A few more Vintage Patterns and another question answered…

One of my subscribers, Kathy, shared with me some of her vintage children’s and ladies patterns that she has in her collection. When you get these old patterns, they are usually quite fragile and easily torn, so handling them is very critical. The child’s pattern shown is like the ones I showed from my collection… they have no markings, only dots. Boy have patterns come a LONG way since this one was introduced!

[If you click on the pictures, they will enlarge and make it easier to see the details.]

This child’s pattern is from 1919…it’s almost 100 years old! Just imagine the mama’s that stitched these little outfits together.

Kathys vintage child pattern 1

Kathys vintage child pattern 2

The hat has some pretty simple instructions for making it…

Kathys vintage child pattern 3

Here are the ladies patterns…

kathys vintage patterns 4

No instruction sheets with these patterns…all the directions are on the BACK OF THE ENVELOPE! What… no pictures?

kathys vintage patterns 5

kathys vintage pattern 6

It reminded me of a funny story my mom told me. My dad was in the Air Force and my mom was alone most of the day so she wanted to learn how to sew. She bought some fabric and a pattern, but didn’t have a clue how to read the directions. She said my dad got down on the floor with her and showed her how to lay it out and cut it out. I would love to have been a little fly on the wall that day!

Here is another question from Laura:
Hi Jeanne
Until joining AGPT and AG dollhouse I never knew any adults who had dolls they did anything with except my great aunt who collected porcelain dolls. When my daughter downsized and I got her mint PC German Samantha and collection I enjoyed changing and displaying her. I picked up a few things of her collection that I loved but, my daughter never wanted. After joing the boards I decided I could get the Felicity I always wanted and the Nellie. I’m still looking for my MG. I saw a perfect one, but she was like your dolls, displaying an outfit and not for sale.

So, my question is when did you first buy a doll just for yourself, who was it, and how did you decide to make and sell doll clothes? I hove seeing all the things you sew. You won’t believe that I originally found you when I was looking for something from Felicity’s colletion and eBay referenced your Elizabeth in the dress “Simply Blue”. I just realized I haven’t seen you use Elizabeth in a while. Maybe she and Felicity could get “friends” dresses.

Thanks for asking this question Laura. I never knew grown women enjoyed “playing” with dolls either and I still get “those looks” from people when I say I make and sell doll clothes. They want to know about the little kids that receive them. When I tell them I sew for adult collectors, their smile sort of turns to a puzzled look and they change the subject. I’ve gotten used to it.

I’ve been sewing my whole entire life it seems and didn’t really get into the doll business until 1996 or so. I always did alterations, home sewing, made curtains, a few dresses for some ladies I knew, but it wasn’t until after I had Rebecca, in 1990, that I began to change the things I sewed. I’m telling you, this child, had more clothes than any one in town, I’m sure of it! I was constantly sewing for her. Then when she got a little bigger, I started thinking about selling my little girls dresses for other little girls too. I made up about a dozen dresses and drove to Kentucky to this small town that had a children’s shop. They took all my things on consignment and that was the beginning of my business. It was going great and I loved just making dresses, taking them down to the shop, and waiting for a check in the mail. Unfortunately the shop closed in the middle of the winter and they never contacted me. I tried calling and when I didn’t get an answer, my hubby and I drove down to the shop… it was closed and looking in the windows, I could see my dresses in the back of the shop, still on the rack. We managed to find someone in the town who opened up the store and I got my dresses back. My hubby said that was the end of Patti’s for me.

So I tried a place closer to home and made and sold little girls dresses and was very successful at it. I would take a bundle of dresses over to a nearby town and they would sell them for me. I did this for 2 years and sold close to 400 dresses. It was going great, when the coal mines in the area closed down and it cut my business by huge numbers. Eventually, it forced the store to close because no one could afford to buy these fun little children’s clothes.

So I began searching again for some place to sell my things. Someone suggested our local Farmer’s Market and I decided to try it out. For Rebecca’s birthday, we bought her an American Girl doll that looked like her… long auburn hair and brown eyes. I used her doll as my model and tied her to my display rack with an outfit. I made up a bunch of American Girl doll clothes, machine embroidered baby bibs and of course, my little girls dresses. I eventually was voted in as a member of the market and sold there, outside on the parking lot, from April till November, every Saturday, for almost 10 years. It was grueling work and very stressful as I was very successful, so I was always behind, and always working on replenishing what I had just sold out of.

After almost 10 years of doing this every weekend, I was ready for a change. I decided to resign my spot at Farmer’s Market. One night I was on the computer and somehow stumbled across someone selling their doll clothes and getting a very nice price for them. I scrutinized their listings and researched everything I could about Ebay and how it all worked. I didn’t do anything for 6 months but just studied how others did it and tried to learn from the successful sellers.

I bought a $52.00 used Kodak Easy Share camera off ebay and then I decided to buy a used Felicity doll and give it a try. I listed my first 2 dresses for Felicity on February 9, 2006, and the same buyer bought them both. “Spring Splendor” sold for $38.02 and “Blue Beauty” sold for $30.99! I was thrilled and so excited I made another dress for Felicity called “Classic Colonial” and sold it for $34.99! I only had Felicity, so I sewed like crazy for her and occasionally made a modern dress shown on Rebecca’s doll.

Unfortunately I guess my earlier pictures of those Felicity dress have all been deleted, but I still have all my notebooks where I keep my listings written down. I thought I’d share those first two listings with you.



…and as they say… The Rest is History!

Thanks for the question, Laura.

See you tomorrow,
Blessings, Jeanne

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  1. Hi Jeanne,
    I didn’t get in a comment yesterday… Your sister is very creative, just like you! I enjoyed looking at all of her glitter and bling.
    Since I learned to sew from those tiny illustrations that came with the pattern instructions I see that I would have been LOST in the very olden days.
    It’s fun to hear your life sewing story. You worked really hard going to those shows. I found that I would rather shop at them than sell at them. LOL!
    All I can say is thank goodness for the internet as adult doll collectors are few and far between, and the internet brings us all together. I am sure I get THAT look too, but I don’t care anymore. I do what I do and I love it!
    Have a great week, Jeanne!

    • HI Cindy,
      I would say my sister is way past me when it comes to creativity!!! She can come up with something from “NOTHING” if she has too! I am so blessed to have her for a sister!

      I’m like you, I learned from the pictures in the pattern instructions, more so than from the written directions!

      I guess I was determined to find “someone” who would like to sell my dresses. I forgot to tell about the one shop up in Washington, IL that “bought” a dozen dresses from me for a flat $500. My sister in law took them too her as she lived in Washington… I never heard from her again, so maybe they didn’t sell or maybe she didn’t make enough money off of them to warrant a second lot. You should have seen me that day when I got the $500 check in the mail… I was thrilled!!!!

      I’m with you on the internet being a blessing for doll clothes sellers… where else could we possibly sell out wares to such a large audience?
      Thanks Cindy,
      Blessings, Jeanne

  2. Hi Jeanne,
    I missed yesterday’s post until very late. I did want to say that your sister’s creative displays were amazing.
    That was very interesting and I enjoyed learning how you are what you are today. I remember when you posted pictures of Rebecca in some of those sweet dresses. Her doll must have had a huge wardrobe as well!! It is wonderful that Felicity was your first doll and now you have a lovely new Felicity back to sew for. As I’ve told you a few times, she is my favorite and the first one I bought after getting my daughter’s Samantha. There is just something very unique about her, especially the PC German ones like we both have.
    The internet certainly does make it easier to reach your customer base. I am glad the few times I’ve stumbled across another adult collector on eBay as I have yet to find one in real life. I need to go to AGP and hope to run into one. I bought something from an adult who was selling her duplicate outfits she had collected. Even some people on the boards are only there to ask for their daughters and don’t collect themselves. I do find it funny that we get those looks when no one would bat an eye if you said you collect figurines, salt and pepper shakers or something else. I think dolls are a far more creative outlet. If AG had existed when I was a child my imagination would have run wild. I do wonder why that is that adults and dolls shouldn’t mix?
    Have a lovely day.

    • HI Laura,
      I want to show some furniture that my sister has redone sometime too. If you think her displays were great, wait till you see her furniture makeovers!

      I was thinking about that too, how my first doll was Felicity and how I finally have one that I really love to look at… that wasn’t the case with my first 2 Felicity’s.

      I was just reading something about AG starting to realize they have a market with the adults now… it was very interesting. I may have to try and find that article again and share it with everyone.

      Thanks Laura,
      Blessings, Jeanne

  3. I enjoyed reading all about your sewing history. You were very dedicated to your talent while earning from it. Especially when enjoying yourself. Glad you started selling on Ebay otherwise I would have never run across you and the beautiful clothes you’ve made.
    I loved seeing your old records. Down at the bottom of the notes, I see you wrote some stories? If they are doll stories that accompany the outfit, would you share them with us, please?
    I have learned to never ever make fun of someone’s hobby or collection or interest knowing that not everyone understands doll collecting. I’ve seen some rather unusual collections ( some quite large) but I really find that interesting.
    I missed yesterday’s blog and have to say Cindy is so talented artistically too. Her centerpieces were beautiful. The theme was great!

    • HI Paula,
      I’m glad you found me on Ebay too, or else I wouldn’t have me YOU!

      Those little snippets at the bottom of the pages are the story lines I used in my auctions. I always had a story that I thought of to introduce the outfit I was selling. Maybe I’ll share some of them sometime…

      Thanks for the compliments on my sister’s centerpieces. I bet they were even prettier in person than in the pictures…
      Thanks so much Paula,
      Blessings, Jeanne

  4. Linda Doyle says:

    Hi Jeanne! I’m late today, did read your blog in the early hours this morning but for some reason, thought I would get back to it earlier than this! Monday mornings are busy times for me with changing sheets, vacuuming, dusting, washing, etc. I even did my windows too! I think I’ll take a break!

    Love seeing those old patterns, did it occur to you that the first one, the child’s 1919 pattern, has a dress that is like several of AG Samantha’s dresses. She has two with ciss-cross collars, one is off/white with tiny rosebuds, can’t think of the name of it, and the other, her lavender bridesmaid dress. Oh gosh trying to learn sewing by THOSE patterns would be almost impossible for me! I’m thinking though, that back then, so many more women sewed, and taught their own daughters, or at least helped them along.

    I do think it strange that a lot of people are amused by the fact that some adults collect dolls, but don’t think a thing of it when a man collects and plays with trains! Just not fair! I too, am so glad you started selling on Ebay, but to tell you the truth, I thought you were a bit too fancy for me, and that you only sewed clothes for the “upper class”!! LOL I will say that I have come a full circle from that and am so glad to be able to say you are a dear friend and a sweet person to boot!

    • Hi Linda,
      You sound like you have a set cleaning schedule… I should come and learn from you for a week!

      I did notice how similar the patterns were to Sam’s dresses… I would love to see the looks on some of those ladies faces if they could see the patterns today… They would be so surprised…

      Oh dear… You thought I was too fancy or uppity…nothing could be further from the truth. We live very simply and I certainly hope I don’t come across like that to everyone… I am the least “fancy” person you could ever meet…

      Thanks Linda,
      Blessings, Jeanne

  5. Jeannie Brandon says:

    On the vintage patterns: I have several very old patterns but nothing going as far back as 1919. I do have a few where the dots on the tissue is the only indication that something is suppose to happen there. Maybe a dart or pleat etc. When I see old patterns or books showing styles of the 1930’s or 1940’s I think of my mother and her knack for sewing. She grew up during the Depression and used her older sisters clothing to remake into something for herself. She continued that habit until she passed away at age 85 in 2000.
    Your telling of your story of sewing for your daughter and others sure rang a bell for me. I did the same for my own two girls as they grew up. Not only was it financially necessary but I truly found it enjoyable with an outlet for my creative juices.
    I did sew a bit for others but with three little kids, a full time job and a household to care for so time was very limited. When I moved to TX I started doing daycare at home. While the little ones took their afternoon nap I sewed Cabbage Patch clothes. My earnings paid for one Christmas for us. My last item sold on Christmas morning when a little girl showed up at our front door asking for the “cabbage patch lady”. I had one outfit left and she bought it. Her eyes were dancing.
    Now being retired I can sew as I wish when time allows.

    • Hi Jeannie,
      I think that’s why I liked the American Girl Kit books so much. I could relate, as a seamstress, her having clothes made out of adult hand me downs. I just found the writing so interesting…
      I knew I wasn’t alone in my sewing “quests” and it’s nice to hear of some others.. Like yours.
      Oh yes, I think many a mom got started sewing using those Cabbage Patch dolls as their first models!
      How sweet that story is of the little girl who wanted your last doll outfit!
      Thanks so much for your comments Jeannie. It’s always fun to learn about everyone and how they started out sewing…
      Blessings, Jeanne

  6. Wow, sounds like you have done it all in the sales department. Good for you.
    Have you ever thought about a Sonali AG doll as a model? She is so cute.

  7. Hi Joy, I used to have a Sonali doll but sold her. I can’t even remember if I made her a single outfit or not. I think I got one with eyes too close together. I’ll have to get out my pics of her again and see….
    Blessings, Jeanne

  8. You certainly worked hard to earn your successful career. Thinking of George and how is he doing? I remember he has his test about every six months.

    • HI Jan,
      Yes, I guess I was pretty persistent in finding someone who wanted to sell or outright buy my little girls dresses. I love how I ended up making doll dresses!

      George is doing very well thank you. He does have to have a Cystoscopy every 6 months now and it’s much better than every 3 months. He works every day and doesn’t seem to have any complaints! We are very blessed at the outcome of his bladder cancer!
      Thanks for asking Jan,
      Blessings, Jeanne

  9. Marilyn Grotzky says:

    Dolls are a huge business. As most AG fans know, Pleasant Rowland sold American Girl to Mattel for $700 million in 2001. If you read AG product reviews you will have seen that many items are sold to adult collectors.
    Most libraries have a directory of associations (ask at the reference/information desk — it’s usually kept there and not checked out), and if you check dolls, you’ll see that there are a lot of associations for collectors of dolls and some for people like me, who love the clothes as much or more as the dolls.
    There’s a doll collectors’ group in the Boulder area, where I am, and I’ll bet there’s one in nearly every state, and several in most. Nearly every older woman I know well has a doll, often left from childhood — I’m guessing that childhood dolls are found in the belongings of parents when estates are being divided. I think a lot of women enjoy dolls and buy them after their children are gone and they have a little free time and money and more space in their homes. A quick look at Ebay would reveal that there are a lot of very expensive dolls, and some extremely expensive ones, which are definitely not meant for children. The doll world is one of many that are hidden.

    XRX Books calls its products “The Kntting Universe.” That’s what called my attention to the parallel universes of people’s interests. Some people think knitting is for a few old fashioned grandmothers. But there’s a whole world out there, with knitting celebrities, hundreds of books, and loads of subcultures, just like there’s a world of hikers, a world of people who love robotics, gamers, people who collect books they don’t read, people who dress up and go to Comic-Con — no one should ever look sideways at anyone’s interest. Like us, they are almost certainly not alone in their interests. A friend’s mother used to say, “It takes all kinds, and we are all here.”
    And that’s great.
    We look at those lovely old patterns and wonder how they could be used, but think of the relief people felt when those patterns were new and they didn’t have to try to create the newest looks by drafting their own patterns. They must have felt so modern and cutting edge.

    • HI Marilyn,
      Once again you have shared your wealth of information with us.
      I didn’t know there was a book like that in libraries. My sister works in a library down in Springfield, MO, and I’ll have to ask her about it… and as far as a doll collector’s group, I don’t know of one in my area… it’s probably up north in Chicago…

      I’m glad Linda said what she did about men collecting toy trains… I had never thought of that…men and their toys, and the next time someone gives me that look, I might just bring up the train thing…

      I’m sure I don’t know the half of what’s out there in the doll or doll clothing world. I’m pretty secluded here in Southern Illinois…

      I’m guessing just like you, that the ladies who got these “seemingly no-frills” patterns with nothing on them were thrilled to have them and thought they were a gold mine!
      Not me, I’ll take a printed pattern any day!
      Blessings, Jeanne

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