Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Softies Reflections

Well, my little Woodland Girl didn't win the SewMamaSew softies contest, but the standard of entries was amazing and it was great to see some of the inspirational winners and entries! I particularly like the winner of one of the categories, Anabela Félix. Her dolls are gorgeous whimsical creations of mainly fairytales. I think they are adorable.

This is one of her dolls from her Etsy shop that I really love.

Check our her shop blita on Etsy.

I'm going to put my Woodland Girl for sale in my Etsy shop. It's hard for me to know what price to put on her as she took so much time and effort to make. I think a lot of craftspeople struggle with this question. We don't want to charge too much for our work as we want people to be able to afford it and buy it. But we also don't want to devalue our work either and take away from the time and effort it takes into creating our masterpieces. And often if we underprice our own work, we do a dis-service to other craftspeople too.

I think I have also had bad experiences at markets when people have literally said my prices are too high. This is so disheartening, especially at markets when you have often paid a good price to even have a stall! I think I have just accepted that people will buy handmade if they value handmade. My dolls, and dolls like the one above, can't compete against the mass-produced cheaply made ones sold in toy shops. But if you want something completely unique, maybe personalised and basically your own cuddly piece of art, buy a handmade one!

I've called my Woodland girl 'Willow' and here she is having adventure in our front garden. I hope someone out there will take her on an adventure of their own. She will love it, and her squirrel friend, 'Tully', just can't wait! Find her on my Etsy Shop here.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Woodland Girl - 6WeeksOfSofties Competition

I love making dolls but more importantly, I love designing and making new ones! I make a lot of dolls for my customers on Etsy and a lot of local people here where I live in Ireland. But those dolls are mainly personalised dolls for babies or superheroes! So when SewMamaSew began their '6 Weeks Of Softies' competition, I took the plunge and decided to design and make something new.

Meet my 'Woodland Girl'....
 I had some beautiful woodland forest fabrics in my fabric stash that I've been wanting to use for ages. Corduroy is one of my favourite fabrics and I had this beautiful olive green remnant from a pair of trousers I made for my oldest boy when he was about two (nearly 10 years ago!). I had also just bought some marked down brown corduroy jeans that I couldn't wait to cut up and use!
 Woodland Girl's hair is made of felt plaits to which I hand-stitched leaves I had made with freehand machine embroidery. I wanted to make her look like she belonged to the forest, and could blend in easily with the woods around her.

 As a finishing touch I hand stitched a little felt squirrel to sit in her skirt pocket. A little companion for her woodland explorations!

 Just a few pics of the details of Woodland Girl's boots, leaves and face.
I hope you like my little forest girl. I'm really pleased with how she turned out and although she was a lot of work, I loved every minute! Can't wait to design something else soon. The thing I love about making softies is that they are all so unique! I see each and every doll I make as a piece of art I have created, full of love and attention to detail. I think this is what makes handmade stuff so special, someone has not only designed it, but has put their heart and soul into making it too!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Long Not Hot But Creative Summer

I really need to get better at this blog thing! Unfortunately with four kids and nearly nine weeks of summer holidays to fill, it has been a bit impossible to find time to sit and write on the blog! I’m sure there are many of you out there who know exactly what I’m talking about! But it doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy creating and making things, that never stops!

Babies, babies and more babies!! So many people around me have had babies lately, and while i am glad to be over that stage, I absolutely love any excuse to make gifts for bubs! One of my close friends had a baby boy in a lovely home birth in July. She is part of the craft group I have been in the last four years (since moving to Ireland…don’t know where I would be without my craft girls!). Sneakily, another close friend and I crocheted a blanket for her based on a circles pattern we found on this blog: Just Do. My friend loves circles and bright colours, so we went for this bold, rainbow pattern. I must admit the circles were a bit tricky to get started and began to fall apart, I think because I started mine all wrong!!!! But despite that, it was a quick & easy project and the end result looks brilliant, my friend loved it and it looked so snuggly cuddled around  the baby!

Another close friend of mine was due a few weeks later. I had made her baby boy a Noah’s Ark quilt two years ago when he was born which she loved and is now hanging up in his room. After finding out she was expecting a girl, I couldn’t wait to tuck into my pink and coral colours, especially some of the new Sarah Jane Wee Wander fabrics I had just ordered. I found this quilt pattern on Sarah Jane’s blog and adapted it to suit the same size quilt I had made before. But instead of using a fabric panel (way too boring for me!!!), I always have to complicate things by coming up with my own design. I chose a woodland scene for inspiration, (from wallartdesign on Etsy) and drew it to size so could trace my creatures onto some ‘heat & bond’ to stick to my backing fabric. I chose a lilac purple instead of a usual blue sky colour as I think it brought out the creatures more (the real truth is that I live in the west of Ireland where getting fabric is not so easy as popping down to the local craft store…so sometimes you have to make do with what you’ve got…..but don’t tell anyone that…I REALLY MEANT to choose that colour!). Anyway, apart from my 6 year old telling me the background should really be blue (aargh!!),  I think it turned out great, particularly with the matching corals in the patchwork panels.

I hand embroidered around all the the creatures and the tree using split stitch which took some time but was a good holiday project to take away with me. There is nothing quite like quilting on a camping chair in the shade, sipping a gin & tonic outside the caravan! 

I quilted it myself using spirals all over the quilt sandwiched with some nice cotton batting and the same lilac fabric on the back.  I don’t have one of those fancy quilting machines or even the quilting attachment boards for your machine, so while it’s a bit fiddly to do, I love the challenge of it.  I actually find the quilting bit the most fun to do & wouldn’t get the same satisfaction having someone else do it for me! I love seeing the picture revealed and stand out when you quilt around it. 

So…despite a long break between blogs, I have been busy…..I’ve also made at least 7 dolls too & some more Halloween monster dolls! Don’t forget you can now buy my Monster Doll pattern on my Etsy store! I am soooo excited to have a pattern up for sale, finally!! If you’ve ever written a pattern you will know how laborious the process is! Hopefully there will be more to come soon!
Monster Rag Doll Pattern

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

I felt desperate to do some sewing the other day but my kids had an extra two days off school for an extra-long bank holiday weekend! I was almost going crazy then I thought of this idea to create something WITH them that would satisfy my sewing cravings & keep them entertained - Handmade Book Bags!

I had seen this pattern for a cute messenger book bag from Make It Perfect. Based on that I cut out the shape of the top flap and traced around it onto some paper. I then got the kids to draw a picture and design their own flap.
Aftern they had finished their design they drew over it with a transfer pen. (I still have no idea exactly what Ryder was dreaming up with this design - some boys reading with flying books inside clouds floating all around them?!)
I then ironed the design onto some plain fabric. The kids then decorated, coloured and made a collage of their design using scrap fabrics and markers (I didn't bother with textile markers as I don't intend washing the bags but if you do you might want to use fabric crayons or markers).
Rory was very proud of his lion & boy masterpiece and he did it all himself! I had to help Ryder & Arwen a little with theirs.  Once they had finished decorating their designs it was finally my turn to do some sewing! To make the designs more prominent I outlined them with some free motion stitching! This is my favourite type of sewing & I loved seeing their pictures come alive! 

 Then I got to sew them into bags. If your kids are older they could probably sew some of the bag themselves although the binding bit might be a bit tricky for beginners. The bags are a great size for novels or books up to A5 in size.
This was a really fun activity, although the sewing bit took a while especially as I had three to make! And the kids were asking me every 5 minutes when they were ready!!! But the finished result is definitely worth it & the kids have been using them ever since to hold their favourite novels or books & hang them on the ends of their beds at night!
It also satisfied my sewing least for a while!