Dolls in Her Daughter’s Memory

Watching people view the wonderful raffle items we receive each year for the fall dinner one item seems to always catch people’s eye; Cathy Peterson’s hand-crafted doll ensembles. Cathy wouldn’t divulge how long it took her to make each set, but it had to be well over a hundred hours. To learn more about what drove her to make such beautiful set, we posed a few questions to her.

Q. What was the driving impetus for you to create your superb dolls and accessories?
. Twelve years ago our middle child Carleen died from cancer; she was 26 years old. She left a young husband and a four-year old son. I could barely function after her death. I turned my back on God and life. With the help of three friends who also had experienced the death of a child and another parishioner, I found my way back to the church and the living, but I knew I needed a way to honor my daughter’s memory. When Carleen was around six, she had saved money for a new doll, and we went shopping. Unfortunately the dolls she wanted were all too expensive and she started crying. I asked her what was wrong and she asked me “Why are all the best babies so expensive?” This memory was the answer to what I was looking for. My daughter’s love of all things dolls and my sewing talent came together and I started creating one of the “best babies” for a little girl to win.

Q. What does each ensemble usually include?
I always include a First Communion dress with matching shoes, socks and some kind of head piece, a coat with boots, pajamas with bunny slippers and a swimsuit with sandals and sunglasses. There will be another dress, pant outfit and whatever other patterns catch my fancy. Each outfit will have matching shoes, socks or tights, extra panties, hair ties and ribbons to match. I make a bedding set that fits over a storage container so that when the child is done playing everything fits inside this container and her doll can sleep on top.

Q. How many doll ensembles have you created for Fall Dinner Raffle baskets.
A. I have made five sets. I believe I made my first set in 2012.

Q. How do you select your yearly themes for your creations?
A. There really isn’t a theme for the sets, I just want them to be fun and colorful, something that will appeal to a child and what would have appealed to my daughter.  Generally I have the First Communion dress pattern picked out right away, but the first outfit I usually make are the pajamas and bedding.

Q. Do have any help for your creations or do you do all the work yourself?
A. I make all the clothes and bedding and then I purchase the accessories for the outfits. Most everything is stitched on the machine, but there are usually a few details that require hand stitching.

Q. How many hours does it take to make ensemble.
A. I have never timed it. I just work on it throughout the year.

Q. Have you ever heard back from someone who has won one of your creations?
A. Each year when I am putting the sets together my prayer is that the doll goes to a little girl that needs her. I know where three of the dolls went, and I love hearing about the dolls new homes.

Q. Looking ahead, do you have any ideas for next year’s creation?
I just purchased next year’s doll but I haven’t decided what clothing she will have or what her quilt and bedding will look like.

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