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!


Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Growing a Hexie Collection

I felt like doing something little, that I could do at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee. At first I retrieved my box of granny squares and yarn but after doing one round, my shoulder twinged and I reluctantly I had to put up the crochet. I pushed through it a week or two ago, and while I added a few new squares to my granny square box, I ended up with a sore neck and arm all day as a result.

I've long wanted to make a hexagon quilt and making hexies is fun and relaxing. It's something I can do quickly or when I don't want to do any machining. To be honest, the machine has been sitting a little dormant since I finished my previous business, a girl's fashion label. I guess after spending a rather intense last year at the machine day in day out, the novelty has worn off a little. I just need a good break before I can enjoy sewing again. That and my shoulder needs to get better.

I've been randomly making hexies here and there, putting them in a box to start a 'hexie collection.' I decided to get a little more serious about it today, so I pulled down a few fabrics from my personal stash and set about cutting out some hexagons-to-be. This wasn't terribly easy, because some of the prints I had gotten out are long hoarded treasures and required fussy cutting - it was hard picking and choosing which parts of the print were going to make the final cut. So much so, I momentarily considered just putting it all away and cutting them out into bigger squares.

But I love hexies and the quilts I have seen made from them. I know it will take a great deal of time before I see the final product and impatient as I am, I have decided to commit to growing a hexie collection first to ease into things. I will build up a collection of these tiny little fabric pictures before starting on a blanket. That in itself will take awhile, but it feels more achievable to me. I'm used to sewing clothing and producing quantities rather quickly, so getting back into creativity just for the sheer joy of it and albeit at a much slower approach is taking a bit to get used to again!

I'm so used to doing such long hours at the machine, that I was surprised the other day when I decided to make a couple of blocks on the quilt I am working on, that it took hardly any time at all. It's funny what you get used to isn't it? Only a few years ago, I was flicking through craft magazines and made things for fun. Coming back down off the busyness it takes to produce for a small fashion business is taking longer than I anticipated.

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Thursday, 19 November 2015

Sweet Doughnut Pot Holder

I love doughnuts! I have never been able to actually eat the pretty ones covered in icing and sprinkles, too sweet! But I just love the way they look. All those gorgeous colours and the sprinkles..they are like edible confetti.

When I came across this gorgeous Doughnut Potholder pattern, I couldn't wait to give it a go. I changed the colours to be a bit brighter and as I love how great these dots are with everything I decided to give the potholder a doughnut inspired look, with a pink icing centre and pink gingham bias binding. It was really enjoyable stitching on the sprinkles (I used DMC embroidery threads)

It has a more modern look to it, the black and white polka dots have a brightening effect. I am a very messy cook so I am wondering if it would be a good idea for me to use it as a potholder. It's also quite small - I cook most of the time using much bigger saucepans and pots. Still, it makes an attractive mug rug or over sized coaster. It'd even look cute on my desk under the pen jar as a doughnut doiley substitute. I am also thinking with the delicacy of the sprinkle stitches and light colours, it'd be ruined in no time as a potholder. It could sit under the teapot on the table. I'm starting to think our kitchen is too heavy traffic and our table setting not proper enough for such a pretty piece. Maybe I will keep it in the cupboard with the 'visitor tea towels' and 'visitor tablecloths'

Whatever the fate of this potholder will be, one thing is certain. It was great fun to make and I think it needs more friends. This could be addictive!

If you fancy making one for yourself, or a stack for Christmas gifts, you can find the FREE pattern here and the fabrics I used here - Doughnut Icing, Doughnut Dough and Doughnut Centre.

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Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Joyful Stitches

Do you ever find it difficult to set aside creative time? I am guessing you said yes! There's always another load of washing to hang out, always some computer work to do, always not enough time in the day. Today I was determined however to make sure I finished at least one block on the quilt that is a very belated birthday gift for a loved one. She'll probably receive it next year at this rate!

I have my quilt making L-plates on. The recipient prefers the hatched and patched style over the more intricate quilt patterns available. Luckily so do I and it's a lot easier as a beginner to make a simple patchwork blanket. One of the reasons it has been taking so long, is because I have been hand-stitching little quotes or words into some of the blocks. I want a vintage, loved feel for this blanket. Something that looks like it should hang over the veranda railings to air in the sun on a warm summers day. A blanket that looks like it has always been there and is stowed away in an old chest when not needed.

On this square, I added an old vintage doiley that is a favourite of mine. I will miss it but it feels like this is finally the right project to add it to. The floral stitching was already there but I wanted to put a quote in the centre, however as there wasn't a lot of space I opted for a single word. I chose Joy. I want each little stitch to infuse happiness, comfort and love into each square. One thing I have always loved about quilts is their ability to make you smile and feel loved. There is something wonderful about wrapping a handmade blanket around your shoulders or laying out as a picnic rug.

I am considering having it professionally quilted when the time comes as that's one reason why I am not a huge fan of making quilts. And it would probably look a lot nicer. I have been honing my crochet skills and would like to add a crochet lace border to it when it is finished!

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Friday, 13 November 2015

The Honest Sewing Studio

My studio has been an evolving space since we moved here. It's been painted and the furniture rearranged several times until the configuration was right. The shelves were spacious and stacked lightly with my few pieces of fabric only a couple of years ago. I agree with something I saw on Pinterest - quilting fabric is 50% cotton, 50% rabbit fur...because it multiplies when your back is turned! At least that's the story I'm going with!

I thought I'd share a glimpse of my studio, at least a little peek of it when it's wearing it's best dress and clean socks because most of the time it does not look like this. I'm all for the #honeststudio photos but there is such a thing as too much information, so I took advantage of the fact it was looking incredibly squeaky sparkly clean awhile ago and we did photos!

My studio is far from perfect but having previously had the world's teeniest dining room to sew in, I'm definitely not complaining. If it didn't have to double as a professional workspace, it'd be pretty peachy.

If you too are looking around at a floor strewn with threads, menacing pins waiting to catch an innocent foot, bits of selvedge, the odd pencil and crumbled up bit of paper then you are in good company - because that's the reality of this creative space most of the time. I am messy more often than not and frequently lose my tape measure under a pile of cut out quilt pieces and recently put up a Missing poster for my roll of double sided tape. I'm sure it's hiding under the over locking scraps..which have long held me in fascination..all those fabric-y colours mixed together - splendid!

My bobbin holder isn't holding all the bobbins and needles are like bobby pins...I have lots of extra packets because though I own a pretty holder..they seem to mysteriously vanish. I fancy I'll find them all in the corner one day, at a secret needle convention or something!

So these pictures are my fantasy, as much as they may be yours dear reader. Unless you are blessed in the art of keeping tidy, then these may indeed be your reality and I salute you for being creative whilst keeping unruly bundles of fabric, ribbons and thread in good order.

By the way, if you find my little thread scissors...let me know! I put them down somewhere....

Do you have your own studio space? Is it neat, messy or somewhere in between?

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Wednesday, 4 November 2015

On the Subject of Tea & Other Matters

I do love a good fabric bundle! We had fun in the studio last week creating some special Dolly Mixes bundles with limited edition fabric selections unique to these sets. The Teacups & Gumdrops set is vintage inspired and reminds me of lovely cups of tea, pretty posies from the garden and cooling off on the veranda in the afternoon - it's Summer in Australia and heating up quite nicely!

On the subject of tea, I was watching a movie last night and there was a scene about how badly some people make cups of tea! This gave me a giggle because we were only talking with coffee-loving friends the other day how coffee-drinkers think tea is nothing more than a bag of leaves and some hot water. I drink a little bit of coffee but I am definitely a teapot more often than not! I save my coffee drinking for a proper one at a cafe, and don't often order tea due to the fact it's usually not made very well. I have no plans on educating the non-tea drinking public on the art of tea making and the fact it comes in many different flavours and varieties, but I do think tea has a bad rep among coffee lovers and perhaps it's all in the making...after all we do know how well a certain fast food chain did over here when they tried to sell coffee without properly trained baristas!

Now back on track............

I wanted to tell you about the Candy Heart set! Our first Happy Mail bundles sold out, so we have curated some replacements. I love stationary nearly as much as I love fabric, so I just love the idea of these bundles. There's something so fun about receiving a mixed bundle of goodies in the mail! These ones feature some limited prints, including a gorgeous Japanese cotton. Pom-Poms are back and with them a darling floral and picot edged double bias binding. The trims are high quality and suitable for quilts and garments.

I still remember getting gorgeous craft sets from my Grandmother as a little girl and the fact she put them together and didn't buy a random packet full of sequins and bad glue from the cheapy shops, made them worth having. I guess there is an essence of that memory in these little bundles. We've wrapped them up rather prettily too so they are perfect for giving daughters, grand daughters and nieces a pretty little craft pack all her own, that is cute and isn't only sewing related. The cute bits of stationary see to that. If you want to introduce a bit of creativity, they're a good idea because she can choose to take up quilting alongside you, or simply use them for journalling and school projects.

Do you plan on introducing your children to craft or are they already creative geniuses? 
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Why Perfect isn't Productive

It's easy to worry about things being perfect - whether you could have improved or not. Generally this is a good thing because it eventually makes a difference as to whether you are really good at something or not. The word 'perfectionist' is tossed around a lot. Being a perfectionist isn't really where any of us want to head. The little details of not getting something to what you perceive as just right can often become larger stumbling blocks, that take your attention away from the main objective. Used in a positive way, you can use the obsession with things being perfect to your advantage to hone your skills and push your limits. But it shouldn't become centre stage - perfectionism can be an enemy of creativity.

Have you ever noticed that people who don't worry and fuss over their business as much always seem to get further along? Some have a better product but never get as far as the person next to them, despite this. By worrying and fussing over our businesses/work to no end, we start treating them like a child that has a nanny over his shoulder 24/7 going "no,no" and "nah-uh". He will never grow or thrive like he would if he was allowed a little more freedom to explore, learn and wander. He'd probably be more stressed than happy too, because his primary care-givers were so anxious about his well being all the time.

I have a strong dislike of perfectionism. It's a creativity disrupter. There is a big difference between wanting to do a really good job with something and accomplishing that, and being a perfectionist - it creeps into every aspect of life. A few years ago, my driving instructor pointed out that when I made a mistake, I stayed fixated on the mistake instead of moving forward. A bit of a light bulb moment for me. In the car, perfectionism was dangerous. I suddenly wondered how much time I was wasting in everyday life thinking like this?

One day, I came across the quote "It's better to be done, than perfect" I was a little shocked....I thought REALLY? The instant I see the words "not perfect" my brain goes into - "oh my gosh you mean, don't do a good job?" I realised on days when I got so much achieved and done, I hadn't been in the 'perfect' frame of mind, I had just done my work, knowing I did a good job and moved onto the next task.

I decided to try the "Get it Done" mentality. That didn't mean I started doing a sloppy job but I did let go of the controlling worry. Ticking off goals everyday is much more productive than obsessing over the tiny details of one item. In the real world, we just have to get things done, don't we? We do a good job, we move on to the next item on the agenda. By getting things done, you actually move through your task list and continue to improve. You have to get yourself out there and you can hit the ground running. You won't know what faults you need to iron out until you gain some momentum, so you might as well start anyway!

Give yourself permission to have a go, and if you fall down, you will get right back up again, maybe with a little dust and bruises but there are washing machines and band-aids for that. Creativity will flourish when your mind is free of worry.

Do you struggle with perfectionism? Please share your story below!
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