Sears resident finds joy in creating unique garments for dolls

SEARS — Georjean Knapp's love for sewing has turned into more than just a hobby, as she runs a home-based small business stitching together clothes and accessories for 18-inch dolls.

"I love little work and things like the trim on the clothes," Knapp said. "It's doing the different styles and tiny busy work. I love it. That's what keeps me going — the creating. I don't really have a favorite thing I've made. It's all fun."

It all began in 2004, when she suggested sewing as a way to keep her mother, Marie Becker, busy while her father was ill. The pair began selling their items on Ebay, participated in the Michigan State University Christmas arts and crafts show for a few years, then moved their wares to Etsy, another online shopping website.

"We sell mostly for the American Girl doll, but I also sew for the Madame Alexander dolls," Knapp said. "We do special orders for our outfits and do one-of-a-kind items, for example I make kimonos and they sell very well. We use patterns, some of it's free-hand but they always have our unique touch and all of them come with shoes or hats. We've knitted scarves, too."

In addition to garments and accessories, Knapp also makes bean bag chairs for the dolls. Each item Knapp creates has been popular with doll lovers of young and old.

Sewing became a part of Knapp's life at an early age as she grew up in Evart.

"I started sewing through 4-H when I was 10," she said. "My mom created a 4-H group and she taught us how to sew and I started sewing all of my own clothes. And when I was between 10 and 12, Barbie was new, and I wanted one so badly — not to play with — but to sew for. My great-great-aunt sewed and when she came to visit she always had her sewing machine and I watched her. It was something I always wanted to do."

During the years, her skills progressed, working as a tailor at a business in Lansing and additional sewing on her own time. Now, she can create just about anything, rarely referencing a pattern and usually purchasing fabrics in the local region.

"I have made cheerleading outfits, a replica of the flower girl outfits from Kate and William's royal wedding, and school uniforms," Knapp added. "Now I'm making shoes and the hats are homemade."

Other than making clothing for dolls, she often will alter clothing for local residents.

She has since passed some of her sewing skills down to her granddaughter, who also showed an interest for the craft.

"She is busy and she's two hours away from me, but I hope she always retains that because she's a beautiful seamstress," Knapp said. "She picked it up like nothing. I hope she retains it because if you don't use it, you lose it.

"I enjoy it and I hope to keep doing it for a lot of years yet."

To see Knapp's creations or contact her, visit mariegeorj.etsy.com.