February dolls in the making
I have a full and messy sewing table again. There should be a new group of cloth dolls available via my online store in the next week or so. I'll let you know exactly when they'll be listed :)
I'm finally creating a downloadable sewing pattern for my snail soft sculpture!
There are snail prototypes all over the place here, and not just on my desk (pictured below). I have made so many snails, after first creating my design back in 2013, but offering it as a sewing pattern means I now have to make a proper template! So I'm tweaking and perfecting the shape, size and design.
I'm at the last stage of sewing pattern production, which is photographing the steps, so my snail sewing pattern will be available via my online store by early March. I'll notify via my email newsletter and social media as soon as it's ready to download.
*EDIT - my snail sewing pattern is now available to download via my online store *
I took the photo above, years ago, upon discovering this little drawing on my work table. My family and I are fascinated by snails and have a very large (and growing) collection of huge snail shells. We live in a sub-tropical region of Australia, with rainforests nearby - where we regularly find the giant panda snail.
I'm having fun designing new elephant dolls (which are now available as a sewing pattern). Right now I'm trying to perfect their elephant heads by sewing prototype after prototype... using the fabric from an old bed sheet.
This is my favourite stage of soft toy design - looking at pictures of baby elephants, trying out different shapes, testing the scale of the trunk / ears etc... trunk up or trunk down (I've decided to include an option for both). Lots of fun and also a bit of a brain strain, and I'm happy to report that they're coming along nicely.
These guys will be similar to my other animal dolls that can be downloaded as sewing patterns. I also have patterns to sew their little overalls, dresses and coats.
* Edit / update... the digital sewing pattern for my elephant soft toys is now available to download and print. Happy sewing!
As most of us are staying at home right now, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, I thought I'd offer this soft sculpture / embroidery tutorial as a free download ... in case you're looking for something to do.
It's also a great beginner sewing project for school children - for those of you at home with kids (me included). You can sew these using the sewing machine or by hand, and then decorate them with some simple embroidery stitches.
The pattern includes instructions for stuffed fabric star, tree and round ornaments which are easy to sew, make great presents and look lovely hung on a garland or mobile (or anywhere really). I've put together some simple instructions, photos, an illustrated embroidery stitch library and templates. You can download the PDF sewing pattern here, for free, ready for you to print at home.
I hope you enjoy making these. You'll find more Willowynn sewing patterns available to download here.
I designed a simple barn owl stuffed toy years ago which has been one of my most popular soft toys. I think I've made hundreds of them and have even adapted it to create a larger, more sculptural clawed barn owl that also has wings - which I still make today.
Anyway, I've decided that it's time to offer my little barn owl softie as a digital sewing pattern, so that you can enjoy making them for your little ones. Their cute Babushka-like shape reminds me of the shape of a chubby penguin, so my sewing pattern also includes templates and instructions for making penguins!
I've spent the past couple of months designing the penguin soft toy and putting together a new sewing pattern for both of them. It is now available to download via my online store.
Ladder stitch demonstration
Of all the embroidery and hand-stitches, ladder stitch is the one I use the most. It's how I close up all of my soft toys, dolls and soft sculpture, sew on extremities like ears and tails and attach tiny sleeves to doll dresses.
I recommend ladder stitch in all of my soft toy sewing patterns and, as I am often asked how to sew a ladder stitch, I thought it was time I filmed a little demonstration for you.
Please excuse the poor quality, my less than lovely gardening nails and the sound of macadamia nuts being harvested on the farm across the road!
If the seam turns out a little puckered (as it has in my demo), you can go back over it with a second row of ladder stitch to smooth it out, or just make your stitches a bit closer together.
I also drew a diagram (below)...
I hope that helps!
March worktable scenes
Here are some recent pictures of my work table this past month or so... doll making can be a messy business but also provides me with some surprisingly funny little scenes, when I walk into my sewing room / cabin of a morning.
After a few requests, I thought I'd demonstrate an easy technique for turning out very narrow sewn shapes for stuffing, with a short video demonstration (below), If you have ever tried to sew and stuff really tiny doll legs, arms or the stalks in my mushroom sewing pattern, you will know how tricky and seemingly impossible it is.
I've found a brilliant technique for doing this with ease, using a drinking straw and something long, small and pointy - like a small crochet / knitting needle or skewer.
Doll petticoat and bustle making
I'm spending this lovely rainy day sewing clothing for my new collection of cloth art dolls. The dress I'm currently working on is Victorian inspired, and I've found that to get that lovely Victorian dress shape, the dolls really need to wear a petticoat and bustle underneath.
This next group of dolls should be finished and available to purchase via my online store by the end of November. To see some of my dolls, take a look at my gallery page or have a look back through the Willowynn artworks category on my blog.
New dolphin sewing pattern
My new dolphin soft toy sewing pattern is now available to download via my online store. My boys and I really love marine creatures and I was inspired to make this one after our regular sightings of pods of dolphins swimming in the sea at our local beach.
This sewing project is nice and simple and works really well with old denim or cotton sheeting. Enjoy!
At work, stuffing fabric snails while warming up in the sun.
My workroom gets the winter sun and is the best place to be when it's cold. I've opened up all the windows to let in the fresh air, as it's been really wet here lately. I'll be closing them and lighting the fire soon though... once the sun disappears behind the trees.
I found an old, torn linen cushion cover. I'm keeping the zipper and making giant snails from it. I was going to try to mend it. to use it as a cushion cover but it has a massive hole which is very frayed. Also, I think this linen is the perfect fabric for making snail shells.
I use second hand fabric for almost everything I sew - old woolen blankets, scraps and remnants. With so much fabric and old clothing going to landfill, I don't like to buy new. Also, I think things like linen and wool are so much nicer when a little worn.
Giant linen snails coming to my online store very soon.
The clothing sewing patterns for my stuffed animal dolls are now available to download and print! Hooray! Now you can make little overalls, pants, coats and dresses designed to perfectly fit your Willowynn animal dolls.
These little clothes are simple to sew and are the perfect project to use your special scraps of fabric. I particularly like using remnants of old woollen pants or skirts for the little coats and old denim or corduroy for the overalls (dungarees) and pants. And little squares of cotton print fabric are perfect for the dresses.
The coats (or jackets) can be made with a hood or a collar and can even be made reversible. There are three different dress styles to make - gathered, A-line and an apron style (also reversible). My boys now have a whole wardrobe of clothes for their stuffed animals which, they discovered, fit some of their smaller non-Willowynn toys.
I'm really happy with the way these have turned out and I hope you like them. Let me know what you think. How is the fit? What did you make?
Soft toy clothing patterns
I've been busy designing some little clothing pieces for my Willowynn stuffed animal dolls. So far I've made a jacket (with or without hood), overalls, pants and some little dresses.
I hope to have the sewing patterns / templates for these clothes available for you to download and print in a couple of weeks. I can't wait to see the clothes you make for your Willowynn stuffed animal dolls!
An alternative (or an addition) to the chocolate eggs for Easter... and a little present that can be handmade by you. My bunny and bear soft toy sewing pattern is available to download via my online shop. Plenty of time to sew this before Easter!
This little bunny rabbit softie would be an adorable companion for a baby or small child. Designed to be endlessly carried around and looks so sweet nestled in amongst a child's pillows. I think this is the perfect project to upcycled that piece of fabric you’ve been saving for something special, like an old baby blanket or soft flannelette sheet.
To make the bunnies you see here, I used an old woollen blanket and soft pieces of grey and pink flannelette from baby bed sheets.
On my work table
Lovely rainy afternoon here in my workroom, stitching tiny things.
I haven't shared any of my textile work here for a little while but rest assured, I'm still at it. I started the year a bit lacking in motivation, inspiration and confidence... so I've been occupying myself with other things, hoping it would all come back... and it has!
New dolls coming soon... then lots of creatures.
November 18th, 2017
I'm running a special mushroom-making workshop in the beautiful old Federal hall, in the Byron Bay hinterland on Sunday the 10th December. We will spend the morning making some little fabric mushroom ornaments... just in time for Christmas.
In this workshop you will learn some soft sculpture techniques as well as various stitches for hand-sewing and embroidery.
This class is most suitable for adults with some machine and hand sewing experience.
For more information, or to make a booking, please visit my online store.
Willowynn in Homespun magazine
So delighted to find this lovely article written by Janai Velez featuring my workroom in the November issue of Homespun magazine. It really is beautifully written and I love the way Janai has described my dolls. I always draw a blank when asked to describe my work so it's really helpful to hear someone else's words.
Homespun is a treasure of a magazine, if sewing is your thing, and is packed full of inspiring projects, tips and interviews.
The magazine is available from Australian newsagents throughout November and is also available as a digital copy online at www.zinio.com.
These embroidered star, tree and round ornaments are easy to sew, make great presents and look lovely on a Christmas tree. I've put together some simple instructions, an illustrated stitch library and templates, to help you make these at home. You can download the PDF sewing pattern here, ready for you to print at home.
I hope you enjoy making these. You'll find more Willowynn sewing patterns available to download here.
How to sew French knots
I made a little video demonstration (below), showing how to embroider French knots. I found this embroidery stitch quite tricky when I first tried it and looking at diagrams in embroidery books didn't really help me. But I've since taught myself how to sew them so thought I'd show you how I do it.
The key is to hold the thread taut with one hand while you wrap it around the needle and insert it into the fabric. Hold on to the thread until just before it is pulled all the way through the fabric (see video below).
This is an example of a singular French knot but you can make them larger by wrapping the thread around your needle twice rather than once. This video shows how I stitch the French knots onto my fabric mushroom hanging ornaments.
... and here is a little diagram showing French knots in more detail. I drew this a while ago for one of my sewing patterns. Enjoy!
My favourite 'thimble'
I've been searching for the perfect thimble... comfortable but sturdy enough to protect my finger. Hours of hand-stitching and embroidery can result in a very sore (or even pierced) middle finger tip, but the hard thimbles always seem a bit cumbersome to me (maybe I'm not using them right?).
Anyway, a while ago I found a rubber thimblette, usually used for handling paper... I tried it out and now I never hand-sew without one on my finger. They are very comfortable, but a bit too thin to protect your finger when pushing a needle through thick fabric, so I cut a little disk of very hard leather and glue it to the inside of the thimblette, in the tip. The rubber helps to pull the needle through fabric too.
It works really well and feels so comfortable that I often leave the house with it still on. You can get them for around 70 cents each and they come in different sizes. I buy mine from my local office supply store.
I know there are a lot of different thimbles on the market that will probably do what I need. and I'd like to try them out, but these do work pretty well for me. What do you use? Can you recommend a good thimble?
Platypus sewing pattern
Well it's taken me a lot longer than I anticipated but my platypus sewing pattern is now available for you to download.
I've really loved creating this unusual Australian animal soft toy and I hope you enjoy sewing it. It's a fairly simple tutorial, full of step by step photos, which includes machine sewing and some hand sewing. Great for advanced beginner sewers wanting to tackle a slightly more complicated soft toy project that includes darts, gussets (and some soft sculpture techniques for making the webbed feet). You can download the pattern via my website or my Etsy store.
Platypus pattern coming soon
I've spent ages trying to perfect my platypus soft toy so that I can offer a sewing pattern with instructions on how to make one. The body is pretty straight forward but the feet and bill have really challenged me. I think I've finally figured it out now and I'm really happy with the way it's turned out, so I should have the pattern ready for you to download very soon. I hope you like it. *Pattern can be purchased here.
Platypus soft toy
My son needed a platypus (and this photo of me making it) for something at school. It took me several prototypes to get the shape you see here and there are still things I'd change... but I'm thinking of maybe offering it as a sewing pattern. Would you make a platypus? They're pretty fantastic creatures.
Would you like to make these little hanging fabric ornaments? I've put together a sewing pattern for them which is available here. These ornaments make great little presents, and not just for Christmas trees... enjoy!
...and my fox and wolf toy sewing pattern is also now available to download. Phew... these ones took me ages. Thanks for waiting so nicely.
My name is Margeaux Davis. I'm a doll-maker, sewing pattern designer and children's book illustrator, based in northern New South Wales, Australia.