Dolly Henry is a sewing and design blog for the creative wanderer, where style meets play and making is a lifestyle.

Hi, I'm Megan - owner, designer and writer at Dolly Henry! Join me here as I explore the ins and outs of creativity, dabble in dollmaking and raise my voice on issues facing creative entrepreneurs.

Make yourself a cup of tea, and come on in!


Sunday, 20 January 2019

Getting Started with English Paper Piecing

Earlier in the week, I was chatting to Larisa from Stitching Notes about the various projects we would like to complete in 2019. English Paper Piecing came up, and after some discussion, we decided to hold a little EPP party on Instagram, this Sunday evening.

The idea is to share your current EPP projects, as well as any tips, skills or ideas that you have. I have some hexagon flowers, and a lone Lucy Boston block that have been sitting gathering dust for several years now. I would love to make more time for English Paper Piecing, and both Larisa and I thought this would be a great way to make sure we work on our projects, at least once a week! 

If you would like to participate, you need to ‘bring’ your EPP project, a cup of tea (or coffee) and even a dessert! The idea is to have a little online party of a Sunday evening, where we can all connect through the hashtag #sipteaandepp - to inspire and encourage each other to work on our EPP projects (current and forgotten) and participate in a community craft party.

For more details, please see my Instagram post here.

The timezone is for Australia, however, if you have a moment while the party is on, and you are elsewhere in the world, you are still more than welcome to put up an Instagram post and join in on the hashtag - there are no hard and fast rules!

Meanwhile, I thought I'd do a little introduction to English Paper Piecing, and include some useful resources and links if you would like to give it a go!

I started with Hexagons, so for the purpose of this blog post, and because I am also currently sewing hexagons, that is the shape I have chosen. (English paper piecing shapes come in all sorts of different sizes and styles.)

So what is English Paper Piecing (EPP)?

English paper piecing uses small paper templates to create the foundation pieces for a quilt block design. As you will see below, the technique essentially involves wrapping fabric around the paper shapes and then hand stitching the fabric together. You have to be careful not to stitch through the paper, as the pieces are removed once your block or shape is completed, leaving only the fabric.

I quite like EPP, because you can stitch an entire quilt top by hand, and it is great for using up small pieces of fabric or scraps. It's also excellent for fussy cutting any details on a print that you would particularly like to showcase.

There are two ways to baste the fabric to the shape. One is with glue and the other is with quick, large basting stitches. I've done both, but prefer glue because it is faster! Some people prefer using thread because they find the paper templates can tear when removing glue-basted shapes, which makes them difficult to reuse. 

I have chosen to use my Miss Fox in Thyme print to make a hexagon flower. I like to choose a feature design first because then I can coordinate the other hexagons to match the print I want to stand out. This is a 1/12 inch hexagon.

If you haven't done any EPP, and are buying shapes for the first time, I recommend choosing a set that includes an Acrylic template. The template includes the seam allowance, and is easy to slice around with a rotary ruler. You can also 'see through' the template, so you can position the design exactly how you want it to look on the finished hexagon.

Once you have cut out your hexagon (if you don't have a rotary cutter, you can always draw around the outer edge of your template with a pencil and then use scissors), position the hexagon shape in the middle of your fabric. I often hold mine up to the light to make sure I have centered the design properly, before basting. I use the glue basting method, and you can usually buy a little glue-stick especially made for the task from your paper supplier. 

Apply a small amount of glue along each edge of your hexagon, and wrap the fabric edges over as you go (shown above) It's a little bit like wrapping a present! There is usually about 1/8-1/4" of fabric folded over to the back.

Then you are done! Sometimes, I give mine a very light press with my iron to reinforce the shape.

You will need to make seven hexagons in total to make a hexagon flower!

Once you have the arrangement you are happy with, the hexagons are joined together with small whip stitches. My friend Lauren from Molly and Mama has a detailed post on sewing together hexagons here.

My hexagons are now ready for sewing tonight for the first #sipteaandepp party on Instagram!

I also wanted to share this beautiful felt pincushion Lauren sent me, her stitching is so tiny and even! Miss Kitty is perfect (or is that purrrfect!) for my stitching tonight. She was accompanied by a sweet pouch that Lauren also made, featuring a gorgeous hexagon flower. I'll pop a link to Lauren's pattern shop below if you would like to make a pincushion like Miss Kitty!

Useful Links

EPP papers, templates and tools - Patchwork with Busy Fingers or Sue Daley Designs.
I've tried some other brands too, but I find the shiny white card shapes are the best, and also remove well without tearing.

My fabric designs are perfect for fussy cutting onto 1/12in and larger hexagons - you can find them here in my store. You will get quite a lot of fussy cut pieces out of one 1/2 yard piece!

The Molly and Mama pattern shop, for gorgeous pincushion and sewing patterns.

Megan x

If you know someone who would find this article useful, please direct them back here, to my blog as I would LOVE for more people to enjoy my work.

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Friday, 4 January 2019

Hello 2019

I am so happy to move into 2019, a brand new year. It's like getting a new journal - all new, not yet written on. Good intentions for the fresh white blank pages, knowing that some of those pages will not contain the best words ever written and some will even be torn out to use as a shopping list. Some pages will be reduced to scribble or a flurry of notes that might come in handy on a rainy day. But for the moment, the promise is in the new and that is worth taking a moment to inhale and enjoy.

I have seen a lot of people coming up with a word for 2019 - a theme if you like, to guide them through the next twelve months. If I was going to think of a word, it would probably have to be 'Acceptance'.

There is so much power, peace, and contentment in acceptance. Whether it's your current situation, a particular season or phase, taking a deep breath and accepting where you are for the moment is often quite difficult to do. Acceptance comes from letting go of the control you think you have over a thing, a situation or a person, and just going with the flow.

2018 was a tumultuous year for me in many ways. There was a lot of change, and I floundered for a while there with my creativity. It wasn't easy, but I learned a lot of really valuable lessons, which I am really grateful to take into 2019 with me.

So many people push for the fast-paced hustle these days, and it is exhausting. There comes a point where you have to accept that you do or have done your best and leave it at that. This was something I learned last year when I continually exhausted myself trying to yank open doors that weren't meant for me.

Wise words from a friend at one point helped me see things more clearly: She asked me what my true intentions were, and to look deeper at what I really wanted. When I did this, I realized that the avenue I had been trying to travel along wasn't actually where I wanted to go.

Rest is greatly underrated in our current climate. Simply being still and letting the mind wander. Off the screen, away from a TV or even a craft project. Allowing yourself headspace and downtime is so important, and though people have always worked very hard, I believe they also had more space in their life. Manual tasks were often so much slower that you would have had a bit more time to just think. If you walked or rode a horse to your destination, still slower and more mindful.

I had a three month period where I decided I would not engage in ANY business activity and focus on my own health and well being. This was really difficult to do, but as time went on, I realized how VALUABLE rest and stillness is. It's not optional and it isn't lazy. Taking a proper break helped me focus, and become more productive. You can't always see the full picture until you take a step back.

If you have your own creative business, you will understand how often we don't rest, how often you keep working when you really should have called it a day six hours earlier. This is where acceptance comes in. Accepting that there are only a certain amount of hours in a day and that you don't have to slam yourself into the ground to have had a productive work day.

Time and again I have seen others experience burn-out because they failed to ever take a break, pause or stop for a while to regroup. I have experienced it myself. I wonder how many little creative enterprises would still exist if their creators had ONLY taken a break, and some time.

Valuable lessons I learned in 2018, that I take forward into 2019 are:

- Rest. Take time off. If the day before was full on, have a break. The sky will NOT fall in. And neither will your customers or your business.

- Let Go. Realize when you are at the end of your tether and break free. Allow yourself to let go so that you can embrace the next thing coming your way. You KNOW when you have had your fill of something. Don't be afraid to quit and let the next thing come along! It could be something much more fulfilling and you can take all the experience you have gleaned from your last pursuit and channel it into your new adventure - whether it's a new business, new job, new hobby, parenthood or a new relationship.

- Fail Fast. Failure is amazing because it allows us to grow. You learn to ride a bike by wobbling around and falling off. You learn to walk by stumbling around and falling over. The trick is to accept when you feel something isn't working for you and move on quickly. Get back up again and do something else! Failure might mean failure, but it doesn't equal nothing. It yields experience, growth, and wisdom. It's a not so great pill to swallow that gives you valuable things in return.

- Be Brave. Thinking 'wouldn't it be nice...' as far as your business goals go isn't super helpful. If you don't put your prices up (nobody else will give you a pay rise!), if you don't contact that shop/publisher/blogger, if you don't plan that new collection, if you don't enroll in that course, if you don't schedule a holiday, then nobody else is going to. We aren't wallflowers at a party, waiting to be invited to dance by the handsome prince. We have to make our intentions known, and we have to make them known to ourselves FIRST. By being brave enough to acknowledge what you want, and even if it sounds silly, or you are shouted down or rejected at first, the only person that can make your aspirations known to others is YOU.

- Acceptance. Accept that you did your best. Accept that there are only 24 hours in the day. Accept that life is short and therefore you should be doing something that fulfills you. Accept that some seasons of life aren't that fun, but that nothing lasts forever. Accept that some days, salad doesn't cut it and you need cake. Acceptance is powerful because you can rest in the knowledge of ENOUGH, rather than feeling the impossible squeeze of MORE.

More keeps you running on overdrive. Enough brings you satisfaction and contentment. Leave the hustle for the hustlers and march to the beat of your own drum. We are all unique, life doesn't have a filter and mess happens. Some people can run as fast as a hare, and others get there on tortoise time. It doesn't matter. What matters is how much YOU enjoyed the journey.

I am so excited for 2019 - I can't wait to go forward and see what this wonderful year brings! I don't make resolutions, I know I'd never keep one. But taking the things I learn forward with me, and learning from a whole new set of challenges and making a whole new set of mistakes is the way it is meant to be (and don't let anyone tell you otherwise!)

If I was to make a resolution it would be this:

Live in the moment, and let go of what doesn't really matter. Stop resolving to be the one day *insert improved lifestyle, body, house, bank account, whatever here* and just accept where you are right now!

May you have a fulfilling and creative 2019!

Megan xx


Wednesday, 19 December 2018

A Crafty Party in Bellingen | Recap

The Crafternoon Tea Party that I co-hosted with Sarah from Say! Little Hen was such a lovely way to end 2018. Unfortunately, I didn't get to take any photos when the party was in full swing, but I managed to grab a few snaps before our guests arrived.

We held the event at the beautiful Cedar Bar and Kitchen, in Bellingen NSW.

The lovely Naomi from Paper Leaf Press showed us all how to do a simple flower arrangement, which like most things that look fairly simple, actually take quite a lot of skill. Naomi quickly whipped together the most gorgeous bouquet, inspiring us all to go home and create floral magic ourselves.

We were also fortunate to learn a little bit about the journey from fleece to fiber with Lyn, who is a prolific and passionate spinner. Her gorgeous display was highly textural, and I couldn't help stroking the beautiful blankets, scarves, and yarn she had created. You'll see above Lyn makes adorable knitted chickens, which are perfect for the poultry lover or for apartment dwellers who'd very much like to keep a flock of their own!

The thing I have observed throughout this year, assisting with creative workshops and again hosting the Crafternoon party, was that most people are surprised at how much fun they have once they are there.

That isn't to say when they book in they expect to be bored, but rather that most of us are so crazy busy these days, that we don't realize what a rare treat it is to sit and simply create, uninterrupted by family, work or technology for several hours. The surprise and joy I see reflected in the faces of those around me, tells me that this is something we need to do more often.

Spending time creating without disruption, and meeting other people face-to-face is a tonic to today's hectic flurry of activity and notifications binging away on phones. Actually having real conversation, and sharing your creative pursuits with others is almost meditative.

It seems that going out for a creative workshop or party is some kind of medicine that nobody knew they needed, until they are there, relishing the luxury of time spent in peace, creating.

If anything, these experiences have taught me that slowing down, connecting with others in REAL time and switching technology off for a while is something we all need to do much more often. It was a really joyful and satisfying experience providing everyone with that platform to do that last Saturday, and something I would like to be able to offer again in the future.

Going into the New Year, I encourage you to reach out to friends, go out and do some making at a cafe, join a craft group or host a craft party of your own. It will be the thing you didn't know you were missing, and a necessary stress-release from the craziness of everyday life.

Megan x

PS. You can come and sew with me in February 2019. I am holding my first ever workshop, see the details here.


Thursday, 29 November 2018

Willoh - A Waldorf-Inspired Doll

Meet Willoh. She loves collecting vintage treasures and hosting tea parties for her friends. Willoh lives in a little retro caravan called Connie, which she has decorated with cloth bunting and gingham curtains. Willoh spends her days creating - she loves to sew, crochet and paint.
Dolly Henry Dumpling dolls are one of a kind, Waldorf-inspired dolls.
A Waldorf doll is traditionally compatible with Steiner education philosophies to encourage a child’s own imagination in play. Their appearance is kept intentionally simple and childlike, in order to encourage creativity, problem-solving skills and imaginative play in children. Dolly Henry Dumpling dolls make excellent companions for children, their clothing is removable for interactive play, and are filled with a beautiful natural eco-friendly vegan fiber so they are lovely to cuddle. They have a little bit of weight to them, unlike a cloth or rag doll, that is comforting to children and makes them feel a little bit more 'real.

Annie was so excited to meet her new sister, and the latest addition to the Dolly Henry waldorf-inspired doll collection - Willoh! 

It's clear that Willoh loves a good matchy-matchy colour scheme, as she is decked out in classic baby blue and aqua.

Her unruly blonde locks are piled high and kept tidy with her vintage style gingham headwrap.

There is something so lovely about blending knitted and woven textures together - the cotton blouse peeps out from underneath her gorgeous hand-knitted pinafore, which is delightfully soft having been made using 100% organic Australian merino! 

Willoh is now available for sale in the Dolly Henry store. She would make an excellent companion and wonderful Christmas gift for someone very special! You can see her here.

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Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Dolly Henry Podcast - Episode 1

Hello! It is with much excitement, and a few nerves, that I introduce the first ever Dolly Henry podcast. In this episode, you might have to endure a few 'ummms...' as this is the first time I have ever done a podcast or recording, and excuse my very 'Australian' accent!!

Consider this a little studio diary, as I chat a bit about making my latest pattern, Mama Llama (shown above) and the events coming up for Dolly Henry in the coming weeks.

I have linked below to some of the things mentioned in the podcast, happy listening!

Megan x

Links from the Show:

Dolly Henry Pattern Shop

Hazel's new outfit - the Woodland Dress and Cape Sewing Pattern

Crafternoon Tea Party

Handmade Doll Christmas Shop

Dolly Henry Facebook Page

Bellingen Artisan Market

Sign up for the Dolly Henry Newsletter

Sunday, 18 November 2018

DIY Christmas Tags & Stitching on Yarn

I'm delighted to be a contributor to the second issue of Yarnologie, a new Australian focused digital magazine for yarn lovers, hoarders, knitters, spinners and crocheters...yes yarn hoarding is a hobby too!

As our seasons are completely reversed to the Northern Hemisphere, it's so lovely to have a knitting and yarn publication that is dedicated to sharing all things yarn from down here in Australia. We have so many amazing artists and designers down here, it's refreshing to learn about new people and read stories from our neck of woods. The summer issue will be full of inspiration to suit the southern hemisphere, though I am personally NOT feeling the heat yet here in NSW.

I dusted off my water colours to create a set of bookish Christmas tags, suitable for attaching to all those woolly socks and jumpers you've been making as gifts... if you really have managed to make gorgeous handmade items for your friends and family, then I salute you. For me, my NY resolution was to not make anything handmade this year, for gifts. Mean I know, but I really needed a break.

Of course, as with all resolutions, I didn't quite stick to it and some people still benefited from my creative adventures...count yourself as chosen ones if you got something I made this year...

In my defence, it takes just as much effort and creativity to curate a lovely store-bought gift. Even gift cards - they are like buying a little bit of are locked into spending the moolah guilt-free at your favourite shop...what's not to love?!

Anyway, whether your creativity goes all out or not this year, at least you can affix a handmade tag to your gifts! Also in this issue, I have written a couple of articles, one on WIPs (works in progress to the uninitiated) which are always on my mind as the year draws to a close. I did half wonder if I could finish all my current WIPs before 2019 arrives but I decided that was probably a bit WIP stash is next level across the crafts of knitting, crocheting, embroidery, patchwork and dressmaking!

Commitment issues? Nooooooo......(ducks and runs)

My second article is all about when Stitching met Yarn. (sneak peek above!) A modern love story? More like the entwining of two threads, who alone are pretty amazing but when put together produce results only dreams are made of. Well, that might be a tad dramatic and romantic but you get the gist. Stitching pretty things on other pretty things made of yarn makes everyone happy.

I'm sorry if my writing has been a bit up and down in this post, that's probably what happens when you type with pop music blasting out of the computer...your fingers dance a little.

Anyway, if you love yarn and creative inspiration, then make sure you jump on and order your copy of Yarnologie from the Say! Little Hen shop - Issue 2 is out on December 1st! (I feel like the overly bright voiceover from a TV advert! I'm not, it's just really good and you should get onto it!)

Megan x

If you know someone who would find this article useful, please direct them back here, to my blog as I would LOVE for more people to enjoy my work.

If you would like to receive freshly baked blog posts and other Dolly Henry news delivered straight to your inbox, click here to SUBSCRIBE.

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