glitter house.
Glue On Window And Door Trim
For the front door, sandwich a piece of vellum between the attached front door and the trim. Be careful not to smear glue into the window pane areas.
Glue on all of the rest of the window and door trim. You can add them after you put the building together, but it is much easier to add while the walls are flat.
Use glue or 1/8″ double sided adhesive tape to attach vellum to the inside of the building pieces. Again, this is much easier while the walls are flat. If you use glue to attach the velum, be careful not to use too much as it can bleed into your window space and ruin the look.
Sign and date the inside of your work now. When I use a bottom insert, I sign the insert. Fold along the score lines.
Assemble The House Structure
Fold the Inside Bend and the Tower pieces. Glue the Tower into a rectangle and then glue to the Inside Bend, aligning the bottoms and the cutout. I use plastic binder clips to hold the pieces together while the glue dries.
These next steps I will show using cardstock. I glued the house together originally using one way, but over time I realized there was a different way to glue it together that made a cleaner finish. I managed to adjust my aluminum can house, but didn’t want to take it completely apart again to show these steps.
Glue the Curved Front to the Tower, making sure to always align the bottoms.
Glue each Popout to a side, wrapping the tabs of the Popout to the back of the side..
Glue the two backs together.
Glue the sides onto each side of the backs.
Glue the Tower/ Curved Front to the sides, completing gluing the building together.
Add Bottom Insert & Roofs
Check the fit of the bottom insert piece, adjusting any of the fold lines as necessary. You may need to trim the corners. I like to lower it in from the top. Do not glue in the bottom insert at this time, just let it square up the building before you glue on the roofs. You may need to remove the bottom insert and reach into your building from the bottom to push the roofs together later.
Glue on the Curved Front piece roof. You can either glue this roof on flat, or glue it on so it slopes down slightly. Glue on the Popout roofs. These roofs will slope down slightly.
Glue down the front part of the Main Roof, fitting the notch around the spire. There is also a small cut on the right side that slides into the side of the building. By gluing down just the front part of the roof first, you can lift up the back part to help center the roof correctly. Then glue down the back side of the Main Roof. With this type of roof, the tabs of the building are bent in just slightly to hold the roof. You may need to turn over the building and insert a pen through the holes in the bottom insert to push the tabs against the roof. Attach the Smaller Roof, again fitting the notch around the spire. You may need to trim this notch a little bit.
Attach the Smaller Roof, again fitting the notch around the spire.
Attach Chimney and Final Trim
Glue on the Tower Roof, the Chimney, and the Front Step. Lastly, if, desired, glue on the shutters and boards randomly around the building.
Make Base, Including Jack-O-Lantern Fence, and Decorate As Desired
For the Abandoned Mansion I start with a rectangle of aluminum 7 1/2 inches wide by 7 1/2 inches deep. I cut a small circle under where the cottage will sit, then texture the base and turn under 1/4 inch on each side. This allows me to string fairy lights under the bases of the different buildings in my village. In this case I have ironed black foil HTV (heat transfer vinyl) onto my base, and textured it with the Darice Brick Wall embossing folder.
The base is too large to fit through my Sizzix Bigkick. So here is a secret: you don’t need a manual die cutting machine to use embossing folders. Put a corner of your base in your embossing folder, place on a firm surface (I use my granite counter) and hit the top of the embossing folder with a rubber mallet. Make sure you strike all over the surface you want to emboss. Then move the embossing folder to a different area of your base and repeat.
I designed my fence so that you can use it plain or attach Jack-O-Lanterns (included), bats, skulls, or whatever you would like to it. You can attach on every post or on just a few posts.
To make the Jack-O-Lantern fence, import the Abandoned Mansion Fence SVG into Cricut Design Space. Determine how many fence segments you want to use. I used four 4-segment fences, plus a one segment connective segment. Decide how many posts you want topped with a Jack-O-Lantern. I decided on one per post.
In Design Space, duplicate your Jack-O-Lanterns until you have as many as you need. Align the Jack-O-Lanterns on top of the fence.
Highlight the fence segment (it should be grouped with the score lines.) Click the ungroup button.
Now highlight the grey wall section and the Jack-O-Lanterns, but NOT the score lines. Press Weld. The welded wall will turn orange. You can change it back to grey or any other color you want.
Highlight the welded fence section and the original score lines and press attach. You will want to send the score lines to the front if you want them to show on top.
Here are the fence segments I decided on. The posts without Jack-O-Lanterns will be glued behind the other posts to attach the wall sections together. I cut my fence out of black cans, and then the separate Jack-O-Lantern heads out of adhesive glitter tape which I then glued on top of the black fence. You may want to cut the fence out multiple times and glue the layers together to make the fence thicker.
Enjoy making the Abandoned Mansion! I would love to see your finished design. Please share a photo of it with me by emailing me at Jackie@acottageintheforest.com or tagging me (@acottageintheforest) on Instagram
MAKER’S GALLERY FOR THE ABANDONED MANSION
FREE CUT FILES & PATTERN FOR THE ABANDONED MANSION
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