Reprinted from the
Pensacola, FL News Journal 5/30/83
Inside a charming, Old Chicago style brick
house, just off Mobile Highway, there lives a talented homemaker with no
complaints. Cooking, sewing and
keeping her home handsome are a large part of her day-in, day-out duties – but
Sarah Doyle is not the average everyday housewife.
Doyle has taken her tailoring talent a step
further – she not only makes her own clothes, but she makes the original
pattern. The 37-year-old homemaker
is currently promoting two books she has written on the subject of pattern
Doyle got her exposure to the Oriental art
during a three-year service-related stay in Taiwan.
While her husband, Ruben, a former Air Force Tech Sergeant, looked after
their 6 children, she would catch a bus and join young Taiwanese women in sewing
and pattern-making classes.
Such lessons are a traditional prerequisite
to marriage for Taiwanese women, but Doyle saw them as a terrific way to learn
to make clothes that fit. She had
been sewing since her grade school years on a farm near Pawnee City, Neb., and
remembers being frustrated when she couldn’t find the right pattern or when
one had to be altered.
“I discovered early that people are not
made the same,” says the petite woman. “I
was really excited at the idea of making patterns to fit me and my family.”
The only American student in the class,
Doyle took little time learning the art with the aid of a translator (Taiwanese
women instructed the class). After
attending a few of the beginner classes, Doyle knew she had found a life-long
hobby. Her enthusiasm trickled down
to other servicemen’s wives who asked Doyle to instruct a class in the art.
As she advanced to higher-level classes,
she began teaching the course to Americans – her husband was her first
She says he wasn’t as enthusiastic about
the course as she was. “But he didn’t love to sew either.
He would lay out the material and maybe help cut.
I’d do the sewing.” She said.
In classes held in her home, Doyle provided
students with an alternative to pattern altering – designing their own.
“The main benefit of this hobby is that
you can design your own styles,” says the homemaker.
She adds that the hobby also saves money spent on patterns that are often
used once and thrown away. By
making her own pattern, she is at liberty to throw it away after one use, since
the patterns are made at little cost.
She says her method is simple, basic one
that requires no experience to learn. “It’s
as easy as cooking. It’s just a
step-by-step method that takes practice,” she says.
to her method, she needs 22 measurements to start on a patterns – bodice,
sleeves, pants – which can be used as the basis for many creations.
Doyle says she found it difficult to
illustrate to her students the measuring techniques required for pattern making.
After a few classes in which she had actually cut out patterns (made from
old newspapers) and attach them to the wall so that every student could see, she
decided it would be easier to write a book.
While still in Taiwan, she began work on
what would be a 192- page guidebook including 1300 illustrations.
She worked on the book between household chores, when her six children
were in school or in bed.
“My husband designed the cover, I did the
illustrations,“ she recalls. “It
took about two years to finish that book but I wanted to make it easy enough to
learn if I were not around.”
Doyle’s book wasn’t published before
she left Taiwan, and neither did she complete courses that she had begun
teaching to American friends. Instead,
after receiving orders to return to the United States, she left with a promise
to her students that they would receive a copy of her book.
The Doyle family returned to the Silver
Creek, Neb., Air Force Station, her hometown area, in 1975.
Shortly after that, her book was released from the printers.
More than a thousand copies were quickly sold by word of mouth alone.
The incentive was there for Doyle to start
on another book. Her first
book, tailored to meet the needs of women and children, contained no guidelines
for un-proportioned men. Her second
book, written while she was in Nebraska, would include patterns for boys and men
and advanced pattern making for women.
1979, after her husband had retired from the Air Force, the family moved to
Pensacola, her husband’s hometown. The
homemaker’s enthusiasm for pattern making and sewing was not lost in the move.
She continued teaching pattern making in her Bellview home, and in the
meantime passing that talent on to her 15-year-old daughter, Denise.
Doyle is considering writing a
pattern-making guidebook that would cater to young teens, since she was 10 when
she started sewing and her daughter was about that age.
Doyle spends a great deal of time working
in her quarter acre garden, where she grows squash, beans, okra, corn, and
strawberries. When her hands
aren’t busy in the garden they are working in the kitchen.
what you’d call an easy going or easy-to-please person.
I’m happiest when I’m working. And
with my current lifestyle, I’m very happy.”