The first flip doll I made was actually one of the first toys I made. I made it for L for her first Christmas. She was learning her first words, and so I made her a cat and chicken. It was a little goofy looking, and I had to sew the skirt on by hand because I couldn't figure out a better way to construct it. Nevertheless, all of you in craft-blog land were so encouraging it made me want to figure it out and make it better.
I started thinking about it immediately, but it was almost two years before I put together the Bunny and Fox flip doll. This one is clever and flips snugly, and I was pretty excited to figure out a way to assemble it all on the machine so that it would be sturdy. BUT... honestly, it was a bit cumbersome and big. Susannah of Art Nest, says something like that in this sweet pattern review. I thought I was satisfied, and so I made George and the Dragon and my Super Hero from the same pattern.
I got such a great response about these dolls, and several people asked me about commissions. But I just couldn't bring myself to sew that cumbersome pattern again. So I declined. And it ate at me. I wanted to make this pattern work.
Finally, this summer, I decided it was time to work out the problems with the pattern. So this is what I did. First, I made the George pattern again, making both dolls according to the flip pattern, but not joining them, so that they are actually two separate dolls.
George turned out adorable, but I realized that if I had been starting from scratch, I would have made the dragon totally different. Both of them had seams and steps that were originally included to facilitate the flip, making them unnecessarily complicated without it.
So the next step was to redesign the two dolls as separate dolls. This time I made them smaller to fit nicely in little hands, and I just simplified the pattern overall, making them more like simple rag dolls.
I had a little tweaking to do, but I loved this George and the Dragon about a million times more than the original. So did I still need the flip? I considered forgetting it altogether, but I remembered that it was the whole reason I'd started down this design path, so I took one more stab at it, joining the rag dolls in a simple way. I worried it was too simple - but it turned out simple was the way to go. Flip doll success!
Now that I've figured out the basic form, I'm on a roll. I've got about six more designs stewing, and I'm starting to go into project overload! I said that my next pattern would be an American folk hero (and he's still coming), but he's a little detail heavy, and I needed a little break. So...
This week, J started saying, "kitty cat," and it reminded me of the cat doll I made for L three years ago. So, I quickly made a very simple flip doll for J - the Owl and the Pussycat (I can't resist a literary reference!). This is definitely the easiest flip doll pattern I've made. With much fewer details and no pesky arms and legs, this little doll came together in no time. This time, I know it will hold up with lots of play - plus it's pretty darn cute.
Making this simple little cat flip doll for J was one of those full-circle moments. Back to a super simple design, but one that I feel confident and proud of. It feels like... growing up.