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Win-Win-Win with Marcy Mahle


An avid doll collector and a Sherlock Holmes fan finds herself drawn to Sew Powerful though an email she received from Pixie Faire. Meet Marcy Mahle whose busy life includes memberships in several clubs devoted to her hobbies. Marcy still finds time to sew purses for Sew Powerful because she feels it is important to give the girls in Zambia an opportunity for a brighter future.


Ohio Valley Doll Collectors Club, Robert Tonner dolls, Helen Kish dolls, American Girl dolls, Madame Alexander dolls, Vogue dolls, Hooray dolls, UFDC, the United Federation of Doll Collectors, Grovian Doll Museum, Grovian in Carmel, California, Barbie dolls, Kinzie dolls, Baker Street Irregulars, Sherlock Holmes, Agra Treasurers in Dayton, Ohio, Sew Powerful, VA dentist, 50th wedding anniversary, Pixie Faire, Sue Grafton


We are Sew Powerful, How a Global Community of Seamstresses Is Changing Zambia One Girl at A Time, 2nd edition. By Jason G. Miles and Cinnamon, © 2016 & 2020 Jason G. Miles and Cinnamon, all rights reserved.


The Sew Powerful Podcast shines a light on the people behind the mission to keep girls in school and create purposeful products in Zambia. Join us every week for a new 30-minute episode to meet new people, hear inspiring stories, and learn how you can join us in this global movement. Whether you sew or not, make purses or not, you will find something to enjoy in every episode. Listen today.


Host: Jan Cancila

Guest: Marcy Mahle


Jan Cancila, Host 00:04

Welcome to the Sew Powerful podcast. This is your host, Jan Cancila. You know the sound of my sewing machine means it's time for another episode. So, let's get started.


Jan 00:19

The president elect of the Ohio Valley Doll Collectors Club, lives in America's Heartland, actually in a town actually named Centerville. She finds herself drawn to Sew Powerful through an email from Pixie Faire. As you may know, Pixie Faire is the doll clothes pattern marketplace, owned by Sew Powerful co founder, Cinnamon Miles. Way back in 2014, when Marcy Mahle got that first correspondence, she was immediately drawn to Sew Powerful. And then in 2015, when she learned more about the purse program, and the way it helps the schoolgirls in Zambia, Marcy started making purses. And she's been at it ever since. This very busy wife, mother and grandmother has a couple of hobbies that will surprise you. And we're going to discover more about Marcy Mahle in today's Sew Powerful podcast episode.


Jan 01:20

Hello, Marcy. How are you today?


Marcy Mahle, Guest 01:23

Jan, how are you today?


Jan 01:25

Oh, I'm great. I'm great. It's a little bit rainy where I am today. So if you hear a clap of thunder, you'll know it's just the weather. We're talking with you today, Marcy, because you submitted, and Sew Powerful selected, the story that you wrote and published it in the second edition of the We Are Sew Powerful book. And the name of your story is Win Win Win. Can you tell us why you chose that name for the the title of your story?


Marcy 01:56

I chose that name, because what Cinnamon and Jason are doing in Zambia, I think it's very good for people. So many organizations, they just simply give money to people and say, Here. Here's money to help you. What Cinnamon and them do is they teach people how to sew which gives them a trade so they can do things themselves and make their own money. And with the girls, with the program to keep them into school, they give them purses filled with personal items to help keep them into school during their periods. And this is a great thing. This is a win-win-win for everybody. The girls stay in school, they get an education, they have a future. The women who they teach how to sew, these people make items, they sell them to other people, they make money for their families. And also in Zambia, so many of the schools, uniforms are worn by the students. And the seamstresses, they make the uniforms. This way they charge the parents a very low price. But it gives the parents self respect. They're able to buy the uniforms instead of being given to them. This lets them know that they have done this themselves for their children. So they bought the actual uniforms. The children wear, another way of self respect.


Jan 03:21



Marcy 03:22

And I think that's a really good way to do it.


Jan 03:24

Yeah. And I think you summed that up beautifully. You know, when I introduced you, I said that you were the President-Elect of the Ohio Valley Doll Collectors Club. Tell us about that club. And and maybe tell us about your hobby of collecting dolls. Well, and I think just collecting probably understates what you do, correct?.


Marcy 03:44

It does a little bit. I love sewing for dolls. I love sewing cloth dolls. And about a little over two years ago, I found out about the Ohio Valley Doll Collector's Club. It's been in existence for many years, since the 1950s. In fact, next year, we'll be celebrating our 70th anniversary as a club. And I was drawn to it. It was wonderful. I was asked to be a member and I actually wasn't asked I was told to be in a meeting on a specific day and time, which I did. And I loved it. It was wonderful. We had lunch, we saw a beautiful presentation of some sort of dolls and doll history, which is what we do at our meeting. And I love the people; and people were all very, very nice. And I joined right away, became secretary for the past year, I've been serving as secretary, and now I'll be soon in September, I'll become the president of the club and this term is for two years. I hope to do a good job. Also the club is associated with UFDC, the United Federation of Doll Collectors, which is an organization that is nationwide and includes hundreds of doll clubs. And they also put on a huge convention every July. Of course this year, it was cancelled. But they did an online presentation, which was very nice last week.


Jan 05:06

Well, what kind of dolls do you like to collect?


Marcy 05:09

I collect all sorts of dolls. I collect um the Robert Tonners, I collect Helen Kish, American Girl doll. I love the Girls for All Time. I love Sofia. I have so many different dolls, Madame Alexander and Vogue. But lately, I have been learning about other dolls like the Hooray Doll. And through the virtual doll convention, which is a doll convention that's held online on Facebook. And I never knew some of these dolls existed, the antique dolls and the antique world and so I'm becoming very interested in that. And I did get a reproduction of a Hooray Doll. Unfortunately, I cannot afford a real one. But I do have a reproduction. And I look forward to sewing for that doll very soon.


Jan 05:55

Now for those of us who were not doll collectors, what kind of a price would an original doll cost?


Marcy 06:01

It can ran up to 25 to 50 or $100,000.


Jan 06:07

Oh my gosh, I thought you were gonna say 25 or $50. Oh my goodness.


Marcy 06:11

So neat to see the antique doll. These are made in the 1800s. And these dolls are very expensive.


Jan 06:18



Marcy 06:19

It especially depends on the condition and the ones that come with their wardrobes and the wardrobe trunk, which is how little girls used to do back then. In fact, the Hooray Dolls were considered the American Girl dolls of the 1800's. Grandmothers would go to the stores and buy all the outfits and buy the doll and buy a special trunk and all the little accessories for it's little furniture pieces. And


Jan 06:43



Marcy 06:43

For their little girls.


Jan 06:45

And so how many dolls would you say are in your collection? Well, how many does your husband think you have in your collection? Let's put it that way.


Marcy 06:54

I feel very sorry for my husband because the virtual doll convention is having a big affair coming up this week. And they're through the Grovian Doll Museum in Carmel, California. And there's going to be so many wonderful things for sale in their sales room. And I've already warned him ahead of time that I want this. I want this; I want this and this and this. So I don't know, as far as my doll collection, I do have a doll room upstairs of wall-to-wall dolls. And they have infiltrated our bedroom. So there's a wall of dolls in there, too. I'd say, I probably have a couple 1000 dolls.


Jan 07:31

Oh wow. Oh my goodness. Now, you said you also like to make cloth dolls. Is that right?


Marcy 07:37

I do. I love making cloth dolls and dressing them. I started out making some of the I have a little pattern that I made myself, my own pattern. It's just a very simple pattern of the body and the arms and the legs. And I've made that into, oh I've turned it into a bride doll. I've turned it into a birthday doll. It's been a Santa doll and Angel doll. It's very versatile. And I like to make little, tiny ones like the kiddie size dolls which are about six and a half inches and I just love doing that. I just love making all types of dolls but I really love to dress them.


Jan 08:16

And then you add those those cloth dolls to your collection. Is that right?


Marcy 08:20

Yes, I have some of those in my collection. A lot of times I give those as gifts. And I like to make at Christmas time I buy 18-inch dolls that are cheaper, you know from Target or from Joanne's. And what I do is I make a wardrobe for those dolls. And then those dolls are given away. Little girls who do not have a doll because they want to have dresses to change them into. That's what little girls do. They like changing their outfits.


Jan 08:46

Marcy, that is just so nice. That is so nice. So what about your family? Now you have children and grandchildren, do do they benefit from this doll hobby?


Marcy 08:57

Sadly, our three daughters were never into dolls. They still are not. Although I have made them a couple of special dolls, little wedding dolls when they got married. Now I have four grandsons and two granddaughters. My two granddaughters are cousins and they both live in Kentucky. And they're only a year apart. And they're very good friends. And both of them, I had them down here, oh I guess about four years ago for grandma's sewing school. I bought them each a sewing machine and all the paraphernalia and we had the rules up over their table and I taught them how to sew. And I have bought dolls for them but they're starting to get out of the doll stage now. They're, the one will be 13 on August 9, and you know they're just growing up, but they still like their dolls and they sort of pack them away nicely for the future.


Jan 09:54

And how did you get involved in collecting dolls? Did you enjoy playing with them as a child


Marcy 09:59

I always played with dolls as a child and loved my dolls and I love paper dolls too, Katy Keene comics. Always saved my allowance and ran up to the store and got those new Katy Keene comic books when they came out. One day, when I was probably around 12 years old, I came home from school. I don't know why my mother did this, but she decided I was too old for dolls and gave every one of them away to the little girl next door.


Jan 10:25



Marcy 10:26

I was heartbroken. And few couple years later, when I got a job at Kreske's I used to work at Kreske's dime store.


Jan 10:36

I remember that. Yeah.


Marcy 10:37

And I they had a doll for sale there. I bought her. And that started it all. From then on, and I just continued collecting dolls. And even during college, I sort of had to pay my own way through college, and I would make outfits for Barbie and sell them and help pay my way through school.


Jan 10:59

Wow. And where did you go to school? And what did you study?


Marcy 11:03

I went to Wright State University. And I got my degree in Fine Arts.


Jan 11:07

Oh, well, well, how appropriate, how wonderful. And did you have a career after college?


Marcy 11:13

I married my high school sweetheart after college. And we moved to Cleveland. And my husband went to Case Western Reserve dental school. And I worked at University Hospitals as a unit clerk. So it was a nice four years out there.


Jan 11:30

Now you have another hobby. And I've met doll collectors before but I've never met anyone who has the other hobby that is your passion besides Sew Powerful, of course. Tell us a little bit about that. And take us up to the break on on your other hobby.


Marcy 11:50

My other hobby I love mystery books, and I love Sherlock Holmes. I always have. I used to read Nancy Drew as a little girl


Jan 11:58

Oh, I love Nancy Drew. Yeah.


Marcy 12:00

And I got into mysteries. I love Sue Grafton. She's one of my favorites. In fact, she has one of my dolls. I presented her with one Kinzie doll that was like her character and we corresponded back and forth for several years up until her death and she always remembered me when I saw her at any of the book signings. She's a wonderful person. Very nice.


Marcy 12:23

I was sad when she died. But I love Sherlock Holmes and I found the society here in Dayton called the Agra Treasurers and my husband and I joined it. Oh my gosh, years and years, years and years ago, probably over 25 years.


Jan 12:23

Oh, nice.


Jan 12:37

Just say the name of it again, one more time?


Marcy 12:40

The Agra Treasurers.


Jan 12:42

Okay. What does that mean?


Marcy 12:45

It's it's off the story, one of the Sherlock Holmes stories.


Jan 12:48



Marcy 12:49

Ezra Fox that was lost in the Thames River.


Jan 12:53

Okay. All right.


Marcy 12:55

And I also we also belong to the Tinker Bell's in Cincinnati. And I belong to a few online groups too.


Jan 13:03

And all these groups, all these names that you're mentioning this all has to do with Sherlock Holmes?


Marcy 13:08

Yes, they're all part of the bigger society. The Baker Street Irregulars Group Scions, of that, the Baker Street Irregulars they meet every January in New York City and have their huge meeting. And to become a Baker Street Irregular is a huge honor. I will never be one. You have to be published. You publish books and all kinds of papers and things that really be involved in the Sherlockian world. But I just love it. It's fun. We get together we talk about the mysteries. And then our group, we put on the Holmes Doyle and Friends Event that's usually held every March here in Dayton, Ohio. But, of course, everything was canceled this year. We have hopes for next year. We have speakers and we have vendors and it's a wonderful event.


Jan 14:01

So a doll collecting Sherlock Holmes addict. (laughter)


Marcy 14:07

My girls say Mom, you have the strangest friends. (more laughter)


Jan 14:13

A wide variety of friends I think. Why don't we take a quick break here and we're going to explore more about Marcy and her affiliation with Sew Powerful. So we'll see you after the break. Stay tuned.


Jan 14:29

Have you gotten the second edition of the We Are Sew Powerful book? This updated version of the original bestseller, 4.9 out of five stars by the way, is again authored by Sew Powerful co founders, Jason and Cinnamon Miles. It is available on Amazon in paperback or for your Kindle reader. This latest edition is packed full of moving stories about how Sew Powerful came to be, the volunteers who make it happen, and the way this small movement has grown into a global mission to break the cycle of poverty, through education, and the dignity of work. And don't forget, when you place your order, if you use, and designate Sew Powerful as your preferred charity, Amazon will donate a portion of your purchase right back to Sew Powerful. And now back to our podcast.


Jan 15:32

Welcome back. We have been speaking with Marcy Malhe. And her fascination with dolls and doll clothes sewing. And then surprisingly, her affection for Sherlock Holmes and the clubs that she's a member there. So we are delighted to have her and she has been working with Sew Powerful since 2015. Although interested a little before that, but started making purses about that time. Marcy, what is it that you like about making purses for Sew Powerful?


Marcy 16:08

I feel like I'm doing something to help someone else. And I think that's important. I think all of us need to help other people when needed. And what is so nice about the purses, I liked the idea of the young girls receiving the purse, picking out the purse that they want. I enjoyed when I make the purse, picking out different colors and fabrics and just imagining what this young girl would like to carry with her. I think about my own granddaughters and what they like to carry, you know, kind of purses they like. And I also enjoy putting the note. I think the note is very special, that goes inside each purse, just giving them some hope for their future. You know, it's just something to make them know that they are special, because they're alive. Life is wonderful. And if they study hard and do well, they'll be a success in life. And that's what I strive to do.


Jan 17:04

Well, I know our listeners can't see, but I know that you happen to have a couple of purses right there with you. Just sort of describe them for our listeners. What do you have right there?


Marcy 17:14

I like using the denim fabric because I think it's nice and strong. I want to have fabric that's strong, and the other fabrics for decoration. And when I make my purses, I always double stitch. I double stitch everything on the inside. Because I think to myself, they're using these purses, so you don't want them to tear. And then there well they have sewing, you know, a needle and thread. Of course, they could probably go to the sewing Co Op for them to fix but you don't want them to have to do that. So I think double stitching is really important to all your seams. And I try to do that. And I try to pick out bright colors, something that they would like.


Jan 17:51

What what purse do like to make, the beginner or the intermediate?


Marcy 17:55

I like the intermediate. I like the flap; this extra pocket that's on the outside. And I think that that is really good too for picking out your contrast fabric or decoration against the denim or the solid color.


Jan 18:09

I see that you make really positive encouraging comments to other people who make purses on the Sew Powerful Purse Project Facebook group. What is it that you like about encouraging other people?


Marcy 18:21

I think all of us, you know, we we would be surprised what we would could do with our lives. And when faced with certain situations in our lives, you know whether it be bad or good. We all have a power inside of us to make ourselves shine in some way. And I think we surprise ourselves. We all think, Oh, I can't do this or I can't do that. But I think when we're faced with situations, we can do so many things that we never dreamed we could possibly do. And I always like to encourage other people to sew. It's something they can do. I taught myself how to sew. No one taught me. I just sat down and read the directions and just did it. I used to sew by hand a lot. Now I'm going back to sewing by hand for the Hooray Dolls. But I used to do that by hand before I got a machine and I think we're capable of doing whatever we want to do.


Jan 19:15

And have you taken any online sewing classes? I know you just said you're self taught but you seem like a person who feels like they could probably always be learning.


Marcy 19:25

I believe you're always learning, always learning, There's always something new to do. I've taken all of Cinnamon's classes. I think those are wonderful. Her Sewing With Cinnamon. I love those classes. I've been with that since they started. I'm taking her pattern design classes, all those. Every class she's offered I've taken and I've learned from it. You're always there's always something new to learn in everything.


Jan 19:51

And so what was her pattern making class one of the inspirations for you to make the the pattern for your cloth dolls?


Marcy 19:59

No, I made that a long time.


Jan 20:01

Before Cinnamon. Okay. Okay. And Marcy, we're recording this at the end of July, but you have a big event coming up in your life.


Marcy 20:13

My husband and I will be celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary on August 8. We met in high school, we were high school sweethearts, and we dated all through college and then got married after college. My husband became a dentist and that, he said he was at the VA hospital. And I was taking care of our girls. But our girls last week, they gave us a special party at one of our daughters homes. And it was really nice. It was just our girls, our three son-in-laws and the three grand dogs and the six pack of grandchildren.


Jan 20:45

What a cute term. Congratulations. And wishing you and your husband many, many more years together. Do you have any advice for young brides out there that are thinking 50 years sounds like a long time?


Marcy 21:01

Well, for me now, every marriage has its ups and downs. But I think the most important thing is always respect each other and be aware of each other's feelings and be interested in the things that they're interested in. You know, kind of be interested in each other's hobbies and likes or dislikes, and just try to be your best with each other. That's all. I mean, of course, you're going to disagree, you know, but just always try to think of something nice and try to wake up every day and kind of make somebody else smile. And then you'll smile.


Jan 21:35

Your husband must be a very patient man to have all these dolls in the house. How does he support your hobby?


Marcy 21:40

He's very good. He's retired. He was the dentist for 34 years at the VA hospital here in Dayton and he's retired now. He is very good with supporting my hobby. I have to honestly say it's been very good. Last year, I went to the my very first United Federation Doll Collectors Convention in Nashville, and it was expensive to go. And we drove and my husband went along and he met everybody for the virtual documentary and Rachael Hoffman and Michael and David from the Grovian, Bradley and Billy and all of them from you know, these people online that I've met, we met in person. And it was wonderful and he let me buy dolls. He was very good. He let me sign up for the luncheons. And my friend Gail Wilson was there and I bought her dolls and it was wonderful. It was great.


Jan 22:28

You have a family history that's interesting. Tell us a little bit about your ancestors and how how you came to be born in America.


Marcy 22:41

My mother was a World War Two war bride from North Wales, Great Britain. She met my father in Britain. My father was from Hammond, Indiana. And he was a GI over in Britain. And all my family, my relatives, aunts, uncles and cousins, they're all still in North Wales. They have been here visiting us and we've been there visiting them many, many times. I love it there. It's absolutely wonderful. And Wales is a beautiful place, especially in the spring when the baby lambs are dotting the Mount Snowdon. It's just like a fairy land. There's castles everywhere, and it's just wonderful.


Jan 23:23

Well, we're so glad that that you're here and that you have made the contributions to Sew Powerful and we pray that you'll continue to do that. And it's been a pleasure to talk with you with such diverse hobbies and interesting family backgrounds. So thank you so much for your time, Marcy.


Marcy 23:42

Well, thank you, Jan, and I pray that Cinnamon and Jason will continue with their work and that'll be a huge success and more and more girls will receive lots of purses.


Jan 23:55

I think with your help, we'll, we'll achieve that. So thank you very much. Bye bye.


Marcy 24:01

Bye bye.


Jan 24:03

If what you've heard today inspires you to want to make a difference. I urge you to explore the Sew Powerful website at, That's SEWPOWERFUL dot ORG. The website has great information about the organization, is where you can download the free purse patterns, or even make a donation. We hope you will join us again next week when we bring you another Sew Powerful story. Thanks for listening. Now, go out and have a Sew Powerful day.


Jan Cancila has been making purses for Sew Powerful since 2014. She serves the organization as Director, Global Volunteerism, the Area Manager for Shows and Events-Mid/South USA and as the Houston Regional Coordinator. She was a public speaking major at Hanover College and holds an MBA from Our Lady of the Lake University. Jan had a 25-year career with The Coca-Cola Company before owning and operating a linen and party rental business in Houston. She is married with two grown sons, a lovely daughter-in-law and two remarkable granddaughters. Jan’s published work includes more than 100 online articles for Reach Jan with comments or suggestions at