Jane is certainly one of the most creative fashion designers for Blythe, and her imagination and skills seem to have no limits! I discovered her with the Piksy coats, and have been attracted right away by these unique and beautiful designs.
May is Polly‘s Anniversary month, and Jane’s 3rd year of making dolly clothes. Time to celebrate that great success!
Hi Jane! Can you tell us about yourself?
Hello, I’m Jane aka Polly and I work with my husband Kev at our family engineering business in Ilkeston, a town in Derbyshire in the middle of the UK.
Photo: Polly-Jane. Jane and Kev.
I have been married to Kev (or, according to him, ‘holding him captive’) for 25 years this year. We have a daughter, Sophie, who is 22 and works with us and a son, Tom, who is 19 and studies at Nottingham University. Living with us are 3 cats – Hazel, Colin and Stanley. Stanley is the cat who believes he is a traffic cop and insists on standing in the middle of the road. Unfortunately drivers seem reluctant to recognise his authority and keep running him over. This may be because he is only 10” tall so maybe I should knit him a hat with a shiny badge.
I enjoy gardening and we should have a few chickens by the time this goes out and we also like to get away camping every now and again. We enjoy travelling and maybe as the economy recovers we can start to spread our wings again.
Photo: Polly-Jane. The Chicken Run dresses collection.
How and when did you discover Blythe?
I discovered Blythe about 4 years ago while browsing the craft websites. I came across some knitting patterns for them on ‘Knitty’ written by the wonderful Woollyrockers. I wanted so much to make clothes for them but the dolls were a little more money than I could afford at the time.
It did fire up my imagination again and led me to create my own dolly called Polly. I knitted her so she would be a similar size to Blythe and made her a little wardrobe of clothes. I made another doll for my sister called Molly who was a little gothic girl and lived in a coffin!
Photos: Polly-Jane. Polly and Molly
This satisfied my need for a short while but I still yearned for a Blythe doll and drooled over photos on the internet hoping to eventually get one for myself.
At Xmas time 2006 my husband, son and I had the trip of a lifetime to US, Hawaii, Australia and lastly Tokyo. Here I stumbled on a wonderful comic book shop called Mandarake where apart from books there were old and new toys. I found Honey (Tea for Two Encore) my first Blythe!! Kev was far more interested in the full size robot from Lost in space at £2000 and couldn’t believe that I wanted to spend £39.00 on a doll at my age. Especially as it was one dolls body with a much larger dolls head attached ….men! After deciding we couldn’t afford a plane ticket for a 7’ tall robot I got my first Blythe. When we got home I launched straight into clothes manufacturing – knitting, crocheting, sewing etc. My first attempts being very simple but very enjoyable.
Left photo: Polly-Jane. Honey, Jane’s first Blythe doll, in the first dress she sold. Right photo: Jillybug. Highland Fling collection.
How many Blythe dolls do you have in your own collection?
Photo: Polly-Jane. Jane’s dolly family.
I now have eight dolls:
Honey – Tea for Two Encore
Rea – Angelica Eve
Toni – Tweedly Doo
Inga – Star Dancer
Spider – Dainty Biscuit custom by me.
Fly – Cousin Olivia custom by me.
Merrick – Merry Skier.
Bob – Miss Sally Rice
What kind of dolls do you prefer?
I honestly don’t know that much about the face moulds and patterns, I never absorb information like this. My dolls are not expensive ones but very special to me. All have been messed about with a little by me (I can’t help myself!) and I don’t feel the urge to add to my collection at the moment. In the future I would really like to have Gentle River and Mitten in my collection. Oh, and like everyone else I’m sure, I would be more than happy to find a perfect Kenner at a car boot sale for a £1!!!!
Where and how do you store your own dolls?
My dollies live on a shelf in my studio – generally semi naked (tights and boots are the most they have on!). I feel sorry for them sometimes – but not for long – they work hard modeling for me and don’t get much in return. The odd hair brushing and trip down the garden maybe.
Why did you start to create clothes for Blythe?
My main reason for buying a Blythe doll was so I could make clothes for her. I was a manic dolly clothes maker when I was a little girl, making clothes for Sindy and Pippa and I don’t think it ever left me. Over the years I have had a go at making lots of different things but with the emergence of the internet and being able to network with like minded people it has given me the chance to build a very small business from it as well as make contact with loads of lovely people all over the world. I first started selling clothes in May 2007 and was so excited when I made my first sale! I still get a great feeling when someone buys something I have created. It makes me so happy that my things go all over the world spreading a little bit of Polly where they go!
How did you learn how to do it?
I learned to knit and sew when I was about 8 or 9, my mum and both my Grannies all helped teach me. I taught myself to crochet about 6 or 7 years ago and now I love crochet more than anything else. I create my own patterns which look like a foreign language to anyone else. Just scribbles and numbers and little diagrams, but I understand them.
Most of you will have heard of Granny Madge she is my Mum’s mum and she gets bored sometimes so I gave her a bag of yarn and left her to her own devices to knit simple rectangles which I stitch into hats and decorate and that was how her wonderful hats came to be. She hasn’t made any for a while as she hasn’t been in the mood. I think we can forgive her though as she will celebrate being 90 this year!!
Photo: Polly-Jane. The Granny Madge collection.
What gives you inspiration?
I get inspiration from all sorts of things – I am constantly dreaming up new ideas for clothes and sometimes I’m not sure where they came from! I think maybe my brain is the creative department of a little factory and my hands are the production line! Sometimes it can be a bit of yarn, a colour or a bead, a film, a book, a flower, a tree or some fabric which is the inspiration behind my creations. I have always been the creative type and do seem to have a knack of predicting new trends. I am told there are people paid good money for doing just that.
I work a little haphazardly but in an organised way. I can be working on a current theme, then run off to start a new hat pattern, while sorting buttons for a coat and matching fabric and trims for a dress! All while making scribbles of other ideas in my little notebook. I tend to knit or crochet most evenings or any other time that I am not moving about ask my hubby who has to put up with the click clacking or needles and hooks all the time. Sometimes I will even take it to the pub too and can be found crocheting with a glass of wine in front of me while Kev watches the football with his pals; I usually get a few comments. I nearly always have my workbag with me and take every opportunity to be working on something or another. I work in the car while Kev drives and even on the beach while we are on holiday. I have even been known to be knitting socks on a nudist beach but I won’t post the picture!
I have Tuesdays off work from the engineering factory and spend most of that day finishing items and getting set up for the weeks evening knitting/crocheting jobs.
I would like to work full time creating things and I am taking steps to allow me to do that in the future. I have an etsy shop selling crafty supplies like yarn stash bags and buttons (jollypolly) and hope to spin more so I can sell my own hand spun yarn too. I love spinning and spend
many a happy hour watching TV and treadling on my wheel! I have in the past also made jewellery, bags and human sized clothes.
How does your studio look like?
When our daughter moved out of the family home and left an empty room we had the usual tears as my first born flew the nest. The plus side however was the prospect of having my own studio and within a couple of months I was up and running, all organised and labelled. I love my little studio and spend a lot of time in there. I have drawers full of beads, jars full of buttons and boxes full of yarn. I always dreamed of having a room like this and now I have one! I have told Sophie now that no way can she move back unless she sleeps in the garage! My studio does sometimes have the need to be a guest room and waking up in a strange room with 8 pairs of eyes staring at you can be a little unnerving for guests.
Photos: Polly-Jane. Jane’s studio.
Where do you sell your creations?
What are you working on these days and what are your next projects?
At the moment I am working on about 5 different projects. This is my normal way of working and although not particularly structured it works for me. As soon as one collection gets finished, one will be in the making and one will be just started. Two more will be at the gathering materials stage! Too many ideas and not enough time!
I will be attending BlytheCon UK in October this year and hopefully having a vendor stall so I am in the process of making a large very special collection for this. Obviously this is super TOP SECRET!! I am looking forward to meeting lots of Blythe friends in person, it should be great fun!
Thank you for listening to me waffling on, I hope it’s been interesting!
Thank you SO very much, Jane, for sharing your love story with Blythe and dolly fashions. Your talent is amazing and your creations are little treasures. I cherish each and every one I could get, and I can’t wait to see what’s next!
Happy anniversary to Polly and you, and thank you again for making our dolls look so special! 🙂
Photos: Rockymountainroz. Flight of Fancy collection (left) and Swiggly Wiggly Helmet hat and dress (right).
Photos: Jillybug. Scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz collection.
Photos: Rockymountainroz. Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz collection (left) and Dem Bones from the Halloween collection (right).
Photo: Polly-Jane. Nature girl.