Gingerbread House Tutorial

This is more of a guide than an exact pattern because tension and the hook and yarn you choose will potentially affect the exact number of stitches and, possibly, the number of rows you'll need in each component but don't let that put you off because it's very easy to adjust. I've given the stitch counts and numbers of rows I used for my gingerbread house here, as a starting point, but just bear in mind they are just that, a starting point, and not necessarily definitive. You can read a bit more about the process of making my version here, if you're interested.

What you need:
  • yarn in an appropriate "gingerbread" colour. About 100g of aran weight cotton. I used Schachenmayr SMC Catania Grande in "cinnamon"(shade no 3283) . It doesn't matter what type or thickness of yarn you choose really - getting a good colour is more important
  • white yarn in the same weight as your "gingerbread" yarn. About 50g. Again I used some Schachenmayr Catania Grande because I had it, but any white yarn in the same weight as your "gingerbread" yarn will do.
  • small quantities of white and ice blue yarn for the doors and windows, ideally in a thinner weight of yarn than the yarn you are using for the bulk of the project. I used Phildar Phil Coton 3 in "white" and "jade" (shade no 0058).
  • a hook in the appropriate size for your chosen "gingerbread" yarn. If the ball band indicates a range of hook size, opt for the smaller one. I used a 4mm one with the Catania Grande which made a nice, dense fabric which is what I was after
  • a hook in the right size for your thinner weight of yarn. I used a 3mm one with the Phil Coton.
  • some stiffish cardboard or plastic that can be cut with a craft knife or sharp scissors. My template panels are cut from styrene sheet, a supply of which D has in his model railway workshop. I chose this because I wanted my house to be potentially washable, but if you're not bothered about that, stiff cardboard is fine. Use what you've got to hand. 
  • a fat quarter of cotton lining fabric 
  • sewing thread in white and "gingerbread" colour
  • sewing needle
  • tapestry needle
  • beads, buttons, felt bobbles - whatever you fancy to decorate the house 
  • pencil, ruler and sharp scissors, or a sharp craft knife, steel ruler and cutting mat
  • sticky tape (optional)
  • tea, to fuel your work (essential!)
The finished house is 20 cm long, 16 cm wide and 16.5 cm high at its tallest point.

OK, let's get started!

To begin with, you need to draw and cut out cardboard templates. These act both as a guide for making sure your crochet pieces are the right size and as the stiffening layer between your crochet and the lining fabric. You need this to make sure that your house stands up nicely - no one wants saggy gingerbread walls with subsidence problems! (Witches living in gingerbread houses don't tend to take out house insurance!)

For what it is worth, my advice is to take a lot of care with this stage - how carefully and accurately you cut your panels will affect the outcome of the whole project. As my husband wisely says always, from long experience with cutting and measuring plastic, metal and wood, "measure twice, cut once!".

You need to measure and cut out the following:
  • 2 rectangular roof panels 18 cm by 11.5 cm. These will overhang the walls slightly at the sides. That is intentional. Where else are the sugar icicles going to hang from, should there be any?!
  • 2 side-wall panels 18 cm by 7.5 cm
  • 1 floor panel 18 cm by 14 cm
  • 2 gable end panels. Measure these out as follows. Draw a rectangle 14 cm wide at the base and 15.3 cm tall. Measure 7cm in along the top of the rectangle and mark.  Check that you have exactly 7 cm each side of the mark. This mark is the apex of the gable. Now mark off 7.5 cm up each side of the rectangle. Draw a diagonal line from these marks on the sides to the mark at the top. Each diagonal line should measure 10.5 cm and you should end up with a panel shaped like the one in the pic below:

Now you need to start making your crochet panels. These are basically very simple pieces made mostly in single crochet (double crochet in UK terms). For the roof panels I used a fancier stitch which I found in Sarah Hazell's "200 Crochet Stitches" called "Outline Squares". I chose this because it replicates a "tile" effect and by using the white yarn for the outline bits, it looks like snow that has settled in the crevices of the roof-tiles.

I can't find any YouTube video or other tutorial for this stitch but a good alternative would be "pastel block stitch" which Sue has a good, clear tutorial for here. Use the gingerbread colour for the rows Sue does in lime and white for those she does in pink to get a similar "snow on tiles" effect.

But you don't have to do a fancy stitch for the roof panels, you can do the whole lot in nice simple single crochet and add a bit of snow afterwards with lines of embroidery, if that feels easier.

Although making the panels is dead easy - all you need to know is how to do single crochet (double crochet in UK terms), - it's really important that your crochet pieces mirror the exact size of your template panels otherwise the house won't fit together nicely. There is no way other than trial and error on this because everybody's tension is different and it will vary according to your chosen yarn and hook size, but the pieces are not very big and if you have to rip out a few rows before you get the sizing right, it's not a big deal - nothing to the disappointment you will feel when you come to assemble the house and find you've got bulging excess wall or floor that won't align properly. Remember that crochet stretches, so err on the side of slightly too small rather than slightly too big.

Treat your hook and yarn a bit like you would a pencil and paper - experiment, assess and erase if necessary. Keep a piece of paper handy and make a note as you go, of what stitch count / number of rows work, so that when you come to make the second piece that pairs with the first, you don't have to experiment all over again.

Here goes then, but please do treat my numbers here as provisional only and be prepared to tweak them to fit.

For the side panels I made two rectangles 29 stitches across and 12 rows of single crochet deep. You want to avoid a curvy bottom edge so you might need to use a bigger hook size for the initial chain or use foundation crochet for the first row (which I increasingly do these days as I find it difficult not to end up with that first row being shorter than subsequent ones). There's a good video tutorial on how to do this by Moogly here.

For the two gable ends I began at the apex and worked down. This is what I did for mine but you'll need to keep checking the triangular part to make sure you're on track with the shape. Feel free to omit an increase, or add one as necessary, if you feel it needs it.

Row 1 Chain 2 to begin and make 2 sc stitches in the second chain from the hook.
Row 2 Chain 1 and turn, make 2 sc in each of the 2 st (4 st)
Row 3 Chain 1 and turn, make 2 sc in first st then 1 sc in each of next 3 st (5 st)
Row 4 Chain 1 and turn, make 2 sc in first st then 1 sc in each of next 4 st (6 st)
Row 5 Chain 1 and turn, make 2 sc in first st then 1 sc in each of next 5 st (7 st)
Row 6 Chain 1 and turn, make 2 sc in first st then 1 sc in each of next 5 st, make 2 sc in last st (9 st)
Row 7 Chain 1 and turn, make 2 sc in first st then 1 sc in each of next 7 st, make 2 sc in last st (11 st)
Row 8 Chain 1 and turn, make 2 sc in first st then 1 sc in each of next 9 st, make 2 sc in last st (13 st)
Row 9 Chain 1 and turn, make 2 sc in first st then 1 sc in each of next 12 st (14 st)
Row 10 Chain 1 and turn, make 2 sc in first st then 1 sc in each of next 13 st (15 st)
Row 11 Chain 1 and turn, make 2 sc in first st then 1 sc in each of next 14 st (16 st)
Row 12 Chain 1 and turn, make 2 sc in first st then 1 sc in each of next 15 st (17 st)
Row 13 Chain 1 and turn, make 2 sc in first st then 1 sc in each of next 16 st (18 st)
Row 14 Chain 1 and turn, make 2 sc in first st then 1 sc in each of next 17 st, make 2 sc in last st (20 st)
Row 15 Chain 1 and turn, make 2 sc in first st then 1 sc in each of next 18 st, make 2 sc in last st (22 st)
Row 16 - 29 Chain 1 and make 1 sc in every stitch
Fasten off

For the floor panel I made one rectangle 29 stitches across and 26 rows of single crochet deep.

For the two roof panels I had 33 st running across which gave me eight "tiles" across outlined in snow. The outline square stitch pushes the stitches together a bit, so I needed more stitches than I had needed in the side panels even though the measurement is the same across. If you work the roof panels in straightforward single crochet you'll need the same number of stitches you used across in the side panels and floor panel. Again, you need to keep measuring your crochet against the templates you've cut and keep them as accurate as you can. A few millimetres here or there can (and will) make all the difference.

Once you've made your two roof panels, crochet them together, in the back loop only of the two last rows using similar weight white yarn along the top edge, with wrong sides facing. Once joined they should open out like a book as in the pic below:

This makes a nice line of snow along the top of the roof and acts as a hinge so that you can use your gingerbread house as a box.

It's quite a good idea to block your finished panels once you've made them all. The crochet is stretched taut, as it's sewn on, so you can skip this stage, if you want, but I pinned mine out on the ironing board, matching them again to my templates to ensure a good fit, and spritzed them generously with water from a plant-mister and allowed them to dry at this stage.

Now you can add some decorative elements.

Make windows and a door as follows:

For the two rectangular windows in the side walls, make two single crochet rectangles in your thinner ice blue yarn with an appropriately smaller hook. Mine were 8 st across and 8 rows deep. Work an edge of single crochet in your thinner white yarn all round the window, placing 2 stitches in each corner, to get round the bends. With a length of the same white yarn, make the window-pane divisions with a few simple running stitches.

For the two round windows in the gable ends, using your ice blue yarn again, make a magic ring and then chain 2 and make 11 half double crochet stitches (half trebles in UK terms) into the ring. (12 st)

Join with a slip st.

Chain 2 and then make a half double crochet st into the same st and 2 half double crochet stitches in each remaining stitch around. (24 st)

Join with a slip st. to the top of the first ch 2.  Change to white yarn and ch 1. Make 1 sc in the first st and 2 sc in the next st, all the way round. Ie you increase in every other st. (36 st)

Fasten off. Make another window in the same way.

For the door, make a simple rectangle of single crochet in your thinner white yarn. Mine was 7 st across and 10 rows deep.

If you like the idea of a fan-light at the top of the door, like mine,  - the Brothers Grimm meet suburbia! - join in your ice blue yarn in the first st of your last row. Now make 7 double crochet (treble crochet UK) stitches into the 4th st along. Sl st into the last st of the row. The stitches will fan out to make the glassy fan-light effect above the door. Fasten off.

Outline the door in white, as you did the windows, with a row of single crochet stitches worked all round with two stitches at all right angle corners. Fasten off.

Add a brightly coloured bead or bobble for a jelly-tot knocker! My little pink felt ball is a bit too big really for the door, but from a distance it stands out nicely and seems to work so I left it.

Sew the windows and door onto the crocheted panels, in whatever positions you want, using sewing thread and small oversewing stitches.

Sew onto the remaining wall space and onto the roof panels, beads, buttons or whatever other decorative bits and bobs you fancy, to represent the sweets with which all good gingerbread houses are adorned.

So far so good! Take a breather!

Now you need to prepare the lining for the panels. Place your templates on the wrong side of your fat quarter of fabric and mark with tailor's chalk or a soft pencil about 2 cm away from each edge. This will give you an overlap to make the inner panels nice and neat. Cut out the marked pieces. Lay each of your template pieces on the wrong side of its corresponding fabric piece. Fold over the overlap and if using cardboard, press. You can't do this if you're using plastic, obviously, or you'll melt it! Using sewing thread of any colour, make running stitches in the folded part of the overlap, all the way round and tie in a knot when you reach where you started. You can just see the tails of my two ends knotted together in the bottom right hand corner of this pic of one of the gable ends. I should have used a contrasting colour thread so you could see the stitches properly. Sorry.

This tacking holds the fabric in place while you sew on the crochet panels. It's a little bit tricky getting started as the fabric can slip against the smooth surface of the template, but be patient. If it's driving you nuts to keep everything in place, cheat, and use sticky tape to anchor the edges down.

Once the lining is all anchored on the template pieces, it is time to begin to sew the crochet onto them. Line up each crochet panel with its corresponding fabric-lined piece, with the wrong sides together.

The edges should align snugly as you can see in the pic below. Using matching sewing thread, oversew the edges of the crochet and the fabric covered-edge of each template piece together. Tuck in any loose yarn ends between the crochet and the fabric-covered panel.

Here is the panel from the above pic once it's finished.

When you come to the roof panels, sew each lined piece separately onto its corresponding crochet piece, matching the bottom edges and leaving the central seam free, to act as a hinge.

Once you're finished, you should have a load of gingerbread sandwiches! Crochet on the outside and lining on the inside with your stiffening cardboard or plastic, invisible but firm, in the middle. In the pic below you can see my full set of panels - two gable ends, two side walls, one floor piece and the hinged roof. The crochet lies nice and taut against the lined panels and everything is ready to assemble! Exciting!

OK, now we're on to the home straight! Take each wall panel and line it up with the edge on the floor panel that it should meet to make the house. All the lining sides should face inwards and all the crochet should face outwards. Using your gingerbread yarn and a tapestry needle, oversew each join, holding the panels at 90 degrees to one another so that your stitches secure the walls nice and upright.

The house will still open flat at this point as you can see in the pic below.

Once you've joined all the walls to the floor, fold them up one by one and join the walls where they meet at the corners in the same way.

Pop your roof pieces on top and beginning at the apex of the roof, oversew onto the diagonal ends of the gable walls on both ends of one roof piece only.

Leave the other piece free. It acts as the lid and should swing easily up and down. There is a slight overhang of the roof so your oversewing stitches won't quite reach to the bottom of the roof piece along the diagonal joins and you won't be able to sew along the lower horizontal edge but don't worry about that - it doesn't need it. Sew in all stray ends and you're done!

Hansel and Gretel where are you?! 

1 comment:

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit me at Mrs TT's and comment. I love to read what you write.