Hey there! My name is Megan and I'm the sewing, pattern making girl behind Dolly Henry. This is my blog, where I share my own creative adventures and hope to meet fellow fabric enthusiasts. I also design and sell sewing patterns through my online boutique, alongside a beautiful collection of clothing and dolls. Thank you for stopping by!


Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Finding My Voice

I've had a few little creative pursuits over time. Throughout them all, I've experimented and played with a lot of different styles, tweaking and changing to find my own unique creative voice. It's a process of evolution as I move through different stages and try out new ideas. It's been nearly ten years of full-time creative business. I've learned an awful lot and I'm still learning every day.

Lately, an area I have wanted to refine was my creative voice. To really narrow down what it is I am all about. If there is one thing I have discovered, it's that other's always have a much better perspective of your brand than you yourself do. It's easier on the outside looking in. A bit like trying to see yourself in a mirror, you will never quite catch who you really are. Other people can take in the whole picture, and you need a photograph to be able to have the same perspective.

There's always a lot going on inside the creative vortex in my mind. I think this translates quite well when I make things or write. When I talk about it, however, it's another matter. After all this time, I still don't have a clear and concise way of saying what I do, when prompted. To hear myself mumble out over and over again "Ahhhh...I make stuff" is very frustrating. The person asking has a very underwhelming impression of what I do and it just sounds bad. If another creative told me this was how they responded, I'd give them a friendly slap.

Making stuff, making sewing patterns, dolls, clothing. It doesn't exactly sound very enticing. And every opportunity that comes your way is important when you have a small business. So answering with a rather lame and inaccurate description of what I do isn't exactly a great idea. And it just feels so awkward. I can't walk around with an Instagram feed at the ready, a portfolio of photos to whip out, a doll in my pocket and even business cards will not suffice. My elevator pitch is seriously lacking and not at all inspiring.

So instead of mumbling like an idiot, I am determined to refine my small "what I do speech" so that next time someone asks, I do more than just make stuff. It's a little tricky and feels a little bit uppity but with a bit of practice I hope it comes out much more smoothly, and gives the enquirer a better idea of what it is I do.

Writing an about page helps, but I have to condense several paragraphs into a sentence or two.

So what is it exactly that I do?

I design. I make. I create. I tell stories with thread. The truth is, what I do is ever changing. It doesn't stay the same. It doesn't fit into a square box or come neatly packaged in a "I do this one thing" bag.
It's whimsical. It's original. It's always here, there and everywhere. One day it's a doll, then it's a mug, a pattern, a dress. It's Dolly Henry.

It's so much and I think that's why it's so easy to just say "stuff" Expecting the images in my head to magically transplant themselves into the other person's head. Except I suspect they get other images. Slightly less stylish and more....granny chic. Which would be okay....except what I do isn't like granny made it.

So I have come up with my speech and hopefully when we meet, like my five times table, I will remember to say:

"I'm a designer. I am currently working on a collection of sewing patterns, dolls, homewares and children's clothing."

So much more than just stuff.

Megan xx

To see my collection of stuff, click here.

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Monday, 5 February 2018

Moving Interstate and Meeting Kindred (Crafty!) Spirits

Hello! I feel like it has been ages since I have checked into this neck of the woods. In November 2017, we made the massive move from North Qld to NSW.... and it isn't quite over yet! I am still surrounded by boxes and as you can imagine, moving a business and *cough* sizable craft stash is no mean feat. Organising said stash is also an interesting undertaking at the other end of the move, I can assure you. The shelving that once housed my collection was built into the house we left behind, so I am busy trying to sort fabric, ribbons, boxes, and buttons into some kind of new version of organized chaos.

Things have been more complicated in a lot of ways than I ever anticipated, but that isn't surprising when you take into consideration the large distance and amount of items that had to travel it. In all honesty, I expected to be settled again by or around Christmas (then she laughed and laughed) Not so. It turns out that is also the time of year everyone goes on holidays so sorting out accommodation and even finding a new place to live was a lot more difficult than it would have been at any time of the year. I know, I shake my head at my own naive ideas now too.

The good news is, we have touched down and have been in the new place for just over a week! Despite the amount of work to do ahead, it is such a relief to be in what will become "home". I have lots of exciting creative plans for 2018, they have all been put on the back burner. I packed creative projects for the journey but I have done little more than knit a stitch or two and a bit of journalling. It seems I need to feel settled to be creative, I just can't stitch or sew or even dream of new things while I feel displaced. I am very much a homebody. I had my suspicions of course. I did wonder if the travel bug would hit me once I was on the road but I found very quickly that I am not a happy wanderer. I'm obviously like a little garden plant, needed some soil to spread my roots. Some people are pot plants. I am not.

Still it was an adventure and there were definitely amazing highlights!

Hazel went to the beach on the Sunshine Coast and if you are ever in Noosa definitely do try the Yum Cha at Embassy XO - amazing!

I also enjoyed several amazing visits with a dear friend, Kellie of Sew MimiK, who I met through my blog when it was a baby. That was such an interesting experience, meeting someone I knew so well through daily online chats and phone calls that had been had for the past couple of years, while never having met at all. Would we really be kindred spirits? Turns out, we actually were. Right down to admitting that we'd both wondered if our friendship would work in reality as it did in the online space. That probably sounds a bit odd, but really it isn't. Meeting face to face and having to whisper quietly about our fabric stash in public, rather than enthusing in text AT TOP KNOTCH volume with countless emojis is totally different. It is!

We did the ultimate creative friend things. We ate cake and drank tea and talked fabric. We ate cake and drank tea and squealed over each other's projects. We ate cake and drank tea and went fabric shopping. It was a fabric/crafty friend fairy tale. I bought a delightful selection of fabrics that will serve as a wonderful souvenier of this time, and any projects I create from them will have a little extra fairy dust, I am sure.

We, of course, stopped occasionally to wonder if this was actually us enjoying all this crafty fun or our holograms that had mythically been transported to a magical place where we took our makes out to cafes, divulged the secrets of the sewing circles and spoke in the language of fabric collections. We also got to enjoy swapping Christmas gifts, here is the snail I crocheted for Kellie just before we left home.

Her pattern is Saffy the Snail, available here. I used this cotton from Say! Little Hen - her stitch markers are also a must have if you are doing amigurumi!

I must admit I was sad to pack away my fabric and say goodbye to Kellie. It is rare to find such a kindred spirit and even rarer still, to find someone who shares my same passion for all things fabric and sewing. I expected to cross the border into NSW to have some kind of fanfare but sadly, it is just a little sign on the highway announcing the fact in the most dull way possible. Was it unrealistic to think there would be an opportunity to pull over for a selfie and a parade of confetti to rain down on all newcomers? Something odd did happen. We lost an hour in the day. The clock had to wind forward as we changed to daylight saving. For the record, after a month, my internal clock that must be hardwired to the sun is still not used to it. I can see the benefits in some ways but my QLD side still thinks it is silly. I am not obstinate very often so please allow me this.

The climate is a definitely a lot milder. The many poor locals I have encountered will stand there sweating and discussing the humidity. I don't know whether to feel sorry for them, or feel smug that I keep forgetting it is summer. I actually don't know why there are air conditioners here. Unless you need them on reverse cycle for winter. I think the climate will have it's revenge on me come Autumn... I suspect I will freeze my North Qld behind off....

The beaches are beautiful in Northern NSW. The water is totally unlike the sticky, warm waters of the North of Qld. I know I sound like a total tourist here but the truth is I am. I have been in the far north of this great continent for most of my life and this is all so new. The waters are cold and clear and I actually felt like swimming. This is probably coupled with the fact you can walk your dog on the beach here without risking a crocodile making a meal of it. That is freedom, my friends. No reptilian ankle biters here!

So that is a quick summary of life as it sits right now. I am sorry if it was about as interesting as having to watch a slideshow of your great-Aunty-Jane's african safari... I am busy making a new website for Dolly Henry in between wondering where I am going to put all this fabric. I've got some exciting plans for 2018 and I can't wait to share them!

Megan xx


Wednesday, 22 November 2017

On Vacation Until 2018

It's moving + holiday time! The online Dolly Henry stores will be closed until early 2018, with exception to our pattern store, you will still be able to purchase the downloadable PDF patterns.

I will be offline for most of the time, so please note I will be unable to answer any emails or messages. If you need assistance, I return in early 2018. It's hard to shut up shop and switch off, but I am really looking forward to a much-needed break. Thank you so much for your understanding.

I just want to thank all our amazing customers + supporters for such an amazing year, I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas.

The Dolly Henry Co. collection will be available from the Sonlia Fashion Pop-Up store in Mareeba for a limited time, so if you would like to purchase a gorgeous Dolly Henry handmade piece for Christmas, you know where to go!

Happy Holidays,

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Sunday, 12 November 2017

Knitting (and stitching) keeps the mind from unravelling

My creativity has slowed to a standstill as we prepare to pack up and make the journey south. This is a good thing because there is nothing worse than being full of beans and being unable to make the ideas happen. We are making a big move, interstate, and the trip will be an amble down the coast. I'm already choosing craft to take a long with me, as I do need a bit of creative time to keep my sanity! Craft is truly my therapy, without it, I am like a boat without an anchor.

I've got lots of ideas for where I want to take Dolly Henry next year and in the future, but they are currently all confined to my dreams or scribbled in random notebooks. Right now, it's time to pack and get ready for change. It's been surprisingly difficult to pack the fabric, wrapping it in plastic bags and sealing it up into boxes. I've already got separation anxiety.

The craft I've chosen to leave out, for the road is all portable and easily done with limited space. My crochet basket will be coming with me, I really enjoy amigurumi so I was contemplating trying a new pattern. I've got a simple knitted scarf in progress and where we are moving will be much colder in the winter so I will sneak a row or two onto that now and then. I finally caved and bought a mindful colouring book, because it's actually got a purpose - the pages are removed and transform into cards and matching envelopes. I'm also working on this lovely embroidery from Molly and Mama right now so that will join me too. To top it off, I plan on bringing along my design journal, a scrapbook of snippets and inspiration I started a little while ago.

Between all these, I should feel creatively satisfied and I definitely won't be bored.

Hazel has submitted a request to join me on the trip. I told her if she was good, I will not pack her in a box. She's excited at the prospect of first-class travel.

There's still a lot of preparations and packing to be done. It's being able to pick up stitches in between the chaos that helps keep me grounded. I've got some wardrobe sewing to finish before the machine is boxed up too. Henry's crate arrived on Friday and he is learning to find it a new safe place and bed, it will be handy once we are traveling. There is still much to do, but every day I am reminded that craft is indeed a therapy and a form of meditation. The familiarity of some hand stitching is comforting with the prospect of so much change.

Megan xx

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Friday, 10 November 2017

Christmas Closing Dates

Hello! I thought I'd best pop the holiday dates for the Dolly Henry store (s) might seem a tad early but there has been ALOT going on behind the scenes here and as it turns out, we are actually making a rather large move soon and hence, the store will be closed on the 21st of November! So what does this mean?

I will explain:

- All orders must be placed by midnight November 20th. 

- From the 21st to the New Year, the Dolly Henry stores will be closed for orders on physical items - this means you won't be able to order things like paper patterns and handmade dolls until 2018.

- The Dolly Henry pattern store will remain open however only digital products will be available as you can instantly download those without my assistance. Very few people need assistance with their patterns, so please understand that while you can order PDF patterns, I won't be available for email or message support after November 20th. 

- Why?

Well I'm packing up the dolls, bobbins, fabric and stuff and making a big, big move interstate!
With all this going on, I will be disconnected and unable to attend the store as usual. I'm also taking a holiday (haven't had one in a long long time!) which means I won't be working.

I wanted to let you know now, while there is still plenty of time to order!

Any orders placed on the 20th will, of course, be posted, but that is the last date for ordering.

Thank you so much for your patience!

Below are a few gift ideas from the Dolly Henry store/s that have been popular!

Megan xx

Stitching Mends the Soul - Original Dolly Henry Mug

Gorgeous Dolls and Bunting from the Dolly Henry Co. Store

Mama Llama from the Bahamas! Gorgeous Handmade Llama Doll available from the Dolly Henry Co. Store

Gorgeous Petite Sewing Machine Zipper Charms Available Here

Paper Patterns are a perfect gift for your fabric loving friends!


Saturday, 4 November 2017

Sweet Prairie + Croissant

A little while ago, I was lucky enough to get my hands on some gorgeous Sweet Prairie prints, a collection inspired by designer Sedef Imer's (of Down Grapevine Lane) love of all things floral! 

Sedef starts each new fabric collection by deciding on a colour palette, creating the main feature print and then experiments with different colour combinations before deciding on three colour ways. Following this, Sedef created the secondary prints (other florals and a leaf print), adding in some blenders (bias gingham and dots) to help break up the floral sweetness and balance the line.

The mix I chose is from two different colour ways and together they feel very Autumnal, perfect for Fall if you are in the Northern Hemisphere! It's summer here and I find these pretty fabrics so bright and cheerful, turning my thoughts to picnics, ice creams and days at the beach. 

I knew straight away I wanted to make a doll in these fabrics - several in fact! Croissant seemed to be a perfect choice to begin with. I used the dress from my Hazel Deer pattern and then made up a little apron and headband.

I absolutely love the little yellow polka dot, it's such a delightful shade and the scatter pattern of the tiny dots just lends itself beautifully as a coordinate and blender. I used the sweet pink floral for her dress, another lovely print featuring tiny blossoms and subtle polka dot background...the colour goes perfectly with Croissant's cheeks!

I got chatting with Sedef as I was making Croissant and we landed on the topic of chickens, as Sedef thought Croissant would be a brilliant name for one of the chicks in their next lot of hatchlings. I have to agree! With feathers on the brain, I decided to make a little felt chicken in honour of all this chicken-chat so Croissant now has her very own brown hen! It's a quirky little stuffie, featuring the a Sweet Prairie wing to match Croissant's pretty frock!

For those worried about the safety of this little brown hen in a cats company, Croissant has promised not to combine her love of pastry with poultry and out of loyalty to her new friend will now only be eating fish.

The blend of flowers and leaves is really lovely in the Sweet Prairie line, the prints all play really well together and make stitching up new creations a delight! I'm fascinated by fabric, the meanings behind the collection names and just how the designer comes up with the final print line up. Seeing as we bonded so well over a mutual love of chickens and possibly french bread (lol!) I asked Sedef if she could share a little bit about the design process for Sweet Prairie... 

Sedef's tools of the trade are Adobe Illustrator and her handy Wacom Pro design tablet. "With any new line, I typically start with a master sheet of hand drawings - lots of flowers, leaves, branches and other elements that get used (and sometimes repeated) throughout the line," she says. 

"It’s a fun process but also a lot harder and more time consuming than people realize - there are several months of labour (illustrating and colouring, playing with values and colour combinations) in Sweet Prairie for instance. I am getting faster though as I gain more experience as a fabric designer - my next line which is coming out next summer took me only two weeks. It’s such a fun process, though it can be frustrating if you have a clear vision in your mind for a print but just can’t get the colours or elements to reflect that vision. Like all things in life, practice makes perfect!"

You can purchase Sweet Prairie from Sedef's Etsy Store - Link Here and be inspired with the amazing projects Sedef creates over at her gorgeous blog Down Grapevine Lane

My Hazel Deer Pattern (for the dress) is available here, Croissant's pattern here and the knitted cardigan pattern is available from Say! Little Hen here

Megan xx

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