I love toys inspired by fairy tales (and I’ve got the Pinterest board to prove it!). Characters from fairy tales and nursery rhymes are a natural subject for toys, and give kids and parents a chance to retell the stories we love so much. When I saw Heidi Boyd’s new book, Fairy Tale Sewing: 20 Whimsical Toys, Dolls, and Softies, I bought it right away.
Heidi is a veteran craft designer with 15 books under her belt on topics ranging from resin jewelry to upcycling to pet crafts. She also sells a variety of embroidery, applique, and felt softie kits wholesale and on Etsy. I asked Heidi how the idea for this book came about. “I was inspired by the trend of classic children’s story illustrations in fabric designs,” she said. Like Heidi, I love the wonderful array fairy tale fabric out now, many of which would be perfect for the projects in this book.
Fairy Tale Sewing is mostly a softies book. You’ll find patterns for fairy tale characters such as a dragon, a troll, Puss in Boots, a Red Riding Hood and the wolf flip doll, and the Princess and the Pea. There are also soft toys that aren’t stuffed animals, including a neat medieval castle, a Sleeping Beauty castle quilt, and a Rapunzel and Jack and the Beanstalk pocket pillows.
The instructions are accompanied by Heidi’s beautifully rendered pencil illustrations which I found to be helpful and accurate and a great instance of illustrations being as good as, or better than, step-by-step photos. Heidi excels at technical drawing for sure.
I let my three daughters choose a project for me to make and they picked The Little Mermaid.
Although the pattern calls for woven fabrics, I love fleece (as I’m sure you know by now) and dug into my stash for this doll. This project came together in about an hour and has been fully embraced by my kids, especially Josephine.
I hit a little bump in the road when I cut the hair fabric for the front of her face and the template was too large to fit. I redrew the head to make it the same size as the hair and we were good to go. The instructions state that there’s a 1/4″ seam allowance added to most pattern pieces, but in fact it’s closer to 1/8″ and is not entirely even. This didn’t cause me any issues, but just a heads up.
The hair on this doll is so great. To make it you attach a stuffed circle for the bun, then braid strips and wrap them around the bun, adding felt flowers to decorate it. This is the coolest part of the mermaid, but there are no pictures of it in the book. Overall the beauty shots are nicely styled, but I wish there were more of them. We get just a single head-on shot of each toy and I found myself wishing I could see the backs, or just more angles. I know space is a constraint, but even a few small supplemental pictures would be a useful addition.
Heidi makes lovely felt applique designs and we get three new ones in Fairy Tale Sewing – Little Red Hen, the Frog Prince, and the Ugly Duckling. Together these would be a very sweet trio in a nursery. They’re simple to make and are done by hand. I could see an older child making them for a new baby, for example.
There are no children (or models of any age) in the book which makes it hard to determine scale with a quick glance. It’s not that expensive to hire a model and I truly wish publishers of softie books would set aside money for it. People make a book come alive and I’d love to see some images of a baby or child playing with these toys.
All of the patterns in this book have to be enlarged by either 200% or 400%, but thankfully they’re also available at full-size for free as a download on the publisher’s website. I didn’t realize this until after I’d already enlarged mine, but I’m so happy these are available! Kudos to publishers who do this.
Fairy Tale Sewing was released this month by Fons & Porter, which is part of Northlight which is a division of F+W (almost everything in craft publishing is a division of F+W it seems). This is likely the first time you’ve seen this book online. There hasn’t been a blog tour or any sort of online launch. Heidi is working to promote the book by including a blurb about it on the packaging of her kits and will be doing an event and signing at spring Quilt Market.
This book is cute and clever and deserves some love. The Little Mermaid I made is certainly getting lots of hugs here!
Fairy Tale Sewing is now available on Amazon as both a soft cover book and a Kindle ebook, and it’s in local bookstores. The cover price is $24.99 and it’s 128 pages. You can catch up with Heidi on Facebook and shop for her kits on Etsy.