How to Make a Tiny Gingerbread House Ornament (from Plastic Canvas!)

01 Dec 2010


Yup, I'm pretty excited about this tutorial. Because I want you all to experience the wonder that is plastic canvas, I figured out a very simple way to make this tiny gingerbread house. It's about 2" square, and just as cute as it can be.

If you're new to plastic canvas (heh heh), you might take a gander at this past tutorial and this one to glean some basics on handling your canvas and yarn.


So, if you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you've likely seen this photo. For this project, I'm using 10-count plastic canvas – the stuff in the middle. You can also use 7-count, but your house will end up larger.

(If you can't find the 10-count in your local craft store, you can also get it online.)


I don't want you to get too hung up on making a formal pattern here. I'll show you the pieces you need to cut, and you can decide on the final size. I usually cut my front/back piece first, and then use it as a measuring guide for the rest of my pieces.

You can draw cutting lines on your canvas with a fine-point Sharpie, or just cut freehand. One sheet of canvas will make a handful of these ornaments.

The only crucial bit is that your front/back piece needs to be an odd number of squares wide. That's so you can form a peak at the center, like you see here.


My side pieces are the same height as the front/back walls (minus the peaked roof part), and as long as I want my house to be.

For the roof, I take the length of the side wall and add two squares, so my roof hangs over a bit.


Once you have all seven pieces cut, then it's time to stitch 'em! I'm using good old Continental Stitch here, and two strands of pearl cotton embroidery floss. For this size canvas, I like a crewel embroidery needle, even though it's sharp and needlepoint needles are usually dull. This size fits through the canvas holes nicely.

I'm pretty informal about it, though – I don't work in rows. I just fill in the most important details first, and then fill in around them.

So, for the house front, I first stitched in the door where I wanted it, and then filled in the brown. (If your door is an odd number of stitches wide, you can give it a curved top like this.)


Now, on the side walls (and the back), I left some areas un-stitched. These spots are where I'll put some tiny shutters in a moment.

(Again, I stitched this informally, filling in the outline first, then figuing out where I wanted those pink windows to be, and then filling in around the shutter spaces. Longtime needlepointers may find this method rather gauche, but it works for me.)


Here are my little shutters, which are just three squares wide. I stitched their centers, and then covered all the edges with overcast stitch.

You can glue them right to the base pieces with tacky glue, being careful not to let excess glue ooze through and stick your project to the table. (Not that this has happened to me or anything.) Give the glue an hour or so to dry before you proceed with the rest of the project.


So why am I leaving un-stitched areas to glue these things to? Well, plastic canvas, once stitched, is pretty thick. By leaving the space under the shutters unstitched, I'm creating a little recessed area. That makes the whole thing nice and flat when it's glued together.


You can stitch up your roof pieces in any design you like. Set these aside for the moment, because we're going to assemble our little house first.


Here are all the pieces we'll be assembling first. Lay them out in this configuration, with the base in the center.


We'll be joining these pieces with a whip stitch. First, you'll sew the bottom edge of each front, back, and side piece to the base piece.

If you have a long enough strand of floss, you can do all four seams as one continuous seam that travels around the square. (Does that make sense? The next photo might help.)


Here's what that looks like when you're done.


Then, you just fold up the walls and whip stitch at the four corners. Here's where things can get a little fiddly in places….


To end a seam, you'll pass your needle under the back of some nearby stitches and then cut the floss. Sometimes, manouvering through these stitches will be challenging. Two important tricks to remember:

  • You can always pass your needle right out through the wall of the house if you need to.
  • Needle-nose pliers really help push or pull the needle through tight spaces.


Anyway. Now we'll add the roof, which is way easier. Just whip stitch the two pieces together in the center and then finish the edges with overcast stitch.


Now, bust out your tacky glue again and put a fairly generous bead along the entire roof line.


Then, press the roof in place. If any excess glue oozes out, don't worry too much - we'll cover up this join in a minute.

Press the roof down for a minute or so while the glue sets, and then leave it to dry for an hour or so.


You can, of course, needlepoint all the decorations into your house, but I thought it would be much simpler to glue them on. So I dug into my Bag of Assorted Sparklies. (Tweezers make tiny sequin-handling so much easier.)


Then I grabbed out some tiny ric rac and glued a strand over the point where I glued on the roof. You only need to do this at the front and back - the sides won't show at all.

I just cut the strand a little too long, as you see here, and then glued it in place. When the glue dried, I cut away the excess.


And if you want to add a hanger, just take a stitch through the peak of the roof at the center, and knot the floss in a loop.

If you make one of these, I'd love to see! Will you add it to the CraftyPod Reader Projects Flickr Group?


AWW! The little shutters are so cute! Thanks so much, I'll be linking.

Absolutely adorable!

i remember making these for xmas at school :) most of the houses i made probably fell apart (i was only 5 :p) but i do remember it being fun to decorate them :)

Plastic Canvas is one craft I have never done. I do love working with miniatures. This is the cutest ever! Love it and I think this is the nudge I need to try it! Thanks for sharing :)

OMG I cannot wait to do this! Thanks for sharling!!

OMG I cannot wait to do this! Thanks for sharling!!

omg this is absolutely luvly it will be featured at

Wow, I remember doing this with my cousins and grandma as a kid - I'm re-inspired!

Great use of the plastic canvas!

EEEEP! So cute! :) Could make a cute xmas tree decoration, or that perfect little touch on the xmas dinner table.

Hee hee, thank you! I adore that idea - couldn't you see these as little place card holders?

Oh how I've missed your crafting tutorials!
Can I beg for a felt dove ornament, if your mojo is in full swing????

I've missed them, too - they've been really hard to sustain this year.

What kind of felt dove are you looking for? Something very dimensional, or more flat and embellished? I may have a bunch of links for you...

I'm back. Having examined this thoroughly, and given it proper analysis, having triangulated the hypotenuse and diagrammed the quadrilaterals, I have to tell you that this is the cutest damn thing I've ever seen in my life. That includes my dog.

Rock on, sister friend!

Yaaaaay! This is live! Being the proud owner of two of you PC gingerbread houses - made many, many years ago, I can say with authority - this one is your best yet! And I totally love that it is so tiny. It would even fit in a doll house!

I love this! So cute! My Mom has a huge one, and I've been working on making a copy of it for years, but it's so darn big! This is perfect! I don't know why I never thought of a smaller version!

Thank you, Rebecca! Man, I've been wanting to make a large one for years, but never seem to get it finished, either. I was really hoping that the tiny size would encourage more people to take the plunge and give it a try.

I'm not naming names, here, but this puts to shame any of those silly paper house ornaments I've seen around! :P

I love this project! Thank you so much. :) It would be lovely to wrap your presents and add one of these on top.

That is so cute, and just perfect for using up little pieces of canvas. :)

I love it! So adorable.

Really cute ! I love it !

This is so so cute! I love it.

Tis the seasson! OMG, how cute your house is Diane!

Merci beaucoup
C'est absolument superbe

Super sweet!

Excellent - I'd love to see a picture of your version! If you go to the Flickr Group page: There should be a link in the upper right that says, "Add Something?" Click that, and it'll walk you through. (You'd just need to upload the image to your own Flickr account first.)

Thank you so much for this tutorial, I'd never even thought about plastic canvas before and I love needlepoint so it's opened up a whole new source of inspiration. I made one and linked back to you, as soon as I figure out how to post to your Flickr you'll have my photo in there too.

I love this project. I made one and posted it on my blog today with a link to your site

Next I will try and figure out how to post to your flcker group. Thanks for the great ornament, it goes fast and you can be as creative with the design of the house as you want. I did not have to buy any thing since I had all I needed in my stash!

Your house came out so cute! I love how you did your roof. Thanks so much for sending a photo to Flickr, and thank you for linking to me in your post!

Just saw the flurry of links in twitter. This is so cute! You make great tutorials! :) It's funny. I've had ornaments on the brain since last year when I made the star for Pam ... still haven't picked what I'll make her this year. Shhhh, don't say anything. ;)

Aw, thank you, Alice! And I won't say a word... :-)

These are so adorable..and you could be so verstile with the embellishments. It would also be very cute to do some of these as birdhouses in spring..i.e. easter-tree decoration. Lovely!

oh, my God! this is great! I think that it,s the best present for my best friend! thank you very much :) I repeat, but you make great tutorials! :)

About how long does this project take and how many could you get from one sheet? Never done plastic canvas before but I am doing Gingerbread Houses with my neices and nephews and thought this would be a great addition to the Christmas tradition. Is there different sizes of "floss" or is this the embroidery floss? Sorry for so many questions- I'm thinking of leaving the "window" open and putting a family picture in each one. If you do this year to year it would be a great keepsake ornament.

OOh, I love that photo idea so much!!

Let's see... I estimate that, at the size I've made my house, you could get at least four houses from a standard 10.5 x 13.5" sheet of the 10-count canvas. (Maybe four and part of one more.)

It's hard to estimate the length of time, simply because different people stitch at different speeds. Your first one could take as long as 4-5 hours. Once you've had that practice with joining the pieces, then maybe more like three hours? (If anyone's made one and reading this comment, I'd love your take on this question.)

There are two basic types of floss available in most craft stores: there's the six-strand embroidery floss that you pull apart into sections. You can use this stuff, but you might want to experiment a little and see how many strands will pass through the canvas easily and give you good coverage. I usually use between 3 and 5, depending on the project.

There's also a floss called "pearl cotton" floss, and this is what I used for this project. It's twisted more like a tiny rope, so you use it as is, without separating it.

If you do make one of these with the family photo in the window, I would LOVE to see a picture!

I am arriving late to this party, but I just found this. What an adorable project!! I have taught plastic canvas needlepoint for years, and it's one of my favorite projects to work with kids. One little tip I found over the years: when joining the sides of pieces, I like to stitch it twice - once going up, and once going down. It makes a sweet "X" on the edges and really covers the sides. I think I'll make a whole village of these little cuties! Thanks so much!!!

Ooh, that's a wonderful tip, Pat - thank you so much!

Diane, I am going to finish a Christmas house that I needlepointed onto 13 count canvas. Can I follow your tutorial, but insert Styrofoam as a structure?

Hi, Kathie - I don't see why not! I'd love to see how that turns out.

Diane...these are the cutest! I need to make 13 of these for Xmas gifts...I've never worked with plastic canvas or used the pearl cotton embroidery thread. What size of the pearl cotton embroidery thread do you use? I've see it in size 5 and 3, with the 5 being thinner.

Hi, Amy - I would go with the 5 for best coverage. Wow, 13?! Happy Stitching! :-)

Perfect! Thanks...where did you find the green and pink flower shaped sequins on the front of the house? Love those! Thanks Diane!

Hi, Amy - Hmmm... I think I picked up a bag of assorted sequin scraps at a thrift store somewhere. One of my many hoarded craft bits. :-)