If you had told me two years ago that I'd be opening an Etsy shop to sell my handmade toys, I would have wondered if you were delirious. I had just started sewing again after years of paper crafting, enchanted by all the artful softie makers I was seeing on the web. I plunged into learning softie design and loved the results of my experiments. Before long I had way too many samples in my studio and sold a few to friends who encouraged me to keep designing. I kept going resulting in 120 different soft toys by this writing.
Today, I have an online shop, PinkGingerKitty, and I've been invited to exhibit my dolls in a gallery show in January 2016. It is exciting to dream of where my toys might take me next.
If you're harboring a desire to make soft toys I invite you to give it a try. Make a New Year's goal to create time for this craft. There are many styles of softie design from sweet and sassy to primitive, goth dolls and monsters. There's genres for every desire be it creating toys for children of all ages or for art doll collectors. Start with simple forms or patterns, develop your own style and learn by doing!
For inspiration I've rounded up tips on softie design from the Teacup Incident archives including new links from recent posts on doll clothing design.
DIY softies, a beginner's guide. Everything you need to know to start making softies today. This is my process for designing and sewing toys, from inspiration to final touches.
Inspiration from Stuffed Magazine. Tips I gleaned from the artists featured in Stuffed magazine on how they get inspired.
The Process of Making a Toy. My doll making process in photos, start to finish.
Sewing tips of Softie Artists. Useful softie sewing tips from the pages of Stuffed magazine.
Sewing with Vintage Sheets. Sheets are great for making prototypes and they are fun to collect.
Doll Hair for Beginners. My sewing experiments with yarn hair.
Don't Give Up. Creativity often requires a learning curve - try not to get discouraged.
When Imperfection is Better than Perfect. Learn from doing.
Quotes for Beginners. Creating can be hard work but its also rewarding. Keep it in perspective.
Share your art with the world. Join competitions and forums. Invite feedback from other sewers.
Teach Others in Order to Learn New Skills. Offer free patterns and tutorials to get your work known.
Be Different, Even If It Feels Scary. Create from your heart because the world needs your unique perspective.
For Doll Makers Only
Designing Doll Clothes. How I design clothing for my dolls.
Switching Up Your Doll for the Seasons. Making accessories for your dolls.
Design Your Own Doll Hats. My method for making chic felt doll hats.
As Franklin D. Roosevelt once said: Above all else, try something! There's really no stopping you once you commit to learning something and make time to work on it. Whether you take a class, buy a pattern, or just noodle around in a fabric store getting inspired, the hardest part is getting started. The sooner you start the sooner the fun begins!
Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, magic and power in it! Johann Wolfgang von Goethe