One last question from Linda… about my major…

A few days ago I did a post where I asked “Do you have any questions for me?” (HERE) I answered a few of them in that post and then a few of them have been answered as a post all by themselves. I had one last question on the list from Linda.

She asked:
As far as questions go, what kind of dolls did you have and play with when you were small? And who was the inspiration that started you sewing? You also mentioned that you took sewing and textiles in college, but it was a small school. Where was this school, because I would think you would be a Home Economics major, and a lot of smaller schools did not have those kind of classes. What WERE you planning on being or doing when you majored in textiles in college? Surely you didn’t think that you would be making doll clothes, did you?

Linda, I had a few dolls when I was younger, a Toni doll, a Betsy McCall doll when we lived in Italy. My dad was in the Air Force. I later had a troll doll, and probably a few others, but I can’t really say I played with them that much. We lived in Texas and I remember Barbie had just come out. I remember it just like yesterday, I got my Skipper doll at Skagg’s Drug store. I remember picking out the red headed one and my sister picked out a pretty thick blonde Skipper. I don’t actually remember when I got my Barbie, but she was the yellow Swirl Ponytail Barbie doll. I was crazy about her and ended up with Ken, Midge, Scooter and a few others. My Barbie was the silkstone Barbie and had the smoothest legs. I started sewing for her when I was about 7 or 8. I’m not really sure how old I was and no one in my family can remember either.

Here’s a post I did on my Barbie’s first clothes… (HERE) Here is another post of my early sewing… (HERE)

This was my Blonde Swirl Ponytail Barbie that started it all…


Here’s a picture of one of my earliest Barbie outfits… it’s made from my pajamas that I decided to cut up…oops!

barbie dress

Here’s a post of some clothes I did for Barbie when I was a little bit older… maybe 9 or 10. I did lots of sewing for Barbie when I went to visit my cousin. My Aunt Evelyn had a Pfaff machine and I loved using it. (HERE)

So Barbie was the doll that most influenced me to sew. She was truly the one that started my love of sewing. My mom sewed some but it got to the point that my mom said I taught her things. I’m not sure how that happened. I just know I sewed A LOT! I made things for my sisters and swapped out doing dishes for them to sew something for them. I joined a 4-H club and went to State for my sewing many times. That’s probably where I learned to hone my sewing skills, as the judges were pretty strict about the way your garment was constructed. I sewed all through High School, taking every possible Home Ec class I could, so when college rolled around it seemed like majoring in something that had to do with sewing was the thing to do. I decided to major in Clothing and Textiles at Southern Illinois Unversity with an emphasis on Apparel Design. It was a pretty big University with about 20,000 students enrolled. I enjoyed the classes and most of them came pretty easy to me.

I’m not sure why I didn’t major in Home Economics, but I didn’t. Now here’s the funny thing. You asked, “What were you planning to do or be when you majored in Clothing Design, surely not make doll clothes?” Well, Linda, I guess I’ve never thought about that question… You see, I am one semester short of finishing my degree. :o( Yep, I’m still an undergraduate that never finished. I went to Bible College and when I got home it wasn’t long after that that I got married. I sewed my whole life, made some money doing it, and never thought too much about finishing.

I didn’t know I would end up selling doll clothes, and I’m not sure even if I finished now, that my major would make any difference at all. I’m totally happy with what a do. There is a small part of me that would like to finish my degree, just to have it finished…but I don’t know if I ever will. It really seems unnecessary now…

So that’s it…

I’ll be back tomorrow evening!
Blessings, Jeanne

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  1. Linda Doyle says:

    Thank you Jeanne, for answering my questions. Yes, I see now where finishing your degree would be totally unnecessary! You are already an accomplished seamstress!

    Oh, Barbie dolls! Well, I am too old to have been able to have one, they weren’t on the market when I was playing with dolls, but my sisters had them. At first my mother would NOT let them have one, because of the , well, what could I say—the figure?? Seems totally funny now, but she later gave in, and my sisters had the kind you had. However, for my grown up “glamour” dolls, I had movie star paper dolls! When you played dolls at my house, YOU were the mother! can’t do that with Barbie, you know!

    Oh, I know about 4-H and having your things judged! Even today when I sew, I get all anxious about what “they” are going to think of how I did this or that! That’s why the dress for Felicity is going so s-l-o- w! I do have other things to slow it down, such as the falling leaves and other duties, but anyway, my dear Home Ec. teacher and those 4-H judges still have me anxious! LOL

    I’m so glad you decided to do what you do! Your blog brightens my each and every day!

    • Hi Linda,
      Thanks for asking about my dolls. It was fun to think back and remember those times with my early dolls.
      I don’t know if my mom ever questioned the “figure” problem with my dad or not… I’ll have to ask her. I guess whatever was discussed, I won out…and got my Barbie.
      I know first hand about those 4-H judges all too well… But like you…even to this day, I just can’t let myself be sloppy when I sew…. If something is wrong, it gets taken apart and fixed.
      Thank you ALWAYS for the kindest words to me Linda!
      Blessings, Jeanne

  2. Like you I started sewing for my Barbies. I was notorious for losing my new lacy church socks. I wore them once and then they were gone. I am sure Mom eventually figured out what was going on… I kept cutting them up to make lacy dresses for Barbie.

    Another one of my early sewing adventures… My mom had a beautiful black lace dress she had purchased to wear to a special event. It had a red satin petticoat. The day of the event, she pulled the dress from the closet but was unable to wear it…. I had cut a big square out of the petticoat. I guess I couldn’t resist that red satin. To this day red is my favorite color.

    When I saw your post about cut up pj’s, I just had to share my early sewing adventures. I hope you don’t mind.

    By the way, let the ladies know that I was able to get a Little Darling, and have begun designing for her. It feels great to give myself permission to play dolls again.

    Blessings, Beth

    • Hi Beth,
      It’s nice to know I wasn’t the only one cutting up things we shouldn’t have… I hope you didn’t get in too much trouble over it… I don’t think I did!
      It will be nice to see your new patterns for the Little Darlings….
      Yes, I give you permission to play with your dolls too!
      Blessings, Jeanne

  3. Hi Jeanne,
    So Barbie started it all. I had a Skipper and a Sunshine family that I would make some things for as well. Unfortunately they were lost sometime over the years. 🙁 I had to laugh about your cutting up your PJ’s. I guess, after that, your mom bought you a supply of fabric to avoid other mishaps.
    It is interesting that you were able to take a number of Home Ec. courses. My high school only offered one that was sewing and cooking etc combined.
    4-H is wonderful. I wish I could have belonged to one but, there wasn’t a club that was close enough and would work with my parents work and school schedules. My daughter did 4-H and then a wonderful Christian Home Ec. program for home schoolers called “Keepers At Home” that taught everything from sewing and cooking to gardening and fine literature with many , many other skills.
    I am glad that you decided to sew doll clothes as well. I enjoy your post each day.

    • Hi Laura,
      Yes, my Barbie started it all…. I wonder if I would have learned to sew if I hadn’t gotten Barbie…

      I know about Keepers at Home curriculum….I love that program and the boys was called Keepers of the Faith, wasn’t it? What a great way to teach young girls and boys about domestic things.
      Thanks so much for your thoughts L-aura,
      Blessings, Jeanne

  4. Marilyn Grotzky says:

    Congratulations to Beth on her Little Darling. They do seem to be addictive, and needing to buy new clothes for them is even more addictive — but if you are designing your own, you may be safe, except that Jeanne’s are sometimes very hard to resist.

    I’m wondering how big the new A Girl for All Time dolls are going to get and when Jeanne is going to start sewing for them. I’m starting to see them all over my computer screen but have yet to see one in real life.

    I still remember the first American Girls I saw — my friend Nikki and I were in Whole Foods (a treat for us) when 2 little girls came by pushing a doll buggy holding two disheveled dolls. I said, “Were those those dolls?” and she said, “They looked like they were in hell.” That was over 20 years ago. I still hope those poor dolls eventually recovered.

    • Thank you Marilyn,
      You are always way too kind to me with your compliments. Thank you so much!
      I am heading to bed for the last time at my sisters but wanted to let you know I read your comments…
      Blessings, Jeanne

  5. Love your Barbie pajama dress. So funny. Unnecessary or not, finish your degree!! One semester is not much at all. Find out if you can do it online. They may also give you some credits for your working experience. Sometimes we need to do something just for ourselves. Do it.

    • Thanks for the pep talk Joy! I will have to at least look into finishing just to satisfy my curiosity…
      Blessings, Jeanne

  6. Charlotte Trayer says:

    I had dolls growing up, but mom did the sewing for them–I didn’t start sewing until I was 10 and in 4H, and by then I had had “my last doll”–HAH! In 1960, I was almost 15, and the only thing I wanted for Christmas was Barbie; I got her, and I did sew a lot for her! I still have her, too! I guess I was old enough when I started sewing for her that I never cut up anything I should have!!

    Many, MANY dolls later, I am still sewing for my dolls. I have 5 American Girls, 5 Little Darlings (congrats on getting one, Beth!), lots of Cabbage Patch (the Originals are my favorites–they are all soft-sculptured, and since I sew, that appeals to me), etc.


  7. I did a Home Ec course but had no interest in foods and never did take any foods courses. My friends in the major would have discussions on bread making and were their results too yeasty. I had to learn to bake and cook from cook books. I started sewing for my dolls, Patsy imposteres, when 11. bMy last doll was for Christmas and I asked my mom not to tell anyoneas I was 12. my sister had a Monica and her slm figure and rooted real hairwas wonderful! The Monica factory wasnot too far from us but I never had one. A friend in CA collected a few and I still think they are wonderful but I never wanted to have compo dolls.

    • Hi Jan,
      Thanks for your comments but I have to get to bed…
      It was fun reading about your dolls.
      Blessings, Jeanne

  8. Kathie Welsh says:

    Gosh, such great Doll stories! My Mom was appalled at the Barbie Dolls too so neither me or my Sister had all. She never gave in 🙂 We had Betsy McCall, and my last doll was a 20″ Honey Bride Doll which is still so pretty. I have replaced my sister’s dolls for her..a Betsy and a Tiny Tears.
    ***Beth, congrats on your Little Darling…we know what you will be up to now. They are really fun to sew for. I really do love those dolls!
    Thanks for the little peek into your younger self Jeanne. You have your wonderful blog that keeps us all interested in dolls and sewing!

    • Thank you Kathie,
      I’m glad to have readers that interact with each other…
      Thanks so much Kathie,
      Blessings, Jeanne

  9. Marilyn Grotzky says:

    There’s a book called Barbie Culture by Mary F. Rogers that gives a lot of interesting information about Barbie. I used it for background for an opening discussion in Women’s Studies. Barbie was something everyone in the class was familiar with so that we could have a discussion and get to know each other. The point was that women are the ones who buy the toys, groceries, clothes, and so on for the family and that this gives us as a group economic power that we need to be aware of — what are we supporting with our money?
    For example, if we choose a doll outfit made by Jeanne Marie and sold on Ebay, how is that different from choosing one from American Girl (and I do have a lot of AG clothes and love their style) or from Mattel? Consider craftsmanship, which I like encouraging. Consider creativity. Consider uniqueness. Think about the fact that we support a American craftswoman and a way of life that we admire. We support Jeanne Marie’s values. We are supporting an individual and not a corporation. We are supporting an independent businesswoman and the concept of small businesses. We should also consider the care Jeanne Marie takes of her dolls — we’ve seen how they look on Ebay and what she does to make used dolls new again. In a throw-away culture, this is a fine model of the opposite.
    We can’t micro-analyze every purchase, but we can be more aware of what we support with our choices.
    I admire those mothers you talked about who made decisions carefully. They may have decided to buy a Barbie because you loved them or not to buy one because they taught values that could be harmful, but they thought about you and about what they were doing and that’s important.

    • HI Marilyn,
      Thank you very very much for the kind things you said about me and the way I do things. It was incredible to think that the person you were talking about was me…little ole me! What a wonderful way of wording you did in describing the choices we make when we buy clothing for our dolls.
      I just do what I do because I love to sew and it just so happens that I have to have doll models to show my things off on… the more models I have the happier I am!!!
      Thank you so much Marilyn…
      You have made my day, and there’s still a lot of day left!
      Blessings, Jeanne

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