a unique range of toys and resources for children - by ali coleman

Welcome to plainlycanvas!

For as long as I can remember, I have loved sewing and designing things. For many years my love of sewing and design was combined with work as an Early Childhood Teacher in Auckland, New Zealand. I am fascinated by children’s play, and by the toys and resources children make use of - especially handmade items.

From 2011 I started using plain cotton canvas to sew bags, toys and storage containers for the children. Their use of the products, and their ideas, have been a fascinating source of inspiration for me.

I have continually noticed how much children love to make use of simple toys that can be made by hand, or using a regular sewing machine. A number of sewing patterns are available on my website. I have also included lists of the children's favourite collections. I think the possibilities, history and appeal associated with hand made toys, and hand collected items, makes them invaluable. I don't think it's necessary to drain resources and create mountains of landfill in order to provide fascinating toys, resources and experiences for children.

The dolls clothes and tiny dolls on my website are generally made from fabric that I pick up each year at the fabulous 'Fabric-a-brac' market that travels around New Zealand. It is a fantastic place to buy fabric that currently exists, rather than buying new.

Plainlycanvas became my full time job in 2016.

There are a few features of the canvas products on my website that I would like to share - 

  • the plain cotton canvas that I use is a natural product, it hasn’t been dyed or bleached. It is extremely hardwearing and functional. As with all natural products, cotton canvas must not be left lying around damp or it will develop mildew. The products are designed to be kept out in the open - as toys to play with, or as storage containers which can be displayed on open shelving. Dried thoroughly after washing or becoming damp, they will last many years. 
  • I have started using waterproof cotton and waterproof polycotton canvas to make bags and resources that are suitable for extensive outdoor use. These products are extremely rugged and robust. Marks can often be brushed off. The products can also be washed in warm water. (no washing machines, driers or irons for this fabric though!)
  • I am very interested in feedback. Please feel free to contact me any time!

    With best wishes,

    Ali.