What really makes something “handmade”?
I read an interesting article this morning about the debate over whether an item should be listed as handmade or not, based on what goes into the stages of its creation. This is a question constantly brewing in my mind because I sometimes feels shamed by what some people put in the Etsy store descriptions.
“100% Handmade. NO MACHINE SEWING. All hand sewing!”
This makes me feel like maybe I don’t have the right to call my Cuddle Buddies handmade, because I do use my sewing machine for the simpler parts of the process to speed up my work just a little. I don’t think it’s fair, though, to take away my handmade tag and want to put me in the same category as dolls mass-produced in factories and sweat shops. Yes, I do use a sewing machine, but every piece of my dolls is cut by hand and most, if not all, of their clothes are hand sewn on to their little body. At this point I hand-embroider their eyes but I may learn to do the embroidery on the machine eventually. Their hair is soft sculpted – I cut out all these little random pieces and stitch each one into place like assembling a puzzle.
My Cuddle Buddies are assembled one by one with my two hands. Each one is different from all the others. Even when I make two or three dolls at the same time, they never come out all the same. Every one of my cuddly little babies is unique. While I may use a sewing machine, I am not a machine. I cannot mass produce the exact same toy over and over so that when you put them on the shelf they are carbon copies of each other.
I put love and great attention to detail in every doll that I make. I give every doll its own special care and treatment. I sit here in my crafty space or at work or watching tv with my family and work on my dolls. I am not an assembly line.
I make all of my Cuddle Buddies with the intention of spreading joy to whoever takes them home. And I think that is what makes something handmade. Not whether you used a sewing machine but whether you sewed with love and happyness in your heart for your creation and the soul who would receive it when you sent it out into the world.