Before we jump into today's post I want to invite you to something new. I've recently created a private Facebook group for people who design sewing patterns for toys and dolls. It's called the Softie Designers Forum and it's already amazing. This is a place to ask all those detailed questions about pattern templates and marketing and design inspiration. I would love for you to join us. If you design sewing patterns for softies you can request to join the group right here. Thanks!
The post is part of an occasional series called "Awesome Handmade Toys." These posts feature toy makers whose work I think is particularly fresh and inventive. You can see previous posts in the series here. I also pin toys to my Inspiring Softies pinboard on a regular basis if you're looking for more inspiration.
Take a look at these wonderful softies.
In describing her characters Michelle told me, "I like to make their faces a little more on the shy, nervous, melancholy side. I hope it makes them more relatable, you kind-of just want to give them a hug."
Those emotions really come through for me. And these guys are just totally fun. "I like to add small features that might make people laugh a little," Michelle says, "like chest hair or tattoos." Look at this sailor's beard.
I love him so much.
Finkelstein's Center is temporarily operating out of Michelle's home, but was formerly in rented studio space in downtown Charleston and will be moving into a new studio space in early 2014.
Michelle has quite a few wholesale accounts and has hired three employees who help her stitch the toy bodies. They come to her studio to train on new patterns and then take projects home and work according to their own schedules.
Michelle sets up deadlines for her employees, but they can fit in the sewing when they have time, even if they also work another job. Michelle still embroiders all of the faces on the softies herself.
Some of her toys are made from upcycled materials. This is a brilliant photo.
I admire the creative freedom in these designs. They're asymmetrical, lighthearted and fun. Excellent qualities for a plush toy.