In 2010, I left life in London to train with a Christian ministry. There I met a lovely lady called Sally Dixon. Sally, runs the wonderful Sally Dixon Creations on Facebook. We’ve stayed in touch over the years, so when she asked us to be a stop on her new book’s international blog tour, we lept (leapt? leaped?) jumped at the chance 🙂 Sally makes the most wonderful felt creatures, and has created dozens of patterns for people to follow so they can make wonderful felt creatures, too.
Hullo, lovely Sally, welcome to the Buttonsy blog! It’s such a pleasure to have you here… and to have read your gorgeous book, PIPSQUEAKS, which is absolutely chock-ful of adorable sewing projects and tutorials. Am gonna launch straight in with the questions!
In your book, PIPSQUEAKS, you say it was your Aunt Elizabeth that gave you your love for sewing – how did it come about? Describe a sewing day/session for you and Elizabeth.
Great question, Anna!
My Aunty Elizabeth has always liked sewing. When I was about ten-years-old, she sent me a tiny package at Christmas time. Inside was a navy blue hand-stitched teddy bear brooch. He was blanket-stitched with contrasting red embroidery thread and had a fine red bow tie.
The teddy-bear fascinated me. I traced around the bear and created my own pattern. For the next couple of years, I made teddy-bear after teddy-bear. Different colours, different characters, different personalities! I started designing other felt creatures, and can clearly remember my rather crooked Brontosaurus. (Now that I’ve said that, I suddenly feel inspired to design pipsqueak-sized dinosaurs).
When I was eleven-years-old, Aunty Elizabeth sent me another great present: my first cross-stitch kit. I read the instructions carefully and taught myself the art of cross stitching. I became obsessed with cross-stitching and realise now that it was great training for making precise and tiny stitches.
And then, when I was fourteen, I went to stay with my Aunty in the Summer holidays. She had the most wonderful craft book filled with Brambly Hedge patterns. Do you know the Brambly Hedge books? The sweetest pictures ever. You can’t get more British than Brambly Hedge. My Aunty provided the materials, and under her guidance, I hand-stitched Primrose Mouse. I still own Primrose Mouse. Here’s a picture: (Note: If Primrose’s teddy-bear looks a bit misshapen, it’s because it once needed rescuing from the mouth of my bull terrier called Porkchop).
When we first met, you were on staff at a Bible College/Christian ministry and I was a student: were you still making at the time or did you have to put your creativity on hold for a while?
You were such a lovely person to encounter and meet, Anna. So glad I met you. And you inspired me. I remember walking into the bookshop on the grounds of the Christian ministry where we met. Tucked amongst the books was a white display stand covered in colourful jewellery and crocheted products. A rainbow splash inside a shop! I stopped and stared and stared. And then I discovered that you were the genius behind that exquisite creativity.
At that same time, while you were selling your beautiful wares, my creativity business also began. To make extra pocket money, I crafted miniature gift cards to sell through the bookshop. I’ve always enjoyed card-making, but then I remembered how much I enjoyed sewing with felt as a child. I began to design and stitch a few small items.
At that Christian centre, we occasionally ran creativity courses for the students. Every human being is made in the image of the creator God, and all of us are designed to be creative. Sometimes life circumstances and hurts squash that creativity ability. But it’s still there!
On those courses, people were encouraged to express their inner creativity. It was amazing how, sometimes, deep-held emotion came to the surface, and people encountered a measure of healing through God’s presence and power.
I had the great privilege of helping people sew felt teddy-bears. It’s with great fondness I remember a day when students from China surrounded my sewing table. Most of them couldn’t speak English, but I discovered the power of creativity can even bypass language barriers.
As someone who loves to create, and desires to help other people create, I’m often reminded of a quote by Eric Liddell in the movie, ‘Chariots of Fire.’ Liddell said, “God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.” I like to paraphrase that quote to say, “God made me creative. And when I create, I feel His pleasure.”
I agree with you, Sally. The connection between creativity, and emotions, and openness is incredible! People (like me) went there feeling very remote emotionally, and spending time in the Creativity Room was the first step to making some of the walls come down.
Tell me: do you have one very most favourite project in your book? I have to confess, mine is your Platypus Peekaboo Bed. I bought one for my husband a couple of years ago… they are adorable in person! Elephant Love is also particularly beautiful. Ooh, and I love Teeny Weeny Bear!
Now, that’s a hard question, Anna! Hmmm, what is my favourite? I had such fun designing the tiny, tiny cupcakes. And I am rather fond of the koala tucked inside his gum-leaf bed. But, all of the projects have brought me a good measure of pleasure.
Are there other crafts you do, or would like to do?
I’m a very crafty person (in the creative sense, that is).
Throughout my life, I’ve gone through different craft phases. I’ve mentioned cross-stitch and card-making, but I’ve also enjoyed making miniature items from polymer clay. I enjoy drawing and painting, and hope to complete a children’s book illustration course one day (when I have time – not quite sure when that will be).
I do have a burning desire to learn to crochet. It’s something I’ve never done before. And I’m currently discovering the joys of photography. Taking my camera out into nature brings such peace inside my soul.
I’m also working towards becoming a children’s author. That’s a craft of its very own kind. I’m drafting a fairytale novel for my master’s degree at the moment.
How does it feel, lovely Sally, to have your name on an Actual Book? Sally Dixon, Published Author… it has a ring to it, doesn’t it!
Oh, my goodness! It’s so surreal. I still have to pinch myself. I’m pondering the thought of creating a book pitch for a Christmas edition of Pipsqueaks. Perhaps, one day, after I’ve published several books, it might sink in that I’m a real author. That feeling hasn’t quite arrived yet.
And, finally, is there anything you would want people to know about you, or about your work?
If anyone lives near me, they might be interested in my sewing workshops which will start soon. (I live in Adelaide, Australia). My first workshops will begin in a creative space called ‘The Barn,’ on the outskirts of beautiful town called Stirling. I’m particularly keen to teach children and teenagers how to sew Pipsqueak sized projects. I’ll design my workshops for different levels of sewing ability.
I love the challenge of a new design. People are always welcome to enquire about custom designs.
I’m also in the process of updating my online shops:
People will soon be able to pick-and-mix their own miniature felt playsets. They can choose from different pipsqueak-sized animals, miniature food, and other accessories. All items will be hand-sewn by me from beautiful quality wool felt.
Here’s a sneak-peek example:
Oh, and one last thing – I’m also a freelance writer. I’m contactable if anyone would like assistance with a writing project. I can help with a range of writing styles: craft, recipes, newsletters, stories, rhymes, puzzles, non-fiction, and more.
And there you have it: one of the very most truly lovely ladies. But wait… there’s more!
Just leave a comment here and you’ll be entered into the competition to win a copy of Sally’s new book, PIPSQUEAKS, courtesy of C&T Publishing.
Here is a list of the stops on the blog tour. Comment on each, and be entered into each!