Kerry Goulder of Kid Giddy is the author of Sewing Tales to Stitch and Love: 18 Toy Patterns for the Storytelling Sewist. She’s here to help you give your new softies a name, a history… A story! Kerry and F+W are also generously providing you with a free Casco the Dolphin PDF pattern for you to download from Sewing Tales to Stitch and Love.
Do you give your softies a back story? Do they have names, likes/dislikes, favorites, character traits?… Do you have a favorite childhood softie with a rich history?
Find more from Kerry in her introduction, on Etsy, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. You might also want to check out Kerry’s Mini-Tent Pattern here at Sew Mama Sew, the perfect accessory for your favorite softie.
Six Weeks of LOVE for Softies is quickly coming to an end and many of you have finished or are on the tail end of finishing up your special softies for the Spectacular Softies Contest. Maybe it is for yourself, for a friend, baby shower, a special occasion or just because. Whatever the reason for your creation, there’s one more thing to do: Give it a name and a story. My daughters love when I am nearing the finish of a softie. They start to talk about potential names, and ask me with excitement if I know what the name is going to be. They wait patiently until I have embroidered the eyes and the last stitch is in place. It’s a fun tradition for us all, but I also personally love breathing this life into my softies, feeling that it completes the process. When they have a name, when they have a story, they come to life, just as my dolls and softies did when I was younger.
Although I still have some of my childhood dolls, sadly I don’t remember all of their names or stories because I never wrote them down. My daughters on the other hand, are doing all they can to record the history of their lifelong friends. Some of the stories are totally made up from all their moments of pretending when it was their full time job, and some are based on real life (like the time that we went to the candy store to pick up “Candy Puppy”). One day when all of their pictures are taken, and stories recorded, it will make a great keepsake book.
So how do you get started?
Step 1: Give it a Name
You can find a name in a baby name book, online baby name websites, maps, emotions, animals, items in your kitchen (favorite foods, candy, spices), etc. When I was younger, I used to have hamsters and cats; one hamster was named “Cinnamon,” and one of the cats was named “Mouse”. It’s OK to break all the rules and think outside of the box to pick the name that fits best. As I wrote my book Sewing Tales to Stitch and Love, the name each softie was given also became the pattern name. “Mimi the Hot-Air Balloon” was named for my husband’s Grandmother (her nickname). She loved watching birds, and traveling around the world. She was a sight to behold, like a hot-air balloon floating through the sky. So maybe your softie is for someone in particular, or reminds you of them, and you want to name it after them. That’s great, it’s totally up to you.
Step 2: Character Traits
Once the name is given, you can start to build some character traits. In any book you read, each character has specific personality traits. Again this can be made up completely, or specific things that remind you of the person who will receive the softie. There are numerous websites offering lists of different character traits, but here are a few to get you thinking: silly, adventurous, talented, smiley, patient and strong. Can you add a few of your own without looking online? Look around you… I saw a picture in a frame next to me where everyone is smiling so I said smiley; I saw a stack of books and thought strong. Be inspired by your surroundings.
Once you have those initial character traits, you can develop them further. What makes your softie character so silly? What have they done lately that has made them adventurous? This is where you start to develop the story, injecting fiction or reality.
Step 3: Favorites
I can’t create a character without sharing some of their favorites. What are some of your favorites? Does your softie love gummy bears, camping every summer, or building tiny igloos for resident critters in the winter? What do they love?
Step 4: Location, History
The little gnomes in my book lived under the hobblebush berries in Franconia. Franconia is real. It’s a beautiful place in New Hampshire that we don’t visit very often. When we do, we love walking all the trails in search of fairies and gnomes. The valley rocks are covered in beautiful moss and the rivers that flow, create a mist that sparkles rainbow colors in the sunshine. The baby dolphin in my book was born in captivity, but released into the wild. His name was “Casco” because I live near the Casco Bay in Portland, Maine.
These are just a couple of examples of how you can use your travels to far off lands– or your own current location– as part of the softie’s story.
Step 5: Share it
Now that you have written all the details of the story, share it. I promise when you do, it will grow. It will give the listener something to connect to. “Hey, I like berries just like Hunter the Gnome does…”
This whole post has been written from the perspective of having created a softie first, and then a story is written to accompany it. Sometimes the story comes first, and as the visual character traits come to life, the softie is created little by little afterwards. No matter which way the two come to life (the softie and the story), the whole point of it is to have fun.
Since this is part of Six Weeks of LOVE for Softies, I wanted to share one of the softies from my book Sewing Tales to Stitch and Love: 18 Toy Patterns for the Storytelling Sewist. Casco the Dolphin is one of my favorites, and can be made as a finger puppet or a simple softie. It’s great for beginners too. You can enlarge the pattern pieces even more to create a huge cuddle softie. If you do so, trim off the excess seam allowance (anything over ¼”), or increase your seam allowance to ½” or more according to your newly enlarged pattern. Doing this will maintain the original shape.
Here’s your free Casco the Dolphin PDF Pattern from Kerry’s Sewing Tales to Stitch and Love: 18 Toy Patterns for the Storytelling Sewist.
Download the pattern today and give this little guy a back story! Kerry’s book includes arctic adventures, coastal water creatures, rainy day travelers and lots of storytelling.