The last few weeks, I’ve been feverish brainstorming ideas for new product lines… and I keep coming back to my little stuffed Regency cat dolls.

Little boy playing with stuffed cat doll

Jake abducting the half-finished cat doll...

Ever since experimenting with this large cat doll back in September, which was sewn completely by hand and pattern-free, I’ve been wanting to expand on that idea: an entire collection of smaller kitty dolls in gowns, and gents in tuxedos.

With that future goal in mind, I went hog-wild during a fabric clearance sale at JoAnn Fabrics, scooping up $1-per-yard dress and suit fabrics, fuzzy black and white cloth for cat bodies, and raided the discount bins at A.C.Moore for lace trimmings.

I even bragged to the sales clerk that “I sew stuffed cats dressed in 19th century costumes.” …before a single paw or tail had been cut from cloth. *blush*

My initial attempt at assembling the small creature prototype, however, took an entire two days!

small stuffed Regency cat doll sewn by TaraFly

My first tiny cat doll, sans face, sans hair, sans everything...

Joe had been patiently waiting for me to test out my new sewing machine – (his Christmas gift to me!) – on some drapery fabric for our sliding glass door.
However, he eventually realized it might get finished more quickly if he assigned himself to the task.

It was quite a sight to see! We sat together at the kitchen table, sewing our respective projects, and that handy man of mine completed the living room drapes in under 2 hours, sans pattern.

Tara Fly's husband Joe sewing curtain drapes

Just imagine the shocked female responses on Facebook when I shared this!

In that same length of time, I hand-stitched the face of one little kitty.

Embroidered face for stuffed cat doll

My cat's embroidered face...

Realizing that my methods need to be re-examined and streamlined… as I can’t begin to put an affordable price-tag on two days worth of sewing! … the cat dolls are temporarily simmering on the back-burner while I let my subconscious brain cells sort out the details.

Another idea in the works involves brushing up on my greeting card selection….

I came across this licensing article on ArtsyShark.com that stated: 90% of sellable cards have writing inside;
blank cards like mine account for a mere 10% of overall card sales.

And the sad part is, I once worked as a greeting card merchandiser, so this shouldn’t be news to me. :(

Mr Bennet Cat Portrait Greeting Card, artwork by Tara Fly.

Mr Bennet Cat (blank) Greeting Cards available on Etsy.

Yet, my mind has been working strangely now that I’m trying to sell my OWN work. And I’m beginning to see “retail” and “wholesale” through an entirely new lens…

Everything has become so personal.

Also, often I’ll find myself studying the quality of the craftsmanship on items, and comparing its perceived value with the quoted price on the shelf. If the discrepancy is large enough, my hackles rise and I begin to question which poor link in the chain was cheated out of his living wage.

I can barely recall working as a manager for a big box store, and apathetically ordering mass-produced-in-China inventory.

Anyway, my deceptively simple plan to revamp my greeting card selection with sentimental phrases …was to scour Jane Austen’s novels, beginning with “Pride and Prejudice”… and perhaps even branch out into her later contemporaries – the Brontes, Eliot, and Dickens.

I was looking for any quotes which might be appropriate for weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, well wishing, and congratulations.
Easy peasy, right? Eh..hehehe Not really.

I’ve managed to scrape together a few quotes after an evening spent reading P&P. Unfortunately, my snarky sarcasm was hungrily devouring quotes that might possibly offend someone unless the card was clearly marked as Humor.

Gossiping Regency Cats Greeting Card, artwork by Tara Fly.

Want to share juicy gossip? This is the card for you...

I actually considered a new line of cards for Confirmed Old Spinsters, Divorcées, and Anti-Romantic types… because a quote like this is just too precious to waste:

“Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance.”
(Of course, one could always put a positive spin on the inside, by complimenting the couple’s “once in a lifetime” romance…)

This particular passage sent me into howling fits of laughter, although I’m doubtful anyone else would appreciate the irony of such an inscription:

“Mr Collins to be sure was neither sensible nor agreeable; his society was irksome, and his attachment to her must be imaginary. But still, he would be her husband.”

Just give her the ring, for Pete’s sake! The man himself is circumstantial.

I do think Mr. Darcy’s “good opinion once lost” quote is absolutely perfect for parody, especially in the aging birthday category…
“A good head of hair once lost, is lost forever.” [alternately: set of teeth, a good memory]

Nevertheless, you might well imagine how tedious it can be to track down quotes… so I’m willing to trade with anyone who volunteers a romantic or witty bit from one of Austen’s novels.

If I use your suggested quote in an upcoming card, I’ll send you the .jpg file of the finished card design, which you may use to print the card as many times as you like for personal use.
Just don’t go selling my artwork, obviously… hence the rule about “personal use”. ;)

Once I get the new line of cards going, I’m going to phase out my blank cards on Etsy. The new and improved greeting cards will also be available at the Guten Tag in Funkstown for my local customers.