Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Creating Success around the World - Mary from Alice Blue Softies

Welcome to Creating Success around the World
The worldwide blog hop tour, that introduces you to creative people from all corners of the globe.

Creating my way to Sucess

Every Wednesday our hosts on each continent will introduce some inspiring creativity from their corner of the world.
Here's the hosts:
Jill in Australasia
Jill in Australasia
Divya in Asia
DIvya in Asia
Larissa in Australasia
Larissa in Australasia
Charlene in the Americas
Charlene in the Americas
Today's guest is Mary from Alice Blue Softies
    in  Victoria, Australia

Hello there! 
 Thank you to Jill for having me as a guest today. 

I'm Mary from Alice Blue Softies. 
I live on the Mornington Peninsula not far from Melbourne and I love to make things. Some of my creations are available in my online stores.

You can find me at madeit - a site for Australian crafters and at etsy - an international site for all things handmade.

Why do you create?

My sewing life really began out of necessity way back in the day when I was a young teenager and wanted some trendy clothes.  The culture in our house was that if you needed something then you sourced it in the most frugal way possible. It was in the late 60’s and I was very aware that my clothes were daggy and I longed to groove up my look. Mum had always made most of our clothes on her trusty Husqvarna so that was the logical thing to do.  We used to stalk the fabric rows at Dimmeys in Richmond. We would find off cuts from the local ragtrade, remnants from warehouses and bolts of fabric with singed edges in the famous “fire sales”. So I perused the pages of the pattern books and was allowed to buy a Vogue Pattern of a maxi dress with a halter neck and a slim silhouette. I made the dress out of dusky denim blue cotton twill with a watermark print. It was amazing fabric and I was a hit at the Moorabbin Town Hall weekly dance. I made that pattern a dozen times in tops and short dresses. When you’re on a good thing…
Sewing remained part of my life through all the stages one goes through. When bikinis were the rage I didn’t have any money to buy a pair so I made them. They were fully lined and looked rather fabulous and better still they did not self destruct when wet. I made some for my sister as well and now when I look back I love the fearlessness I had to just make a skimpy bikini and wear them to the beach when all my friends had commercially made lycra ones. The era of babies saw me making infants nighties and selling them at the local market. My sister was in the full swing of her dating years so we would dream up ball gowns and party dresses, all of which had nicknames and she would go out looking the goods. Costume parties were popular in the 80’s so the fur was flying when the Flinstones and Rubbles were recreated.
The list goes on and on and as I write this I am staggered at how many projects I have produced. And until I started writing this article I would not have called myself a creative person. No really. People would say to me “you are so creative” and I would feel uncomfortable because they had it wrong. I only sewed because I had to, so that I could have what I needed, without overspending. But I now realize they were right. Creativity is just the process of making something out of something else. And not everyone can or wants to do that. I create things and I love doing it.
I am a secondary school teacher who used to teach Biology and Geography but over the last 10 years I successfully switched to Textiles and sewing. I work part time in a school that offers an Activities program. I love teaching young people the skills and the values that I learned at my mother’s sewing machine. Making something yourself flies in the face of the consumer driven world that these young people live in and I think I offer a different way of getting something you need (want) that has a whole lot more value than just buying it off the shelf. These values came from my childhood and I think they should be included in today’s generation to ground them a bit.

What do you create?

My softies era started in the 90’s when calico bears and Amish dolls were popular. I learned the basics of toy construction and made dozens of toys that are still valued items in many recipients’ houses. I got over it after a while but around 2007 I entered the quirky world of soft toys for adult collectors and children as well. My son is an artist and often inspires a new creation with a drawing of an owl-like creature or a long legged beastie. I have finally realized that making things is what I do and no matter whether I have followed a pattern or design it myself it is the process of making something out of something else that is the joy for me.

I often use recycled knitwear from the opp shop to make my softies. Sustainability is a topic I embrace and I like to do my bit. My favourite materials are cashmere, lambswool and angora teemed with vintage fabrics from my stash. It was from this collection that Alice Blue softies was born.

I make cute mainstream softies for babies and really get my groove on with the wilder creations that have interesting faces and odd shapes. 

I write a blog about the things that inspire me and other things that make me smile. It is not about world peace but I have readers from all over the world so it must resonate with a few.

Do you sell your creations?

My aims in creating a public profile for my softies is to provide a showcase for what I make and to extend the range of people who can own and enjoy one of my softies. I like to think that there could be one of my little critters sitting on a shelf in a far-flung country peeking out from behind a book making its owner smile. Bearing in mind also that these creations take time and skill to make so they have a value and sometimes that value has to be expressed in monetary terms so they are for sale. When I know a softie is going to be appreciated and will bring joy to someone that needs a little comfort and love I gladly send a softie off to that person because I know it will be valued and that is my reward. I have sent softies to my favourite recipients at Softies for Mirabel, The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne and loads of friends and family who follow my sewing adventures on my blog and on Facebook. 

What to you is success and have you achieved it yet?

I have only recently listed some of my creations on Etsy and madeit and am yet to make a sale. You could say I am working towards success in that area. I am promoting my shops where I can. The technical side of computers is a challenge for me but I love a challenge. So far I have successfully installed link buttons to my shops and facebook onto my blog. I have also put an etsy button onto my facebook page. My Pinterest account is more for cataloging my inspirations but I have pinned a few of my etsy items onto my board “things I make”

What's next?

As my creations are one of a kind and no two are quite the same I do not intend to make multiples of exactly the same item so the plan for success is to sell my listed items and keep the shops stocked with quirky little softies. My teaching has the scope to branch into a little out of school hours business and that could be the next step.
I hope you enjoyed my little reverie and please take a look at some of my links!

Thanks  for your lovely answers Mary - and for sharing your beautiful work with us!
Do go and visit Mary's blog and check out more of her wonderful creations!
If you would like to be featured in an interview - then please contact your continent's host! 
Each featured guest here on Creating my way to Success, will also receive one week's free advertising in my sidebar as a thank you for your post!


  1. Her little softies are too cute, aren't they? What fun!

  2. What fun to meet Mary and see her creations. They are adorable!


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