The craft shelves of bookstores are an embarrassment of riches these days and it can be hard to know which books are going to spend time on your sewing table instead of gathering dust on your own shelf. Wee Wonderfuls: 24 Dolls to Sew and Love by inimitable crafter and blogger Hillary Lang poses a different problem - how am I supposed to get anything done when all I want to do is make every project in this book??
Hillary's homemade creations have been drawing legions of readers to her blog Wee Wonderfuls for years and the vintage aesthetic and personal, encouraging voice that drive the blog are also the forces behind this book. The dolls range from rather simple (and adorable) bonneted babies and mermaids to slightly more complex ones like a sweet topsy-turvy doll and a jointed teddy bear. And guess what, they're not all technically dolls - a felt "paperdoll" pillow, an endearing elephant bag and a mini stuffed daschund necklace round out the collection of boys, girls, cats and teddies.
If you're new to toymaking (as Hillary once was), she provides a section of Basics to help you along: helpful notes on materials, diagrams of stitches you may use and advice (aka a little handholding) on techniques. All the patterns you'll need are provided at the back of the book (full size - hooray!) and you'll only need to trace them onto paper.
Whether sewing for your own children or someone else's, you'll have a hard time choosing from among these delightful projects. And you'll have an even harder time passing them off to the wee wonderful in your life.
We couldn't resist asking Hillary a few questions about the book:
For someone sitting on the sidelines of the craft world not feeling confident that they have the sewing mojo to make dolls - how hard is it for a less experienced sewer?
Hillary Lang: Sewing toys doesn't involve as much specialized knowledge as other types of sewing so I consider it beginner friendly. It can still be difficult at times. You'll need patience and no fear of hand-sewing. But it is also more forgiving than other sewing, and imperfections can add more charm. And the end result smiles back at you!
It can be hard finding gifts to make for boys and I was so pleased to see several of your projects fill this gap. Do your children give you their ideas of things to make?
Hillary Lang: Having a boy, I know what a drag it can be trying to find cool sewing projects for them. When he was little I exhausted every idea I could of things I could make that he might play with. He loved stuffed animals and would always make a big show of being excited about them when I presented them but then they didn't always see a lot of play so I branched out. He loved bags, pockets, things he could put toys into and carry them around in. He loved the quilts I made him (one with a roadway pattern for him to drive cars on) and puppets and play food. There are so many fun things to make for boys! I definitely had kids like mine in mind when I was dreaming up projects for the book.
As a long-time reader of your blog Wee Wonderfuls I know you are an intrepid thrifter and your aesthetic is infused with these vintage inspirations, but what else inspires you? Anything we'd be surprised by?
Hillary Lang: Well my standard answer to this question is vintage toys, books and fabric. I think 95% of my inspiration comes from there but I did think of something else. For years and years I tore pages out of magazines and glued them in notebooks. I have stacks and stacks of them in the basement. When I was brainstorming ideas for the book I went back and looked through them all and they really sparked some fun ideas. I miss reading magazines. I was sad I don't have any notebooks from most of the last decade. I just started a new notebook this Fall.
What's the best way to get children involved in the projects in your book?
Hillary Lang: I give my daughter Phoebe fabric choices and have her pick ones she likes. I wouldn't take kids to the fabric store because then you can get suck in the middle of a "why can't you make my dollie out of dora the explorer fleece" tantrum. Then we dream up a personality for her, what does she like/dislike, what are her hobbies, where is she from, etc. Dreaming up a new friend to play with is so fun for kids.
Wee Wonderfuls: 24 Dolls to Sew and Love is published by STC Craft/Melanie Falick Books. Visit for a preview and to see the enchanting little video Hillary and her husband produced about the book. The book is worth every penny, but for your chance to win a copy visit the STC/Melanie Falick blog and share a memory of your favorite childhood doll to be entered to win (deadline 10/25).
Follow along on Hillary's blog tour.
September 27: Angry Chicken
September 30: My Paper Crane
October 1: True Up
October 6: Inchmark
October 7: Softies Central
October 8: House on Hill Road
October 11: ReadyMade
October 13: Cathy of California
October 14: Handmade News and The Happy Honeybee Blog
October 15: SEWN
October 19: Betz White
October 20: Cute Everything
October 22: Sew, Mama, Sew!
October 25: The STC Craft blog Tour finale