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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, 15 June 2018

Meet Dolly Henry at the Brisbane Finders Keepers Market



It's been many months of work and anticipation but I cannot believe how fast time has gone! This time next week you will be able to meet me, and the entire Dolly Henry collection at the Brisbane Finders Keepers Market. 

The Finders Keepers is one of the most exciting markets in Australia, featuring a host of amazing artists, designers, and makers from all across the country. The event runs across a massive 3 days, with over 200 highly curated stalls to peruse. Alongside the wealth of home-grown talent on show, there is also amazing culinary line-up, with live music and entertainment to enjoy. You can find out all the information on the Finders Keepers website here.


I've put together a little sneak peek of some of the products you will find on the Dolly Henry stall. Through months of hard work, I am super excited to be launching a collection that features handmade dolls, little girl's clothing, my own fabric designs and illustrations, dollmaking kits and sewing patterns. 

My process is incredibly hands-on so from the initial design phase, through to the labeling and packaging is done in-house by me and occasionally an additional team member in the form of my sister! I feel it is important to impress upon you the very handmade nature of the entire Dolly Henry collection. 

It's very easy to take everything for granted (don't worry, I do it too!) in the fast-paced mass-produced world we now live in, that sometimes it's easy to forget the many, many hours of hard work, time and resources that go into making little designer brands happen.

It's a team of mostly 1 here, so as a tiny business owner I not only oversee all creative projects, I actually am the creator, the maker, the marketer, the graphic designer, the book-keeper, the mailroom girl, the customer service team, the stock keeper, the cleaner, the canteen girl, the IT team and the social media person.

I do all those things and I actually really do enjoy it, it's a very full-on hands-on job. It's something that I am quite proud of, and I am also equally grateful to accept any additional help that comes my way. I have a very supportive and helpful family - it would not be possible without them.

But before this turns into some kind of weird bloggy kind of awards acceptance speech, I want to show you some of the other fun new products I will be bringing with me to the Finders Keepers!


This is Lucy and she was born from my somewhat nostalgic love of paper dolls. I designed and illustrated Lucy and all her various outfits and accessories - she is a well-dressed paper doll! These paper doll kits will be available on the Dolly Henry website in July, they will be making their debut at the Finders Keepers next weekend. This kit is just perfect for journaling and creativity - or if playing paper dolls is something you still enjoy (I won't judge, I promise...we are all kids at heart!) then I hope this little paper doll kit I made ticks all those boxes!



Amid the gorgeous new collection of handmade dolls and tiny clothes, is a small collection of my new designer fabric range. I have also created quite a few doll making kits, embroidery kits and fabric panels that will be available across the weekend. I absolutely love sharing creativity and inspiring others to create. Creativity is essential in order to have a balanced existence so being able to help people discover new ways to be creative or try new skills is very exciting. It also means that there are more people to spend frivolous hours discussing the many merits of fabric with!

My fabric designs reflect the many little characters you will find in the magical world of Dolly Henry and feature my favourite colour palettes and combinations. They all play wonderfully well together which is perfect if you want to use all of them at once!

If you can't make it to the Finders Keepers, you can still pre-order yours here.

I love being able to offer limited edition, original fabrics featuring my designs that have been made in such an earth-friendly way too - digitally printed in small quantities to limit waste, using eco-senstive dyes and inks. I know we hear a lot about that these days, but it is very important. Nature is so very inspiring and it's good to think that we care enough about it to preserve it's sacred beauty and mystery.



Find the Dolly Henry stall at the Brisbane Finders Keepers on June 22nd-24th.
This collection will also be available in July after the market so if you can't make it, be sure to keep an eye on the Dolly Henry store!

Megan xx




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Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Dolly Henry Designer Fabric


I am just a *teeny-tiny* bit excited to share a collection of fabric that I have designed. These prints are going to be launched at the Brisbane Finders Keepers market on the 22nd-24th June. Afterward, they will be available for you to purchase in the Dolly Henry online store.

There is something that is a little bit surreal about seeing my designs printed on fabric, I can never quite get used to it! It's almost one of those out of body experiences, it's hard to fully appreciate the fact that I actually *did* this!


I have found my fabric design journey quite interesting so far. I had to let go of expectations and just create. I also had to be happy to let the work take me where it wanted to, and not place any restrictions on it. As far as art and drawing goes, I have always been an incredibly detailed artist and when I was younger, it was always about being able to capture something realistically and perfectly.

When I first started dabbling in fabric ideas a couple of years ago, I realized that the style I preferred is somewhat simple and quite imaginative. This took me down a completely different path in my sketchbook and at first, drawing more simply was more difficult for me than trying to create something as you see it in reality. I really enjoyed it though and as I continued, I felt like I was almost watching from the outside as my style emerged.

This is what I mean about letting go of expectations. I have always absolutely loved water colour illustrations and thought that this would be the style direction I took. What I found I was creating was completely different and instead of fighting it, I decided to embrace it. In choosing my colour palettes, I simply stuck to colours that I absolutely adore and combinations that make my heart sing.


The funny thing is, when you stick to the style that flows organically from your finger tips, is that everything goes so well together. I have a collection of different prints here that were all designed as individual designs yet they all play fabulously well together and would look amazing pieced together into various different projects!


These fabrics have been printed digitally using eco-sensitive inks, something that I really love. I've chosen a high quality 100% cotton substrate so they can be used as you would traditional patchwork cottons. I'm really excited to launch these and it won't be too long before they are available in my store. If you would like to be notified when they are for sale, please make sure you are signed up to receive the Dolly Henry e-mail subscription.


** Update: These fabrics are now available on Pre-Order**
Find them here in the store


Lastly, I just want to share this absolutely beautiful parcel that my dear friend Kellie sent me.
She has worked two absolutely adorable covered buttons from my Mouse Manor panel design...I love them! I can't believe she sent this gorgeous package to me - actually I can, Kellie is the kindest and most generous soul you'll meet. She also popped in two embroidery floss skeins that she hand-painted...is she talented or what?

Megan xx

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Friday, 1 June 2018

When Hazel Met Hamilton


Love is in the air for Hazel. She has a new boyfriend. His name is Hamilton.

Hazel's quest for love started last year when she signed up for the Love Forest Matchmaker app. She's a modern deer and the attempts on her Grandmother's behalf to help her meet potential suitors had been something of an ordeal. So encouraged by a successfully matched friend, Hazel joined.

A month into her quest, Hazel was getting nowhere. Her poor little hands hurt from all the furious swiping she was doing, and she had missed out on all the latest episodes of her favourite TV series Bambi's Revenge: Poachers Hunted by Deer. (yes I know it sounds scary!) To top it off, she was no longer much fun socially as she would only eat celery after a date with a potential suitor had gone sour and he had called her fat. 

Finally Hazel decided she was going to try something else. She went speed dating and couldn't keep up. Nobody told her there was actual running involved. She responded to some newspaper advertisements with mixed results, finding that most of the people she met did not want a serious relationship...or in some cases, any relationship at all.

It was a wise friend who took the flustered Hazel by the hand and told her she simply must be patient, and that if she had gone looking for a best friend the way she had been looking for a soul mate, she would realize the insanity behind her relentless pursuing. Exhausted by her efforts and feeling a little worse for wear, Hazel agreed and booked herself a ticket on a cruise ship. 

She needed some relaxation after the past six months of hectic activity. 



It was on the cruise that Hazel met Hamilton. They had both signed up for the talent show and they had a shared love for singing. It turned out that neither of them was very talented in that department, and while their duet had the audience reaching for their ear plugs, Hazel and Hamilton knew that they had something special. 

They enjoyed a lovely holiday exploring Islands and the further corners of the globe. On the last day of the cruise, Hamilton confessed his true love for Hazel, and she found the feeling was mutual.


Hamilton is a freelance writer and photographer, so he is often trotting the globe on new assignments.
Hazel has her suspicions that he might really be a spy! Whatever Hamilton is or isn't, Hazel is very glad to have met him, and while their relationship is often long-distance, Hamilton always returns to Hazel when his assignment is complete.

-------------------------------------------------

Megan xx





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Thursday, 31 May 2018

A Serious Chat About The True Cost of Clothing


There are so many reasons being creative is wonderful. I have come to think of it as essential.
Essential for joy, essential for having something that makes sense when somedays, depending on what news you encounter, nothing else seems to.

This blog was started because I needed to find my way back to creativity, after a long stint of making to sell had drained my resources and general love of creating. The journey this has taken me one has been quite amazing, I have learned so much and met lots of new people.

I have learned obvious things such as new skills in sewing and crochet. I've learned how to make my own patterns and handle all the techy stuff I never thought I'd be able to.

I have also learned quite a lot of things I never expected. And I have learned how important it is to cultivate this delicate creative industry, how to cherish those who rely on it for their bread and butter and why supporting small businesses in this industry is really important.

 I didn't ever think that creativity or sewing or quilts or making clothes could be harnessed with politics, serious reforms or the national economy. But it turns out that this creative industry is and it's quite amazing because a large portion of the population still see sewing and hobbies as something that isn't totally necessary and at the most, is a fluffy thing to do that we don't actually need. And one we shouldn't be paid for.

This isn't the case. I don't touch very often on bigger more serious topics and I always try to keep a balance of positivity and lightness on my blog. I am so aware of how many messages we are hit with on serious topics from however many different outlets now and creativity can be an escape from all that.

I'd like to point out a few things though, that creativity has taught me and why I am constantly learning so many more things about the world around me through my sewing and design. One of them being the need for reform in the fashion and clothing industry.



Before fashion revolution, the need to question the ethics and origins behind the clothing we buy, I was already finding my way down the path of discovery. This is because I was making lots of small clothes and finding myself unable to keep up with demand. I went looking for an answer and for most people, this is manufacturing.

My creativity led me to research this as an option and that was when I learned about some of the serious problems in the fashion industry as it stands. I feel also that I have a deeper insight into the hard work that does go into creating a single garment from a seamstresses point of view.

I have lived the long hours, felt the aches and pains this caused in my body and the small amount of money I was given for my labors.

Inevitably, my personal experience and research into how the clothes in my cupboard are made has helped me make small changes in my own life, and appreciate that making my own clothes is actually really important.

Aside from some of the appalling conditions many women find themselves having to work in, the environmental pollution and waste created in the fashion industry helped me to see how necessary slow fashion is. Why it's a matter of environmental importance and human rights that clothing is priced correctly.

I have learned so much and I continue to discover new things that lead me to believe that it is vital we change our perspective on more 'expensive' clothing and products because there is a far bigger cost lying underneath. I feel justified in demanding a fair wage for the products I create, in the same way another might demand a fair wage to be a teacher, retail assistant or therapist.

Everyone else in Australia believes they are entitled to a fair wage so I believe women sitting at a sewing machine do too - whether they work here, or somewhere over the big blue sea.


The job is incredibly labour intensive and expensive. There are a lot of costs involved. A handmade or ethically made product may be a lot more expensive to purchase, but you can be almost sure that the profit margins are still lower than the big markups most of us pay on cheap mass-made items.

It's also like comparing apples to oranges. The price comparison shouldn't be made because the quality difference is enormous. A handmade dress or doll is also not a bottle of milk or a bag of flour. The consumer doesn't need to purchase it week in, week out. It's a one of a kind, investment purchase. And one that will bring both the customer and the maker a lot more satisfaction.

For all this excessive spending on cheaper clothes and frequent discounts (my phone sometimes chimes three times a day from clothing stores telling me there is nothing under $40) I don't believe it's made anyone feel any happier, or better about themselves or their life in general. Being happy to throw something away means you never loved it very much at all.

As for op-shopping, it's almost impossible to find something of good quality for less now. A lot of stuff is only suitable for a season before the fabric wears out and it feels awful to look at racks of second-hand clothing that never should have been donated in the first place. The only clothing that holds up are those have been well-made. I can't help but think of all the 'vintage' pieces that are still being worn nearly sixty years later (60 YEARS) and feel a little sad that most garments we buy now won't last even a tenth of that time.

Handmade garments and clothing that has been made well, to that old tried-and-true standard will however. And they will be passed on to a new generation, probably discarded by the next until the fashion circulates and what was old is once again trendy again. There is a history and a record in these pieces of clothing. There are stories in the quilts that are made from the faded memories of a party dress.

So with all this waste, this inability to understand that clothing should not be cheap, that people should not go unpaid, should not be working under such huge amounts of pressure for very little, the piles of unworn and unwanted clothing piling up on the planet, we are in fact paying a very, very high price. It just doesn't always come out of our bank account.

And that doesn't make it right.



My eyes were opened a little further reading this article on the HuffPost about how automation is endangering the jobs of women in clothing factories overseas. It's interesting as the topic of wages often comes up as an issue with cheap clothing but this article offers further insight into why the need for so much cheap clothing may eventually also cost these women their jobs - jobs that they absolutely cannot do without.

 I can't help thinking when I read this - there must be something we can do to change this industry and ensure that not only do these women continue to have jobs but that they are paid much more fairly for what they do. In my opinion, it's hypocritical worrying about things like a gender pay gap etc when women just like you and me are struggling to make ends meet or live in a way that we would like to live for the sake of women like you and me having 10 dresses in the wardrobe.

Yes, we should address all these issues. But we need to do SO much better. These changes start by caring, understanding and changing our perspective on the cost of clothing. Whether that is for a handmade dress in Australia or a factory made garment overseas. These clothes are made by people and the resources to make them were made by people. And those people, whether they live in Australia or in another country, deserve to be paid and to live WELL.

Until we change the way we think about clothes, nobody will benefit from the current system.

Megan xx



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Monday, 28 May 2018

Dolly Deer Patchwork Cushion


It's taken me a little while to finish this cushion cover. It's been a work in progress for a year or so. No, it didn't take that long but you know how these projects start and then somehow become...forgotten. Please forgive me, we did move house somewhere in between and I wasn't intentional in my neglect.

I remember because it was awhile ago I stitched the cover together, that I enjoyed making this one. Incorporating my Dolly the Deer fabric into the design made it extra special, and potentially this is one of the few projects that I have actually managed to stitch a hexagon flower onto.
The other hexagon flowers sadly fall into the neglected WIP's in waiting category. 

That's like a lady in waiting but for stuff made out of fabric. They do not get tea and cucumber sandwiches while they wait.


The pattern I used is actually none other than my Washi Fox cushion cover pattern. I simply opted to not do the Foxy part. The hexagon flower with deer center took her place. This pattern is really very fun, I encourage you just try and stop at making just one! 

If you don't need any more cushion covers (which I won't judge you for, but do have difficulty understanding as a possible cushion hoarder...) you can turn this panel into many panels...and possibly turn the many panels into a quilt. Or you could make one mini quilt or a bag!

See, the creative juices will flow when you make this design... 

This cover even inspired me to try some quilting with free-style daisies on the machine - don't judge, I don't know the technical terms, freestyle it is going to have to be! 

And I quite like the big scallopy stitch my machine already owns so I made it lovely and big and stitched some lovely big scallopy quilty stitches today. 

That sentence just gave my grammar program a heart attack...

The scallopy words now make me feel like fish and chips.... 

Odd.


The ric-rac I dressed up using an idea I saw on lots of my handmade things that my Grandmother made me as a child. Little stitches and french knots. Simple but fun! 

I really love this cushion, I hope it inspires you to make your own version using the Washi Fox Cushion Cover Pattern. The Dolly the Deer fabric will be back in stock by July if you want to try your hand with some too! 

Megan xx
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Monday, 21 May 2018

Thoughts on the Creative Perspective


It's dolls, and fabric, and sewing all around here as I get ready to launch the Dolly Henry collection at the Brisbane Finders Keepers next month! It's just over a month now until I hit the road with Hazel and all the other Dolly Henry pieces and I am certain time is going faster than I need or want it to!

I won't lie, this has been a big challenge getting ready for such a big event, and I have been so appreciative of my family members who are helping me work towards my goal. I wouldn't be able to do it without them. The days are long, and there are a million things to organize, tick off and get done. It's been good to stretch my creativity - that muscle has certainly been having a work out!

When you spend day in, day out producing pieces, running long lists and ordering lots of fabric, supplies and marketing collateral it becomes quite obvious how much hard work goes into the day to day running of a creative business. It's a tough slog.

When I finally set up the stall in June, I am not sure everyone will be able to see the months of work that has gone into making it all happen. I feel like we are quite removed from process these days, and lack the ability to really contemplate the creative journey, years of practice and effort it takes to the final product we see in front of us. 

I thought this a little while ago while looking at a beautiful photo of a beautiful butterfly that was for sale at a gallery. It seems unlikely that the photographer will get the asking price for the photo (I heard some people arguing about it!) and true enough, at a glance the photo is quite like any crisp, clear image of a butterfly you will see on postcards, calendars and google searches. But if you take a moment of consideration and thought, that photo of the butterfly meant more to the photographer who took it. They had to go to that place, find a butterfly that was sitting still and capture its intricate detailing using skills they have no doubt built up over many many many hours of trial and error.

While the photo may look like a standard stock image, it takes a bit more thought to realize that that photograph would represent a moment of triumph for the person who captured it. They might have been trying for a long time to take a photo that had so much clarity. It is because we are so inundated with images on a daily basis that the eyes glaze over and fail to see the photograph for the work of art that it is. I feel like so much is like that now. 

That is why as artists and creatives, we need to take the skills we have honed so carefully and create things that are truly unique, and tell a story. We need to not only be able to produce something good, that we feel is a wonderful example of all we have achieved and reached for, but something that speaks to people and makes them feel something.

The items you make now might not take very long, and might be done with relative ease to you, but you yourself know how many years, hours and tears went into making you the creative you are today. Those skills were hard won and it can be easy to be dismissive of ourselves. To fail to tell the story properly or think that people aren't listening.

However, as our senses become more dulled to new and beautiful things, as our eyes become used to seeing quite spectacular creations every single day through our screens, and as we grow more used to being removed from the process that created the item we hold in our hands, it becomes more important than ever to tell the story behind the work. 

Only then will people understand why what you have made is more than what we initally see.
Why handmade, created, drawn, painted or photographed items have a bigger story for those who look beyond the surface.

Megan x





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