Online video instruction is an ideal way to teach sewing. Watching an expert do the work, and explain how it’s done, is the best way to master a hands-on skill. When you want to learn something as tactile as sewing, nothing is better than being able to actually see someone stitch a seam. Putting that high quality instruction online for a reasonable price so that it’s available to everyone, all the time, from anywhere? Brilliant.
In an effort to serve those of us who love to make dolls and toys I thought I’d compile a list of the online softie classes currently available.
Textile artist and renowned softie maker, Tamar Mogendordff, has a Woodland Mushroom class on Creativebug. This is a recording of a class Tamar taught at The Makerie last year. Unfortunately there’s no instructor profile video to watch or preview of the class available. Creativebug also offers several classes by Alison Kaplan, owner of Kata Golda. Alison works with wool felt and her toys are all hand sewn. Learn to make a teddy bear, an Easter chick, and a bunny and carrot.
There are no doll or toy making sewing classes on Craftsy. Director of Category Management for Craftsy, Tricia Waddell, told me that Craftsy had recently conducted a survy of JoAnn’s customers asking them what sorts of online classes they would be likely to sign up for. “The survey came back saying that the primary JoAnn audience are garment sewers. Small projects in general and toys specifically are something that they make, but it didn’t score high as something they wanted classes on.We don’t have enough support from our user surveys to justify doing a class on sewing dolls and toys. We are still garment and home dec focused for our sewing category.” Interestingly there does seem to be sufficient demand in knitting and crochet. Susan B. Anderson offers The (Not So) Itty Bitty Giraffe class on Craftsy and Stacey Trock has two amigurumi classes: woodland animals and design your own monster there.
Art Doll and Artist Teddy Bear Makers:
The art doll community has offered online classes for many years. I would describe them as rather low-tech in comparison to what’s available now on video platforms such as Craftsy, CreativeBug, and SkillShare. Some include DVDs, but most are text and illustration-based and are more like an ebook than an online class per se. Get a sense of them on DollNet and Doll Street Dreamers and on Judy Ward’s site here. I’m not sure if the artist teddy bear community offers something similar, but I’m guessing they do (although I wasn’t able to find a particular online class to link to here).
Do you know of other online classes in softie and doll making? If you do, please comment here or email me the links and I’ll add them.
The most striking thing to me about this compilation is how sparse it is. Why aren’t there more? Tens of thousands of people are making and selling stuffed animals and dolls (soft dolls, not art dolls) all over the world (maybe more?), but softies are very much an afterthought in the overall sewing world. I can see how these bigger platforms wonder if there’s enough interest to make an online class profitable. I would like to posit that sufficient demand does indeed exist.
There are a number of indie pattern designers making a solid living selling instructions for sewing dolls and toys, myself included. We’re writing pattern books and contributing patterns to magazines. We have thriving blogs that people return to time and again for tips and techniques to help them sew softies. We have a sizable, enthusiastic, and diverse audience made up of people of all ages and all levels of sewing experience.
How can it be that there are enough knitters who want to make giraffes to support a knitted giraffe class, and enough crocheters who want to design monsters to support online amigurumi classes, and enough artists who want to design vinyl toys to support a vinyl toy class, but not enough sewists who want to make softies and dolls to support an online softie sewing class? Based on my earnings numbers and what I estimate other indie softie pattern designers are earning, I beg to differ.
I see a gap in the marketplace here. Do you?