Old shop, new chapter 

Hello dear friends!  I’m blogging! Is that still a thing people do? Do people still   take the time to click on a link that takes them to another site and away from their news feed? I don’t know. Nor do I know if a blog is still a good way to advertise one’s product.  I suspect it’s not.  But I am going to do it anyway, just as a means to update those of you who might be interested in my Etsy shop. But I think from this point I will be doing most of my advertising via social media.

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram at all, you know I have been contemplating opening my shop again after a looong hiatus.  I’ve debated the pros and cons, told myself I have too much on my plate to tackle sewing right now and generally hesitated to jump back in.

But three things convinced me-

-several people asking if I would please reopen

-the fact that I am always sewing anyway so I might as well try to make some money on it

– and, well, money. Spare cash is always acceptable.

Of course I am busy. I have five kids. I homeschool. I work part time for my church and our house is still in process of remodeling.  But I figured if I had a few spare minutes, I would just sew what I had time for, have some fun and not stress about it.

There are some things I learned from the last time I was selling dolls etc.  Most people aren’t going to shell out money for an expensive doll unless its Christmas or some other really special occasion which always made the Christmas season more than a bit overwhelming.  Custom orders and last minute Christmas dolls will have to be minimal.  When I have something to sell, I will post it.    And I am reopening in February- not because it is a great time to sell dolls but to slowly build up a stock of inventory so that when/if a Christmas rush does come, I will be better prepared.

All that to say- I have spent the last couple months trying out some new things. My dolls haven’t changed much- the biggest changes being I finally figured out a way to do 3D noses and I am now using yarn for hair. What’s been really fun is learning how to design stuffed animals.  My old horse will always be a standby but I started in on unicorns and then figured, the skies the limit once you have the basic idea down.

I designed a zebra, an elephant, a sheep, even a dragon!  That led me to develop a new section of my shop- The doll and rider.

My horse and doll combo was always a good seller so I decided to make more combos, just for kicks.  I am selling them as pairs or individually on my shop but I will introduce them here.

My original combo, as I said was a horse and doll.  This is Susannah, my pioneer girl and her horse, Henry.


I love her sweet face and her curly hair which I achieved merely by using the crinkly end of a skein of yarn!

From there I moved on to another animal in the horse family- a zebra named Zeke who naturally needed an African girl named Zara to ride him. 


 

What other horses are there? Why magical ones with horns of course who are best friends with medieval girls named Cecily.  I’m still debating a good Unicorn name. Ursula?


Then it was time to break out of the horse world.  Why not elephants? And since I already had an African girl, it was time to go with Indian.  This is Elliot and Ananda.

Now that I was going with different countries and because I love red hair, I had to do a Scottish lass named Bonnie. I had a hard time thinking of an animal for her to befriend and I’m not entirely sure that riding a ram is feasible but I love my little highland sheep just the same. 

And last but not least, we reenter the magical realm, where sweet Scandinavian girls named Brigitte ride gentle flying dragons named Dexter or Drake.  Which do you prefer?


 I would also like to do a little Chinese girl with a red dragon but I haven’t gotten that far yet. 

Phew! So that’s a start.  I’m hoping to get back to doing a greater variety of just dolls but for now, this is what I have.  

I have been able to collect quite a bit of feedback over these two years and have seen several specimens of these dolls that have really held up well. These dolls may look like delicate China dolls and I know several people who were afraid to purchase them for their younger girls but they really are very sturdy and can withstand a fair amount of abuse. Per the request of several, I am stitching the shoes and underclothing onto the doll so they don’t get lost but the stitches are easily clipped if you want removable shoes etc.  

 Pricing these things is always tricky of course.  Clearly they take me several hours to make, not to mention cost of materials and hope of some profit.  But I always want them to be affordable and don’t like charging friends and family an arm and a leg.  So the prices I have put on them are more of a test price. They may go up or down depending on sales.   And as always, questions and feedback are welcome.  

Here’s a link to my shop just in case. And feel free to share! 

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I just can’t help myself

Just one more plug for my shop before Valentine’s day.  I know, I keep trying to go in new directions, but I just keep ending up going back to the dolls.  I’ve sold a couple of my new ballerina dolls, so I thought I would make a Valentine-y one just for kicks and see if I could get one sold.  This time she’s a brunette- in pink.  I think she should be called Rose.

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I’m rather pleased with how the hair turned out on this one.  A kind lady I know gave me a large bag of yarn she was never going to use, and this one has a nice ruddy tint to it.  It is also kinda curly, which I love.

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I felt that Rose needed a few roses in her wavy locks.

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Dainty ballerina feet and fluffy tulle- just because.

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I was dissatisfied with this first little tutu I made, so I decided to add another tutu as an overlay.  It ties on with a satin ribbon and can be removed if desired.

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You’ll notice that I put a few little red rose “petals” in the layers of the tulle because, well, “Rose” and also because, well, Valentine’s day.

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Oh, and don’t forget she has a wire framed body, which would help her pose in a display case if perhaps you are an adult and want an excuse to buy a doll for yourself.  (pssst, you wouldn’t be the first)

See, she is looking pensive now, wondering if she will ever find a new home.  (My daughter has taken a fancy to her and has already tried to eat her several times) So she wouldn’t mind being adopted…..

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Prototype

It’s been a while since I put anything new on my shop, and I’ve been meaning to for a while, but the holidays are a bad time to start prototyping anything, and so this doll has been about two months in the making.  You will see right off that she is primarily a ballerina doll, although with different clothing, she wouldn’t necessarily have to be.

Although this doll may not look very different, (just looking at her face) she really differs in several significant ways. For one, she is the first pattern I drafted myself (almost from scratch)  She is taller and thinner, has pointed, rather than flat feet and is made entirely from one piece ie, I didn’t have to sew arms and legs on seperately.  I was looking for a doll with a more defined waist since my other dolls are so square in shape and sometimes their clothing doesn’t stay on very well.  So I gave her a waist, and I also gave her a wire frame- something that gave me quite a lot of trouble, and needed a lot of tweaking.   This is also the first time I have attempted yarn for hair.  Since she is more delicate looking, I thought she needed something finer than the jersey strips I usually use.  And though I like how it looks, I miss the stretch that the jersey gives me since stretchy hair is much easier to style.

At any rate, here she is.  She may or may not be a limited edition, depending on interest and what I can charge for her. (she took me quite a bit longer to make than my other girls)DSCF3034 (2)

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I had lots of fun with the clothing, both in sewing the beads and flowers, and in adding as many layers of tulle as possible.

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Here she is, crossing her ankles like a lady.

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Now she will demonstrate various poses to display her flexible wire frame.

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Her bendable knees also allow her to sit quite nicely when she is tired of dancing and decides to let her hair down.

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And speaking of hair- here are a few closeups, both up and down.

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So now we have arrived at the part where I ask for feedback and suggestions.  I have to laugh at myself because I keep hunting for something that might be a little less time consuming, and end up making something more complicated.  Oh well.  Let me know what you think!  Thanks!

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Expanding our borders (ever so slightly)

Well, I know I’ve been posting a lot about my shop lately, but I wanted to get this out before the holiday weekend- you know, the weekend that starts the shopping mayhem for the next month.

Up ’til now, I haven’t done much with promoting my shop on designated online shopping days, or even Black Friday.  But apparently, this Saturday is ‘Small Business Saturday’ and I was invited to join a real, live, local Etsy market to show some of my wares.

It’s at the downtown Chattanooga library, and I have no idea what to expect.  Supposedly about 30 other vendors will be there, and as to numbers of customers- that’s anyone’s guess.  But I thought, since it was free, that I might as well give it a try and get my stuff out there using a different venue.  

So come on down and take a look if you are so inclined.  And if you’ve been on the fence about buying my stuff, it will save you shipping : ).

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In other news, I posted something on my Facebook page a while back- something I couldn’t reveal on public media for disclosure reasons.  I had received a rush order for three of my horses about two days before our big trip out west, and because of the generous amount this person was willing to pay, both to make them and ship them overnight, I went ahead and filled the order.

I am now at liberty to reveal what they were for.  They were shipped out to Hollywood, CA for a little commercial.  They really only needed one for the commercial, but ordered three to see which one looked better on set.  It’s just a brief, horsey cameo, but I’m tickled pink about it.   Take a look!

A Holiday Herd

I know the season is already late, but I have been wanting to make at least one big push for my shop before the Christmas season is fully upon us. With travel and sickness and general busy-ness, I feel way behind where I was last year at this time. But last year, I was traveling for Christmas and so had to close my shop December 1st. We are staying in town this year, so I hope to be able to take orders through at least the first half of December.

So to get you all in a festive mood, I want to show you what I’ve been working on in between bouts of croup and trips to the ER. It’s a new series of horses that I have been having enormous fun designing. I posted my first plaid horse on facebook a few weeks ago, and couldn’t wait to do some more. But after I finished them, I felt like they needed a little something more, like maybe a rider.

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I haven’t done a lot with pants for my dolls, but I like the little riding pants on this one. I even figured out how to make boots!

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Since they go so well together, I thought I would try something new and sell them together on my shop this Christmas. Here they are on a country outing.

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Aren’t they cute? I’m kind of excited about these two.

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But here are some solo shots if you would like to purchase them separately.

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And here are a few more of the herd by themselves.
One plaid with an auburn mane and tail.

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And this rather striking fellow with a lovely gray houndstooth coat.

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I am also continuing to sell my red horse. This one was by far my most popular last Christmas, but instead of wool, I decided to try making him out of a lovely cherry red corduroy. I like how it turned out.

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Due to the uniqueness of the plaids in these horses, (they are made from wool skirts) they will only be available in twos or threes. So think of them as limited editions, but hopefully with new and different ones to come.

Let me know what you think! (And feel free to share ; )

Seven

Well, my little shop is humming along, thanks to all of you who have put in orders over the last several weeks. Life has been so very busy, but I am not quite at the point where I can say I am overwhelmed. Having five kids seems to be a new level of insanity, and I suppose I am stating the obvious here, but babies take a lot of work!
However, because I don’t seem to know where to draw a line, a few weeks ago I entered to win a spot in a very large Etsy Christmas Market in Nashville this December. I was a little panicky about doing it, but wanted to see if I could push my business a bit outside my circle of friends and family.
There were two weeks where I didn’t know if I would make the cut or not, and my mind was going a mile a minute trying to think of ways to increase my stock and make my brand look more professional so the market would be profitable for me. I couldn’t tell if I really wanted to make it or not, or if would even be wise at this point in my life, until I received an email last night saying I didn’t make it. My biggest feeling was one of relief, but it did help me to think about ways that I might someday promote my business in other ways.

In the meantime, I still have orders coming in. For instance-
A college friend of mine very generously decided to give me her all Christmas business- meaning a bulk order of dolls. She gave no specifications as to hair color or dress design, so it was fun coming up with something for her.
She and I were both in the music department in college, and both share a love of musicals. So when she gave me an order for seven dolls for seven nieces, I immediately thought of this.

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Now there are many things that aren’t exactly PC about this musical, not least of which is the opening anthem- “Bless her beautiful hide”- and continuing on to a mass kidnapping of all the town’s eligible women. (It’s all in good fun, right?)

But the scene I was inspired by was this one-

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I have always loved the bright, rainbow-y jewel tones in this scene, with the girls in complementing ginghams. But I didn’t have much gingham on hand, so I just put my dollies in simple jewel toned skirts with black buttoned shoes to match.

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There is something so satisfying about rainbow order.

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I can tell they are already friends.

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I wanted to be able to do a little photo session with them in dancing poses, but they just kept falling over. So here, for your enjoyment, is a little video instead.
http://youtu.be/TygmMPbwfjA

Ballerina dreaming

When I was a little girl, I shared a dream with many other little girls. I wanted to be a ballerina.
It was for all the usual reasons- the lovely, floaty dancing- the shiny, pointy, pink slippers- and of course the tutus. If there were tutus involved, I was in.
But I was one of six girls. My mom worked part time and we were in school full time. Ballet lessons just weren’t on the agenda. But did I let that stop me? No siree. If I couldn’t have real lessons, I would teach myself.
Those were the days before Youtube, of course, and there were no handy online tutorials I could google. But we did have a well worn VHS recording of the Nutcracker, performed by the Pacific Northwest Ballet that I watched ad nauseum. I imitated the dancing as best I could, hunted around the house for ballet -type attire (one of my mom’s fluffy old slips was a pretty good tutu substitute) and thus attired, I pranced around the house to my heart’s content.
One year, I was given a pair of silky, pink, ballet-esque slippers for my birthday. With those on my feet to spur my imagination, I felt capable of starring in a ballet of my own. And one of the beauties of having five sisters was that I could make such a thing a reality. I coaxed them into joining my venture, and we started production immediately.
First, we had to decide on the music. That was easy enough. Dad had just purchased one of the first compact disc players on the market, and we were the proud owners of two cds- Handel’s Messiah and Rachmaninoff’s 3rd piano concerto. Handel didn’t seem very suitable for ballet, so that left Rachmaninoff.
Then it was decided that we were all to be flowers, as pink and fluffy as our dress-up box would allow. There we would huddle in the living room while the opening bars of the concerto began. I was in the center of the flower huddle- the self-appointed prima donna- because, if you remember, I owned the pink slippers.
Then, as the music quickened, out ran my baby sister, trailing a bright orange blanket. She was the sun, of course. She circled the flower huddle once or twice, and as she toddled away, we flowers would slowly awaken. Then I had to do my own little bit of solo dancing (the pink slippers demanded it) and after that, it was pretty much every dancer for herself. (Just imagine a whole lot of twirling)
The grand finale always included the same dramatic scene- the six of us lined up according to size on the living room stairs, and with arms gracefully extended, we would leap more or less simultaneously onto the worn brown carpet below. Despite our best efforts to land lightly, we always came thudding down like a ton of bricks, causing the cd in the player to skip around violently and bring our performance to a sudden end. It was not, perhaps, the best ballet in the world, but it has left plenty of good memories. Sometimes I still think about being a ballerina, even though that ship has long since sailed. And I will always enjoy watching ballet.

But all of this is to say, that when a friend suggested a few weeks back that I should try and make a ballerina doll, I had to mentally smack myself in the forehead. Of course! I love ballet, I love dolls, and I love tutus!

So without further ado, let me introduce my first ballerina doll.

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Generally, when I think of ballerinas, I think pink, but I only had a little bit of red and white tulle, so I thought I would see what I could make out of the materials I had on hand before stocking up on new supplies.

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A view from the rear.

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And a view of her slippers. I thought about altering the doll pattern so that her toes would be pointed down, but again, figured I would see how things looked before I made any major alterations. What do you think? Should I change the feet?

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Here is her little leotard, with the tutu removed.

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And when I put her tutu back on, I accidentally had it turned around. But I kind of like it reversed as well. Two tutus for the price of one, eh?

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So there she is. (By the way, I have already sold this doll, but I plan on making more if there is interest.). And I’ve also been contemplating some design ideas for Nutcracker dolls, what with Christmas coming and all. Or maybe just some custom ballet dresses.

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So I ask again~Feedback? Suggestions? Good places to buy lots of tulle?
Thanks!