Mollie Makes meets Tif Fussell

Meet Tif Fussell, the creative energy behind dottie angel. It turns out, sometimes Tif’s craft projects turn out a bit ‘pants’ too, and creativity isn’t always brimming. Yet, for so many of us, Tif is the gift of craft inspiration that keeps on giving. We caught up with her to find out more about how she got into sewing, her yarny creations and collaborations with Simplicity.


Images above © dottie angel

Please tell us a bit about yourself & how you got into sewing?

I am a Brit living outside Seattle in the beautiful Northwest. As a child I would hand stitch garments for my toys and as a teen I was gifted a sewing machine and never looked back.

I moved here in 2000 with my clan. Around 2007 I started a shop on Etsy and a blog under the name of dottie angel. In recent times my clan has grown up and flown the nest and I made the decision to close my Etsy store and blog. These days I find myself mainly working with yarn to create ‘woolly tattoo’ embroideries on secondhand or handmade garments and teaching. However, despite moving on from the dottie angel years, she is still alive and well through the patterns I create with Simplicity.

Describe your style in a few words.

Handcrafted, vintage, eclectic (hasn’t changed in nearly 10 years).

Please tell us about your creative process and where you find inspiration.

I am an organic maker. Mostly I imagine what I wish to make, then go through the process in my head, perhaps in turn trying out several different possibilities to get to the outcome I wish for.

Once I feel confident the epiphany wasn’t all madness and I can find some method in it, I set to work. More often than not what comes out of my hands is not always what I saw in my head, it just sort of grows into a life of its own. The times I try to control it, things rapidly go pants, when I let it flow everything seems to come together quite peachy.

I used to find a lot of inspiration from thrifted items and fabrics I came across, but not so much these days. I have dry spells with my creating and then one day when I am least looking for it, a nice bit of creativity rains down on me. I was a prolific maker in the heyday of my blog but not anymore. I am more deliberate about my work, taking time to enjoy the process rather than go, go, go to the finish line. As for inspiration for patterns with Simplicity, I tend to think about clothing I would like to wear, but never seem to find around these parts and go from there.


Image above © dottie angel dottie-angel-frock-simplicity-dress-pattern-8186

What’s your top tip for new stitchers wanting to make their first dress?

If it’s your first ever garment then practice using a thrifted bed sheet, super low cost and no matters if you mess up. And of course the great online crafting community is always standing by to give you a helping hand, wipe your tears or give a cheer at the end of your journey.

The original dottie angel 1080 Simplicity frock pattern I designed not knowing exactly how to make a dress – so I focused on using a clever bit of pleating and trickery with ties to give it some shape. No bells or whistles or zippers. I used French seams and bias binding to make the inside as pretty as the outside, so it is perfect for new stitchers.


Images above © dottie angel

Which tools or craft material could you not live without?

Right now it would have to be my yarn stash filled with the most amazing hand dyed or ethical yarns with which I knit, crochet or woolly tattoo with.

You’ve created Simplicity patterns for children and adults. What do you have to bear in mind when creating patterns for kids?

I can only imagine as a small being you wish to not be bothered by your clothing. Hence easy to get on and off by one’s self, not ‘attacking’ in any way and also useful for gathering up every eventuality that comes your way in the day. Pockets are a must!

What’s coming up for dottie angel in 2016 and beyond? Any other Simplicity collaborations in the pipeline that you can tell us about?

Yes, there are two more on their way, one adult and one child of which I am super delighted about. I get to work with a brilliant team at Simplicity who do a marvellous job at humouring my eccentric way of designing.

As of this moment I am in the process of dabbling with pinafore ideas but it all takes a little time and as I am travelling a fair amount teaching woolly tattoo-ing I am doing my best to just enjoy the journey, not get overwhelmed (as Tif of old would have) and know whatever the outcome, I am one lucky duck!

See the full collection of dottie angel dress patterns, available to buy from Simplicity.