I was asked the other day if I had always been creative – and the answer is yes! I can’t remember a time when I didn’t make stuff.
Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while will already have seen what I have made recently. You’ll know that once I discover how to make an item I can go into overload on production – note the duvet dress (20 and counting), zip brooches, bow ties and most recently boxer shorts. But there was a time when I made toys.
While having a tidy up at home I came across a box of my photographs (remember them – the printed out variety?) that were taken in the mid 1980s. Amongst them were a couple taken at Southover Grange in Lewes, where I had taken a stall at a craft fair being held there. At the time I was working on The South Downs Conservation Project, which was based in the town, and heard about the fair through a colleague. The SDCP was enjoyable to be part of, and it started the long process of getting the South Downs recognised as a National Park – but that’s another story. What amazed me looking at these photographs was the sheer variety of what I had on display at that fair. I must have been busy for months.
If you look you will see a lot of toys: beautiful rag dolls, clown dolls, plump teddy bears in dungarees, fury glove puppets (in the basket that I am holding), toy horses, and even a snake! The dolls all had removable clothing – and there is a bride doll there who is wearing a replica of ‘Fergie’s” (the Duchess of York’s) wedding dress. I recall working from pictures that were in the newspaper colour supplements at the time. There are a couple of babies too in their own little cots. I took the pattern for the teddy bears from a library book, that I do remember. There is some rather fine corduroy being used for them! I can also see quilted bags hanging up (I still make these useful little bags today).
On one of the shelves is a toy village – I made the houses by using appliqué to create an exterior, then sewing this around cubes of solid foam. The streets were made by quilting, providing a soft playmate for the buildings (and pillar box) to go on. I do remember selling this item. There are a couple of patchwork quilts that I had made too, one in pinks and purples. This item didn’t sell and I remember that I used it for my own babies when they were born. The quilt became faded and soft with repeated washing. The other quilt has houses on.
Back then, as now, I can see that I made clothes for myself. I made the top and skirt that I am wearing in the photograph – and sporting a very 80s hair wrap too!