Monday, November 23, 2020

Medical Doll Set Kits


Hello, all! 

Today I'll be telling you about the kits I'm planning to put together to go along with the sewing pattern for the Medical Doll Set


If you're just only joining us today, here is where you can read about the Medical Dolls (and see all the photos) and here is where you can find out all the details of the sewing pattern.


I'm creating these kits primarily because I love sourcing for good materials for people to work with. Some years ago, I collaborated with a company called Take&Make to produce a limited run of kits for my Owie Doll sewing pattern. Those kits are no longer available, but it was an incredible experience to produce a kit commercially, and I so enjoyed being able to choose exactly what would eventually make it into the boxes. I no longer have the luxury of a team of people mass-packing and shipping for me, but I still like to offer kits when I can, even if in much smaller quantities. I think of it as another way to help people who're disinclined (or unable) to gather all the materials themselves, so that they can dive right into the making. Which is really the best part of a project, isn't it?

It's a fact that materials of higher quality will cost a bit more, but I believe that if I'm going to invest time in a project, I'd like it to last. This is especially true if the project is a toy that will be played with over months and years. Let's take felt as an example. 100% wool felt is wonderful to use in making toys, especially when working with small pieces. Unfortunately, 100% wool felt is not a staple at many big fabric stores, which tend to stock only acrylic felt. It's understandable - acrylic felt is considerably cheaper and since many people buy it for craft projects for which longevity is not important (such as those constructed with hot glue, single-use Halloween costumes and the like), the quality serves its intended purpose for the low cost. However, this same acrylic felt, when used in detailed sewing projects, or in the construction of toys meant to last, holds up quite poorly. Here is a side-by-side comparison of acrylic and 100% wool felt against a black background (you'll get the same effect by holding them up to the light). You can see the clear difference in quality - the density of the 100% wool felt is much higher; the fibers more tightly packed together so they do not disintegrate, and are able to hold stitches better.


Inch for inch, 100% wool felt can cost about ten times that of acrylic. Fortunately, many sewing projects utilize only a little bit of felt - either they're small to begin with, or require only small scraps for embellishment. For that reason, many felt stores (such as those on Etsy) offer wool felt in small sheets in addition to yardage on bolts. This in turn makes enjoying a better-quality product totally affordable. There are of course instances when materials of higher quality are difficult to find, or cost so much that we may decide to go with the cheaper option (or any available option, really!)  However, where possible, choose materials of as high a quality as are within your means. 

Let's now talk about the kits themselves. 

Each kit will essentially be a custom order of materials needed to make the projects in the Medical Doll Set sewing pattern. 

In the photo below, for instance, you'll see different colors of solid and accent cotton fabric, and the rolls of fusible and foam interfacing. The actual fabric yardage in your kit may differ from that shown below - for the photoshoot, I just grabbed a stack of my uncut cottons. The interfacing and solid cottons are the standard inclusions - the colors are specified in the pattern. You can make requests for the colors of the accent cottons, though - these will be used in the reversible sleeping mat, so pick your color scheme and I'll try to look out for those.

Here are the colors of flannel I have on hand. You can make requests for these in your kit. 



You'll also be able to request the weight and color of yarn you'd like for your doll.

Unlike the skin flannels, I don't have a stash of yarn from which you can pick your favorites and will have to go shopping with your orders. Go ahead and let me know if you'd like black, dark brown, light brown, red, gold, amber/dark gold, etc. and I'll look out for that in the store. 

Here's the list of what will be in your kit. Where not specified, the sizes/yardage will be at least what's specified in the materials list in the sewing pattern. The items in bold can be customized; the rest will be the same (fixed) in every kit.

FABRICS
  • Flannel in skin color, 1/2 yd
  • White flannel, 1/4 yd
  • Light blue cotton, 1/3 yd
  • Grey cotton, 1/2 yd
  • Red cotton, 1/4 yd
  • Print cotton, 2 fat quarters or equivalent
  • White medium-weight cotton, 1/2 yd
  • Pellon Flex-Foam interfacing, 3/4 yd
  • Pellon Craft Fuse, 1/3 yd
  • Smaller pieces of black cotton and fleece in white and 2 other colors
  • 100% wool felt in grey, black, white and five other colors, various sizes
  • Clear vinyl 

NOTIONS
  • Embroidery floss, one skein in each of 9 colors: dark red, black, white, green, orange, blue, yellow, dark grey and a color that coordinates with the skin flannel
  • 6mm black safety eyes, 1 pair
  • Yarn 
  • Red bias tape 
  • Blue bias tape 
  • Measured yardage of      
            -1/4" black ribbon
            -1/8" blue ribbon
            -1/4" cord
            -1/4" flat elastic
            -1/8" flat elastic
            -hook and loop tape


I'll put together your kit, and list in my Etsy shop as a reserved listing in your name. If I'm unable to find what you requested, I'll let you know and suggest alternatives before I finalize your order. 


To order a kit, send me an email at lier.koh@gmail.com and be sure to mention:

  1. your preferred skin color (use the numbers 1-6 in the photo above
  2. your preferred yarn color
  3. whether you're planning to make a boy doll (chunky yarn) or girl doll (medium yarn) so I can select the correct weight of yarn for you
  4. The two preferred colors you'd like for the accent cottons
The cost of the kit is $75 plus tax and shipping.

If you'd like to make a second doll with the kit, let me know also. They can both have the same hair and skin or you can request different skin and hair colors for the two dolls. I will put in enough materials for an additional doll, gown, arm bandage, arm sling, foot cast, cap, mask and sleeping mat.
The cost for the two-doll kit will be $90 plus tax and shipping.

I'll be accepting kit orders until Sunday Nov 29th, and aim to ship them by the second week of December.



Sunday, November 22, 2020

The Medical Doll Set Pattern on Sale!



I am excited to announce that the Medical Doll Set sewing pattern is available for purchase!

You can read all about the story behind the pattern in this earlier post. Today, let's dive right into the nuts and bolts.


What are the dimensions of the projects?
A  The doll is 16" tall from the top of its head to its feet. When seated, it measures 9" high. The medical center/storage bag is 10" x 6" x 6".



Q What can you make from the pattern?
A The pattern contains instructions to make a soft fabric doll (both boy-with-short-hair and girl-with-long-hair,

or no hair),

nine accessories, including a bouffant cap, gown, thermometer, reversible sleeping mat,

arm bandage, arm sling, foot cast, rolls of wrapping bandage,

and face mask; 

and a 2-in-1 storage bag and interactive medical center, 

which features and EKG/ECG monitoring system

a blood pressure measuring system,

and an ultrasound scanning system.


Q Are the projects sewn by hand or with the sewing machine?
A They are designed to be sewn with the machine, although there are a few steps in which hand-stitching is required, such as the embellishment of facial and other surface details, and other steps in which hand-sewing is suggested as an alternative to machine-stitching that allows more control and precision.


Q What sewing skill level is this pattern suitable for?
A Some experience with a sewing machine is necessary. These are the prerequisite skills needed to tackle the projects in this pattern.


While an intermediate-level seamstress would find this quite manageable, adventurous beginners could also enjoy this. There are many individual projects in this pattern that would be considered entry-level, in that they involve sewing a single straight or curved seam on flat pieces of fabric, and hand-embroidery. Quite a few of the pieces are rectangles or squares. The recommended materials are easy to work with (most are light-weight cotton, fleece and felt). There are no zippers. You'll need to be familiar with the technique of bias tape binding, but there are links in the pattern to my online tutorials for bias binding and common hand embroidery stitches


Q Would this be suitable for my teen who loves dolls? She's made face masks and scrunchies.
A The projects in this pattern are three-dimensional. In that respect, they will be a new level of challenge for a seamstress who has worked primarily on flat projects. They should be able to accomplish a good proportion of the projects in this pattern on their own, and the rest with help from someone with more experience in the techniques that are less familiar to them. An important tip for success with these projects is precision and accuracy. Taking the time to measure and cut accurately (i.e. a 6-1/2" square should not be "eyeballed" as a 6-1/4" x 6-3/4" rectangle) will increase the ease of the sewing process and produce the best-looking final product.


Q What's the format of the pattern?
A The pattern consists of 1 cover page, 58 pages of step-by-step text instructions and annotated full-color photos, and 7 pages of full-size templates.


Q Is it just text instruction or are there pictures, too?
A There are almost 60 pages of text instruction interspersed with over 100 color photos (with annotations).  Here are a couple of sample pages:




Q Will I need to enlarge the templates or stick them together with tape?
A All the templates are full-size and need no enlargement. Most can be used as is; a few must to be placed on double-folded fabric and the piece cut out unfolded to its full size.


Q Are seam allowances included in the templates and cut dimensions?
A The templates do not include seam allowances. Some of the templates will be used to cut out fabric pieces (which require seam allowances) as well as their associated interfacing pieces (which should not have seam allowances). For consistency, the seam allowances were omitted from all templates. Reminders are placed throughout the instructions to add seam allowances where applicable. Seam allowances are included in the given dimensions of other cut pieces which do not have accompanying templates.


Q What materials do I need?
A Here are the lists of recommended materials, including fabric, notions and equipment.




Q  What if I can't find some of these materials? What can I substitute?
A  Alternatives are suggested in the following pages:



Q How is the Medical Doll Set pattern different than the Owie Doll pattern?
A The full list of differences is tabled below. Three of the main differences to highlight:

1 Both dolls are structurally different and constructed differently as a result. For example, the Medical Doll has yarn hair and a round (3D) head while the Owie Doll has felt hair and a flat (2D) head. The Medical Doll has integrated feet (no added pieces) while the feet of the Owie Doll feet have attached soles. 


2  The Owie Doll pattern contains instructions for the Owie Doll and accessories (including the sleeping bag and storage bag). It does not contain instructions for any medical equipment. The Med Hub pattern, which contains instructions for a medical station, is an add-on pattern that must be purchased separately. The Medical Doll Set pattern is an all-in-one pattern containing instructions to make the doll(s) and accessories as well as the dual medical center/storage bag. 

3  The projects in the Medical Doll set involve slightly simpler construction techniques than those in the Owie Doll pattern.




Q What is the cost of this pattern?
A The Medical Doll Set pattern costs $16.


Q Where do I buy it?
A All my sewing patterns can be found in my e-junkie shop


Buy the Medical Doll Set pattern here

You can also find my patterns through the "Patterns For Sale" tab at the top of my blog homepage, right under my blog banner. On that page, you will also find technical information about the download process, and read more about each sewing pattern. Follow the links below each pattern image to purchase that pattern as well as access earlier posts containing photos and stories behind each project.

If you are in the EU, please email me directly at lier.koh@gmail.com to purchase the pattern via Paypal invoice (which is instant) or an Etsy listing (allow a couple days to process payment).


Q  Can you tell us more about the kits?
A Yes, I can! I'll share more details tomorrow - what's in them, what parts you'll be able to customize and how to order them.


Happy making!


Saturday, November 21, 2020

Medical Dolls!



Hello everyone!

I'm excited today to finally share my Medical Dolls with you. Given everything that's going on in the country and world right now, it kinda gives me goosebumps to be posting this now, but this project has actually been long in the making. There's a story behind that, which I'm about to tell you. But before we begin, if you're noticing similarities between these and my Owie Dolls, you'd be right - and there's a story behind that, too. 


One of my favorite aspects of working in pattern design and sewing in general is collaborating with other creative people, both individuals and organizations. Often, in spite of us both saying, "that was so much fun - let's do this again sometime!" these are one-off opportunities. It's usually the nature of the assignment, or the way of the ever-evolving crafting environment. Occasionally, I am fortunate to form a working relationship that allows for multiple opportunities to create together. Publications - books, magazines, blogs - have opened doors to working with some wonderful folks, many of whom are as nice as they are artistically awesome.

In the spring of 2018, the editor of an overseas-based magazine for whom I've done some prior work, asked me to design a new project for an upcoming issue. I'd always enjoyed working with them, in particular this editor, who was a thoughtful and succinct communicator, appreciative, kind and easy-going. She was specifically interested in my Owie Dolls, and while we didn't want to reissue the original pattern, she wanted to preserve many of its pretend-play features - could I essentially create a new twist that still fit within the space constraints of a magazine article?

So I got to work reimagining. If you're anything like me, you might sympathize with the particular challenge of recreating something you've already done before and whose outcome you were already pretty happy with. Creatively, it's a lot easier to dream up something completely new than to tweak a previous design, typically. But what a fun opportunity to reach a whole new market with a fresh version of a doll that's already been beloved for a decade. In a different country, no less! By late summer, the prototype was ready, photos were sent and approved (and exclaimed over) and I began photo-documenting and writing the instructions.

Then, unexpectedly, the magazine was acquired by a larger publication company. And the editorial team was let go of and replaced by new staff. Apparently, this was all went down quickly and unforeseen - it was evident in the email this editor sent out to the contributors that they were just as stunned as we were. As I read about how our contracts would be handled by the new management, I remember feeling a sense of loss beyond just What Will Happen Next; this was a working relationship that I would actually quite miss. 

And now, the madness began.

Right at the outset, communicating with the new editorial staff was very different than before. They were inaccessible, although cordial enough when we eventually did connect. Yes, they said, keep to the original deadlines and finish up. So when the pattern instructions were completed, I packed up the prototype and all the paperwork and sent everything off to the new editor along with an email to say it was on its way. This part at least was familiar; in the past, the package would arrive in a couple of weeks, the editor would notify me when it did, and it would join the queue of projects to be processed and readied for print according to sequence and priority. 

Weeks passed and I heard nothing back, but I assumed that the new editor was busy with the transition and all its demands. I figured that when it was time in the queue for my project to be worked on, communication would start up quite naturally, with clarifications and questions and other things inherent to the editing process. I moved on to Menagerie, becoming distracted with designing new animal patterns for Auntie Laura.

When weeks turned into months with still no news from the publication company, I began to be concerned. I forget who reached out first, but we collectively discovered that the package never arrived. Bewildered, I pulled up tracking info, contacted my post office and ascertained that it had successfully made it overseas, found its way to the local post office, was out for delivery to the address, yet was never received, and was then returned to that local post office, at which point the trail went cold.

I relayed this to the new editor, and asked if any inquiry might be made at their post office, but nobody responded. By now, this was beginning to feel like a low-grade, even lower-stakes crime drama, rife with red herrings and no viable leads. How might one possibly move forward, stuck in limbo as things were? 

But a few days later, the package turned up again - on my doorstep. The thing had traveled halfway across the world and miraculously, with inscrutably serendipitous timing, found its way home. 

Dumbfounded (albeit secretly relieved), I reached out to the editor again. Here it is, with a note from their P.O. explaining why they had to ship it back - would they like me to resend the package? And if so, would they look out for it so that this time it might safely received?

Actually no, thank you, the editor replied. Since the project had been returned to me, they had decided to drop it from their lineup, as it were. They cited various reasons, including the changing focus of the magazine under new artistic direction, away from projects like mine. They would still compensate me for my time, of course. There were other logistical and legal bits, but that was the gist.

Well. That was certainly disappointing.

This is a business transaction, I reminded myself; they're profit-oriented and task-centric. Besides, how fortuitous that the prototype came home, and isn't instead languishing in some cobwebby corner of a post office in a foreign land. (The children, who are always slightly heartbroken when my projects are sent to new homes and who'd been carefully following the misadventures of The Package, were very happy that the dolls were once more in their possession.) Think of this as closure, I reflected; perhaps now I could move forward, throw myself into other, new projects and chalk this up to experience. All true things, yet I still felt mentally and emotionally wearied for a couple days. As for the manner of the letdown itself, let me just say that I'd never missed that old editor, and all her humanity, more than in that moment. 

And now, how exactly would one move forward? On the one hand, I had a sort-of ready-to-release pattern, complete with prototype; on the other hand, it was in spirit similar to another popular pattern that was already in my shop. It was also formatted rather narrowly for a publication, which meant that instructions-wise, it was skeletal with limited photos and no annotations or other details, as per the uniformity guidelines set out by the magazine. Certainly it was of no use to me collecting dust on my desk, but could I possibly release it as is, qualifying it as "Magazine Format", which was not only lame but also meaningless to most people, and slap on a token price tag like 99c to appease my conscience, while simultaneously undercutting the market and invalidating the months I'd spent developing and writing it? 

Or I could rework it into a more usable format, and give it the new lease on life it deserved. I'm happy to report that I decided to go with the latter. As expected, it took several more months of work, but at the end of it, we had a pattern that's accessible in all the ways you guys are accustomed to. An unfortunate debacle that found redemption, I call it.


And that's the story. Incidentally, please don't let this discourage you from working together with other potentially lovely organizations should the opportunity present itself. I think of this as an anomaly among the many other wonderful experiences I've had in my collaborations. 

So now, let us move forward and meet the Medical Doll Set!


I'll highlight similarities and differences between this doll and the Owie Doll, too - partly to distinguish one from the other and partly to share what happens in the design process during a reinvention. 

A little bit of background: in the early stages of creating this project with the original editor, there were several practical guidelines we'd considered. One was the variety of materials available to the typical readership of the magazine. This was not the US, and some of the more specific fabrics would not be available overseas. With that in mind, we opted for common fabrics for the doll, as opposed to the fancy velcro-sticky velour that was so crucial to the Owie Doll's design. Another was the space constraint. While many of the readers had considerable sewing experience and would likely enjoy projects at least as involved as this one, more complex techniques meant more detailed instructions and numerous photos and diagrams. Which we didn't have the luxury of in a magazine layout. So we picked a happy medium - simpler construction techniques than those in the Owie Doll pattern while still offering a toy with a good level of detail for interesting play.

First, the dolls, 

which have yarn hair. There is the shorter style,

the longer style,

(which can be tied back, braided and manipulated into other hairdos),

or none at all.

The round heads, incidentally, were hugely important (to me, at least). 

Now, I understand that most people don't really care about the shapes of doll heads, but folks who've followed this blog for a while will know how obsessed I am with all things round, heads included. Ironically, my Owie Dolls did not have round heads - for a completely practical reason: felt hair. The multiple seams required to produce a round head did not do well in felt, and flat heads were simply the more rational choice. Yarn hair and round heads, however, are a perfect pairing. A happy side effect of shaping a head with multiple seams is being able to introduce cute noses - again, something that could not be integrated into the profile of the Owie Dolls. 

OK, maybe you've had enough of heads. Shall we move on?

Next are accessories you can make for your dolls. First is a wrap gown. The construction is super-simple: unlined, fastened with ties similar to real hospital gowns (and much more stay-in-place than the ones I've had to wear myself!). 

There's also a bouffant cap and thermometer, 

a reversible sleeping mat,

an arm bandage, an arm sling, a foot cast and strips of wrapping bandage.

Also, a face mask. 

Two years ago, the set did not include a face mask. When I was rewriting the pattern this fall, however, I remember thinking, "it feels like something's missing," and then it dawned on me: how odd that I could actually see the doll's entire face. 

I realized I would need to add a face mask to the list of accessories, at least because it was a sign of the times.


This one is reversible - not because it's fancier, but because lining the mask is simpler and neater than finishing tiny exposed seam allowances. (Reversibility - and fanciness - is bonus!)

This is the medical center. 

There are three medical stations, one on each panel/wall. If you're familiar with the Owie Doll's add-on Med Hub, these are the same three medical stations.

Station 1 is the blood pressure monitoring system, 

Station 2 is an ultrasound system,

with a transducer,

and a display screen (the blob is supposed to be a kidney but you can create any symbolic shape you like).

Station 3 is an EKG/ECG system

with a set of electrodes.

The grey medical center reverses to a red-and-white storage bag -

saves space, keeps all the disparate parts organized and portable, and feels a little bit like magic at the same time.

Tomorrow, the pattern goes on sale, so do check back then for all the specs and details! 

Next week sometime, I'll put a couple of Medical Doll Sets in my Etsy shop for you to buy if you'd prefer the finished thing to DIY. 


Also, what do you guys think about having a kit to save you time shopping? Folks have often written to me about the challenge of finding the materials they need for their projects - not so much because the materials are specialty per se, but because they don't have easy access to a large enough fabric store that carries more than the absolute basics. Add to that the difficulty of going out in person safely these days, or finding the right stuff online (if they're even in stock). I get it. 

Here's a photo of what such a kit might look like. There's a LOT of stuff in there - fabric and interfacing and notions and whatnot, everything except maybe the stuffing and sewing thread.

Here are the lists of materials you'll need for the Medical Doll Set: 


The plan is to offer a limited number so that I'm not overwhelmed, and make up each set as I receive an order. The kits are $75, plus shipping, and each kit contains enough materials to make one doll, one medical center and one set of accessories. If you want to make two dolls instead of one, I should be able to customize the yardage to accommodate that so you don't have to buy two kits. 

Stock on hand permitting, I'd also like to offer you a choice of skin colors. Some of you might be sewing with a specific individual in mind, and it can be a wonderful thing for a child to have a doll that looks like them. 


The kits won't be ready till the end of November/first week December, but let me know in the comments below if you're interested so I can start pre-ordering ASAP some of the stuff that takes a while to get here. The aim is to get the kits to domestic addresses in time for Christmas. I'll let you know later when and how to submit an actual order for a kit. 

Stop by here tomorrow to buy the sewing pattern for the Medical Doll Set! Meanwhile, if you're interested in ordering a kit, do let me know in the comments below.