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Welcome

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!

NEWSLETTER

Friday, 12 May 2017

A Stitch in Time - Slow Crafting Vs Mass Making


Part of my 100 day goal ( see more about that here ) is to get more organised and reform my messy creative ways. I looked around as I was tidying this morning, at the tray of half stitched hexagons on my desk. Then at the basket I know is hiding all the yarn I have bought for a box of crocheted squares that lurk in the next room. There is a fabric basket full of quilt blocks-to-be and a cushion cover that needs finishing. I have a little doll in progress that is going to be a birthday gift, her muddled expression telling me I need to hurry up and get the pins out of her head, they are giving her a migraine. Another basket holds a second cushion cover, also in progress for a pattern I am making. There is a ball of brown yarn and a pair of knitting needles that are waiting for me to start on a pair of ears for the bunny I decided to knit. Another drawer holds bloomers, still pinned together, that are approaching their second birthday as a work in progress.

The thing is, there are half baked projects everywhere I look. Somedays I find this alarming, other days a little overwhelming. Today I eyed them suspiciously from the corner of my eye while attempting some yoga and suddenly thought "what is the hurry?"

Certainly the pattern making will be a priority. And the birthday items, well they have deadlines naturally. But as for everything else - what does it matter if I don't finish a quilt for another 2 years? Or my crocheted blanket that began in 2015? It has been on hold for awhile, despite having lots of new yarn to play with. The knitted bunny - well that is an achievement in itself. Knitting is a new skill for me and I always jump into the deep end. No waiting to be perfect for moi. Why knit a scarf when you can knit a bunny? They tried to make me learn hand stitching before I was allowed near the sewing machine too as a child. That didn't last long. I wanted to machine, not hand stitch.


That need for speed, can quite easily become an overwhelming factor if we forget to meditate on our craft occasionally. I'd have to say, that feeling it can be partially fuelled by the amount of projects fellow makers seem to churn out...quilts here, blocks there...why they must be magicians! New swaps to participate in, blog hops, book launches...it's fun and exciting but it can also make your head spin. If that is someone else's style, there is nothing at all wrong with this.

I think particularly when you are new to a craft, you really want to speed on ahead and forge new paths. Discover new things. I've found more and more, as I become increasingly experienced in a craft, I suddenly start slowing down. Taking the time to enjoy, breathe it in. Stitch more slowly. Savour the moments.

My crocheted blanket may be approaching the old maid territory but being so much in the middle of a project and knowing it isn't going to be finished any time soon is quite comforting. It's similar to being in the middle of a good book. There is a rhythm to it, and you know there is still lots to enjoy before it's over. Because it is hard work starting new projects, the choosing of materials, the trying of new patterns, the slight fear and wonder of how it'll all turn out. Taking the time to carefully craft something so that not only the process is highly enjoyable but the item itself is outstanding is surely worth it.

It's easy to become a little mass production factory, creating 'stuff' here, there and everywhere. I think when the creativity becomes a to-do list that you stressfully sew through, ticking each item off as if it was akin to mopping the floor and making the beds, something has gone very wrong. There is plenty of 'stuff' in the world, you only have to visit a store to see that. What there isn't a lot of, is beautifully and genuinely crafted items from the heart. And as makers, isn't that what we are all about? We might sew, we might stitch, we might make a doll, a potholder or a quilt. However, we aren't just patchworkers or quilters or dressmakers....we are actually artists. Fibre, fabric and thread is our medium. And the sewing machine is our paintbrush, our sculpting knife.



Strip away the deadlines, the dollars and cents, and the need to have accomplished fifty things in a year or keep up with ten swaps and a block of the month, and you are left with the beauty that is in creating. Using time-honoured processes that make our work individual pieces of art.

Sometimes I forget this, and when I do, stress creeps into my work. The results are always average and I can remember some hideous disasters that happened when I made things more complicated then they needed to be.

So just remember, if you feel like you are running behind, that creating something actually takes time. It was never meant to be produced en masse, but crafted gently, slowly and lovingly over long moments; and with every stitch there goes a thought, a heart beat and a little piece of ourselves that wonderfully, and mysteriously will still be here when we are long gone.

Megan x

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Sunday, 30 April 2017

From May 1, I have a Goal


I've decided to knuckle down and do Julia's 100 Day Goal.
From May 1, I will be doing something small every. single. day. to work towards a goal and with my fingers crossed, I will achieve it! I imagine it'll be like a diet...wheee! 

Day 1 oh so easy.... Day 2 I got this.... Day 3 yeah I'm doing it! Day 4 ... is it not Friday yet?

Let me say I am not a "goal" person. I don't do charts, numbers, goals, apps or organisation.
I have organised chaos but I feel that is a bit different.

Why am I going to do the 100 Day Goal?

Because right now, I think I need something to focus on and a way to accomplish
 the things that are forever elusive. For some consistency and constancy in my daily activities.

I haven't picked a business goal... oh I wanted to. And maybe that is where I have failed before. 
I have a small business, which means me, by myself trying to be a business girl.
Therefore, it makes sense that if my goal for the next 100 days is to get *me* sorted,
 then the business stuff should follow.


I'm going to attempt big things. Like creating a schedule, one that I stick to.
Tidying up after each project....anyone who is looking at their thread covered floor right now will totally get this. I will be getting things done! Things I keep putting off or not jumping in to try.
I also want to boost my health and fitness. My ultimate goal by the end of the 100 Days would be to see a significant change in my RSI pain and my mentality towards it. Right now, I link sewing things to shoulder pain. I have become afraid if I do too much then I will make the pain worse. Which is silly, because I can not sew for a week and it can feel like someone is sitting on my shoulder with a hammer. Yoga relieves it. So yoga is part of my 100 Day Goal.


My Goal is to be a healthier, more productive me.
To be able to get all the things done that I should be able to do.
I'm putting it out there because I know it's going to be a little while 
and I may want to keep myself accountable with the odd blog post.
There's still time...why not join in with your own goal!? What Have YOU been wanting to do, that little thing that is a bit hard that constantly nags at the back of your mind? Go on! Let's do this!

Megan x


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Friday, 28 April 2017

Diary of a (One Day) Fabric Designer


For a couple of years now I have wanted to design some fabric. I think anybody who has seen Spoonflower probably harbours that desire. I remember the thought first occurring to me when I was still designing and making little girl's clothing full time. When I first began, I could count on two hands the amount of other people online also making kids clothing. Over time, as people became more comfortable with the internet and Etsy became a bit more of a thing, I would have needed an extra limb or two to count the people I knew of that were also entering the children's clothing arena. I never had an issue with this until I started to struggle to keep up with my own new designs. I'd put together new designs I had literally spent sleepless nights on, only to see mediocre copies produced soon after by other businesses. It was quite disheartening. Especially when after a bit of sleuthing the copycats could find the same fabric. I was never too worried about it on a business level as logic told me that customers who purchased my pieces weren't exactly going to want an almost-the-same piece from someone else. It's a pity this thought didn't occur to the other makers. It was then that the idea to create my own fabric design first bloomed. Unfortunately, I had no idea where to start and was so flat-strap that I had no time to water that bloom.

Fast forward to now. I was drawing new ideas in my sketchbook and I decided to take this little deer sketch and digitise her. Once I excitedly managed to achieve that, I went straight to Spoonflower. I am very impulsive when creating. I have a drawing - I have it on the computer - let's fabric it!!!

And it came, my sample fat quarter. And I loved it. Wanted to dance with it. Stare at it. Never cut into it. Now I am not kidding myself, I know it isn't the best design EVER. But I had a mother and child pride with this humble deer print and I could see it working for me, in my sewing. I had it just the right size to make garments from. I popped it onto Instagram and it turns out quite a few of you loved it too - we are a little deer mad here! So I made a pre-order list...and unbeknownst to everyone, I put an order in for three yards. And waited. And waited. And waited. And waited.


Three whole yards! Enough for me and enough to sell a small amount! This was going to be fun!

Finally my package arrived, and once I impatiently tore it open. I blinked. These deer were BIG. Why , they were practically jurassic park deer compared to my first order. How did..what did...WHY are they so big? Yes the impulsiveness bit me on the behind and someone didn't check her print size when she was ordering. I was a bit disappointed....and thanked myself I hadn't actually started taking orders from my pre-order list for petite deer.

I showed a couple of people. My top secret fabric staring people. Who....to my surprise...looked at them and said "hey I think they would be just about right for patchwork...!" I blinked and looked at the Big Deer again, who shrunk just a little in my sight after I stopped panicking. Perhaps these wise women were correct....after all, they would make excellent quilt blocks and patchwork pieces!


I cut one out and turned her into a pin cushion. She was cute, she was sweet. This was okay...my mistake turned out to be rather marvellous. Don't get me wrong, I will go back for the petite minis but for now, I have some great sized deer for quilts and little softies. And I know my design looks just as great big as she did small!

Deer on cushions. Deer on Quilts. Deer as Pockets. Deer as Pin cushions. Deer as appliques. (Sew a Needle Pulling Thread!) These deer could take over the world if they wanted to.

I popped some up on Etsy today. Digital fabric in small batches is a little bit different to normal quilty fabrics, not to mention it comes all the way over the ocean which equates to a lonnnng time coming and rather hefty postage. This is artisan fabric, it's designed and drawn and created by me. And I am proud of it, my baby deer fabric.



I've called her Dolly, and one panel will measure 12.5" by 21" - it's about the same size as a fat 1/8th. Each panel has three deer motifs that can be used as creatively as you can imagine! In fact, I can't wait to see what you will do with them! They are available in a limited quantity in my Etsy store here.

Have you ever designed your own fabric?

Megan x


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Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Hazel Blogs: Letters from Pink Hazel


To dear Hazel,

Thank you so much for sending your friend Pixie Pocket to visit, her cheerful disposition has been just what I needed after I found out I hadn't won the quilt contest. Nobody told me the paper pieces had to be removed! I have had a lot of fun looking after Bunny and I think Pixie appreciated my babysitting skills when she had so many night shifts leading up to Easter. The chocolate season really seems to have taken it out of her.



One night Pixie came home and was looking so exhausted, I booked her and Bunny a green retreat vacation. The travel agent said it was a rejuvenation experience or something. Anyway, I'm not sure but the people on the pamphlet looked so relaxed with these rocks lying on their eyes, I just couldn't help thinking it might do Pixie good too. After all, she has been so kind to me. I booked myself in too, because I figured Bunny could still do with his Aunty Pink Hazel babysitting him.

We only arrived last night, and already it has been an interesting experience. Pixie had carrot soup for dinner, which is apparently her favourite. I had some to be polite, but Hazel, between you and me, it tasted a little like dirt! Bunny spat his carrot soup everywhere, much to Pixie's distress. She is hoping he hasn't got allergies to carrots like his great Uncle Wilfred. That would make life a little bit difficult.


The beds are made from some kind of springy green shrub. It's quite comfortable but when they said eco friendly I didn't think they meant we'd be sleeping in a garden. Pixie is happy so I guess that is all that matters.



This afternoon we went tree climbing, and tomorrow we are booked in for some yoga. It's all very out doorsy here. As you are my sister you will know what a kindness I really have shown Pixie with this holiday. I already miss my feather mattress and climate control. Pixie wants to try the rocks on her eyes tomorrow. She says they have been a bit baggy underneath ever since Bunny was born. 

Your loving sister,
Pink Hazel
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Teatime Chat with Julia Bobbin


I have met some amazing people since starting my crafting journey. The sewing community on Instagram is such a lovely bunch of like-minded people coming together from across the globe, sharing, supporting and encouraging each other in both their creative endeavours and life in general. It really is a privilege to get to know these talented makers and be part of such a thriving, positive environment.

The Teatime Chat series is about getting to know some of these wonderful ladies just a little bit better, and also share their beautiful work and stories with you. We might be miles apart but I’d like to think of this as a way to have a neighbourly cup of tea and chat, as if it was a simple walk down the block, a tray of freshly baked cookies and basket of craft in hand.

Today I am chatting to the delightful Julia Bobbin, whose amazing blog and stunning personal style opened my eyes to just how wonderful and fun sewing garments for yourself can be!

So lets go......

Hi Julia! It is lovely to have you here on the blog today! I'd love to start by hearing how you first began sewing and what was it that first prompted you to pick up a needle and thread?

It all began with a newfound love of vintage clothing! I had started ‘Swing Dancing’ and had become enchanted by both the music and the clothing of the 40’s and 50’s. I looked everywhere in stores for clothes that resembled the era but could find hardly anything. And whatever small amount I could find was either ill-fitting or just the wrong size all together.

After many frustrated searches I suddenly had a light bulb moment: maybe I could SEW my own clothes! Once the idea had formed in my head I couldn’t stop thinking about it and I went on a hunt for a sewing class. In August 2009 I joined a weekly two-hour class run by the incredible Vikki Leigh Martin and I instantly fell completely, and irrevocably in love with sewing!! The class became the highlight of my week and I would spend my evenings watching youtube tutorials to hurry along my learning and every spare moment practicing. I no longer take the class but my learning hasn’t stopped!



Describe your style in three words. What inspires you?
My style and tastes have evolved over the years, mainly thanks to sewing but to sum it up I would say ‘Bright, feminine, conspicuous’. I find so many things inspiring, from fellow designers, to colours, to current and past fashions to watching an episode of Mad Men! Still one of my favourite ways to get inspired is to walk into a fabric store. I love looking through and feeling the different fabrics and imagining what I could make with them. It is one of my greatest indulgences! More often than not it’s the fabric that I start with, not the sewing design.

When did you start your blog and what prompted you to do so? What is the story behind your blog name “Julia Bobbin”? Any plans to make “Bobbin” your legal surname?

I originally started my blog as a way to document and share with others what I had made and how. It was also a way to communicate with the larger sewing community that I had so much in common with and to whom I had learnt so much from already.

The name ‘Julia Bobbin’ came about without much excitement. My first name is Julia, so that was a little uninventive of me! I originally signed up for the BurdaStyle website and needed to come up with a profile name. On a whim I chose Julia Bobbin because I’d always liked the humble little bobbin threads in our sewing machines that work so hard but don’t get to see the light of day! After that it stuck and it’s stayed with me ever since! I’ve taken on my husband’s surname, but I think it would be fabulous if we changed our surname to Bobbin. Not just for my sake, but because my husband’s first name is Robin. Is there anything more perfect than ‘Robin Bobbin’??!!





Crafty Disaster - come on spill the beans..what is the worst thing that you have ever had happen while mixing fabric and a sewing machine?

I have broken a needle or two on my sewing machine, and most of them were done while sewing with the beautiful yet ferocious sequinned fabric!! Nothing is more panic inducing than seeing your machine start to shake and the machine light flash as your needle mashes into a sequin that won’t be penetrated!!

I love bright and sparkly, so I won’t say ‘never’ for sewing sequins again, but I’d need some serious meditation practice before the next attempt.

If you were a fabric, what would you be?
Silk silk silk!! It has such a luxurious fibre that can be both light as a feather or strong and structured like dupion. It’s the showiest, flashiest of fabrics that makes people ‘oo and ahh’ when they see it and touch it. You can’t wear silk without feeling fancy; it’s a feel good (literally) textile!




Proudest Achievement - what is your sewing/blogging Eureka! Moment?


My proudest sewing achievement is without a doubt when I won the Australian Tessuti Awards in 2011. I had entered the awards as a way to challenge and push my new sewing and designing skills and the result exceeded my wildest expectations.

Winning 1st place enabled me to travel to New York and really cemented in me the growing desire to create and design. It also was what prompted me to start my own sewing blog and really connect with the sewing community outside of my sewing class.

What haven’t you tried yet that you secretly harbour ambitions to do?

I have such a soft spot for sewing evening wear and have big ambitions to make couture gowns and wedding dresses. (sorry to break in here but that would be AMAZING!) But my short term ambition is to make my own bras and swimwear!

There are so many great patterns out there and I have seen some fantastic makes, but for some reason the idea scares the heck out of me! So many notions and new sewing techniques. But it’s also all of those unknowns that excites me and makes me want to give it a go. I have a feeling once I make a perfectly fitted, personally styled bra I will never be able to go back to ‘store-bought’ again.




You have a fantastic “celebrity copycat” collection - if you could design costumes for a movie, which movie would it be and why?
Well thank you so much!! I so easily get inspired by fashions of the past, in particular the 60’s. It was an era of change and empowerment and the fashions really reflected that. I love the silhouettes and the colours and watching Mad Men was a sensory overload.
I don’t know what movie I would like to design for, but it would have to be something with a lot of evening wear and maybe set in the 30’s. The rich fabrics and intricate details would be such a dream to recreate and give my imagination a chance to run wild.


You spoke recently on instagram about how much you are loving running and fitness - what made you decide to take up this activity and how has it impacted your sewing?

I originally started running as a means to an end. I had given birth to my second child and knew that I wanted to increase my fitness (which at the time was zero) and promote a healthier lifestyle.

I downloaded an app called ‘map my run trainer’ with a goal to eventually run 10k. I’d never done a structured running routine before; my previous attempts had been to just run until I’d reached a distance and I always hated every second of it. With this app the distance and speed was done step by step with purpose, progression and mini goals and to my complete surprise I found that I loved running!!

In the meantime, I started a 12-week strength training course which I could do in my backyard. It is 3 x 28 minute sessions each week where you train legs, upper body and core. I’d never done any strength training of any kind so at the start I felt like a dead weight. Everything was too hard. But with persistence my body started responding and my muscles grew and suddenly I could do everything. It still shocks me to see what my body can do with a bit of training. I used to think that sport and fitness was something that I would never be able to do or enjoy. I was so WRONG!



I entered my first ever ‘fun run’ in July 2016 and was completely blown away with the euphoria and team spirit of a big sporting event! Being a ‘creative type’ I had never participated or thought I was at all capable of being part of anything ‘sporty’ and to suddenly be part of a world that I thought was out of my reach and to be able to achieve goals and feel included was life changing for me.

I now train with an athletics group each week, and participate on Saturday mornings in ‘Park Run’ which is a timed 5km run and free community run held across Australia and the U.K. I also sign up for every fun-run I can find, with my first half marathon coming up at the end of this year.

With both running and strength training I am the fittest I have ever been and it has helped me claim back my body after over 5 beautiful years of pregnancy and breastfeeding. Sewing has given me an appreciation of my body and its shape, and running and fitness has given me a complete respect and understanding of what my body can do. I find that incredibly empowering and it’s a daily reminder that anything is impossible.

And Julia also knits....is there anything she can't do? 


Any words of advice for seamstresses yet to dip their toes in the water?
Do it! We are so lucky to be in an information rich time where you can find tutorials and communities everywhere online to support and teach you.

It is so rewarding to be able to create something from scratch that brings you joy every time you wear it. It allows us to be inventive and creative and to discover our own unique styles and tastes.

Don’t be disheartened by mistakes; you will make plenty of them! It is also where you learn the most and that’s where your sewing will really take off.

And if for nothing else, do it for the love of saying to others ‘Thank you, I made it myself!’ which absolutely never fails to get old.

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It was wonderful having Julia on the blog today! Below are a few links you may want to check out! You can also follow Julia on instagram @juliabobbin

Julia's Blog
Project Gallery
Celebrity Copycat
Julia's Tutorials
Julia Bobbin on Etsy

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Wednesday, 22 March 2017

My own fabric design, slow stitching and a cardi for Hazel

Lately I've been stopping to do a little more slow stitching. I usually machine stitch the eyes and cheeks onto my dolls, but the other day when I decided I needed to make a pink linen Hazel, in order to showcase the pink linen supply kits, I decided to sit down and enjoy the relaxing pace of hand-stitching. 

Not only did was it a peaceful task, it gave me time to reflect on what kind of character this pink Hazel would be. While stitching, I decided she would have a headwrap instead of the bonnet that features in the pattern, and that her personality would be a little out there.

So here she is, Hazel's short(er) statured sister. 
I haven't come up with a name for her yet, she is currently affectionately known as 'Pink Hazel'


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