Featured Designer - Funky Friends Factory August 01 2015
I had the pleasure of meeting this month's featured designer Pauline McArthur of Funky Friends Factory at Spring Market this past May in Minneapolis. I am so glad that she traveled all the way from Australia to share her adorable softies with us! Meeting Pauline in person, one could sense she was a fun and energetic person and this is reflected in her colorful critters that are fun and easy to make.
Jen: How and when did your passion for softies begin?
Pauline: Believe it or not, I was more interested in climbing trees and having mud fights with my brothers when I was a kid! As a result I didn't have lots of dolls and toys, but I loved making things. I must have had lots of patience though as I knitted my own dolls and designed their clothes from felt.
Jen: How did you learn to sew? Did you stitch as a girl?
Pauline: I was lucky to have a mother and a granny who were both very crafty. I am incredibly industrious and cannot bear to be doing nothing. My mother remembers me wrapping yarn around her knitting needles and asking her to show me how to knit when I was about 4 years old, though I’m sure it was a while before I learned to knit and sew!
Jen: Complete this sentence. When I am not creating, I am.....
Pauline: ...thinking about creating!!! Even when I get insomnia, I'm usually mulling over a toy pattern in my head! That’s where the idea of my Izzy Insomniac Teddy Bear came from. She has her own flannelette blankie and Sleepy Sheepie.
Jen: So, how did Funky Friends Factory come to be?
Pauline: I began sewing my baby-safe bunnies when my friends started having babies. I sold the bunnies at markets, and they were really popular and so I started making more. I joked that I had an assembly line of fleecy bunny parts, mass-producing my toys - that’s where the ‘factory’ bit in Funky Friends Factory comes from!
Jen: Tell us about your creative process for your animals. What were your inspirations?
Pauline: I am inspired by all sorts of things, fabric, real animals, greeting cards and ornaments, like this wooden carving from Africa.
Jen: Your softies have big personalities. Did you model them from people you know or did the softies take a life of their own?
Pauline: I have named some of my critters after friends... but not necessarily due to any resemblance. I had to point this out to my friend Heather when I’d named my hippo after her! So I started naming my toys with names starting with a matching first letter for example Bill the Bald Eagle, Hannah Hedgehog. That way no one could take offense if I give an iguana or orangutan their name!
Jen: Any big plans for the year ahead?
Pauline: I had so much fun at Quilt Market in Minneapolis earlier this year, and I am planning to return to America for the Houston Quilt Market in October. I thought I’d treat myself to a dose of Quilt Festival too..... ooh I can’t wait.... Can you tell I LOVE fabric?
I am looking forward to seeing Pauline again soon and checking out her family of critters. Don't forget to visit Pauline's website for great tutorials and videos on how to make soft toys. In the meantime, you can check out the Funky Friends Factory collection of patterns available at Red Thread Studio!
UPDATE JUNE 2016:
You can also watch Pauline's video interview!