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The Beginning

I thought I’d share a bit of how this all started before I start spamming with old projects.

I have always been crafty. I remember sitting for hours with a box of fabric scraps, cutting and clumsily sewing little tubes of fabric to make “dresses” for my Quints-Cousins (little plastic dolls with no figure, easy to dress). I remember making a literal rag-doll with my friend — just a head with kind of a denim handkerchief-style body, no face, glued on yarn for hair. Her name was Helen. I don’t remember what happened to her. I made a couple for my young nieces as well, and we played with them in my dollhouse together.

I’ve always been something of a hobby-skipper, a habit my mother enabled (and shares). We would have stamp parties, play with embossing cards and coloring rubber stamps in different ways. We would paint frames and hot-glue beads into Christmas ornaments. My mom actually made a little side money gluing lace and accessories onto bears to fashion clothing and putting them in wicker chairs decorated to match. I wish I had some pictures of those to post. When I was a little older, I received a huge Rubbermaid trunk-style box literally FULL of craft supplies. There was a latch-hook kit, crochet hook and yarn (if only I had known where that could lead!), round-headed clothespins, craft books, paints, various wooden things to paint… it was a treasure trove. That was probably the most amazing gift I had received to that point in my life, not that I realized how awesome it was. Still, I loved it and spent hours digging through it and making new things. In middle school, I was at an alternative school that had “Colloquium” or miscellaneous-studies days on Wednesdays and I got to take some craft classes there, too. I dabbled in tole-painting on flower pots, pinned festive fabric to styrofoam balls to make ornaments, and got to try many new techniques. Some of the things I made are still on my mom’s Christmas tree. It’s fun to look back and see how all these experiences helped to shape who and what I would become as an adult.Trek dress

In high school, I dabbled a bit more in sewing. My mom once again inspired me by giving my sister and I each a sewing kit for Christmas — a sewing machine, some fabric, patterns, and notions. I “made” (and by that I mean I sewed the easy parts and let my mom do the rest) pioneer dresses for a Trek I got to go on, helped create a Renaissance-style gown for a school project (which I never wore again because I was teased for making a cream-colored bodice that people thought looked like a bra), and made fleece vests for my sister and her family one year for Christmas. That project is the one that still paralyzes me when I think of sewing zippers. I’m sure I’ll get over it when I just DO it, but right now my projects are zipper-less. *lol*

Fast forward a bit — I got married in 2001 and took my hobbies online for a few years as I went to school for English, no, animation, no, web design! I learned a lot about web design and was introduced to my new best friend, Photoshop. I discovered oekaki boards and a love of drawing on the computer (and later of forums, a whole ‘nother addiction). I made my own website and filled it with pictures I drew myself. Eventually I got into Gaia Online and ended up in a virtual “shop” with a friend, making “avatar edits” — basically taking the Gaia avatars and drawing cute new clothes on them that weren’t available on the actual site. Meriko ended up eventually going on to contract with Gaia officially, making actual clothing for the avatars — in fact, one of the working hairstyles on the site was originally from an edit she made as a gift to me. ❤

a gift from Meriko to me

This hairstyle by Meriko (circa 2005) is now available on Gaia!

Then something amazing happened — in 2004, I discovered I was pregnant with my first son. I gradually began drifting away from Gaia as I became absorbed in new-motherhood (and a new obsession with World of Warcraft, I’ll admit). It wasn’t until 2006, when my son was growing into a strapping little toddler, that I got back into my crafting habits.

This time, it started with the Pullips. A friend of mine on Livejournal was getting into the Pullip craze and showing off a few gorgeous pictures. I fell in love with those sweet little dolls and started looking around for more pictures. Finally my dear husband took pity on me and bought me my first Pullip, a Nina, for our anniversary in November 2006. I hauled out my cruddy sewing machine from high school, bought myself some new sewing supplies, and started buying little remnants of fabric in hopes of making her some fun clothing. I think I did make her a skirt from a Barbie pattern, but that was about as far as it went. Most of the patterns I found were for Blythe, and my sewing machine was fond of eating my tiny seams. Sewing was frustrating for me and I spent more time fighting with the machine than sewing on it.

Critter's blanket

A blanket for my sister-in-law.

Then my mother-in-law bought a new sewing machine, a Huskystar C10. I got to try it out… and fell in love with sewing all over again. If only I had known sooner how much an awesome machine can make a difference! By then I was expecting my second son. In a fit of nesting, I made 13 fleece blankets for Christmas, putting some serious mileage on her machine! I didn’t want to leave the edges unfinished, so I hemmed each blanket with a zigzag stitch and pretty corners, then appliqued on a patch with their names on it.

Soon after that, little boy #2 was born. My oldest needed some extra love, so I decided to try my hand at making him a few toys with the fleece scraps left over from my Christmas sewing. We pulled out the scraps and I started hunting online.

Enter Craftster. Imagine me sitting at my computer with giant, round eyes for hours on end, surfing the thousands of projects there. I instantly fell in love with the Toys, Dolls & Playthings board, since I still held out some hope of sewing for my Pullips someday (but with two sons, it never happened). I found some easy tutorials and patterns and began my toymaking journey.

Blue Guy

Blue Guy, the first plushie I made for my son.

I have learned SO MUCH about toys since that day! I still smile to look back on my old journal posts, reminding myself to use a ladder-stitch to close toy seams and not a whipstitch. My first projects were a fleece ball (understuffed with fleece scraps and now very misshapen) and a little toy my son named Blue-Guy. He was the ugliest thing ever, but my oldest slept with him for years.

A new world was opened up to me. Over the following weeks and months, I learned as much as I could find on the Internet about toy-making: stuffing techniques, embroidering, hand-sewing, proper knotting and burying threads, ladder-stitches, fabric choices and more. I learned an incredible amount of information when I found the “Poppet-Along” on Craftster, run by a genius of a lady called ghilie. She had made a doll pattern and was giving it and an amazing set of tutorials away. People were making dolls, sharing them on Craftster, and even better, sharing tutorials and information with each other.

After the previous Christmas with its frenzy of blanket-making, I was on a handmade high. I loved gifting something that came from my heart and my hands. I still do. In my family, I am the youngest of eight, so for Christmas we focus on one of our siblings and do something for their whole family. In 2008, I had my sister’s family for Christmas — with seven children. I wanted to do something special for them, something beyond the usual “family game” I would give them. So I decided to make fleece pocket-blankets for her sons and husband, and Poppets for my sister and her girls. Meanwhile I was also making every other plushie I came across, so I had a random small assortment of things, from sock animals to a tiny felt cat. It was a slippery slope from there with a lot of projects to talk about, so from this point on my posts will be individually project-oriented. I hope you find something you enjoy! Let’s get started!

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A fresh start

It’s time to start again! My personal journal has stopped inspiring me; my digiscrap blog has gone by the wayside, but my creative muse has exploded my life with projects dying to be shared and posted. I’m going to take some time to post past projects, and then see where it all goes from there.

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