two hands stitching on doll head
stitching for years

I once saw a video where @alabamachannin, talking about leaving tails of threads in their hand-embroidery. She said, "One inch is for your children and one inch is for your grandchildren." (Or something to that effect.) That's how I feel about stitching these dolls. I think about a little girl doing her hairstyle over and over. Packing her in a backpack. Squeezing her in her sleep. For years. And then an older girl putting her up in a box. A much older girl putting her in a moving box. Getting her out and putting her on a shelf. A mom showing her to her little daughter...telling little stories.


When I designed my dolls, I was thinking of all these things because holding something you loved so well brings back memories and feelings you might have forgotten. I've been that mom with my old dolls. Telling little stories. Remembering things I thought I'd forgotten. I hope my dolls make beautiful memories...and help people keep them.

hands holding doll head with hand-embroidered face
Why Handmade dolls are a wonderful gift (pt 1)

I see kids (and adults) so drawn to handmade items, especially over time. Here's one reason, I think, Handmade things have the beauty of nature.


My husband worked in manufacturing engineering for a long time. He will be the first to tell you that Sunny Stowaways is not an efficient operation. Particularly the faces. They do not all look the same, and they are symmetrical, but not perfectly. And, I tell him, according to science, that is a good thing.


Humans are drawn to symmetry, but not perfect symmetry. Nature is symmetrical but not like machined mirror-images. In our age of easily-edited digital everything, it is tempting to forget that. I know, mainly because I show them to my husband, which of the dolls I pack for a show are the least symmetrical in the face. And, several of these are the dolls that people, even if they are not shopping for dolls, don't like dolls, or don't have anyone to buy a doll for, stop walking and talk about at length. A little wobble in the smile, a little tilt to a head, a little cock to an eyebrow--these little asymmetries are what make a hand-embroidered doll lovable.


Not that I hate efficiencies. Or machines. Or symmetry. Especially in things like cars or bridges or airplanes. But for some things, hands are better.

First Birthday Gift
photo of doll with long blond hair and blue eyes wearing striped jumper with ruffles standing up in cardboard box

This sweet doll was a gift for a granddaughter's first birthday. The little girls' grandmother wanted to give her a doll that would be a keepsake to sit on the nursery shelves until she's ready, then be loved for years, then be a beautiful keepsake for years after. She's waiting to arrive at the birthday party in June--so fun!

little girl washing doll at sink
Can I Wash My Sunny Stowaway? 

Yep. (But not in the washing machine!)


It's actually great thing to have a toy that requires some cleaning and maintenance, that is actually possible for a little one to do. (Some doll hair is actually impossible to play without without irreparably tangling and destroying the hair. Not mentioning any names, Barbie ;)


First stage--Spot cleaning

Most stains or general grime can be taken care of with a damp rag sprayed lightly with a laundry spray or with soapy water mostly wrung out. Your little one can help with this.


Stage 2--Freshen up

If your doll just needs a freshen up, you might spot clean a little all over, and then set the doll out in the sunshine for a little bit. Sunshine can kill a lot of bacteria. For a sweet finish, you could spray the doll with a linen spray or store it for a day or two in a drawer with a fresh sachet. This is another good way your little one can help.


Stage 2--Immersion

If the something bigger has happened, you may need to completely immerse your doll all at once. Fill a little tub or bowl with warm soapy water and swish your doll around in it. Use a rag to spot clean as needed. Refill the bowl as much as needed, at least once with warm clean water to rise the doll.


Stage 3: Lay Flat to Dry

After you've rinsed your doll, wrap your doll up in a big towel and squeeze gently to get most of the water out of it. Try not to squeeze it directly so the face is not distorted. If it is, reshape gently. Unwrap the towel and let the doll dry out (Sunlight or in a warm dry place, like on top of the dryer works well.)


As you're drying the doll, spread the hair out all around flat for straight hair, or scrunch it up with your hand as much as possible for curly hair.


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