Artist Jean Goodwin creates fashionable doll ensembles for her Silly Togs line. PHOTO BY TAYLOR BIGLER

Artist creates colorful doll clothes

SOUTHWEST HARBOR — Jean Goodwin has had the same hobby since she was a young girl.

“I’ve been sewing doll clothes since I was 7 or 8,” Goodwin said. “They probably wouldn’t give me a needle any earlier.”

The only difference is now she makes her doll clothes with a sewing machine rather than with a needle, and that the hobby is now a full-fledged business.

“I’ve always loved dolls since I was a girl, and now this is my excuse to keep playing with them,” said the lifelong Mount Desert Island resident, who lives in Southwest Harbor.

Goodwin began selling her doll clothes for Barbies and Cabbage Patch Kids in the 1980s. Now, she makes clothes for 18-inch dolls like the American Girl dolls under the name Silly Togs.

Silly Togs clothes range from $10 to $25, and she will create more elaborate pieces by request.

“I try to keep the price down so if a kid sees one she wants, she can have it and it’s not too expensive,” Goodwin said.

Jean Goodwin has been making doll clothes since childhood. PHOTO BY TAYLOR BIGLER

Jean Goodwin has been making doll clothes since childhood.

Her favorite dresses to make are fantasy clothes, like fairy princess dresses with wings, or another favorite of her own design, a mermaid tail dress. When she “really needs to get going,” she makes up to eight dresses in a day.

She rarely makes the same dress twice and is always on the hunt for new and unique fabrics. Said Goodwin, “I change them all the time — I don’t like to make the same thing over and over again.”

Silly Togs are sold at craft fairs and shops from Mount Desert Island to the Sleigh Bell Shoppe in South Blue Hill and in Lincolnville. Next up, she will be at the Island Arts Association holiday fair on Dec. 4 and Dec. 5 at the Atlantic Oceanside Conference Center.

For Goodwin, who also is a prolific artist under her maiden name Jean Walton, Silly Togs is a means to support her other artistic endeavors.

“My clothes support my other art,” she said.

While Goodwin considers herself to be a painter first and a doll clothes maker second, she also creates just about anything that pops into her head, from seaglass jewelry, to ornaments and magnets made from lobster traps, to driftwood and knitting needle Christmas trees.

“I’m a very visual person; I don’t like music much — I love color,” she said of her artistic nature. “There aren’t very many of us but we do exist.”

Goodwin’s creative streak can be traced back to when she was a young girl growing up in Seal Cove, around the same time she started making doll clothes. She remembers going with her aunt, a painter, to a craft fair on the Bar Harbor Village Green. Her aunt didn’t have a booth or table, but displayed her paintings in front of a tree.

“That’s the reason I started painting, because of her,” Goodwin said. “I didn’t know you could sell paintings. That’s when I said, ‘OK, this is what I’m going to do.’”

But to Goodwin, creating doll clothes, painting a picture, or crafting any other project is all one in the same.

“It’s all about color, putting different colors together,” she said. “[Making doll clothes] is like painting to me.”

The Island Arts Association December holiday fair is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 4, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 5, at the Atlantic Oceanside Conference Center, Eden Street, Bar Harbor.

Taylor Bigler Mace

Taylor Bigler Mace

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Taylor covers sports and maritimes for the Islander. As a native of Texas, she is an unapologetic Dallas Cowboys fan. [email protected]
Taylor Bigler Mace

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