When I first started Doodlebags, my youngest daughter (then aged 8) announced that my bags were boring and that I needed to make them “way cooler”.  Not very subtle perhaps, but I welcomed the criticism, did as I was told and now she covets every bag I make.  These days I hesitate to show her any of my new makes as she continuously asks whether she can buy them from me; as a result I have promised to make her so many bags and purses that if I ever fulfill those promises I will be sewing non stop for a month.

Originally intended for sale, this bag proved so popular with my daughter that I presented it to her on our most recent trip to Wales.

Like all other working mothers I juggle numerous responsibilities and I loathe the fact that I rarely find the time to make anything for my children, so last weekend I decided to set aside a couple of hours to sew some toys, turning to my favourite sewing book for inspiration: Easy Embroidery by Lis Paludan.

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I bought this book in 1978 when I was 12 years old, and over the years I have used it to make toys for myself as well as gifts for family and friends.  Since having my own children I have used the book to help them learn how to sew and they have made their own toys using the very same patterns I used when I was a child.

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My now 12 year old making a felt doll when she was 7.

The finished doll and the section of the book it comes from.

The children and I have made a number of the dolls from the book, and King Kitty (minus his yellow felt crown) on the extreme left, is one of my youngest son’s all time favourite toys.

My youngest daughter asked me to make her a doll that looked like me (note the grey streaks in her hair) whom she christened Toy Toy Mummy.

My children love to sew and all learnt when they were very young.  There are plenty of children’s sewing courses available, but as their parents I am certain that the majority of us are more than capable of showing them the very basics, starting with sewing cards and a shoelace and moving on to basic stitches and elementary toy construction (using felt to start with to avoid fraying seams).  If you yourself don’t know how to sew, why not learn whilst teaching your children?  At a young age children don’t care whether stitches are even or seams are straight, they just like to learn a new skill and make something themselves.

My 4 sewing Easter chicks several years ago.

Easter chicks decorated using the children’s own designs: mine was the one with the bling and the funky hairdo!

Whoops, I’ve strayed off topic……returning to the toys I made recently for the children, I opted to start with my harshest critic and asked her to look at the Easy Embroidery book and come up with a design.  She chose to design a cat which, using some sample book scraps, I translated into a flat cat called Squish and a padded version called Stuffed.

Squish and Stuffed.

My youngest son and I collaborated to make Doggy Brown (don’t you just love the names children come up with for their toys?!) to add to his vast collection of toy dogs that fill his bed.

Doggy Brown.

Whilst my teenage son is still happy to receive toys as presents, he wasn’t interested in having one made for him this time round, so my final make was a surprise for my eldest daughter of a tortoise (as with all the others, intentionally lopsided and quirky) which she called Georgina.

Georgina.

My children are always complimentary about my work and very supportive in my attempts to make Doodlebags a success.  At the end of the weekend my daughters came to me with some ideas of things I could make, and so that I didn’t forget them I suggested they write them down along with some accompanying pictures.  I have dedicated this delightful notebook by Chris of Heartfelt by Chris Birbeck to their designs and have asked them to add anything new as and when they think of it.

Some of their designs are viable, others less so, but it’s wonderful that they want to be involved in my work, and some of their ideas will definitely be making their way into the Doodlebags‘ product range by the end of the year.

My design book alongside the one used by the girls.

My youngest daughter has labelled me “the best sewer in the world” which, as with any compliment from one’s children, is a huge honour……..assuming of course that she is referring to my needlework skills and not my hitherto unknown status as a main drainage pipe!

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