Hillary's super fantastic book is out. It's called Wee Wonderfuls: 24 Dolls to Sew and Love. It's beautiful, amazing, awesome and just plain perfect. It's the book we have been waiting for since she started blogging. Her toy book. Her doll book. Her genius book. Okay so we are friends and have been for years and I got this book as a review copy, so let's just say I am biased, but come on, her designs are incredible. So, she agreed to answer a few of my nosey questions. And for a full description of what's in the books (patterns, templates, and all that fun stuff) you can read about it and see a preview here.
And if you don't read all of this (for shame!) notice there are directions on how to enter the book giveaway (a signed copy no less!) at the end of this post.
So let's get these questions rolling!
A: So, your book is so amazing! Hardback! Yellow spine! And the projects are just perfect as is the photography— a little something for everyone. How's it feel now that's it's finally out? Is it real to you? Have your kids seen it in shops yet? Did your mom order like, 10 copies?
H: I don't know how I feel. You know I'm not really in touch with my feelings. It takes a while for things to sink in. I think, in like 5 years, I'm going to be really really excited, in retrospect. It also seems not really real because it's all out there on the internet. I'd love to find the book in real life, you know in some cute shop somewhere. And the kids, well they couldn't be less impressed. Overheard on a recent trip to Borders..."Why do we have to go look for your book, we have one right here!" But my friends and family have been very excited for me and that's so awesome of them. My friend Betsy even threw me a book release party. So fun!
A: Do you have a favorite project (Sophie's choice! so hard!). I think mine is the topsy turvy Margo doll, with Little Miss Story book coming in a close second.
My favorites switch all the time. I know who the stinkers are. The ones who gave me trouble, whose fabric wasn't quite right or whose capes wouldn't fit right (ahem). But my favorites flip flop. Right now it's the little bear librarians. So each toy had their own backstory. I wrote them silly little stories or poems but they didn't make it into the book. Melvin (for Melvin Dewey) and Marion (Marion the librarian) still at least have their dorky names which makes me smile.
A: Let's talk nuts and bolts: What's your favorite doll making tool, the one you think is the most valuable? For me, it's the stuffing fork. That really changed my doll/toys making projects for the better. Such a simple tool that I would never live without.
H: I love that spiky fork but never use it. Not sure why. I guess I always just go for a pencil when I'm stuffing. I think the most life changing for me would have to be the long doll needle. I spent way too much time losing short little needles inside stuffed dolls.
A: I love how much you describe stuffing and the process. It is so important to the overall creation of a 2-D to 3-D object. It's what makes it come alive. I also love the advice you give about messing up a face (make a new head!) I noticed you never draw/paint on the fabric for doll faces but always embroider (save the pink cheeks) have you tried this before? Thoughts?
H: I don't have the stomach for it. I painted the cheeks on topsy turvy and it practically gave me a heart attack. Seriously. I was sweaty and panicked and dabbing on the tiniest bit of paint at a time. Of course I'd already done the hair, faces and outfits for both sides of the doll so it was not so smart to leave the painted cheeks til last. I guess I always go with embroidery because you can undo any damage. Painting is so final.
A: Tim, your husband did the amazing how-to illustrations. Did you make him a pie?
H: Nope. No pie, poor guy. He is the unsung hero for sure. He does at least half the work and I take all the glory. Right now he's in there sweating over pattern files to send to the printer and I'm here drinking coffee and taking interviews. I also like to forget what's his work and what's mine. Recently I was looking through the original drawings for the diagrams -- normally I draw something sketchy/spazzy and then Tim makes it right in Illustrator -- so I'm looking at this drawing telling him "wow, I really did a nice job on these diagrams" and he's all "yeah, I drew those." Don't you wish you were married to me?
A: The video!! Okay, um, when are you going to make a real movie? Kids shows? All that. (Note to producers out there, snatch this gal up fast before it's too late) How fun was making that amazing video with your dolls? How long did it take? And how did you survive it? Was there pizza involved? (you can see the amazing promo-video for Hillary's book right here. please watch at least 5 times.)
H: We survived it by having NO time to do it. We only had a couple of kid-free hours to do it and that was it. There was a lot of yelling and fighting and then it was over. I almost think that's the only way to do these things. Like pulling off a band aid. We had no time to hunt for props or make a fancy background and it just became an invention of necessity and I love how it turned out.
A: Do you think you would have been a toy/doll maker even if you have never had kids? Do you think it would be easier? I sometimes think sewing kids clothes is easier with no child in mind, at least for me, so then I get full creative control. :)
H: Yeah, I do think I'd have become a crazy doll lady with or without kids. Funny, I was just remembering this time I'd spent an entire afternoon watching old movies and drawing up paper dolls with crazy elaborate outfits. I was wishing I still had them. And that was when I was like, 25. I've always had toys/dolls on the brain. Having Oscar and staying home with him definitely gave me an opportunity (and excuse) to indulge my crafty tendencies but I think I would have gotten around to toy making at some point. Tim and I joke that we had to have kids to justify the inappropriately large collection of toys we were amassing.
A: Here's some unrelated questions so we can all get to know you better (pick one)
- Morning person or night person? —neither. noon, can I pick noon? I suck at both early and late.
- Pho or thai food? —and now I want both. I guess pho. thai is so hit or miss, pho always spot on.
- What was your book soundtrack? did you have one? (besides the musical quality of kids' voices, ha!) —yes! I have a "hillary upbeat" playlist that I'd listen to. I needed lots of really happy yelly overly cheerful music blasting to keep me from panicking, like Coldplay's Viva la Vida. It drove Tim crazy. He's really into the mopey mellow arty music.
- Halloween or christmas? —Christmas!
A: Here's a flashback-check out this first interview we did, like forever ago (in blog years) over on whip up.
H: yeah, did you see how I picked heels over flats in that first interview? that MUST have been a typo on my part. I've never worn heels in my life!
A: Okay. Thanks Hillary! And thanks for offering up a signed book to give away. Just leave a comment telling us the name of your childhood doll or stuffed animal (mine was Mandy) and at the end of the day wednesday (about) a random number generator will chose a winner!
Check out Wee Wonderfuls for her blog tour information. For those of you not up for making anything this holiday season, might I suggest to buy this book and add a little pile of hand selected fabrics, felts and trim to give to a lucky crafter in your life. Who wouldn't want that!? And you didn't have to make a thing! Double awesome!
Okay! I have officially closed the comments on this post—thanks so much for all these great dolly/stuffed animal names and stories! A winner has been chosen from the random number generator:
Congrats, Joanna and her cabbage patch kid named Stew Brenton (with the less popular sister, Bonnie Anna)—please e-mail me with your mailing address to get this amazing book.