Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Quality and the Scoop

What is quality? 

qual·i·ty (noun) high grade; superiority; excellence

So, if you  use only  superior materials, you will get a quality item, right?  Sadly, this does not seem to be the case anymore, even in the handmade tradition of Waldorf inspired doll making.   So what sets Apple Tree House apart from the rest of the pack?  With all the dolls available out there, I get asked this question a lot.  Since I do not own any Waldorf inspired dolls other than the ones I have made and I have nothing to compare to (just the opinions of my kids), I asked a few well respected, established doll makers for their input.  Here is what one of my doll making friends had to say:

"...the skin of course is a factor (if it's really thin chances are...) but in my experience is the assembly of the doll (how well you sew it, both machine and by hand) and in the procedures you use to shape the head and stuff the doll, that's where the secret lies to make a good doll." 

So while the materials are important, good materials will not hide substandard craftsmanship. Even the highest quality doll skin will not cover over flaws such as a poorly made head or a very badly stuffed and stitched body.  While it is important to use the best materials you have available to you, especially when you are offering dolls for sale to the public, there is nothing wrong with using materials that may be more readily available domestically, especially when you are still learning the craft and it is reflected in your pricing. 

So, if you are an aspiring doll maker or a mama who wants to make something special for your little one, do not be scared away from wonderful family owned companies like Weir Dolls and Crafts (I do purchase some of my supplies from them) and the many WAHM Etsy sellers who offer many high quality items for doll making and other handwork crafts. 

What can a consumer do to make sure they are receiving a well made item?  It is important to be informed, whether you are buying something mass produced at a major retailer or something hand made on Etsy.  Buying a few dolls from various doll makers and "inspecting" each and every detail to ascertain "how it is done" is not an acceptable way to learn how to make dolls nor does it make you an expert in how they are created.  There is a lot of trial and error involved and learning to make good dolls to be sold, and it takes time, it cannot be rushed, this is not a way to "make a quick buck".  So if you see a doll maker (or doll clothing maker) all of a sudden selling off dolls made by other doll makers, it kind of makes you wonder.... I will let you draw your own conclusions. 

The very 1st doll I ever made next to a more recent creation ... notice the natural evolution of the pattern and face.  I have spent many hours experimenting with every aspect of my doll making and am so pleased with the way things are changing as my skills grow and I learn new techniques.

So much about handmade is subjective to opinions.  Some people like longer thinner dolls, some like chubby dolls, some like 15 inch, some like 8 inch.  I personally like dolls with a lot of hair.  In my house, a doll is not done until my kids say "She has too much hair" and giggle.  We are fortunate to have many well-made options available.  Please rest assured that I will continue to hone my craft, always use the finest materials available to me, and that each and every doll I create is made with the same amount of love and care I would give to a doll that I was making for one of my beloved children.  

Speaking of my kids, I thought they might doll-nap these little 8 inch gals!  They will go into my Etsy shop (link on the right) 5/11 about noon. 

There is also a special gal that I am working on as part of a collaboration with The Melamoose Co.  http://www.themelamooseco.etsy.com/ and Loves Me Not http://www.lovesmenotclothing.com/ .
She has been specifically designed around the latest Loves Me Not collection, her adorable dress has been lovingly crafted by Melamoose.  She wll be available comment style on my Facebook page on Friday starting at 9 am EDT.  There will be more details here and on my fan page on Friday.

And keep an eye open for more news on the Circle of Moms Top 25 Mom Shops... thanks to all of you, Apple Tree House made the cut!  

xoxo Debra


  1. Great post...I love your dolls,I mean really love them. The workmanship is superior,your faces are perfection and they have the most beautiful and abundant hair ever!
    But most of all, I know I am buying from a fair and trustworthy dollmaker, that stands bys what she makes and saids. Thanks for letting me be a small part of ATH on your FB site...you are the "Cats Meow" of dollmaking. I am glad to call you a friend!

    Kristina (K)

  2. Your dolls are so cute! I am just learning to make dolls (made 6 now and working on my 7&8thfor birthday presents). I am not a seller of dolls myself. Just love to make them for my DD and my family and for charity/fundraisers (done 2 for raffles). I work full time as a statistician and am ADHD (sewing and now some limited doll making are sanity checks and de-stressers)

    I loved your post part about the hair. I actually would like to "slim down" my hair, but cannot seem to. Mine are definitely full head of hair dolls. See link (for a giggle) on the one I posted that went to my town raffle for our resource center... definitely a lot of hair


  3. The Apple Dumpling size is adorable. One day I might luck out and hope it is a boy for my son!