Behind the scenes at Little Button Blue
One of the things I enjoy about the process of selling the items I make (aside from the ego boost caused by the idea that somebody actually likes my creation enough to buy it!) is creating each element of the finished product with my own hands.
Today I want to take you on a short tour behind the scenes at Little Button Blue and show you how my dolls are made.
I plan on doing some tutorials in the future, giving step by step instructions for specific Little Button Blue creations for those interested in making their own, but for now here’s a peek at the process of making an amigurumi toy, from inspiration through to packaging up the finished doll ready to send to its new home.
Firstly, it all starts with an idea. While I have made some crochet toys from patterns by other people, what I really enjoy is creating my own designs.
My first few toys were experiments to try out new techniques or see if I could figure out how to achieve a certain shape or appearance. My mermaid doll for example was inspired by a tutorial I came across showing how to make a crochet handbag using crocodile stitch. I liked the effect of the scales but experimented with the idea to develop a method I found easier and that worked better in a smaller size for a doll’s mermaid costume.
Many of my early pieces were also made as gifts. (Oh how I love to make gifts for my loved ones!) Ella the Ballerina Bunny was inspired by my niece who loves to dance, and the fairy garden toadstool was to be a rattle for a friend’s new baby but I forgot to put the bell inside then decided to make it part of a fairy garden play set. So inspiration can sometimes come from a happy accident!
I’m also inspired by stories and great characters, finding myself influenced by a book I’ve just read, a TV series (I’ve been sketching designs for pirate dolls since binge watching Black Sails), or my daughter’s current favourite. (So keen to make some adorable amigurumi Go Jetters when I can find the time!)
When I’ve decided what to make, the next step is to find the right materials. In the beginning, the inspiration sometimes came from the materials themselves, aiming to find a use for what was already at hand in my craft stash, waiting to be transformed. A new project is a good excuse for a trip to the craft shop though!
I’ve posted about the supplies I usually use here. I would love to start using more natural materials and aim to source local suppliers of pure wool and cotton yarns and stuffing if I can.
Making the doll
While many amigurumi patterns have you create each piece of the character separately and sew them on, I prefer to make the basic body of the doll all in one piece where possible.
I start with the legs and work my way up the body, creating the doll’s legs, torso, and head in one piece.
I like to stuff as I go, using a large knitting needle to push the stuffing gently into the smaller tubes.
I add the eyes before closing up the head so the knots are hidden inside the doll.
After the doll’s head is closed up I make the arms and sew them on. (I’m keen to try a similar technique that I use with the legs to work the arms into the torso as I go, making it all in one piece – just have to find the time to try it out!)
At this stage before the arms go on I always think it looks like an alien or some sort of weird cartoon tooth! (Anyone else see it? Or is it just me?)
Then when the doll is stuffed and closed up I begin work on the hair.
You could work the hair directly onto the doll head but I prefer to make the hair separately and then sew it on. That’s because I like to use a hair cap which creates a fuller look underneath long strands and is just easier in the case of a space-buns-with-fringe style.
This style of curly hair takes for-ev-er..!
Once the doll is complete, the outfits are made.
Most of this takes place on my couch at home, in front of the TV or listening to music, usually after the youngest in our house has gone to bed. I do like to crochet on the go though and often have a project in my bag to get in a few stitches while I’m waiting for an appointment, at school pick-up, or after Sunday lunch with the family when everyone’s relaxing.
Before I list a finished doll in my etsy shop I make the extra elements to put the finishing touches on it as a complete product ready to send to its new owner.
That means sewing little storage pouches for any extra outfits or accessories that come with the doll and adding a tag that doubles as a business card.
I paint these with watercolours and cut them out by hand.
I also like to add a personalized handwritten note to each customer, but obviously do this once it has been purchased.
Adding the doll to Etsy
Once the complete play set is ready to be added to the shop I take and edit some photos for the Etsy listing and social media use, and write up the necessary text, including a description, keyword tags, etc. (More on that here).
If it’s a new item unlike others I’ve made before, I’ll also need to find the best way to package the item for shipping and figure out how much that is going to cost, if it’s significantly different in size or weight than my usual items.
When all that information and photos are uploaded and the listing is published, I’ll schedule a social media post announcing that the new item has been added to the shop and is now available for purchase. (Hooray!)
And that is how I make my dolls.
I’m working on putting together some tutorials to give more detailed step-by-step instructions for making the specific items you see for sale in my Etsy shop, and hopefully some new patterns will be available very soon!
What patterns would you most like to have access to? Are there any techniques or tips in particular you’d be keen to see? Let me know in the comments below! Thanks!