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):
I spent a relaxing hour and a half stitching this little girl. Do you like her undies?
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.
Lisa Press says
My book arrived earlier this week and I can’t wait to have a few hours to make a little doll and some little clothes. I have always been smitten with Shelly’s work.
Your Little Felt Doll is adorable. What type of yarn is her hair? It is lovely!
It’s wool. It’s not plied. I think it’s the kind Shelly recommends in the book, actually, but I just happen to have a bit on hand. I’m not a yarn expert so I’m not sure what it’s called exactly!
Wendi Moore says
I love these dolls! They’re beautiful. When I was younger, I wanted to learn how to make dolls but I lost interest. This could bring it back!
Gingermelon introduced me to the world of doll and toy making. I was enchanted with her designs and started with sending for a kit to see if I liked making these little dolls as well as having all the supplies on hand. From then I have been busily stitching a variety of little cuties – from her designs as well as yours and others. I recently received her book and it is a great resource to mix and match outfits and ideas.
I love that a kit was what helped you to have the confidence to try sewing more dolls and toys. I’ve had that exact experience myself! I sewed a bunny from a kit many, many years ago and reminded myself that I do love making animals from fabric. Kits are awesome that way.
By the way, Abby, I love the hair on your little doll.
That’s a lovely book and I have just seen it on Amazon before coming here. It was in my recommended section. Earlier today in a real book shop I saw http://www.amazon.com/product-reviews/1589238729/ref=cm_cr_dp_syn_footer?k=Sew%20Dolled%20Up%20(Craft)&showViewpoints=1
which I like even more. It’s so cute and like practically everything I take a shine to, Japanese, although it has been translated. No one in my house to appreciate dolls though (except me ), however much I would enjoy making them. But their clothes, hair and faces have endless possibilities and look like such fun to make; I love that outfit on the cover.
Diane Hanson says
I loved your honesty in your review and it’s so great that you love those little dolls. I haven’t made one yet but I am looking forward to making some for my granddaughters for Christmas. Your doll really is cute and I feel I can do this. especially since your review. Thanks so much for the review!!!
I have been extremely disappointed in the books from Stitch Craft Create. The severe lack of instructions, lack of step-by-step photos, and inacurate/mismatched patterns were a nightmare to try and interpret. Their customer service is terrible. Do you know, that their book, “My Rag Doll,” is so ridiculous to try to follow that SCC actually offers an instructional video for how to assemble the doll. BUT, the video is only available at an additional cost, the full price of the book itself. So you actually want to use the patterns you purchased and make the doll for real, you have to double your purchase price in order to decipher it. Ridiculous.
I was so tempted to buy this book, but was terribly put off by the publisher and their practices. So I appreciate your review, since it sounds like this book is one that can actually be used and not just displayed on the coffee table. I might just buy it after all. Thanks again!
I agree with you that My Rag Doll isn’t a well-designed book. I declined an offer to review it. I’m happy to say that My Felt Doll is really nicely done and I think you’ll be pleased with the instructions and illustrations. Shelly has been writing and selling patterns for many, many years and she’s a pro.
Excuse me do you have felt doll pdf book with patterns?
Shelley has many PDF patterns for sale on Etsy if you search for GingerMelon!
Quick question about the book, since I haven’t seen it in person. Are the doll’s clothes removable?
Sarah Arnold says
Love this Abby– thanks for sharing! I am thinking ahead to Christmas for a special handmade present for my two year old grand daughter! There is even a ballerina doll for those who love TUTUS!
All the dolls do have a special and Kennedy loves “kikis” aka cats too.
I preordered this book in July from Amazon.ca Can’t wait for it to finally arrive! Not sure why but Amazon.ca still doesn’t have a delivery date, grr. One day I will have this book.
Your doll is adorable. I love her hair. I’ve been looking for a book with hand sewing projects and I’m excited to try these.
Allison Dey Malacaria says
Thanks for the review. I love Shelley’s patterns but it’s nice to know the book is well done. Sewing with wool felt is intoxicating. Here are two sources of wool felt in Australia: Morningstar Crafts and Two Blue Birdies. Morningstar Crafts doesn’t have a skin tone package, but the owner is a delight and would likely help you with colours needed for your Gingermelon dolls.
For someone looking for all natural supplies, there is Paton 100% wool roving yarn that looks just like the yarn in Abby’s photo. Wool stuffing can be purchased in the US from A Child’s Dream Come True and in Australia from Morningstar Crafts and Eco Filling Australia (ecofilling.com) both women owned and run home businesses.
Stitch Craft Create is selling the PDF version of the book in their etsy shop. Hope Gingermelon will also sell it in her own shop.
I don’t think she’ll be able to. I’ve never seen an author working with a mainstream publisher be able to sell their own ebooks. I’m happy to see that the publisher hasn’t (at least not yet) broken the book apart to sell individual patterns on Etsy as they’ve done with other softie titles.
I pre-ordered this book in Canada from Indigo and received it before the anticipated date. I fell in love with Gingermelon.ca site a year ago and love it! I plan on making the dolls for my granddaughter who is 6 and has a wonderful imagination. Shelly’s patterns take me back to my childhood and her whimsical dolls I think are as much for me as they are for my little granddaughter! I made her wee owls and oh how sweet they are. Your site too Abby has reawakened my senses to the child still in me and I am always telling others about your website and fabulous podcasts. Thank you sew sew much!
Kurt Van Buskirk-Woods says
I was wondering if there was anyone who could make this doll for me? I think the clothes would be easy enough for me to create but Im actually struggling with the doll part.
Merci Payne says
I just purchased this book last night on a whim. I just happened to see it sitting all alone on a rack at a craft store and was instantly drawn to it. I have the pieces for two dolls all cut out and ready to sew. I’m using the low quality felt for these ines as there was no wool felt available at the store, and I was anxious to try my hand at it.
It is a beautifully put together book! I rarely like to pay full price for a book, but happily handed it over for this one.
My granddaughters have been fanticizing about which ones they want, and reassuring me that I can do a good job, ha ha ha.
First project in a long time that I am this excited about!
That’s awesome 🙂
I was just wondering how you did the freckles? I borrowed this book from the library and it was great, but I had to give it back before I finished.
Hi, It was a long time ago that I made this doll, but I believe the freckles were made with a fine tip permanent marker.