When I first began to explore creating and selling PDF sewing patterns for softies and dolls I did some research to see if the idea was actually viable. Would people buy a digital doll pattern? And if they did, what should it include, how should it be photographed and described, and how should it be priced?
I looked at the most successful Etsy shops selling PDF doll and softie patterns and very quickly came across Gingermelon, a shop on Etsy selling PDF patterns for felt dolls. I was both enchanted and convinced. There was indeed a market for PDF doll patterns and Gingermelon was doing it beautifully.
Shelley Down is the artist who creates Gingermelon patterns. Her dolls are hand-sewn from felt. They’re tiny and adorable in the style of Japanese kawaii. Shelly lives in New Westminster in British Columbia, Canada, and she sites vintage Shojo manga art as a source of inspiration. She’s the mom of two grown boys and she works out of a corner of her dining room.
Shelly’s PDF patterns are $10.50 and she often makes 25-30 sales a day. Besides patterns she also sells felt, safety eyes, trim, and doll buttons so that her customers have everything they need to get started sewing dolls.
The appeal of Gingermelon Dolls is obvious. Shelly’s a great designer and her aesthetic is so appealing. I love them as does my 4-year-old and my 11-year-old.
And now, Shelly has written a book!
My Felt Doll: Easy Sewing Patterns for Wonderfully Whimsical Dolls was just released by Stitch Craft Create.
This book is totally lovely.
The first pattern is for a basic doll. Full-size templates follow each pattern so you can just trace them off and start cutting your felt. The instructions are clear and Shelly’s hand-drawn illustrations for each step are a perfect accompaniment.
Here’s my first doll (I’m definitely going to make more):
There is something incredibly satisfying about styling a doll’s hair and I like how Shelly tells us exactly how many strands of yarn to use (66). She also has other great tips like snipping off the post of the safety eyes using a wire cutter so that they don’t protrude since the head is fairly slim. Brilliant!
This visual table of content thrills me.
Once you’ve made your doll you get 11 different options for clothing her. Make a woodland maiden, a little traveler, a beach babe, a flower fairy, a schoolgirl and more. I’m going to make the bedtime set.
This is one of those instances in which buying a book is really worthwhile. You get all of these patterns for the cover price of $24.99. Every pattern is adorable and if you were to buy them individually you’d pay at least $100.
Skin tone felt wool-blend can be a bit tricky to find. Luckily, Shelly sells it in her Etsy shop. Each doll only requires a little so one pack will last you a while.
I would recommend this book to a careful 10 or 11-year-old, but these patterns are also great for adults to sew either as collectibles or as gifts. These are perfect projects to pack for a trip or to stitch on the sidelines of the soccer field because the supplies are very tiny and everything is hand-sewn.
I should say that I’m always hesitant when I review a Stitch Craft Create title because this publishing house (which is part of F+W Media) takes apart its books and sells the individual patterns in their own Etsy shop, often before the book is released and at half the price of the designer’s patterns (I wrote in-depth about this practice here). When Shelly announced that she had written a book with this publisher I contacted her to tell her about it and, like all of the authors I’ve contacted about this, she was surprised and disheartened. I’m not sure if she contacted her editor or not (the editor at Stitch Craft Create no longer talks to me after that post), but I’m happy to say that they aren’t selling her patterns in their Etsy shop so maybe something transpired?
I highly recommend My Felt Doll. It’s a book that I will hang onto and sew projects from for years to come and that my 6th grader will use with me as well. I bought my copy on Amazon, but it’s also available in your local bookstore. Check out Shelly’s other patterns and read about her process on her blog.