Friday, July 26, 2013

A Visit From Fellow Crafty Blogger Christa of Sophia's Sundries

Today I am pleased to share with you an interview with Fellow Blogger Christa of Sophia's Sundries. 
 Her incredibly inspiring blog has some fantastic ideas for 18 inch dolls and the Bitty's too!

Christa kindly agreed to share with us today a bit about herself, her family, passion and talent and I hope you will get a chance to visit her blog and see for your self the wonderful sewing, knitting and craft ideas she has for dolls.
I was drawn to her knit work as well and her free pattern for this basic seamless pull over for Bitty Baby! I really would like to give this pattern a try, I also think it will fit the 18 inch dolls as well!

Sophia's Sundries author Christa's is a very busy and talented lady who kindly shares her ideas, crafts and talents regularly on her site.
Click here for a cabled version of her basic sweater

Can you tell me for the interview a bit about yourself, your family and how you came to create for American Girl Dolls?
I'm a 35-year-old stay-at-home-mom who is married to a pastor. I keep busy by homeschooling and pursuing creative projects. The creative projects are my hobby, the thing that helps me unwind. My mind is always whirling with project possibilities, and I'm endlessly curious about how things are made, so I don't usually run out of things to make. I started sewing and knitting for the American Girl dolls when my daughter got the Bitty Twins. My interest in their clothing and accessories has been renewed since she got her first 18" American Girl doll this spring.
Click here for her v-neck sweater

Did you have American Girl dolls growing up?
No, I didn't even know that they existed until a few years ago. I'm sure I would have loved to have one, though!

When did you begin making doll items for your daughter?
It was just recently that my daughter got AG dolls. She has always had a slew of baby dolls, though! We started with the Bitty Twins the Christmas that she was six. It was more than we usually spend for dolls, but when I saw her poring over the catalog for days, I knew we had to get her the dolls, even if it required a lot of saving. The Twins were perfect in many ways. Fraternal twins run in our family. My husband is a twin, and we're told that our kids' chances for having twins are quite high (especially my daughter). The fact that the brown-haired, brown-eyed Twins look so much like my daughter just clinched it for us. Of course, that was the beginning. I made almost a whole wardrobe for them as part of her Christmas that year, and they haven't lacked for clothing since.

When did you begin selling your items on Etsy ?
I started actively selling in 2011 when I was quilting with vintage sheets. A lady saw my quilts at a link party and asked if I would be interested in making eleven quilts for her bridesmaids. I took her up on it, and my business really took off. I haven't quilted in awhile, but I'll always be grateful for those opportunities.

What do you enjoy making most?
While I enjoy making almost anything for the dolls, I really enjoy making things for "our" boy doll Alex. There aren't many boy clothes out there for 18" dolls, so I've been having a lot of fun adapting things, making my own patterns, and generally making things boyish.

I also enjoy poring through the AG catalog with my kids and figuring out what we can make for ourselves for much less. It's fun for me and a good lesson for them.

Do you work any of the American Girl Book Series into your home school program?
I hadn't thought of it, but thanks for the great idea! We are currently studying history in chronological order. We ended last year at the Greeks, so we have a way to go before the founding of America. When we get there, though, I'll have to do that.

Do you have any advice for other moms who are considering homeschooling?
My best advice is to stick to one across-the-board curriculum for your first year. It makes everything so much easier when you're just getting started. I taught in a traditional school for four years before I was married, but I still found it helpful to stick to one publisher our first year of homeschooling. As I got to know my kids' strengths and weaknesses, as well as the curriculum's strengths and weaknesses, I was able to fine-tune our curriculum to meet our needs the next year.

My other advice is to study your children. Not every child learns the same way, and that's perfectly acceptable. A friend's daughter is doing fine with the original publisher's math program. My kids, however, were overwhelmed by the way it was presented, with a new concept almost every day. I switched to another publisher with a different approach, and they are doing much better with it. We'll still end up at the same place, having learned the same things in roughly the same amount of time.
What motivates and inspires you?
Like-minded people inspire me. Some of my best ideas have come from seeing what other people have made and thinking about how I could adapt it or improve it with what I have on hand.

I'm also inspired by a window shopping trip through my local Dollar Tree, Hobby Lobby and Michaels stores. I have often seen things in those stores and thought, "I can make (such and such from the catalog) with that!"
What accomplishment are you most pleased with?
In terms of doll items, I think I'm most pleased with the boy doll (Alex) that I made-over from a Springfield Maria doll. I approached the project with fear and trembling. I hate wasting money, and I really didn't think my hair-cutting skills were up to the job. But my husband watched and helped me figure out where I needed to cut - and when to stop - and we did it!

When did you learn to sew, knit, or crochet? 
I learned to crochet first, in sixth grade. It was one of those creative "classes" we had right after lunch. I've done it steadily ever since.

I technically learned to sew in sixth grade, but my sewing teacher was very uptight and made me nervous about everything, so I didn't take to it right away. I think I really "took off" with sewing in my ninth grade year. I got interested in it and made tons of bunnies, bears and dolls. It kept me busy the whole summer between my ninth and tenth grade years, and my dad insists that it was some of the best money he ever spent. My high school graduation gift was a sewing machine of my own, and I still use it regularly nearly twenty years later. I went on to sew a lot of my own clothes, curtains, you name it. I still enjoy sewing a wide variety of things.

I have always wanted to learn to knit, but I just couldn't seem to "get it" until New Year's Eve 2011. We were spending the evening with friends, and my friend and I decided to learn to knit before the year was out. I came armed with Youtube videos and books, and between the two, I finally figured out the basic knit and purl stitches before midnight. I've been knitting ever since. I've done a little bit of everything - hats, scarves, sweaters, mittens, gloves, socks, dishcloths and doll clothes.

Any advice you have for young doll lovers out there wanting to start learning to sew or knit or crochet?
First of all, keep at it. Your first attempts might be frustrating. You might not even be able to recognize your first few projects for what they're supposed to be. That's okay. If you keep at it, your skills will improve. Look at mistakes as a learning experience, and don't be afraid to take something apart if it's not working out right.

Secondly, start with simple projects. I'm notorious for starting a new skill with difficult projects, and it's caused me more frustration than I can begin to tell you. (My dad has a few funny stories to tell about me and a seam ripper when I was beginning to sew.) Having said that, though, don't feel like you have to work with only easy projects. As soon as you have a good grasp of the basics, challenge yourself with something a little harder. That's how you get better.

Lastly, if you're running into a specific problem or are confused by a particular technique, do an Internet search (with your parents' permission) for the technique. I'm a very visual person and have found Youtube to be a goldmine of knitting technique videos. (There's a lot of garbage on Youtube, though, so be very careful and always get your parents' permission first.)

 Thank you so much to Christa from Sophia's Sundries for her time and wonderful answers today. I know many of you will be thrilled with the ideas and patterns on Sophia's Sundries Site you can click any of the highlighted words in this post to visit Sophia's Sundries or click here and I would love to see any of your completed projects! Email me at
As with all my posts I would love to hear from you so please leave us a comment here or email me at

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