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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Variations on a theme

For a long time now, I have been looking for something to put on my shop that would be a little more, how shall I say, affordable? I also would like something to make that is a little less time consuming for me, and something that I could vary according to the season  I am having little success in this respect with my dolls, since each one seems to be more elaborate than the last, and they almost only sell at Christmas time.

But when I was at my folks house last fall, I found lots of reminders of simpler projects that I had made for various family members at one time or another, in particular, embroidered napkins.  For Christmas one year, I embroidered a dozen monogrammed napkins for each of my family members.  I enjoyed it so much that I went on to do the same thing for quite a while as a gift for newlyweds that I knew.  But I grew tired of it after a while, and stopped.  The idea popped into my head the other day as I was flipping through pinterest, looking for Valentine’s day ideas.

So I decided to combine a few new methods I have learned from Alabama Chanin along with my own designs, on a cotton jersey napkin.  I decided not to use upcycled jersey for this project, mostly since I wouldn’t have been able to find enough to make several matching items.  And I was super excited to find a new website that sells high quality, organic cotton jersey at an affordable price, especially since my local fabric store decided to stop selling their best jersey.

This is just a first attempt, and I decided to make them Valentine-y, since we are just a few weeks away.

I call it  X’s and O’s- Variations on a Theme.

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You will see that these are deliberately a little rustic looking with unfinished edges and slightly crooked lines.  But when you are working with jersey, that is kind of the way it is.  It took me a long time to adjust to the idea of not hemming edges, but once I got over it, my life has been so much easier!  🙂

Here are some up close looks.  These napkins are 16 by 12 inches when unfolded.

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You will also notice that I used some mixed media here- there is inking as well as hand embroidery.

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Here they are unfolded, The X’s and O’s by themselves-

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And then combined with a few hearts-

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Once again, I appreciate feed back!  And if you are interested, there isn’t much time left before Valentine’s day, so let me know.  ( I can of course sell them in larger numbers.)

P.S. I hope to experiment with monograms next.

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

Following the trend

Business is slow folks.  Turns out Christmas is a busy time of year for shoppers!  Who knew?  And apparently the rest of the year is not so much. Hah!  Sarcasm aside, I was well aware that business would be much better around Christmas, and I am not entirely sorry to have a break from the rush. (I do miss the money though).

I have been enjoying myself, taking time to look at other options for my shop, and even to start sewing a bit for my daughter.  My Daughter! Have you figured out I am excited about that prospect yet?  I hope to show you my first project for her soon, but I have also been spending a lot of time on Pinterest, searching for inspiration. Animals, birds, dolls, you name it.  But one thing has come up consistently in all of my searches.

Owls.

I know owls have been trending over the past few years, thanks to Harry Potter and other owl inspired films, but I haven’t really gotten into them much myself.  Truth be told, owls have always kind of creeped me out a bit with their big, unblinking eyes, and their often angry stares.  My first introduction to owls was in fourth grade, when we studied their habits and then had to dissect an owl pellet. You know, those furry balls of undigested rodent bones that they regurgitate onto the forest floor?  We got to tear one apart and try to reassemble various skeletons found therein.  I remember the boys in the class having a blast.  Me, not so much.

The only time I have ever encountered an owl out in nature was at a summer family reunion.  We were staying at a lodge, high up in the mountains of Washington state. I was out on a walk by myself one moonless night, getting a good look at the incredible stars.  And as I was staring straight above me, a huge owl- wings outspread, bright white against the night sky- silently glided over me.  I looked into it’s big round eyes, and I was glad I wasn’t an unsuspecting rodent.  It really was beautiful- even awe-inspiring, but it spooked me out too.  I ran back inside.

All that to say- owls haven’t been high on my list of cutesy stuffed animals to make, but I finally figured I might as well make what people are buying.  I altered a pattern that seemed realistic in shape, but fanciful in design.  A whimsical owl, if you will.

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I made the body from nice, soft brown and white velvet, and then decided that I would forego feathers and stencil a fun design on the wings instead.  I mean, why not?

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I tried to make the eyes a little more friendly as well.

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Here is a closeup of its little wire feet.  I wrapped them in cotton, so they would be a little softer.

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And here is a view of the ‘tail feathers’.

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I really did have fun with this prototype, and I even think it’s a little cute! There are an infinite variety of things I could do with this basic pattern, and I might try one with feathers next if there is any interest.

I may have joined the trend a little late, but it never hurts to try!