Dressing Dolls

Inspiration Thanks to Mary Hoyer Doll Company

While researching dolls and handmade doll clothes of the Baby Boomer Generation (those born between 1946-1964), I discovered the Mary Hoyer Doll Company and the story of Mary Hoyer.  In the Schiffer Book Dolls and Accessories of the 1950’s by Dian Zillner, I found my initial information.  The article speaks of a woman who began her career designing children’s fashions that were to be knitted or crocheted by consumers.  Soon the company, located in Reading, Pa began selling undressed dolls with patterns for clothing to be made at home (page 66).  The article refers to a book by Mary Hoyer titled Mary Hoyer and Her Dolls.

And so I began my search for her book.  Thanks to the web and Ebay, it wasn’t long until I found a copy of the book with one of the dolls in an original dress.

Sun Bonnet Sue Dress and Hat

Sun Bonnet Sue Dress Kit reprinted in book

  The book is a treasure trove of information about the company, the dolls, and Mary Hoyer’s career along with many patterns.  According to the Introduction, Mary Hoyer not only designed knit, crochet, and sewing patterns for garments to be completed but also designed accessories to go with the doll.  In addition, she designed kits containing patterns, material, and complete instructions to complete the garment.  Mary Hoyer published 9 volumes of Mary’s Dollies.  The patterns are included in the book Mary Hoyer and Her Dolls.  Here’s two of my favorites:

from Mary’s Dollies, Volume 10, Page 4

from Mary’s Dollies, Volume 5, Page 4

While I have knit, crocheted, and sewn doll clothes for many different size and types of dolls, when I contacted Mary Maxim in search of vintage knitting patterns for dolls, I discovered clothing for 13-14 inch child dolls.

I am currently developing a collection of clothes for this size doll.  These clothes fit the Fibre Craft Music Box Doll, the Darice 13 1/2 inch Full Body doll and the Corolle les Cheries and Miss Corolle line of dolls.

The Mary Hoyer Doll Company lives on today through the efforts of her granddaughter, Mary Lynne Saunders.  According to the Lancaster City Arts website, the shop, museum, and design studio are located in a restored historic building in Lancaster, Pa.  A visit to the current website www.maryhoyerdoll.com highlights beautifully dressed dolls with accessories and special events to create fashions for the current line of Mary Hoyer dolls.

I believe that Mary Hoyer created an incredible legacy for women.  She combined the love of handmade clothes with dolls that helped children learn and grow.  I truly admire her work and will refer to her company as inspiration for my own collection.

As Spring 2012 turns into Summer, a visit to Lancaster, Pennsylvania and the Mary Hoyer Doll Company Shop and Museum are definitely on my list.

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