Unicorns, unicorn dolls, unicorn art, unicorn decor, for the young and young at heart… one never seems to outgrow the myth and magic. They are timeless. They can live for hundreds of years and the whimsy that surrounds them is captivating. I've always been a horse lover in general and I just had this giddy feeling inside when I sat down to draft the pattern for this doll.
I have a niece who is on her way to becoming a professional illustrator when she grows up. She’s only 12 but she’s been obsessed with drawing since she was much younger and her parents are very supportive. When she went to stay a week with my mom last summer and she met one of my favorite artists and family friend, Janis Loverin, my niece asked how she could get to be as good. Janis told her, “draw 300 pictures.”
I absolutely love that answer and understand the meaning behind it when I look at my Cuddle Kokeshi. When I work on new concepts, I actually repeat that phrase to myself.
I have been patiently waiting and staring at the beautiful vintage kimono silks in my collection.
The first doll in my Vintage Collection is made with a wool silk blend, featuring a Ryukyu Bingata inspired design. Side note to me or if you live here on island: There is a little place you can go to and make your own bingata onto fabric, shirt, etc. I just discovered their Facebook page and have now added it to my list of things to do while we live here. Anyway, this particular kimono is from the 70’s or early 80’s. Ryukyu are the chain of islands that make up Okinawa, though the particular island I live on and city in which I live is also named Okinawa. Authentic Ryukyu Bingata is extremely expensive. A friend of mine said that a very small piece goes for a few hundred dollars. The price goes up from there, depending on the expertise of the artist. But this inspired print is gorgeous, nonetheless, and I fell in love with it the moment I held it.
Since this is intended as a keepsake doll, I thought it was a perfect fit. The wool/silk blend added a little thickness to the fabric and I felt like it was a bit easier to work with than pure silk. The texture itself is still silky smooth with just a hint of that wool feel.
The entire kimono is hand stitched together. I wonder how long something like this would take. Such dedication in making a beautiful garment. I felt guilty as I selected a sleeve to disassemble and use. I wonder who wore this kimono. It is well taken care of, has it seen a lot over the decades?
When I first started sewing kokeshi, I made my first ones with some gorgeous mint and light blue blossoms. The pattern then was very different than the way I make them now. I didn’t have much of two of the prints, as they were purchased from a fellow sewist who was destashing her drool worthy collection. I was so in love with the colors, I almost didn’t want to cut the meager one yard and half yard I bought. The few that I made and offered were loved and I quickly ran out of all but a few scrap pieces. Away into a bag for safe keeping they went… until now!
This tiny girl is sporting the initials of her new tiny owner.
I don’t go to a lot of baby showers. But when I do happen to get an invite, I love making my gifts. I sometimes feel bad not giving the necessities, like diapers or bottles, knowing first hand how much you go through a pack of diapers. But I love that the doll I give will be a playmate and be a part of their memories. If you know a little about the story of why I started sewing, you’ll know that this thinking is the exact spark that got me going.
We currently live in about a 1500 square foot, pretty old, concrete house. –Living in Okinawa, Japan, our homes have to be able to withstand typhoons and earthquakes. – Our living room/dining room is open concept, which helps make the space feel bigger. Plus, we have a one year old and four year old who need space to run around, so staying out in the open made the most logical sense. My studio is out in our main family space, right by a large window. For the short amounts of time for which my one year old is occupied nearby with her toys, I can be in my space and create. Continue reading