Since DIY Fluffies is one of our long-time sponsors, you’re sure to recognise Mariska’s cute toys, which are available as sewing and amigurumi crochet patterns in her Etsy shop, and in many craft books. Let’s get a look behind the scenes at how they all come to life.
My name is Mariska Vos-Bolman, I’m the designer of DIY Fluffies sewing & crochet toy patterns. I started making toy sewing pattern in 2008 and amigurumi crochet patterns in 2016. Creating new toy patterns is taking up most of my time. I’m also a full time mom of two boys, whenever I have time I’m working on toy patterns.
I really enjoy my work, so I don’t mind that it takes up most of my time, which is also in the evening and in the weekends. When I do feel like doing something different I like to read or play games like Pikmin and Pokemon Go.
Where do you live and what’s it’s like there?
I live in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Amsterdam is a really nice place to live, especially the part where we live. Although it is pretty close to the centre (10 min with the bike) it is still very quiet and green. I can get everywhere by bike – zoo, cinema, shops etc. Which is great because I don’t like driving a car at all.
What was your first experience with kawaii culture and why does kawaii inspire your work?
That is a very long time ago, before I made a career of making toy patterns 10 years ago. I have always enjoyed cute characters, like Hello Kitty and Nijntje/Miffy, since I was young. I have a house full of cute characters, they really help me get inspired to design my own cute characters for my patterns. I have been to Japan 12 years ago, which is full of kawaii, a great and inspiring experience! If you like kawaii, you will definitely enjoy a holiday in Japan.
What was the first product you made/designed for sale?
In 2008 I made a plush toy monster named Zumba which I sold in my Etsy shop. Because making all the toys was taking up so much time and I wanted to make more complicated ones I decided to sell the patterns to make them instead. I really love seeing other people make toys from my patterns, it is a really nice idea that my patterns give so much joy in creating and giving toys.
How do you choose which animal to make next and are there any that you’ve struggled with or haven’t been able to figure out how to create in your style?
I usually try to find ones that I have not made before. It starts with many sketches in my sketchbook and if I don’t get inspired enough by an animal to create a design that I like at that moment I skip it and choose another animal, until I find a design that feels right to me. If I struggle to get a right design of an animal, then I save it for another day.
Which are your most popular patterns?
My most popular sewing patterns are Yoki the Dragon & Cute whale. The most popular crochet patterns are Cute Koala, Yoki the dragon and Cute whale. You never know which patterns will be popular or not, it is always great to see when a pattern becomes very popular.
What are you working on at the moment?
I just finished a sewing pattern of my Cute Koala crochet pattern. Now I’m creating a new YouTube video of a little fox. I’m also making a bigger fox written pattern. My kids are having their summer holiday right now, so I’m not sure when I can finish the video. I need a silent house to do the voice over. Which seems impossible with kids in the house :)
What advice would you give to someone who wants to try crochet or sewing? Or who has found it difficult in the past?
If you want to learn how to crochet amigurumi I suggest watching my beginner tutorials on my DIY Fluffies YouTube channel. These are very easy projects to make in a small amount of time and every step is explained in detail. I have had a lot of good feedback of people learning how to crochet from these videos.
I do not have any beginner sewing videos yet. But I would suggest checking my website for tutorials and download my free easy bear pattern to try it out.
Who are your favourite kawaii designers and makers?
There are so many! I love the Sanrio characters, Chococat is my favourite. I collect the Momiji dolls, which I think are super cute. Tarepanda & Monokuro Boo are my favourites characters from San-X. I find Pusheen and Molang also very adorable. Oh almost forgot Studio Ghibli, I love the movie Totoro! Too much to choose, I do not want to pick a favourite, they are all cute :)
Where can we find you on the internet?
You can find all the links to where I sell my patterns at www.mariskavos.nl.
All photos by Mariska Vos-Bolman
Marceline is the co-founder and editor of Super Cute Kawaii and author of The Super Cute Book of Kawaii. She also designs cute character goods as Asking For Trouble. Having visited Japan five times, Marceline is enormously inspired by all things Japanese and especially loves bunnies, space and any kind of food object with a happy face.