I've been collecting american girl dolls since I was 9 years old. The year was 1988 and the company was Pleasant Company (founded by Pleasant Rowland) and did an excellent job of providing both a great toy and also teaching me a lot about history.
Fast forward to present day. Mattel bought the company - basically ruined it, and I'm doing some catch-up trying to find retired pieces for the dolls I have. However, I've been looking at the books I have and decided to do a little "project" _ I'm going to sew clothing based on the illustrations in the stories. The "official" doll clothes often are only shown once or twice in a book, and with some dolls (such as Samantha) there have been multiple versions of the illustrations, so the opportunities are even broader.
I learned to sew when I was about 11-12 because my mom didn't have enough time to indulge my requests for more doll clothes and we didn't have the money to buy a bunch of expensive stuff from the company. But we did have boxes of leftover scrap material and my mom had an old singer sewing machine. So I learned.
I've made (both) my wedding dress(es), lots of doll clothes, clothes for my younger sister and clothes for my kids. Boys aren't that fun to sew for so I never really made a whole lot for them. And contrary to popular belief, sewing clothes isn't any cheaper than buying them (after all, you can't beat the prices they pay to some young chinese girl...) so I usually don't sew too much except for costumes and special occasions. But I have learned a lot.
I've been collecting a list and doing some sketches for the clothing shown in the books. I've also been scouring the web for examples of undergarments, something sorely lacking for ALL the american girls. I really have been focusing on the "main three" - the three original american girls, which I own. I also have Felicity and would like to get Kit, but Samantha, Molly and Kirsten are the ones I'm focusing on first.
I like making my own doll clothes patterns, they're a lot easier to fit than people and you can scan them into a computer full size :) Real people also have a lot more bumps and curves to work around. I'm debating whether to make multiple outfits and try to make some money selling these or to do it just for fun. Just having a nice, varied set of undergarment and nightclothes patterns will be nice.