Featured Designer - Bo Twal December 01 2015 2 Comments

Featured Designer - Deborah Fisher of Bo Twal

Our featured designer for December couldn't be more appropriate as we enter into the holiday season and especially today, Giving Tuesday, a global day dedicated to giving thanks.  Please welcome Deborah Fisher of Bo Twal patterns whose mission is to provide handmade dolls to children in underdeveloped countries and income to local sewists. 

Let's get to know Deborah!

Jen:  Where were you born and raised?

Deborah:  I have lived on Long Island, NY since I was very small, except for some years in Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Detroit.

Jen:  How did you learn to sew?  How and when did your passion for dolls begin?

Deborah: My mother taught me to sew.  She had her sewing machine set up on a desk in our family room and there were shelves full of fabric and supplies for making things.  My father built a big round table for us to work on.  I started sewing dolls at about 10 years old when I found a Loretta Daum Byrne pattern in a sewing magazine.  I would make the same doll body over and over and make each one a different costume.

Jen:  Complete this sentence. When I am not creating, I am…..

Deborah:  ...thinking about what to make next!  Also, I'm taking care of my family, and running my 2 nonprofits, Bright Hopes Collaborative Quilt Project, and Bo Twal.

Jen:  What does Bo Twal mean and what led you to create this nonprofit?  How many children has Bo Twal touched to date?  Are there any plans to expand your footprint outside of Haiti?

Deborah:  Bo Twal means cloth kiss in Haitian Creole.  Bright Hopes is a very local community project, and I wanted to work more internationally.  I was inspired by a young woman I knew who was very interested in international education for girls.  So far we have provided dolls for about 75 kids, and the sewists in Haiti are currently working on another batch of dolls.  We would love to expand beyond Haiti!  We began with Haiti because we were able to partner with PeaceQuilts for Haiti.  Now we are actively on the lookout for opportunities in other countries as well.

Haitian Girl and Haitian Sewists


Haitian Kids

Jen:  Tell us about your creative process for your dolls.  What were your inspirations for the Sewing Smiles dolls?  Bo The Bunny?  The Underwater Quintet?

Deborah:  The Sewing Smiles Doll pattern began as a way to use some of the scraps left from the quilts I designed for Bright Hopes.  It is a simple pattern and very customizable. This is the pattern that the sewists in Haiti use to make the dolls for the children there.  We love seeing what the sewists come up with to make each doll different.  They are expert embroiderers and stitch each child's name onto their doll.  

Sewing Smiles Dolls

For our second pattern we wanted to introduce an animal, so along came Bo the Bunny, our first pdf pattern.  Bo has quilted ears and my signature 3-dimensional nose.

 Bo the Bunny

The Underwater Quintet, also a pdf pattern, was inspired by underwater creatures that my daughter made.  They have such simple shapes but have loads of charm.  It is fun to add your own touches to any of the five projects in this pattern. They also come with Sew it Simpler instructions if you want to make simpler versions.

Underwater Quintet

Jen: Any big plans for the year ahead?

Deborah:  We are so excited that our next pdf pattern, Scandinavian Animal Friends, is almost ready for sale.  I first designed these animals for the Sew Mama Sew Oakshott Scandinavia Challenge.  There was such a positive response that we decided to have them be our next Bo Twal pattern.  There are eight projects in this pattern!

Scandinavian Animal Friends

For our next Bo Twal project, we have been discussing a handprinted cut and sew kit.  And, coming up in February will be the release of my new book, Quilt Giving: 19 Simple Quilt Patterns to Make and Give!

We look forward to Deborah's new pattern and book and to continuing our partnership!  Please join us in celebrating generosity this month.  Click here to Sew It Forward.