Create a Fun School Bus Playhouse for Kids Using a Card Table

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Everything you need to create a school bus playhouse is easily available, including felt, a few sewing supplies and a card table. If you have basic sewing skills, in just a few hours you can delight the kids in your life with this project.

A cute school bus playhouse should help get the kids ready for the real thing.
A cute school bus playhouse should help get the kids ready for the real thing. (Image: Debbie Williams)

Things You'll Need

  • Card table
  • 3 yards golden yellow felt
  • Scissors
  • Tape measure
  • Clear tape
  • 1 yard black felt
  • 4 yards fusible web
  • 8-by-10-inch squares of red felt, 2
  • 8-by-10-inch squares of  white felt, 2
  • 8-by-10-inch square of orange felt, 1
  • 1/2 yard of  8- or 12-gauge clear vinyl
  • Parchment paper
  • 1/16-inch  drill bit
  • Power drill
  • 5/8-inch eye screws, 2
  • 1/4-inch dowel
  • 1/4-inch dowel finials, 2
  • Small plastic rings
  • Free printable template
Felt is easy to work with.
Felt is easy to work with. (Image: Debbie Williams)

Step 1: Cut the Top

Set up the card table. Spread the golden yellow felt over the card table. Cut the felt to fit 1/2 inch larger than the tabletop on all sides. Most tables will be about 34 inches square.

Measure and cut the tabletop piece.
Measure and cut the tabletop piece. (Image: Debbie Williams)

Step 2: Cut the Panels

Cut four panels from the golden yellow felt to be the same width as the piece for the tabletop and the length from the top to the floor. Most tables will use a 34-by-28-inch panel.

All four panels should be the same size.
All four panels should be the same size. (Image: Debbie Williams)

Step 3: Prepare the Letters

Tape the right side of the printed template to a sunny window. Tape a piece of fusible web with the smooth side up, over the template and trace the letters, which will be in reverse. You will need four sets of "school bus," plus the stop sign and the letters for "stop." To download the free template, click here.

A sunny window can be used like a lightbox.
A sunny window can be used like a lightbox. (Image: Debbie Williams)

Step 4: Trace the Lights

Use the printed template or an object 2 1/2 inches in diameter as a pattern for the lights. Draw the shape onto fusible web. You will need 22 2 1/2-inch circles, two 3 1/2-inch circles, two 1 3/4-inch circles, three 6 1/4-inch circles, six rectangle tail light bars and two of the larger tail lights. Patterns for all of these pieces are included in the template.

Glasses, bowls, cups and cans work as templates.
Glasses, bowls, cups and cans work as templates. (Image: Debbie Williams)

Step 5: Press the Fusible Web Onto the Felt

Place the rough side of the fusible web onto the felt of the appropriate color and press for five to eight seconds with a hot, dry iron. Press all pieces of the same color at the same time.

From black you will need:

  • 6 1/2-inch circles, 3
  • 2 1/2-inch circles, 2
  • the "school bus" letters. 

From red you will need:

  • 2 1/2-inch circles, 8 
  • the inner stop sign shape. 

From orange you will need:

  • 2 1/2-inch circles, 6 
  • tail light bars, 6 
  • tail lights, 2. 

From white you will need:

  • 2 1/2-inch circles, 6
  • 3 1/2-inch circles, 2
  • 1 3/4-inch circles , 2
  • the outer shape for the stop sign 
  • the letters for "stop."

Trim out all the pieces.

Press all pieces of the same color at the same time.
Press all pieces of the same color at the same time. (Image: Debbie Williams)

Step 6: Cut Out the Additional Pieces

Press fusible web onto the felt and cut from black:

  • 5-by-34-inch pieces, 2
  • 2 1/2-by-34-inch pieces, 2
  • 1-by-34-inch pieces, 12
  • 2 1/2-by-22-inch pieces, 4
  • 1 1/2-by-22-inch pieces, 2
  • 4-by-15-inch pieces, 2.

From golden yellow felt, with fusible web backing, cut:

  • 3 1/2-by-16 1/2-inch pieces, 2.

From clear vinyl, without backing, cut:

  • 10-by-30-inch piece, 1
  • 7-by-9-inch pieces, 2
  • 7-by-10-inch pieces, 5
  • 11-by-9 inch piece, 1
  • 11-by-5 1/2 inch piece, 1
  • 5 1/2-by-10-inch piece, 1
  • 6-by-22-inch piece, 2.

Step 7: Assemble the Banner

On one of the 3 1/2-inch pieces of golden yellow felt, remove the paper backing and place the letters for "school bus" in place and press with a hot, dry iron. Stitch around the letters if desired. Place this section in the center of one of the black 5-by-34-inch pieces and press in place. Add one 2 1/2-inch orange circle and one 2 1/2-inch red circle on each side.

Use a hot, dry iron to press the letters in place.
Use a hot, dry iron to press the letters in place. (Image: Debbie Williams)

Tip

  • It helps to place a sheet of parchment paper over the letters to prevent slipping when you press them in place.

Step 8: Install the Front Window

Position the 10-by-30-inch piece of clear vinyl 7 inches from the top edge and in the center of one of the panel pieces. Cover the stitching path with parchment paper or the paper backing removed from the banner piece. Stitch 1/4 inch from the edge all the way around. Remove the paper.

Tear the paper away and move as needed.
Tear the paper away and move as needed. (Image: Debbie Williams)

Turn the piece over and cut out the felt about 1/2 inch from the stitching. Fold the seam toward the front and stitch down to re-enforce the window edges. This is now the front.

Tip

  • Pull slightly as you stitch, because the vinyl has a tendency to stick to the throat of the sewing machine.

Pull slightly as you stitch since the vinyl has a tendency to stick to the throat of the sewing machine.
Pull slightly as you stitch since the vinyl has a tendency to stick to the throat of the sewing machine. (Image: Debbie Williams)

Use previously cut strips of 1-by-34-inch black felt to stitch down the sides of the window, covering the seam. Cut as needed to fit the window.

Step 9: Complete the Front of the Bus

Place the previously assembled banner above the window and press into place. Stitch down if desired. Complete the front panel using the illustration below as a guide for placement of the pieces, pressing and stitching as you go.

Add each piece following the illustration.
Add each piece following the illustration. (Image: Debbie Williams)

Step 10: Assemble the Back of the Bus

Using the illustration below as a guide, install the windows first using the procedure from Step 8. Complete the back of the bus by placing, pressing and sewing each piece in place.

Add each piece following the illustration.
Add each piece following the illustration. (Image: Debbie Williams)

Step 11: Assemble the Right Side of the Bus

When you are installing the windows, you are starting on the back side of the fabric, and the sides of the bus are directional, so you will need to reverse the pattern when placing the windows, because the back becomes the front.

Complete the right side panel using the illustration below as a guide.

Add each piece following the illustration.
Add each piece following the illustration. (Image: Debbie Williams)

Step 12: Assemble the Left Side of the Bus

Complete the left side panel using the illustration below as a guide. Again, start with the windows and reverse the pattern, like you did on the right side. Do not sew clear vinyl in the doorway. The door is a separate piece.

Add each piece following the illustration.
Add each piece following the illustration. (Image: Debbie Williams)

Step 13: Assemble the Door

Remove the paper backing from one of the 2 1/2-by-22-inch pieces of black felt and place it over the edge of a 6-by-22-inch piece of clear vinyl. Overlap the vinyl onto the black felt by about 1/4 inch and stitch in place.

The paper backing is transparent, so you can see the overlap.
The paper backing is transparent, so you can see the overlap. (Image: Debbie Williams)

Sandwich the vinyl by aligning a second 2 1/2 inch by 22-inch piece of black felt with the back edge of this assembly. Place a scrap of felt over the showing vinyl to protect it from heat and press to fuse the pieces together. Topstitch close to the vinyl.

Align the pieces carefully.
Align the pieces carefully. (Image: Debbie Williams)

Repeat this process for the center using the 1 1/2-by-22-inch pieces and then the right side of the door again with the 2 1/2-by 22-inch pieces. Attach the 4-by-15-inch pieces across the top with the same method.

Finish the door with a handle.
Finish the door with a handle. (Image: Debbie Williams)

Sew plastic rings across the top about every 2 to 3 inches. Use a scrap of black felt to make a handle and attach it to the right side.

Step 14: Install the Door

Drill a small pilot hole in the frame of the card table about 1 inch from the corner. Drill another pilot hole about 15 inches away.

Choose a bit smaller than the shank of the eye screw.
Choose a bit smaller than the shank of the eye screw. (Image: Debbie Williams)

Install 5/8-inch eye screws in both locations. Cut a piece of 1/4-inch dowel 16 inches long. Thread the dowel rod through the plastic rings on the top of the door assembly and then suspend it between the two eye screws. Hold the dowel rod in place by putting a finial on each end. The door rings slide along the dowel and allow it to open.

The door rings slide along the dowel and allow it to open.
The door rings slide along the dowel and allow it to open. (Image: Debbie Williams)

Step 15: Complete the School Bus Playhouse

Lay the pieces out according to the diagram and stitch each panel to the tabletop piece with right sides together and using a 1/4-inch seam.

Stitch each panel to the top piece.
Stitch each panel to the top piece. (Image: Debbie Williams)

With right sides together, stitch the four corner seams with a 1/4-inch allowance. Place over the card table and watch what happens!

Ready for action.
Ready for action. (Image: Debbie Williams)
Step aboard!
Step aboard! (Image: Debbie Williams)
Time to go!
Time to go! (Image: Debbie Williams)

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