Tuesday, 3 March 2020

March Meet the Maker Day 3

Day 3 of #marchmeetthemaker is Time... 
I’ve always struggled with production time and I thought I’d show a little insight into how much time it takes to complete one of my dolls. 

To begin, I will message my customers and send them a booking form. This often isn’t straight forward and I will talk them through hair colour options, fabric options, any personalisation they wish to add, etc. Often I have to go away and research a particular fabric theme that they may have asked for and then go back to them with screen shots for them to choose. 
Then it’s back to the iMac to source the other fabrics and materials needed. Unfortunately there isn’t one big factory where I can buy every single material required to make a doll. Each element comes from different companies which can be a pain and isn’t cost effective when factoring in postage fees for each company. I do use independent shops in my town where possible, to reduce my carbon footprint but again, that takes time going from shop to shop. I try to wait until all my customers have sent their orders and payments so I can order everything together, but in reality this rarely happens. I hate keeping my customers waiting if there’s a delay with another customer getting back to me.
 It can take up to a week for the fabrics to arrive when ordering online . Then I have to cut out all my pattern pieces. There are 25-30 pattern pieces for each doll, so this takes the longest! Often longer than sewing up. Sewing and stuffing the doll can take up to four hours depending on the pattern. Then another 45 minutes to an hour to embroider her face. Then there’s the photography. Editing. Filling out the dolls declaration of conformity form which every doll I make must have for CE marking purposes. 
Then there’s the packaging, printing and visiting the post office. Often I have 6-10 customers to do this for in any one month and that’s aside from market nights and showcases I’m taking part in. So production time sometimes goes over my estimation. For the most part I have very patient and understanding customers and they know how long it takes for me to produce something with as much love, care and attention to detail as I do. 🥰 Xx

Monday, 2 March 2020

Day 2 of #MarchMeetTheMaker is HANDS AT WORK. This the last step of making a doll and the most nerve-wracking... I embroider my dolls faces by hand AFTER I’ve sewn them up and only get one chance to get it right! My dolls really come alive when their faces are finished and it’s almost as if they have their own personalities. 🥰 

#handsatwork #handmadedoll#dollsofinstagram #textiledoll #embroidery #dressupdoll #designerdoll#littlesugarplums

Sunday, 1 March 2020

March Meet the Maker - Day 1

Hello! I have wanted to do a March Meet the Maker for a few years now but I usually remember about half way through the month! So I’m going to give it a go and hopefully I’ll get past day 5 (we’ll skim over the fact that I’m already a day late 😉)! I’ll try not to repeat the same back story for those who have been following my journey for a while, but I will try to fill in those of you who recently joined my page and would like to know a little bit about me. 

My name is Aimie. I’m about to celebrate the last year of my 30’s (eeek!) and I’m the face behind Little Sugar Plums. I design and create CE certified dress-up dolls in my basement sewing room in Northampton. 

I was never very good at textiles  when I was younger and kind of winged it throughout school. I failed my textiles GSCE when it came to doing my exams! 😩
However after the birth of my daughter, Amelia in 2010, I was determined to make clothes for her and bought myself a sewing machine, some patterns and books and haven't stopped sewing since! 

The dolls came completely by accident. I was given a sewing book as a birthday present and decided to make one of the doll patterns in it from one of Amelia’s old cot sheets. I really enjoyed making it, and after I made a few more and started to get better, I soon started receiving orders from friends and family. I wasn't happy with any of the patterns on the market that I tried, so I designed my own.  I then took the daunting route of CE testing and in 2012, Little Sugar Plums was born! I almost feel embarrassed to put this photo online as it's just awful!  But it makes me realise just how much my skills  have improved (look at me now Mrs Cook!!).

Don't laugh! 
So proud of how my skills have improved since then!

 My Facebook page was thriving and in 2014, I became so busy that I gave up my job as a self employed childminder, started making dolls and children’s clothing full time and never looked back! Due to the social media algorithms in recent years, I have had to slow down a bit. I still have a lot of repeat customers who keep coming back to me year after year which I am eternally grateful for. But getting seen by new customers is proving difficult. I have decided this year that I will take a new approach with my business and will do more local fairs in my area to expand my customer base. 

I am currently working on some new products which I hope will be more affordable.  Watch this space for further updates!

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Christmas Market Night

It's that time of year again.  Already!  I can't believe it's only just over six weeks until Christmas!  Just two more paydays for most people!

I have already started with my Christmas makes.  I held a stall at Barclaycard head office on Monday which was an experience. Barclaycard run an inititive called Easy Street which is to showcase local businesses.  There wasn't many handmade stalls there; mainly perfume, make-up, homewares, chocolates, etc, so it probably wasn't the best market. But it got me out there. It was a very quiet day, and while I didn't get as many sales I was hoping for (selling out and coming home at 10am! Ha!), I did sell a few dolls and got my name out there to local people and businesses, some of which have already placed orders with me online three days later!  So from a networking prospective, it was well worth the three months of stress-sewing, getting up at 6am and going to bed at midnight!  My stall was pretty cool too!

So I do have quite a bit of stock which I will be selling tomorrow evening on my website.  I know a lot of people were upset that they couldn't attend Easy Street, as it was only for colleagues, so they will be happy that the market night is still going ahead!  

This market night is my biggest one yet!  With 60 items for sale and several NEW products, you will be sure to find that special gift this Christmas, or maybe treat yourself!
  • Christmas Elves
  • NEW Snuggle Plums
  • NEW Liberty of London fabric dolls
  • NEW Ballerina doll
  • 16" girl and boy dolls in varying skin tones
  • Dolls clothing and pyjama sets
  • Dolly duvet sets
  • Tooth fairy pillows and more!

If you have a special family member that deserves spoiling this Christmas, then pop over to my website tomorrow, Friday 9th November at 8pm!

Thursday, 25 October 2018

Liberty Tea for Two

As soon as I saw the Tea for Two fabric range by Liberty of London, I knew I just HAD to make a collection of dollies using them. 

'The collection consists of a set of eight prints, inspired by an afternoon tea as a much loved British tradition. Filled with cupcake delights and a set of china cups. Follow us down the garden trail to uncover a secret meadow where an afternoon of sweet treats are enjoyed amongst a plethora of flowers. Daisies are a synonymous flower within this collection, alongside trailing vines, toadstools and hidden strawberries. The colour palette includes warm dusty pinks, coral tones mixed with lavender, denim and cornflower blues. The warmer, neutral tones are inspired by the stone paths on local walking trails.' - Liberty.

I had visions of little dollies sitting around a picnic hamper with little girls, eating cake and sipping tea from dinky china teacups.  But I didn't know if I would be able to use it as I was unaware if they had been tested to EN71-3; the test all fabrics intended for toy making must undergo to ensure the toxicity levels in the dying process meet requirements suitable for CE standards. I did a bit of research and found that they had indeed been tested, and I was able to obtain the certificates needed for my technical files. So I went ahead and ordered a selection from the range, and then tested them for flammability (also a required measure when CE marking toys). I was SO happy when they passed.  I would finally be able to make my vision a reality. 

Photo credit: You, Me and Mabel.

I wanted the dolls outfits to be simple, classic and pretty and matched their hair colour and skin tones to compliment the Liberty fabrics.  I also teamed a few with some Makower linea which complimented them perfectly. 

I am holding a stall at the Christmas Fair on Easy Street in Barclaycard, Northampton on 5th November, so I managed to get a collection of dolls finished for that. I had a play with some crates, trying to set up what my table might look like, but I am far from happy with it.  I think I need to line the bottom of them with wrapping paper as they are not finished to a very good standard.  Hopefully, my pretty dolls will detract the eye from the crates!

Any of the dolls that do not sell will be available to purchase on my website on 9th November from 8pm GMT.  I think they will make the perfect gift this Christmas. 

What is your fabric print from the Tea for Two collection?  Do you have a favourite doll?

Monday, 29 January 2018

Once Upon a Time Goldilocks Gift Set

I was recently approached by the lovely Kim of Dear Little Darlings, who asked me to be a guest seller in her online shopping event on 1st February.  The theme was 'Into the Forest' which is one of my favourite themes as it reminds me of autumn, my favourite season.

Whilst researching fabrics for my submissions, I came across Riley Blake's 'Goldilocks' by Jill Howarth and I just knew I had to use it.  I had a special set in mind, but no one could prepare me for how well it actually came together. Don't you just love it when something you make turns out better than you actually envisioned it?

I have submitted four items.  The first was, of course, a Goldilocks inspired doll. She has beautiful blonde plush hair and blue eyes.  I gave her a twirly skirt with a cute apron and a baby pink tutu to make her extra special.  I also made a flutter-sleeve dress in the coordinating fabric which looks so sweet on.

Next, using my daughter's DUKTIG bed from Ikea as a size guide, I made this cute dolly duvet set, comprising of a reversible quilt and coordinating pillow with pom-pom detail... 

And to complete the set, a coordinating hoop which I machine embroidered with 'Once upon a time...'
I love how this turned out, and it's something I wouldn't usually make, but I'm so pleased I went with it.  I've had these buttons for ages, which I can't use in doll making for safety reasons, so it was nice to be able to put them to use. 

I am just so in love with the whole set.  The fabric was beautiful to work with and I love how well they coordinate. I am really going to be sad to see them go.  I have just bought another metre of fabrics to make another set though!

All of the items shown here will be available to purchase at the Into the Woods Market night over on Dear Little Darlings facebook page, this Friday, 1st February (how is January over already?!) at 8pm. 

I am taking part in another showcase next Sunday and will be making a similar set in a different combination of fabrics, so watch this space!

Wednesday, 11 January 2017


I have received several messages this week and I thought it was about time I updated my frequently asked questions page so you can find everything in one place.

Are your order books open?

Unfortunately my diary is full for 2017 so I am not taking on any more custom orders at present.

How can I get my hands on a Little Sugar Plum doll?

As well as custom orders, I also make around 10 dolls and dolly dress-up clothes each month which I sell at market nights. These cannot be personalised, but are ready to post. Ideal if you have a birthday coming up, or you just want to add to your collection. I have a designated website just for market nights. www.littlesugarplums.bigcartel.com. Market nights are held on the last Friday of every month at 9pm.

What is a Market night?

For full details, please see my previous blog post, What are Market Nights?

I really want a personalised doll. Do you have a waiting list?

Yes I do! If I ever have a cancellation, or realise I can squeeze in an extra custom order, I contact the next person in line on my waiting list. Please note that once I have emailed the person at the top of my waiting list, I will give 48 hours for that person to reply and make payment.  If I do not receive a reply to my email in that time, I will go ahead and contact the next person in line. If you receive an email and have changed your mind and no longer wish to place an order, please let me know.  I won't be offended.  My time is precious and it will speed up my admin time by not having to wait 48 hours before contacting the next person, allowing me more time to get on with other orders and spend time with my family.

To add your name to the list, please fill out the form by clicking HERE.

How much are your dolls?

The price of my dolls depends on the outfit they are wearing and how detailed he/she is. For example, a doll wearing a dress or twirly skirt will use twice the amount of fabric as a regular skirt (and will take longer to make) so will therefore cost a little bit more.  For my list of prices, please visit my website HERE.

I am looking to CE mark my dolls. Can you tell me where you buy your fabrics?

In a word, no.  I buy my fabrics from a wide variety of places and have spent many hours of my time researching them. Each fabric has to have a certificate to confirm it's safe for using in toy making and I have had to pay for many of the certificates, so I am a little protective over sharing my resources!  If you would like to find out more regarding CE certification, including purchasing EN71-3 certificates, I recommend visiting the CE Soft Toy Support Network group on Facebook.

What sewing machine do you use?

I currently use two sewing machines;  A Brother SE-400, which is the USA equivalent to the Brother Innovis 950/955, and a basic Janome 2032. The Brother is a sewing and embroidery machine. If you would like more details on the Brother, I wrote a blog post about importing mine a few years ago. The post can be found here.

Do you recommend your sewing machine?

Yes!  I love them both.  They do exactly what I need them for, so I'm more than happy to recommend them.

What app do you use to edit your photos?

I use a variety of different apps including Pic Monkey, Instagram and A Beautiful Mess.

How long are your lead times?

I usually advertise lead times at 4-5 weeks, although I aim to post orders out sooner than this where possible. As soon as you have paid the balance for your custom order in full, I then order in your fabrics.  This part is beyond my control and can take up to a week depending on the company I purchase from, especially if ordered on a friday/weekend. Most of my suppliers are pretty good and post out within a couple of days. I then need to cut out all the pattern pieces which takes a few hours, before sewing up and stuffing (another 2-3 hours).  Then her clothes need to be made and her face needs to be embroidered by hand before photographs are taken for my records (and to show you before posting) which can only be taken in good light during the day.  Every doll I make must have a declaration on conformity for CE certification, so then it's over to the laptop to write that up. Then I have to package up your doll and take her to the post office. I usually try to visit the post office on a Monday/Tuesday once I have several dolls to post at once. It's simply not feasible to  visit the post office every day.  It is quite a distance, and although I do give each order my individual attention, remember all this is happening alongside other orders also, as well as looking after my home and family. Lead times may also take slightly longer during the school holidays when my children are at home. I never rush orders and take my time to ensure they are perfect for you.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

What are Market Nights?

A market night is kind of like a virtual craft fair. I run them on my designated market night website at 9pm on the last friday of each month to allow customers who may not be able to get a custom slot to purchase a ready made doll. Most items are ready to post.  If a particular product is marked as "made to order", a time frame will be given in the product description. I usually make around 10  ready made dolls as well as dress-up outfits are available for customers to purchase, so you can build on your dolly's wardrobe too!

Market nights are advertised a few weeks in advance on the Events tab at the top of my facebook page.  Please feel free to invite your friends and family to join :)  and if there's a particular item of dolly clothing, or a type of doll you are wanting to buy, hair or eye colour, etc, please post it on the event wall and I'll see what I can do!  I will post sneak peeks of the dolls that will be available on the event wall too... sort of like an exclusive access VIP room for all you market nighters!


Unlike Facebook market nights, there will be no magic word given. On the days leading up to the market night, you will be able to go over to the website and see the dolls, prices and descriptions. They will be marked as "COMING SOON" and therefore will not be able to be purchased until the market night evening.  On the night, at around 8:45pm, I will put the website in maintenance mode.This will allow me to work on the website behind the scenes, and set all the dollies as AVAILABLE. At 9pm, I will take the website out of maintenance mode and the website will go live, allowing you to add the products you want to your basket. If you're online just before 9pm, keep refreshing your page until the dolls are "live" and available to purchase. 

Since I can't schedule a post like on Facebook, I will be going by my watch which may or may not be out of sync with some of you by a few seconds. All purchases can be paid for with PayPal and all major credit/debit cards are also accepted.  PLEASE NOTE that putting things in your basket DOES NOT make them 'safe'. Someone else can still buy them, so be sure to check out quick!

Ready made dolls will usually be posted out in the next 2-3 business days providing payment has been completed. The cost of postage by Royal Mail recorded delivery is £4.95 (within the UK).  If you prefer to use Royal mail's special delivery service this costs £8.00. This service will be charged if purchasing two or more dolls for maximum insurance.  Please let me know when you send me your email address before I send your invoice if this method is preferred. If you are outside of the UK, please also inform me of your location when sending your email address so that I can adjust the postage charge. A quote will be obtained from the Royal Mail website. Postage for smaller items such as dolls clothing costs £1.95 and will combined for two or more items. If you are not happy with the prices I charge for postage then please do not purchase. P&P is more than a price of the stamp... It's my mailing envelopes, cellowrap, printer ink for labels, care instructions, etc plus fuel to the post office and back. You are welcome to collect if you're local to Northampton - NN1).

If you're new to my market nights this probably sounds very daunting but they are super exciting and very popular with my customers. Good luck and Happy shopping!


This years market nights are scheduled for the following dates:

27th January
24th February
31st March
28th April
26th May
30th June
28th July
25th August
22nd September - BIG ELF MARKET NIGHT
27th October
24th November
15th December (TO BE CONFIRMED)

It is rare now that I will do a market night on Facebook, as the admin side takes ten times longer. But I will leave this here just in case.  A few customers prefer this method, but most prefer the website avenue.

First of all you will go over to my Facebook page. I will post a 'secret word' on my timeline at the advertised time.  This is usually around 9pm when the kiddie winks are all tucked up in bed sound asleep so you can shop in the comfort of your living room with no distractions!  After I have made the announcement, the first person to comment with the secret word under a photo will win that item.  Any  comments posted before I have made the announcement will be deleted. This includes edited posts.  I always set a scheduled post so that it runs on Facebook time to avoid any disagreements regarding time.

If two or more comments are submitted at the same time on the same item, the winning buyer will be the person who's comment notification comes through to me first. These are emailed to me and will have the time on them. The final decision of the purchaser will be determined by Little Sugar Plums and the decision is final.

An email address must be PMed to complete the transaction straight away along with your postal address.
Once the market night has calmed down (you will be surprised how incredibly busy it gets my end with PM's and comments flying here there and everywhere!), I will send out invoices.  Payments MUST be made on the night. If the invoice is not paid within 24 hours of the market night (unless agreed with me prior to the market night), I reserve the right to offer the doll to the next comment. Invoices are usually sent out within 1 hour (by 10pm), but please bear with me if it takes longer. I am only one person! :)


I DO NOT take responsibility for your news feeds not showing you my posts. If you really want to purchase something from my market night then I suggest following the steps below to maximise your chances of getting the doll you want. I will not accept rudeness on my page from people when they don't get the doll they want. Anybody who does so will be promptly blocked from my page.
1) Use a PC or laptop to access my Facebook page rather than a mobile device. They're far more reliable. But have your mobile next to you too.
2) Sign up for notifications. Just hover your mouse over the 'LIKE' button on my page and select "Get Notifications" and "see first". When I post the secret word, this should come through to all of your devices straight away.

3) Pick out the item(s) you want to buy from my preview album and keep it up on your screen in the minutes leading up to the start time. As soon as the notification comes through to your phone, you'll be ready to type the secret word in on your PC. Hit enter and then refresh your screen to see if you're the first to comment. If you are, congratulations! You've won! Please send me your email address as soon as possible so I can send your invoice over. This must be done ASAP.

Please ensure the address registered on your Paypal account is correct as this will be the address I will be posting you doll(s) to.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Happy New Year!

It's been sooooo long since I wrote a blog post!  I know I say it every year, but I really am determined to post more regularly this year!  Last year was manic with orders and I'm determined to keep my head above water this year and throw myself into my work and grow as a business in 2017.  I have lots of exciting things planned for this year and hope that you will follow me along the way.

I'll start by saying Happy 2017! I know, I know, we're already two weeks in. It's been so hectic here at LSP HQ and I haven't been able to start back as quickly as I wanted to as Amelia was only at school two days last week, and the weekend just passed,  I had planned to work through, but this was scuppered when I went up to Bolton for the weekend for a family party. But now I am back and happy to be sewing up some absolutely beautiful custom dollies.  My customers have wonderful taste in fabrics!  I also managed to give my sewing room a big clean and put up some new pictures on the wall; One of which I was very lucky to receive from Emma Vallis over at My Tiny Gallery as part of the Secret Santa I took part in with the wonderful ladies of Sparkle Showcases over Christmas.

My first Little Sugar Plum of 2017 was this gorgeous Melody Mermaid.  I haven't made any mermaids for a while, and this one caught the attention of lots of you over on my Facebook page and I have received lots of requests for them, so I will be adding a few to my market night on 27th January (put the date in your diaries ladies!)

This was made for a gorgeous little girl's 2nd Birthday and is her third Little Sugar Plum doll.  
I think she likes her!

I'll be back soon to show you some more pretties.

Wishing you a healthy, prosperous new year.

Aimie. x

Friday, 13 November 2015

Christmas Eve Boxes

It's only November but I am itching to get started on Christmas planning! The shops have all got their decorations out, and you may have noticed a slightly festive update to my facebook, website and blog heading (courtesty of the wonderful Artwork by Angie). I just LOVE this time of year. The excitement, the build up, Christmas movies, cosy nights in by the log burner, gift wrapping, christmas carols and songs on the radio and in the shops, the look of joy in my children's eyes on Christmas eve night.  It's just all so magical.

 For several months now, I have noticed Christmas themed handmade items creeping into my Facebook newsfeed by some of my favourite pages which got me thinking about this years Christmas Eve hampers.
For the past three or four years I have made up a Christmas eve box for my little and not so little ones.  My Children are age 5 and 15, so it can be difficult catering for the large age gap during the rest of the year, but I haven't had any problems so far at Christmas and my eldest gets just as much a kick out of finding the big present on the front lawn that falls from Santa's sleigh every year on his way to Australia than my youngest does. Although he has grown out of the believing stage, he still finds magic in it.  He must get it from me!  We usually time the present dropping with the International Space Station passing over our house.  You can get the times for your local area online.

My favourite Christmas eve boxes by far are by the wonderful Jess over at Danderoar Designs and Leanne at Made 4 Keepsake

Danderoar Designs
Made 4 Keepsake

A Christmas decoration to hang on the tree are great for Christmas eve hampers as they don't take up much room. Personalised ones are a great touch.  I just love these ones from The Banner Boutique.

The Banner Boutique

Pyjamas are the staple item that I put in my Christmas eve boxes every year and Made 4 Keepsake also has some beautiful personalised ones this year. I love the baby grows too!

Made 4 Keepsake

Before they put on their cosy jammies, give them a nice bubbly bath - with some festive gingerbread scented bubble bath maybe.  Last year The Body Shop had these cute penguin sponges which are great fun for kids to wash with. This year they have robins, owls and bears. Be sure to clean behind your ears kids!  Santa will be checking!

Hello Freckles The Body Shop Christmas Polar Bear

Click for enlarged view

I usually put in a Christmas movie. I do try to put in a new one each year.  Last year was Disney's Santa Buddies.  There are so many to choose from and Christmas DVD's can be picked up fairly cheaply this time of year, especially some of the classics.

Last year I put in a sachet of hot chocolate and a little mug each.  I will probably re-use the same mugs this year as we put them away after Christmas, but the Emma Bridgewater addict in me would love to get my sproglets one of these each. A half pint one for my Son and one of these baby mugs for my Daughter.

Personalised Joy Star Baby Mug                 
Emma Bridgewater
If these are a little out of your price range this year, Designs by Nikki have some beautiful Christmas mugs too which can also be personalised. These also make great teacher gifts.

Designs by Nikki

Tesco have bags of Christmas tree-shaped marshmallows at Christmas time, so I put a bag of those in to go on top of their hot chocolates.  Be sure to have some squirty cream in the fridge on Christmas eve!  You can't have hot chocolate without squirty cream!

I spotted these delicious looking marshamallow snowman treats on Instagram yesterday which would be great to Christmas eve boxes. They are by Maple Molly's. There is actually a competition running on their page at the moment to win two of these, so hurry over!  The competition ends on Monday 16th November!

Maple Molly's

When it's time for bed, it is time to put out the mince pie and milk for Santa (and carrot for Rudolph of course!).  What better way to do this than with a engraved board from The Laser Boutique.

The Laser Boutique
We have a chimney in our house for Father Christmas to gain access, but for those of you who don't, a Santa Key is a nice idea. I love this one by Grumble Bums Crafts on Etsy.

Santa's Magic Key, Santa Key,Christmas Eve Box Tradition, Father Christmas Decoration, Stocking Filler Handmade,With Holly Ribbon.
Grumble Bums Crafts

While you're hanging the key of the front door, don't forget to sprinkle some magical reindeer food on the lawn so Santa's reindeers will find your home. I made these reindeer food bags recently, and I should have more in stock around the beginning of December. They're great as they can be used year after year (just refill with porridge oats and bird seed).  Keep an eye on my page over at Little Sugar Plums for stock notifications.

Little Sugar Plums

And of course, a Christmas Eve box wouldn't be complete without The Night Before Christmas bedtime story when the children are nestled all snug in their beds. There are lots of different versions of this story by different authors, but this is the copy we have in our house. I love how traditional it is. 

I hope you have fun building your Christmas Eve boxes and have a magical Christmas with your families.