Although Jenn Hill of Chet & Dot makes a wide array of wonderful creations from linen and wools of pastel hues, it’s her softie animals that I covet most. Sweet owls, playful penguins, and sleepy cats can all be found inside the Chet & Dot Etsy shop, along with many other adorable little creatures. The simple patterns, sturdy craftsmanship, and hand-detailing of these softies remind me of the handmade toys of generations past. Each one seems like it’s got a story to tell, and since these little guys intrigue me so much, I had to find out more about them and their creator.
How and when did you start sewing?
I’ve been sewing off and on since junior high, but started sewing more seriously about 6 years ago. I had decided to make all of my Christmas gifts one year and loved it so much I knew I had to get better at it.
What inspired you to start Chet & Dot?
I started Chet and Dot because I wanted to do something different from my other business, Robot Candy. I love what I do with Robot Candy, but I really wanted to work with different materials and styles.
What really inspires you the most in your work?
I am inspired most by simple, good design. I try to keep my work sweet and simple. I love that I can make an owl or cat or bear from two squares of fabric, sewn together and stuffed. I have a large collection of vintage craft magazines which is where a lot of my inspiration comes from. I find that if I’m running out of ideas or just need a good dose of inspiration I can flip through a few pages and it usually does the trick.
What are your favorite mediums to work with? Is there a medium you want to try that you haven’t yet?
My favorite medium at the present is wool. Wool is so versatile, it’s great! I do adore linen and paper too. I hope to one day have a kiln and learn to do enamel and ceramics work.
What do you do when you sit down to design a softie? What are your rituals in the process?
When I design a softie, it usually starts out on paper as a sketch. The funny thing is that they never turn out like I think they will. I love that though. It’s always a surprise, and each softie has it’s own personality.
What are some tidbits of advice you’d give people just starting out on their own handmade business?
My number one tip for someone who wants to sell online, is to learn to take good photos. In my opinion, it’s the single most important element to selling something. You really have to compensate for the fact that people can’t touch the item or see it as they would in person.