Stitching the Past into the Present: an interview with a great gal who owns and operates FAST DOLL, by Dawn Hunter, published 4.3.2022.







Above, Caroline DeSanctis, owner of FAST DOLL Hand Embroidery, Charleston, SC. Photo by Michelle Hart, Palmetto Snapshots, Charleston, SC.



Introduction: Based on her original drawings and unique designs, owner and operator of FAST DOLL Caroline DeSanctis creates 100% hand-stitched patches, custom clothing & accessories influenced by the tattoo flash of the 1940s & 1950s. All embroidery and designs are drawn and stitched by Ms. DeSanctis. Most designs you see here are original to the shop unless otherwise noted (i.e., the Sailor Jerry designs and some custom commissioned work). The cost of her hand embroidered patches range from $20.00 - $125.00. Her shop additionally features hats, pennant, key chains, tattoo passes and custom orders. All patches are cruelty-free: made from eco-felt, which is made from recycled plastic bottles, and 100% cotton embroidery floss. Let's catch up with Caroline and find out more about her unique shop and business.





Above, an example of some of Caroline's custom work. Hand-dyed, hand-stitched & hand-drawn patch flash sheets prior to being framed.



Dawn Hunter: When and where did you establish FAST DOLL?


Caroline DeSanctis: I started Fast Doll in 2015 when I still lived in Atlanta, Georgia. Back then it was still known as Fast Doll Fine Vintage, and I was exclusively selling vintage clothing from the 1920s-1960s online. When I first started I was still working full-time for MAC Cosmetics and was selling vintage on the side after clocking out at MAC every day. I resigned at MAC in April 2016 and I remember as I was leaving the counter that day my phone was buzzing with orders from Etsy, and I remember smiling, and thinking that I had made the right decision to leave.





Hand-dyed, hand-stitched & hand-drawn framed "patch flash sheets."™



Dawn Hunter: Has the business always focuses on hand embroidery? If not, how did that evolve?


Caroline DeSanctis: It was exclusively vintage clothing & accessories for almost 3 years, until I taught myself how to embroider by hand and eventually evolving that into the current style of the things I make today. I remember stitching the first thing, which was the words Fast Doll on the back of one of my denim vest, and then thinking “oh no, I’m already addicted to this“. I started to post my creations on social media and there was immediate interest. They started to sell more and more and eventually became more popular than any other vintage items that I was selling. I got so busy during the holiday season of 2019 that it became the only thing I had time to do, and I officially stopped selling vintage clothing and renamed the company to simply ‘Fast Doll’. And I’ve been stitching full-time ever since.





Portrait of Caroline DeSanctis by Michelle Hart of Palmetto Snapshots.



Dawn Hunter: When did you locate to Charleston?


Caroline DeSanctis: I moved to Charleston in August 2020 in the middle of the pandemic! I got here and got straight to work and tried not to miss a beat. I think I took off maybe one full day to unpack when I moved, but that was it, haha.


Dawn Hunter: How do you come up with ideas for designs? What is your inspiration?


Caroline DeSanctis: I draw inspiration from a lot of vintage 1940s and 1950s iconography, ephemera, magazines, illustrations and tattoos from that era of American history. They had bold black lines and were limited to only a few colors — these designs translate so well to embroidery and look very clean and satisfying when they’re done. I also love pinup art and often make things that represent or remind me of vintage glamour and aesthetics.


Dawn Hunter: What is your most popular design?


Caroline DeSanctis: I think my most popular designs are any of the flowers that I do, any of the skulls, and the ‘Mama Tried’ patches & trucker hats, haha.





The imagery in this work was taken directly from a Sailor Jerry sheet of flash featuring an eagle. This is not one of Caroline's designs. The embroidery is straight-up satin stitching. The eagle is embroidered with white, red, and dark & yellow gold embroidery floss. Flag is sewn with deep navy blue, white, red, gold and brown embroidery floss. Flowers are sewn with mustard yellow, green and black embroidery floss. Images are sewn to an off-white piece of sturdy felt that are then sewn on top of a black piece of felt with black embroidery floss (creating a border) and trimmed to fit. Since each patch is handmade, there may be slight, minor differences and no two patches will be 100% alike. If you'd like a different color scheme for your patch, feel free to make a custom request. Please allow additional processing time for custom requests.



Dawn Hunter: What are the range of products that you sell?


Caroline DeSanctis: I try to keep a lot of patches in stock of all sizes, but I also embroider cotton bandannas, assemble DIY kits featuring my patch designs, and have been working more frequently on creating more merch with my designs as screen-printed line drawings. I also enjoy hand-staining watercolor paper with coffee and then painting that as a background to mount patches on, making it a framable piece of art. I called them patch flash sheets and they’re pretty popular with my customers as well.





Hand-embroidered, hand-sewn and hand-cut black and off-white felt patch. The patch flash sheet features pointy-tipped daggers with a hearts detail and dots details. Image is sewn to an off-white piece of sturdy felt that is then sewn on top of a black piece of felt with off-white embroidery floss (creating a border) and trimmed to fit.





Classic & timeless traditional-style rose that looks good on everything. Hand-embroidered, hand-sewn and hand-cut felt patches in 4 different color schemes. Patch features a traditional-tattoo-style rose with three leaves. Great for a leather or denim jacket / vest.



Dawn Hunter: Where can people buy your work?


Caroline DeSanctis: My work is always available online at my website — Fastdoll.com — and you can also commission a custom piece from me there as well. I also sell items on my Instagram feed from time to time — @fast.doll. I do lots of local handmade & vintage markets regularly in the Park Circle and North Charleston area. I also have pieces available at The Station, which is located locally in Park Circle.





In case you forgot — The boots stay on 😉
‘The Boots Stay On’ felt pennant featured in two different color ways.
• 100% hand-stitched & hand-assembled (no machine! ❤️)
• Each measure 12” x 6”