My Sister Made Me Do It! – Chapter 2: Down the Shore

First, the usual announcements:

  • Chat every Sunday evening at 7 to 8 pm Eastern time (GMT – 5 hours). Go to Chat.Quiltropolis.Com choose a user name, select “The Screaming Mimis” from the drop-down list, and click the “Join Chat” button. You don’t have to be a member to join the chat, but we’d love to have you as a member of the group.


My Sister Made Me Do It!

A Memoir of My 30 year Journey to Becoming a Doll Artist

Chapter -2:  Down the Shore

We lived in a Bed+Bath. My Jim helped my cousin Mary’s Jim build a 2-room extension out of their garage so we could live there. My Jim may be the only Jewish husband who knows how to use tools. He did all the electrical work (to code) and learned how to sheet rock, etc.

My Jim got a short-term contract in Washington, D.C., and commuted on the weekends. I kept house and cooked for Mary who worked very long hours and had three daughters, one tween and two teens. Chrisi (had disappeared from New York and gone back to live with her mother.

We did not own a car in the city. It cost as much to park as for a small apartment. Jim rented a car and drove to D.C. every Monday morning and back every Friday evening.

I became a housekeeper for 6 months, and Mary and her Jim and me and my Jim are still good friends. After 6 months, we found a rental in a condo development. We were “cliff dwellers” from New York, and were comfortable in a 2-bedroom, 1-bath apartment, the size of my studio apartment before I met Jim.

A few weeks after moving into the apartment, Jim found work locally and we each got a used car. I found a couple of private art teachers for more painting – mostly florals, landscapes, and seascapes. I was still interested in surface design on fabric. But I was still painting on canvas boards and lots of drawing pads – and not much fabric. I had no space to work.

I have cousins in Atlanta, as well as my sister and her family. Bobbie had often come to the City to visit me, but I had not been to Atlanta for a long time. I flew down to visit my family.

Bobbie drove us out to my cousin’s house in Stone Mountain, GA. I knew Diane was a doll collector. She had dozens of large baby dolls. Bobbie loved a big cloth doll that Diane had bought at the gift shop called “The Cabbage Patch” at a tiny antique maternity in Stone Mountain. Diane began to make the bodies for these dolls in spare time (she was a banker),

Seems a fella named Xavier Roberts had started a cottage industry with ladies in the area making the dolls, and he had purchased an old, but small, maternity hospital once called the “Lying-In Hospital” and now the nursery became the show room. Each doll had to be adopted with official paperwork and certificates. This was the beginning of the “Cabbage Patch Dolls.” They still had cloth heads. Within two years, they were showing up in Point Pleasant and everywhere else with plastic heads and cloth bodies.

As we were driving away from Diane’s house, Bobbie asked how I liked Diane’s dolls.

I said: “They’re fine. A few are quite beautiful and may be valuable, but I was not really impressed. I hated the Cabbage Patch dolls ugly faces and can’t believe she paid $50 for a 25-inch cloth doll with an ugly face.”

So Bobbie asked if I wanted to visit a craft store. I got excited! There wasn’t even a craft store in New York City except the top floor of Pearl Paint – a decrepit building on Canal Street with a construction elevator with one wall up to the 5th floor craft department.

She took a giddy me to a very large craft store which a few years later was part of a chain of shops bought by Michael’s. I was in heaven.

Bobbie asked me if I would make her a doll. I was surprised. I let her know that I knew nothing about dollmaking, less about shoe-making, wigging, and all the stuff required to make a doll. She insisted: “You can do anything. You have been sewing most of your life!” She marched me over to a table showing a couple of sample large dolls of cloth and some pattern books called Foster Kids designed by Esther Lee Foster packaged with a yard of double-knit polyester fabric called “Southern Comfort.”

Of course, the bourbon folks got upset and made them change the name. Since it was made by Windsor Mills, it became Windsor Comfort. Windsor also made Ponte (a heavier) double-knit fabric. Both knit fabrics were made for undergarments for “Plain People” aka Pennsylvania Dutch, Amish, etc. There was a limited choice of color.

Anyway, Bobbie started it all by insisting I make her a boy doll with red hair and freckles. I had to! She phoned several times a week until I started one to shut her up!

Well, he was not beautiful. I kept making several more – boys and girls – not sexed, just dressed genderly! Bobbie got the third one. I kept the first one and dated him and hid him in the closet for years. I learned a lot. Not to pull stitches too tight was very important.

Jim came home from work one day and the dolls were all over the place. I was having so much fun! He asked: “What are you going to do with these?”

I said: “I haven’t a clue – maybe give them to family members for Christmas.” This was mid-November 1983.

He asked: “Have you any idea how much money you are spending at Cloth World? – and mail order from Foster?”

I said meekly: “Not a clue.” (I knew I was in trouble.)

He marched down to the local firehouse and got me a table at the upcoming craft show the day after Thanksgiving. Since the indoor space in the firehouse was sold out, he also bought me a set of long warm ski underwear to keep me warm as I sold dolls outdoors in 25 degree (F) weather. By this time, I was combining Esther Lee’s head with a baby doll pattern by Tiny Tots. Still not making original dolls, but they were nice 25” and 28” baby dolls and toddlers. Jim priced them at $65 and took orders to customize them by sex, hair and eye color, and clothing style.

We got over 50 orders that cold day. Now we had a problem! We had to deliver before Christmas Eve! We took 50% on order and the rest on delivery to pay for supplies. I sewed and stuffed and finished the dolls. My daughter Cathie, a stay at home mom, made the clothing to my patterns. We purchased baby shoes wholesale. Jim used his drill press to make a yarn winder to wrap yarn around a wood frame. The frame fit under the sewing machine needle to sew wefts of yarn for hair.

All of the dolls were delivered before 10pm Christmas Eve. All the 15 or so samples went to the family for Christmas. I learned to love being a dollmaker.

Continued next week – Chapter 3: My First Original Pattern


My Sister Made Me Do It! – A Memoir of My 30 year Journey to Becoming a Doll Artist – Chapter 1

First, the usual announcements:

  • Chat every Sunday evening at 7 to 8 pm Eastern time (GMT-5). Go to Chat.Quiltropolis.Net choose a user name, select “The Screaming Mimis” from the drop-down list, and click the “Join Chat” button.
  • We have a new tutorial on Making a Bowler (Felt) Hat by Jorge Fernandez, Santiago, Chile at Mimidolls.Com. You can read it on-line, or download a copy.

Now the big deal!

I was in at the beginning of the whole doll art movement. So many of them (the artists) are gone, and the history is in danger of being lost.

So here’s my story. I will post a new chapter each week until it’s finished. When it’s all done,  it will be available as an e-book with all the chapters.


My Sister Made Me Do It!

A Memoir of My 30 year Journey to Becoming a Doll Artist


to James Mitchell Winer, Partner for 40 years – husband for 35 of them, who also funded this journey, and, of course, to my beloved sister, Roberta Ann Jackson Taylor aka Bobbie. I miss you every day sis.

Introduction:  Fort Myers, Florida, February, 2013.

Today is the ninth chemotherapy session of twelve. This stuff is cumulative and a bit more side effects than in the first six.  I won’t get much done this week, only a couple of hours a day before I’m exhausted. Next week with no chemo will be good.

This afternoon, I asked Jim to post a wonderful photo of the day in 1985 that elinor peace bailey and I met for the first time. As I told him the story behind the photograph, this book was born. That story is coming soon – in  book time, but I need to start at the beginning.

Chapter -1:  New York City

My journey began on a Summer week-day in the cafeteria of a 50-some story skyscraper on Wall Street. The building was the World Headquarters for one of the “Big Banks” (now a little part of some other Big Bank). Work was a 15-minute subway ride from our 16th floor apartment on East 87th Street off Third Avenue.

A summer day in 1979. I was taking my tray to the conveyor belt on the way out of the cafeteria when I felt a huge chest pain and had difficulty breathing. I fell to the floor. Next thing I knew, several paramedics and EMT folks were asking questions like they thought it was a heart episode. They got me into the emergency room at Mount Sinai Hospital.

After deciding there was no heart event, and no lung embolism, they called for a gastrointerologist. I got the whole bit – upper and lower GI tract. They found a hiatal hernia. My esophagus was in trouble. Too much stress.

Jim was so relieved he asked me: “If you didn’t have to go to business every day, what would you do?”

In a New York Minute, I answered “All of my life I wanted to be an artist, but I got pregnant as a teen-ager and spent the next 20 years raising kids – 2 girls and a boy.” (After a teen-aged wedding before I embarrassed my family. Not many options in 1949. It lasted 12 years.)

As a young child, my mother said we could probably afford some lessons, but not the art supplies. She was right. Dad was a sailor in the Navy. Not an officer, but an enlisted swabie. He did work up to a Master Welder MCB4 in the SeaBees and served 2 tours in Vietnam as a Great Grandfather. But there was no money for many extras. I was the eldest of three – myself (Gloria Mae), Bobbie Ann, and Alan Arnold aka “Buck” as he named himself at 3.

Jim responded to my answer with another question: “What do you want to study?”

I said: “Art. I want to draw like I used to, learn to paint, and study surface design techniques.”

Jim then gave me my dream. He said: “So give notice and enroll in school. This is New York City. You can study anything here.”

I had recently been diagnosed as dyslexic and did not want to go through the math courses (numbers moved around) and did not care about a certificate or a degree. I just wanted the education.

So I took classes at the School of Visual Arts on 23rd Street for several semesters. All the teachers were working artists. I took drawing and oil painting classes several days a week. Then I took courses in Life Drawing and Design at the National Academy of Art and Design for a couple of years.

I remember one life session at the Art Students League. Most of the students were female and many were middle-aged. The nude model was new at his job and nervous. Every time I looked up from my drawing, a certain part of his anatomy had moved again – and the poor boy’s face was blush red. Poor kid.

I also took classes at the New School of New York City and studied batik making with Indian teachers, Shibori with Japanese teachers, and Silk Painting with a French teacher. At this time, Silk Painting was just getting started and all silk paint was imported from Paris and brushes from China. Neither was available here. I spent 2 more years taking classes 5 days a week at several locations. When you are not matriculating, you pay a lot less for the course and there is no obligation to do the homework as it is not graded. I did most of the homework because I wanted the practice.

About this time, in 1981, Jim lost his job. Contractors are the first to go when a recession hits. It takes two very large paychecks to live in New York and pay for private school for my granddaughter (Chrisi, 13-years old). We were doing it on one check and rapidly diminishing savings. It was time to leave our beloved City. So we went “Down the Shore” to family in Point Pleasant, New Jersey.

Continued next week – Chapter 2: Down the Shore

Christmas Until 1/31/2013 — Mimi’s Cancer Journal

Mimi’s Christmas Sale is Extended until 1/31/2013.

25% off all patterns and DVDs.

25% off Studio Sale and Mimi’s Stash items.

Mimi’s Cancer Journal – Part 1 – Letters to Friends – October 21, 2012

This is reprinted from Mimidolls.Com. We are moving the Cancer Journal to the Diary of a Mad Dollmaker. This is the beginning of the story. We will continue it later this week to bring you up-to-date. Mimi has just had a CT scan for a three-month checkup and we will get the results Monday, Jan 21, 2013.

There are several letters below, each with a bit of different information. Use what you think is appropriate.
Dearest Carol,

I was asked to send a letter about my health issues for the Guild newsletter as it may help others to get checked out sooner. I just wrote it and have no energy left to spend another hour typing – and my right “bone-on-bone” shoulder is aching to beat the band – So I will forward it to you.

Much love,

G’d Day Katrina,

I am scheduled to have the port implanted on Monday. I have an appointment with the oncologist on Wednesday. I also want to talk to a nutritionist, specialist in cancer. Since this has affected my liver I think I should forgo animal protein and of course sugars. The radiologist that took the PET films told me the nuclear material was combined with sugar before it was put into my IV because the sugar goes directly to inflammation and cancer… That tells me I should avoid sugar as well. I have a bunch of stuff I had already put into the car on Wednesday as I fully intended to drive down to you after that doctor visit. I can’t wait to read the comments received on your work, I am so proud of you for passing Standards!

Below is the note I wrote to Carol for the newsletter. Thanks for the suggestion.
See ya’ Saturday.


Good morning Carol,

You have permission to use this as an article for the newsletter as I am requesting that lots of on-going positive energy be sent my way to aid in my cancer treatment. My work here is not yet done. Cassi needs me for at least eight more years to get her healthy and through college.

My husband and I are raising our great granddaughter, Cassandra Rose, who is 15 years old. She has been diagnosed with PTSD as well as social anxiety and depression. She is in therapy but must attend school via on-line classes for the foreseeable future. We have legal custody of her.

I am a new Guild member but have been part of the fiber arts community forever. I have been making figurative sculpture and teaching my techniques in the U.S. Canada and Australia for almost thirty years.
I have had cancer twice before. Breast cancer in 1974 (38 years ago). I had a mastectomy but no further treatment as the cancer was but 4mm in size.

In 2007 my sister had a small-cell carcinoma in her lung. The time from her diagnosis to her death was only 18 days. While I was standing with her family around her bed waiting for her soul to leave her pain wracked body I heard a loud, masculine, authoritative voice shout at me. It said: “GET A SCAN NOW!” No one else in the room heard it. Since my sister and I had grown up with two smoking parents and I worked in smoky cocktail lounges to put myself through school many years ago I thought it was good advice.

My doctor refused to write a script for a lung scan with no symptoms. I repeated this story to him and I got the script. To shorten a long story; after many other tests the left upper lobe was removed and it was discovered that the cancer was a 1-A. The doctors said it was extremely rare to find a lung cancer that early and that small. No further treatment was necessary

I had a colonoscopy and an endoscope last November (2011) while still living in New Jersey. There was a small polyp that was removed. I have a history of GI problems and this was the first polyp ever found. At the end of August (2012) I experienced an episode of rectal bleeding the sent me to Lee Memorial ER. Even though there was no more bleeding after I arrived at the hospital, I was admitted for a couple of days for observation. The Doctor thought it was diverticulitis. It was treated with diet and after 6 weeks had another colonoscopy and endoscope.

I was told immediately there was a large mass in the colon. I was referred to a surgeon who told me it was a cancer, a large one, more than 7cm. To have grown so large in less than a year was shocking. He scheduled surgery to remove it and ordered a CT scan with contrast.

The surgeon told me two days ago that the cancer was a stage four that had already metastasized to the liver and it lit up like a Christmas tree on the scan photos. He cancelled the original surgical order to remove the tumor as it would not cure me to do so.

I will have a port installed on Monday and will see the oncologist to set up a schedule for chemotherapy. I am considering checking out Cancer Centers of Florida today and perhaps will ask for a referral as I do want the very best up to the minute treatment available. The stakes are high.

I am very proud to be a member of SWFCG and plan to attend as many meetings as possible and to contribute whatever I can by way of volunteering as my health allows. I will be at Saturday’s Meeting. I am looking forward to my Standards review in January. That assumes I will be able to make five new pieces in time for review.

Many thanks for your time reading this “tome”
See you on Saturday. Katrina is picking me up and I am bringing lasagna.

Gloria (aka Mimi)

Reminder – dollmaking chat Sunday at 7-8 pm Eastern Time (GMT-5). choose a name, select the Screaming Mimis room and join the chat.

Mimi’s Universal Toddler is Back!

Mimi’s Universal Toddler is back!

After being out-of-print for many years, the Universal Toddler is back in electronic form for download or on CD at a much lower price (we don’t have to print or ship all that heavy paper). And until October 15, it’s another 25% off the new lower price.

  *  The definitive textbook for knit fabric dollmaking.
  *  You can make this beautiful 16″ cloth doll in just a weekend.
  *  Five Star Rating for beginning, intermediate, and advanced cloth dollmakers.
  *  All skill levels from quick & easy to collector quality.
  *  Pattern sheets included from 12″ to 36″

Picture-by-picture, multi-level instruction book includes full size, cut-out, 16″ patterns for boy and girl. Optional instructions and pattern pieces for sexing boy and girl dolls. Clothing includes bathrobe, girl’s rhumba panties, boy’s briefs, bunny and bear slippers, and stuffed toy. Fixed-leg doll stands alone without armature or doll stand. Certificate, hangtag, pattern sheets for 12″ to 36″ sizes, jointed leg supplement and 12″-22″ jointed leg pattern pieces all included. Body also accepts porcelain heads, hands and feet.

  *  You are licensed to sell dolls made from this pattern.
  *  This is the world renown textbook for making dolls from knit doll fabric. A complete course in dollmaking.
  *  NOTE: Available only as Electronic copy. It has become too expensive to print and ship paper copies.
  *  NOTE: The different sized pattern sheets are not simple reductions or enlargements. For each pattern size, the head is reproportioned to look right. Small sizes have relatively larger heads than large sizes.

More Books!

We have almost all of the books that won’t fit in our new apartment listed in the Studio Sale. There are great bargains here, but only one copy of each book. Check it out before everything you want is gone.

Surface Design and Wearable Art

We’re moving from a 5 bedroom house to a 2 bedroom apartment. We can’t take everything. Lots of Mimi’s books are for sale in the Studio Sale announced last week.

Since last week, we’ve added over 80 more books to the studio sale. Some excellent books on Native American culture, and particularly Hopi Kachina dolls are in the Inspiration subcategory. Most of the others are in one of two new subcategories: Surface Design and Wearable Art.

Surface design includes painting, piecing, dyeing, batik, tie-dye, texturizing and other methods used to alter the appearance of fabric or textiles.

Wearable art includes not only the doll jackets designed by elinor peace bailey and Virginia Robertson, but also quilted, pieced, painted, and other clothing and accessories. Some is very elegant, some will be perfect for your own expression.

There are also new books in the Art Books subcategory. These include everything from flower painting to animal anatomy.

Most prices are less than 50% of what these books cost elsewhere. We only have one (or sometimes two) of each book, so get what you want before it’s gone. After you’ve finished shopping, be sure and tell your friends who might like to get in on the savings.

New Site Design for Mimidolls.Com – Giant Studio Sale -Beau of the Ball

We’ve opened the new Mimidolls.Com. Everything has changed to make it easier to use. The Studio Sale section is open and you can save up to 50% on books, magazines, videos, and everything while supplies last. (We’re moving and don’t have space.)

Mimidolls.Com New Home Page

Mimidolls.Com New Home Page

The new home page has a list of category buttons on the left, and a group of subject tiles on the right. You can select any category or subject by clicking on the button, or, if you have a touch-screen or tablet, by tapping on the category button or subject tile. The number of subject tiles displayed adjusts to fit on your screen.

If you have a small screen, like a netbook, hold down the CTRL key and press “-” to shrink the page so you won’t have to scroll sideways. If you have a giant page, hold down the CTRL key and press “+” to expand the page and make the type larger and easier to read. The F11 key makes the display full screen without the browser at the top and bottom. F11 again brings back the browser. Finally, if you have a wheel on your mouse, you can use it to scroll up and down in the subject tiles.

Navigation Panel

Navigation Panel

Getting around Mimidolls.Com is easy. Simply click any category Category Button button at the left to display appropriate subject tiles and then read or click on a subject tile. Some subject tiles have full information (just a little bit) available by scrolling on the tile itself. Other subject tiles open new pages with the information described in the tile.

Click the return Return Button button to get back to the same category, or click any category Category Button for the desired category.

Some related pages are connected by previous Previous Button and next Next Button buttons that let you see all of the pages in the group without going back to the category each time.

Mimidolls.Com Polilcy Page

Mimidolls.Com Polilcy Page

For example, the “Contact Us / Policy” button at the top shows you tiles about our policies. Similarly, the “Studio Sale” button near the bottom shows you subcategory tiles for all of the things we don’t have the space to take with us. Check out the bargains — most items are priced at half price or less compared to other sites or eBay.

Mimidolls.Com Studio Sale

Mimidolls.Com Studio Sale

We’ve also posted our latest FREE Video Tutorial for dollmakers: Anatomy: Scale and Proportion on the home page and the Video Tutorials page.

Beau of the BallBeau of the BallBeau of the Ball

Beau of the Ball by Mimi. 20″ muslin — One-of-a-Kind — Prototype. ODACA Convention Centerpiece.

Beau is a cloth doll. His body is sewn from Mimi’s original Stud Muffin (Indoor) pattern using a 240 thread count muslin. He is stuffed with Airtex Premium polyfil.

His clothing is mid 15th century. He wears canions and trunk hose (undergarments), silk knit hosen and garters made from golden Kreinik thread. His shoes are painted leather fastened and embellished with antique buttons.

His coral canions are made from silk chiffon. His pansied slops (short, wide breeches) are silk stuffed with netting. (The ones actually worn at that time were often stuffed with the slashed garments of the man he bested in a duel.)

His chemise (shirt) is silk. The cuffs are embellished with antique French gold lace. Buttons are seed beads. His jerkin is golden silk lined in coral silk. The shourlder wings are embellished with gold lace as are the jerkin front and neck.

The picadis on the hem of the jerkin are lined in the same coral silk embellished as the rest of the garment. His ruff is several layers of orange silk netting.

His cape (not shown) is made of re-embroidered (gold on gold) silk lined with a coral and gold silken fabric and embellished with Kreinik threads.

His mask is cut from the same fabric lining the cape, trimmed with antique French lace and tied with Kreinik ribbon.

Hair, goatee, moustash and eyebrows are hand dyed short curly fabric.

And here’s Mimi’s latest doll: Beau of the Ball

Mimi’s List of Costuming Books, One Of A Kind Doll Sale

Drowning in Mermaids:

We’re over run with mermaids. I made 14 of them for the DVDs, and I’m drowning in mermaids.  It’s time to clear some space in my studio. There are still four (as of this writing) left that are sale priced at $99, so if you want an original Mimidoll, take a look at the sale page:

DVD and E-Pattern Sale

The DVD and E-Pattern sale is still going on. Visit to save 20%,

Costume Books:

I have over 60 costuming books, but these are the ones I use the most.
Most of the patterns are 1/8 scale. (Enlarge to double size for 1/4 scale dolls.)

You can download a printable copy of this list from http://Mimidolls.Com. The link will be on the front page for a while, but if it’s not still on the front page, look under the Downloads (Other Free Stuff) button, the Classics button, or the Free Stuff (Other Free Stuff) button.

UPDATE: 12/8/2011 – Most of these books are available at http://DramaBookShop.Com.

Most Useful Costume Books:

If you can only afford one, this is the one to get or start with:

Katherine Strand Holkeboer, Patterns for Theatrical Costumes – Garments, Trims, and Accessories from Ancient Egypt to 1915, ISBN: 0-89676-125-8

A collection of hundreds of basic pattern shapes which allows the designer’s creativity free range. Kathherine Strand Holkeboer presents the general characteristics of male and female dress from the early Egyptian to the beginning of the 20th century. Gowns, tunics, headdresses, jackets, robes, breeches – the patterns will produce an accurate silhouette for each time period, leaving the costumer free to explore variations of cut and surface embellishment within an historic framework. Plus – there are even patterns for Far Eastern outfits, ecclesiastical clothing, animals and fantasy figures.

This is also a “must have” book:

C. Willett and Phillis Cunningtom, The History of Underclothes, ISBN: 0-486-27124-2

In a well-documented, profusely illustrated volume combining impressive scholarship with an entertaining, often humorous style, two distinguished clothing historians consider undergarments worn by the English over the last 600 years. Beginning with the Middle Ages, the authors cover centuries of clothing history including the Tudor period, the Restoration, the Victorian and Edwardian eras and the twentieth century up to the eve of World War II. Drawing on extensive, well-documented research, the Cunninghams illuminate the role and function of underwear: it protected the wearer against the elements, supported costume shapes, served as an erotic stimulus, symbolized the class distinctions and fulfilled other social, sanitary and economic functions.

Get these next two only if you need information about costumes from these periods.

Jean Hunnsett, Period Costume for Stage and Screen – Patterns for Women’s Dress 1500-1800, ISBN: 0-7135-2660-2

A comprehensive guide to creating women’s dress through three centuries. As well as being historically accurate, Jean Hunnisett’s patterns have been adapted so that they can be readily made up using today’s fabrics and sewing methods, and to fit the modern female figure. The book includes complete scaled patterns for each costume as well as step-by-step instructions and 250 detailed working drawings. Patterns are also included for all the correctly shaped corsets, petticoats and pads which are essential to make each costume look right for its period.

Jean Hunnisett, Period Costume for Stage & Screen – Patterns for Women’s Dress, Medieval – 1500, ISBN: 0-88734-653-7 (This one is hardback, so look for the same thing in paperback with a different ISBN.)

A comprehensive guide to creating women’s dress through five centuries. As well as being accurate, Jean Hunnisett’s patterns have been adapted so that they can be readily made up using today’s fabrics and sewing methods, and fit the modern female figure. The book includes scaled patterns for each costume as well as step-by-step instructions and detailed working drawings. Patterns are also included for all the correctly shaped undergarments which are essential to make each costume look right for its period.

Note: Diane Keeler buys the costume patterns by Butterick, Vogue, etc. when they are on sale and photo copies the layout on the direction sheet (not the pattern). Then she enlarges it to fit her doll.


These three books are listed in the order I recommend that you read them:

Timothy J. Alberts & M. Dalton King with Pat Henry, The Art of Making Beautiful Fashion Doll Shoes, ISBN: 0-87588-561-6 (This one is hardback, so look for the same thing in paperback with a different ISBN.)

The author began developing his techniques for making shoes in the early `990s, when he was creating his doll Chloe, and participating in the beginnings of the Gene project. Chloe is a doll that is dressed in the height of 18th century fashion. Since he was designing the clothes, buying the fabrics, and looking for accessories, it became very clear to him that he wouldn’t be able to find shoes to equal the quality of the outfits he was making. The obvious solution was to make his own… He researched how shoes are actually made and adapted the big foot methods for miniature feet… This book will take you through all the steps required to make beautiful doll shoes, starting first with lasts, after that, heels, and then the actual shoes themselves, with demonstrations on how to make both fabric and leather shoes. Along the way, he’s included lots of pictures of the shoes he’s made over the years and some of the lovely dolls that are now wearing those shoes… You will, simply by following his techniques, be able to produce shoes that are works of art in themselves. (This book is a must for most dollmakers.)

Iris Brooke, Footwear – A Short History of European and American Shoes, ISBN: 0-87830-047-3 (This one is hardback, so look for the same thing in paperback with a different ISBN.) (For reference only. No Patterns.)

A leading authority on historical costume and particularly costume for the stage, Miss Brooke here produces a witty survey of shoe fashions enlivened by her own drawings. Beginning with actual Roman sandals found in the mud of the Thames River, through medieval samples, both practical and elegant, drawn from sculpture on cathedrals, to the diversity of Renaissance fashions and of every century since, she shows how footwear was fundamentally shaped by practical needs, by materials available and by methods of cobbling and manufacture. But she also demonstrates, sometimes with examples she has herself discovered, how footwear, like costume in general, reflects not only social and economic conditions – war, depression, peace, and prosperity – but architecture, painting and the other arts. She has combed the literature of each period for telling and often amusing descriptions of what was being worn. (Human sized shoes, but techniques for dolls are exactly the same.)

Sharon Raymond, Crafting Handmade Shoes – Great-Looking Shoes, Sandals, Slippers & Boots, ISBN: 1-57990-192-1 (This one is hardback, so look for the same thing in paperback with a different ISBN.)

Make shoes that look and feel great. Once you create your first beautiful pair, you’ll want to make another and then another! The basic techniques are simple enough for beginners. Once you learn how to choose the right leathers – and fabrics – and the many decorative options, you’ll be ready to make shoes that are distinctively yours. From sandals to boots, these projects will introduce you to cutting and stitching beautiful colored leathers, adding simple binding to create interesting touches, and finishing your shoes with eye-catching embellishments. And once you know the secrets of pattern-making, every pair can be custom-tailored to your feet so that they fit perfectly. Now how many store-bought shoes can you say that about? (Human sized shoes, but techniques for dolls are exactly the same.)


Listed in the order you should read them:

Lyn Waring, Hats in Miniature, ISBN: 0-8069-4265-7

These charming miniature hats are perfect for dolls, teddy bears, and gifts… and just to show off! Only basic sewing skills are required to complete: elegant Top Hats and fancy flower-lined Boaters, whimsical Berets and sophisticated, close-fitting Cloches, extravagant Easter Parade and Race Day fashions, darling Peewees with over sized bows, baseball, jockey, golf, military or hunting caps, and even something for the chef. 18 different styles in all. Complete patterns, along with instructions on equipment, collars, seams, cutting, notches, batting – even directions for making a hat stand to display your lovely designs!

Edited by Clare Blau, Hat Making for Dolls 1855-1916, Revised Edition with Patterns and Illustrations, ISBN: 0-87588-141-6

Reprinted from old books and periodicals with additional patterns and instructions by Sandy Williams. This book contains a rich variety of 18 doll hat patterns with instructions sure to aid the doll’s hat maker in creating mid-19th century to early 20th century hats. The hat maker will find many illustrations with helpful hints and suggestions. Also included are additional illustrations and descriptions representative of children’s and adult’s hats which can be utilized by hat makers to trim and make their own period millinery.

Timothy Alberts, M. Dalton King, and Pat Henry, The Art of Making Miniature Millinery, ISBN: 0-87588-616-7 (This one is hardback, so look for the same thing in paperback with a different ISBN.)

The same basics, caps, toques, wide brimmed hats, turbans, berets, and hoods have appeared over and over again throughout history, one day the height of fashion, the next relegated to closets and drawers. This book will take you … through the hat making process, demonstrating, three basics: felt, straw, and, a buckram hat, plus one which is somewhat more complicated, a hat made on a wire foundation. This book will discuss why one foundation may be preferable for a particular style over another, how to find, make, or adapt head blocks for small heads. This book will talk about scale and even provide suggestion as to how to refurbish pre-existing or “store bought” hats. This book will cover practical hats, service hats, dress, formal, or occasional hats, and specialty hats or headdresses. This book stresses  a need for historical accuracy and understanding of time and place, paying attention to scale, knowledge of hat making materials and techniques, and we don’t want you to forget the creativity you bring to the process.

Stella V. Remiasz, Hats – Design and Construction, Second Edition, ISBN: 0-9617414-0-6 (This is a text book for Milliners.)

This book, presented as lesson plans, is used by many teachers as a basic textbook for teaching millinery classes. However, the making of hats is not just the designing of them. The actual experience of working through the lesson plans in this book should give you a working knowledge of the design and construction of the basic hat styles.

Denise Dreher, From the Neck Up – An Illustrated Guide to Hatmaking, ISBN: 0-941082-00-8 (A complete course in Millinery.)

From the Neck Up is the most complete and unique book on hatmaking to date. It can be used as a method of self-instruction, as a classroom textbook or as a reference guide. All of the hatmaking techniques are explained step-by-step and clearly illustrated by more than four hundred photographs and drawings. Professional methods, materials and equipment are described and illustrated in detail with substitutes and improvised methods included for those with limited resources and budgets. Even if you have never held a needle and thread before, you can, through careful application of the lessons , make a complete hat either with or without the aid of a sewing machine.

Children’s Costumes

Robert Harrold and Phyllida Legg, Folk Costumes of the World, ISBN: 0-7137-2056-5 (For reference only. No patterns.)

Folk costumes express both the character of communities and their ethnic origins. It is in the folk costumes of a people that tradition, in music, dance and ritual, is colourfully displayed; and just as climate and physical geographical features have influenced attitudes, they have also given rise to a wealth of variety in dress.

Ruth M. Green and Jack Cassin-Scott, Costume and Fashion in Colour – 1550-1760, ISBN: 0-7137-0739-5 (This one is hardback, so look for the same thing in paperback with a different ISBN.) (For reference only. No patterns.)

These were turbulent times of war and intrigue, which spanned the reigns of some of Europe’s most memorable monarchs: Elizabeth I, James I, Charles I, Henry IV, Louis XIII, Louis XIV, and Philip of Spain. The fashion lead was taken up first by one country and then another, with Spain, France and England in the forefront, each leaving its mark on the costume styles it originated, and adding variety and flamboyance to contemporary fashions.

Estelle Ansley Worrell, Children’s Costume in America 1607-1910, ISBN: 0-684-16645-3 (This one is hardback, so look for the same thing in paperback with a different ISBN.) (For reference only. No patterns.)

For the first time in a single volume, here is a comprehensive survey of three centuries of children’s wear in America. The book shows over 300 individuals in full-page group illustrations. Ranging in age from babyhood to the teens, they represent every period of American history up to the twentieth century, when commercial production of clothing began. The book also covers toys, furniture, carriages, sleds, and other equipment.

Albert Racinet, Illustrated History of European Costume – Period Styles and Accessories, ISBN: 1-85585-724-3 (This one is hardback, so look for the same thing in paperback with a different ISBN.)

From the formal apparel of the Middle Ages to the fanciful women’s fashions of 19th-century France, the Illustrated History of European Costume presents and describes the wide variety of costumes worn by all sections of society, male and female, rich and poor, civilian, religious and military. The book traces original and revival styles – for example, ancient Greek and Roman dress and their reappearance in the Neo-classical fashions of the 19th-century. It includes detailed coverage of accessories such as head-dresses, shawls, shoes and jewellery, with examples from antiquity to the 19th-century. A “patterns” section presents illustrated guidelines on the cut of some of the most important costume styles covered in the book.

Men’s Clothing

Norah Waugh, The cut of Men’s Clothes 1600-1900, ISBN: 0-87830-025-2 (This one is hardback, so look for the same thing in paperback with a different ISBN.) (This is the best men’s fashion book.)

This book traces the evolution of the style of men’s dress through a sequence of diagrams accurately scaled down from patterns of actual garments, many of them rare museum specimens. The plates have been selected with the same purpose. Some are photographs of suits for which diagrams have also been given; others, reproduced from paintings and old prints, show the costume complete with its accessories. Quotations from contemporary sources – from diaries, travelers’ accounts and tailors’ bills – supplement Miss Waugh’s text with comments on fashion and lively eye-witness descriptions.

John Peacock, Men’s Fashion – The Complete Sourcebook, ISBN: 0-500-01725-5 (This one is hardback, so look for the same thing in paperback with a different ISBN.) (For reference only. No patterns.)

Charting the development of fashions for men, this encyclopaedic survey covers every area of clothing and appearance: day wear, court and evening wear, leisure and sports wear, underwear, knitwear, accessories and hairstyles – from the unkempt, earringed “incroyables of late eighteenth century France to the American hippies of the 1970s; from Victorian top-hatted gentlemen to the sixties leather-jacketed rockers; from the plus-foured golfers of the 1920s to the tracksuited joggers of today. Over 1000 full color drawings.

David Page Coffin, Shirtmaking – Developing Skills for Fine Sewing, ISBN: 1-56158-015-5 (This one is hardback, so look for the same thing in paperback with a different ISBN.) (Modern – today’s fashions. For human shirts, but excellent for learning to make really good doll shirts.)

With the skills you’ll learn in Shirtmaking, you can create elegant, custom-fit garments for a woman or man that look like the best money can buy. And, even more important, once you learn to make and fit a shirt – whether you’ve sewn for weeks or years – your sewing skills will be dramatically improved and changed forever. You’ll learn how to create, with a few simple changes in pattern and detail, a wide variety of garments that are entirely different from the classic dress shirt on which they’re based – garments as varied as dressy silk blouses and rugged woolen overshirts. You’ll find full-scale patterns for collars, plackets, cuffs and pickets, and complete instructions for developing custom-fit shirt patterns.

Jim Harter, Men – A Pictorial Archive from Ninteenth Century Sources – 412 Copyright-free Illustrations for Artists and Designers, ISBN:0-486-23952-7 (For reference only. No patterns.)

Over 400 carefully selected illustrations of men in an enormous variety of poses, costumes, attitudes and activities: playing baseball, dancing, roping steers, mining coal, playing chess, hunting, flirting, courting, wrestling, shoveling, running, reading, talking, praying, thinking, gesturing, fencing, etc. Spanning a variety of geographical locations and historical periods, these delightfully old-fashioned renderings depict: Eskimos in kayaks, medieval knights, Roman gladiators, magicians, firemen, soldiers, miners, beggars, fops, dandies, Prussian generals, shepherds, artists, acrobats, bullfighters, doctors, mythological and religious figures, monks, prisoners, and more, representing nearly every masculine occupation and activity imaginable.

Douglas Gorsline, What People Wore – 1800 Illustrations from Ancient Times to the Early Twentieth Century, ISBN: 0-486-28162-0 (For reference only. No patterns.)

Spanning nearly 5000 years of clothing styles, this splendid sourcebook presents a fascinating panorama of wearing apparel, beginning with the ancient Egyptians and continuing through the early decades of the 20th century. Over 1800 drawings depict garments ranging from diaphanous gowns of Egyptian royalty, ornate robes of Byzantine dignitaries, and elegant dresses worn by 18th-century Parisians to picturesque outfits of American frontiersmen and the revolutionary 1920s wardrobe of the American flapper. Here also are informal portraits of Byzantine commoners and religious figures, Elizabethans in lace collars and ruffs, upper-class Venetians, English dandies and French gentlemen of the mid-18th century; as well as detailed illustrations of 19th-century New York farmers, western fur trappers, cowboys, mountain men and lumberjacks; sodhouse pioneers, Klondike prospectors, Mississippi rivermen and many more.

Henry Shaw, Dress and Decoration of the Middle Ages, ISBN: 188544024-3 (This one is hardback, so look for the same thing in paperback with a different ISBN.) (For reference only. No patterns.)

Originally written in the 1840s and published in 1858, Henry Shaw’s book is an essential work for the study of the life and history of the Middle Ages. More than simply dress and decoration, Shaw presents intimate portraits of the important people – royal, political, and ecclesiastical – of the Middle Ages, as well as conveying an understanding of the popular tastes of the common people of the times.

Peter Klucina, Armor from Ancient to Modern Times, ISBN:0-7607-0475-9 (This one is hardback, so look for the same thing in paperback with a different ISBN.) (For reference only. No patterns.)

The author and illustrator have drawn upon the world’s most renowned collections, both privately owned and in museums, to tell the complete story of the development of defensive armor. The armor of each historical period is carefully described, with considerable attention to how the armor evolved and its practical functions in the battlefield tactics of the time. A detailed account is given of how European armor was influenced by, and in turn influenced, armor from the Middle East and Asia.

Charles Ffoulkes, The Armourer and His Craft from the XIth to the XVIth Century, ISBN: 0-486-25851-3 (For reference only. No patterns.)

Valiant deeds performed by knights in armor have long been a staple of medieval life and lore; seldom, however, has a book offered such a meticulously detailed and thorough discussion of the armor itself – how it was made, what materials and tools were used, how it was decorated, cleaned, and maintained, who were the great craftsmen, how the wearer put on his suit of armor, how he was able to move and joust in it, how much it weighted, how much it cost and much, much more.