|Designer Jeri and her doll|
Wednesday, August 6, 2014
A Behind The Scenes Visit With Jeri Designer of Peppermintstick's Patterns and Design.
Today I am excited to share with you a behind the scenes look at one of the new designers offering their patterns on Pixiefaire, Peppermintsticks. Today designer Jeri offers us a glimpse into her motivation for design and her love of dolls.
Q: How long have you been sewing?
A: "I’ve always been a girl that loved dolls. One of my favorite memories is when I was about 5 years old and my mom surprised me with a new outfit she had sewn while I was at kindergarten. I came home and walked into my bedroom and there was my Tiny Tears doll standing up in her toy crib just like a real baby. She was wearing a new flannel sleeper and cap. I felt just like a real mommy. You know, one of those Suzie homemaker moments playing in slow motion. My mom made many of the outfits on this 1964 McCall’s pattern. And she taught me to hand sew with the scraps, alongside her as she sewed. "
"Barbie dolls were growing in popularity in the late 60’s and I remember having the first bendable leg Barbie and the whole gang: Skipper, Skooter, Tutti and Francie, but by age 11, my best friend Sarah and I needed a little more of a challenge while playing so it was her mom that taught us how to sew on a real sewing machine. The early designs had a lot of raw edges and consisted of a hole for their head to go through, usually wrapping around the waist like a halter top but hey, it was the early 70’s now and we were “on trend.” Sarah told me in later years that her mom was pretty mad at me one day because I had cut out a pattern piece right in the middle of the yardage. I don’t have a memory of this but it does seem like it could happen when dealing with a young beginner. How embarrassing is it to learn these things the hard way?
So…Back to that question…the short answer is I’ve been sewing off and on for over 42 years."
Q: What made you start sewing for 18 inch dolls?
A: "I made holiday dresses for my daughter and her Cabbage Patch Preemie named Harmony. And by the mid 90’s she had her first American Girl doll, Kirsten, and a year later, Whitney, the very first year the Girl of Today was introduced."
"I’m married and have 3 children and for most of their childhood I’ve been a stay at home mom. I worked a few years during that time but my last job was low paying and became pretty demanding and one day I just couldn’t do it anymore. I was exhausted and just wanted to get back to “my happy place.” So I pulled out my sewing machine and started sewing again. I started sewing doll clothes because they had always been so much fun to create and right about that time eBay was becoming popular. We picked Peppermintsticks as a username and my daughter helped me do some listings right after Christmas of 2002. We didn’t know what to expect and on New Year’s Eve some bidding wars started on some of the outfits. It was an exciting time to be online selling and in a group that had dolls as a common interest. "
"In those 12 years I’ve taken time off from selling several times to develop a doll ministry. Dolls help girls in so many ways. In caring for their new doll, they learn skills like dressing and combing their dolls hair, and they’re free to develop their own style by mixing and matching clothes, shoes and accessories to discover what they like best."
"To date we have donated over 25 new American Girl dolls and wardrobes to girls in foster care partnering with Children’s Home Society of Washington, the Salvation Army’s Angel Giving Tree, as well as at local churches. I’ve found if you keep your eyes open you can find many opportunities to help if you just put yourself out there a little bit. The joy I have received from sharing is amazing. A little girl once told me “that I have the best job in the whole world.” It brought tears to my eyes. "
Q: How did you get the knowledge and passion to design patterns?
A: "Because I was young when I started sewing, the knowledge and passion came slowly over time. In junior high and high school, Home Ec classes were something that all girls took. But each year I always tried new categories and more difficult projects so I would learn as much as I could. On Christmas morning in 1977 Santa brought me a new Singer sewing machine and up until a few years ago it was all I used. My dad made me a deal that day that I still remember today. He told me he would buy me ALL THE FABRIC I wanted but I had to finish what I started. I don’t really think he realized what that could mean but I took full advantage of the offer. It allowed me the freedom to experiment on many different types of fabrics and patterns. Although everything I made didn’t always turn out as expected it was an awesome opportunity that created my passion for sewing today."
"This spring I had a special request for a ballet outfit and a swimsuit. I couldn’t say no to this mom and little girl. But I found myself face to face in a challenging area with fabrics that I have never been very good with. In dolly world, this is a pretty big area and I knew every time I avoided it I was limiting myself. I knew I was really going to have to push myself to overcome this category. I think having a time limit on the project and not wanting to disappoint someone really helped motivate me. I ordered some new fabrics online and was surprised how nice the weight and feel of the swim fabrics are today. So with a lot of pins and the stretch stitch on my machine I was able to finish the order and gain a lot of confidence. I can say that I really love swimwear now and it’s my favorite item for the dolls. I love the bold colors and prints and wish summer was all year round. Completing the outfits gave me the vision of new possibilities. It was this boost that helped me believe I could design and I’m so happy I stepped out of my comfort zone to try something new."
"I have so many ideas and plans for doll patterns. My son says ideas are like a dog on a leash, you have to control them or they take off in too many directions. It’s so true, one look at my sewing room confirms that statement."
Q: Which dolls do you have and which are your favorite?
A: " I think my favorite dolls are the American Girl of the Year dolls. There’s something about a limited edition and knowing they will be gone after a year, plus having a January 1st release date is something fun and exciting to look forward to each year. Kailey was the very first doll I purchased and after collecting for 12 years I have over 25. I usually add a couple dolls a year as a birthday gift or for Mother’s day and they really start to add up. I love the dolls with freckles and I currently have more brunette dolls than blonds. I’m lucky to have a sewing room because they take up quite a bit of space. My husband once asked me if it bothers me that they are all staring at me. I replied, “No, it’s not like they’re clowns.” Now that would be real creepy.
Isabelle and the brand new AG # 61 with red hair, center part and green eyes are on my wish list for this year. It’s been a real treat to shop at the American Girl store in Seattle. Choosing a doll and seeing the displays up close has all the excitement of being a little girl again."
Thank you to Jeri for taking the time to share with us today her behind the scenes look at Peppermintsticks! You can find her Facebook page by clicking here.
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