How long have you been creating softies? I started sharing my designs when I saw the plight of the children in Haiti after the devastating earthquake in 2010. I offered a free charity doll pattern (Find it here: http://dollsanddaydreams.com/blogs/news/16548468-free-charity-easy-rag-doll-sewing-pattern-small-10-8-inch-dollies), and we collected over 500 dolls that Doll Drive – and have been sending 1000s around the world since. Currently, we focus on Operation Christmas Child and the Uthando Project.
Do you like to do a wide variety of styles and subjects with your toys? Absolutely! I have more than 300 designs available from Sewing to ITH – dress-up dolls, art dolls and animals from around the world. I particularly like focusing on endangered species, to help promote awareness – like my Easter bilby pattern. Creating ‘baby safe’ dolls is also very important to me – and I’m proud to say that our finished dolls pass all toy-safety standards, thus we help support cottage industries with a product they can trust.
You have a range of children makes – what was the source of your inspiration for this project?
My regular range of toys took too long to for my children complete what with the limbs and such, but I wanted to promote teaching our children and grandchildren to sew. I believe it’s an amazing skill set for both boys and girls to learn - and you never know where it might take them. So, I designed the 'Quick Kids' Sewing Pattern Range. These are simple 20-minute projects that not only keep kids engaged but also motivate them to sew more, because they finish up with an adorable cute toy at the end of it. I also wanted these to be fun for adults, too – they make very cute last-minute gifts and Craft Fair fillers.
What’s the strangest softie or doll you’ve ever made? Strange – ahh, well that term is really linked to personal taste. I know some thought it strange last year when I came out with my Day of the Dead Sugar skull doll – but I adore exploring other culture’s traditions and introducing my clients to patterns they have never had the opportunity to make before.
How many softies do you think you’ve made over the years? Oh! my … it has to be in the thousands. I really have never bothered to count. My studio currently houses close to 100 reference creations, and you don’t want to see how many my children have in their rooms.
Is it your full-time occupation? Yes it is. I run a full working design studio and have an amazing group of people on my team.
Were you professionally trained in stitching and craft or are you self-taught? I have a background in Fine Art, but it was my amazing grandmother who taught me to sew at a very young age – so I think she deserves the credit for giving me such a fun means of expressing myself.
Sarah Hanson, Dolls And Daydreams –