Mama Style: Thrifted

SONY DSCThis dress started out as a skirt that I got for one dollar when I was visiting Tahoe City years ago. I was not a fan of how it fit as a skirt, so I yanked that sucker up and put a belt on it, and voila! It was a cute dress. It has remained one of my favorite dresses for all of these years, and I get compliments on it every time I wear it.

The best thing about this dress is that it’s multi-purposed and also works as a maternity dress! Hooray! I just had to move the belt up a little and BAM! A maternity dress was made. I have a few skirts that I have turned into dresses, and I will say that you have to use the right material to make this work. Another skirt I have is made with a little thinner material, and bunches up too much when I made it into a dress and the belt also slips a lot, regardless of how tight I make it.

The posse is never far

The posse is never far

I also like that it’s long enough that I’m not uncomfortable wearing it. I have a hard time with maxi dresses because they are too long and mama doesn’t wear heels – or any elevated shoes, for that matter. And most summer dresses I have tried on are too short, especially when the bump is increasing in size. So for me, this dress is perfect.

The next time you are at a thrift store and see some awesome skirts that are a little too long for your liking, try to hike them up and dress it up with a belt. It will work with maternity and beyond! Just make sure that the top is elastic and it’s flows, so you can twirl when you’re wearing it, of course.

What is your favorite thrifted item that works with and without your baby bump? Share it in the comments and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google + and Pinterest!

Yo Momma Monday: Karen LePage

yo momma mondayMeet Karen LePage, 42, a sewin’ mama from Michigan. I met her through Oh My! Handmade and I instantly swooned over all of her work. She not only sews up a storm, but she also creates patterns, sells custom-made garments and shares tutorials on her website at One Girl Circus! Oh, and she also co-wrote a sewing book for boys, appropriately named Sewing for Boys.

Before she started working for herself, she sang at weddings, sold cars, managed a coffee shop, taught German and worked in Strategic Planning. To say she is well-rounded would be an understatement.

Karen started a blog after she read and loved blogs from other people. Initially, it started as a means for documenting her children’s special moments.

“I guess it’s not surprising that I’m not very consistent with it, however, because I was never a child who could keep a journal beyond “dear diary” for more than a few weeks.”

Photo from Karen LePage

Photo from Karen LePage

After her mother bought a sewing machine when Karen was five, she started experimenting and made every project in the booklet that came with the machine. From there, she spent several years making wardrobes for all of her dolls. As a kid, she started watching Sewing with Nancy when it came on PBS, a show she still watches to this day.

I always say Nancy Zieman taught me to sew…I still watch it.  I still love it.”

Karen still remembers her first sewing project – a drawstring bag – and she says there have been plenty of disasters along the way. When she first got started, she would wear her disasters; now, she tucks them away until she’s ready to try again. Her latest creation was a Japanese double-gauze newborn outfit that was in a box for six years because she couldn’t stand to look at it.

“I’m so happy I could rescue it!”

Photo from Karen LePage

Photo from Karen LePage

As a mom, Karen says that her children not only inspire her work, but also keep her balanced and admits that if she didn’t have her kids, she would probably just work all the time.

“I love making things, and having humans relying on me for comfort, food, and shelter ensures that I nourish myself with their companionship while meeting their needs, too.”

The creativity bug has definitely hit both of her kids, as her son likes to design the garments she makes for him, and her daughter is a quilter. Her son also shops at thrift and vintage stores, so he has become quite the master at button replacing, and he already has an eye for what can be fixed, and what cannot. Her daughter will often work up a patchwork when she’s in the sewing space.

“She has an amazing eye for color and pattern.”

Karen describes her workspace as chaotic yet comforting. While she is always moving things around in there, she still keeps an open space for her kids to visit while she’s working. She does like to take some time tidying up in between projects.

Photo from Karen LePage

Photo from Karen LePage

“But as soon as I have a clean space I’m inspired to start making again – immediately.

Although there’s no such thing as a normal day, there is one consistency in her morning routine – coffee (ain’t that the truth). Her daily activities are determined by deadlines, inspiration and commitments – and she does try to get some sewing in every day.

“I start to get twitchy when I’m away from my sewing machine for too long.”

Karen says that the best and scariest thing about running her own business is that everything – from what get made to what gets published – is all her.

Photo from Karen LePage

Photo from Karen LePage

“Sometimes it’s wonderful and sometimes it’s terrifying and sometimes it’s wonderfully terrifying.”

She started teaching classes after someone asked her to do it, and that is one of her favorite things about what she does.

“There’s something super-satisfying about nudging my students toward sewing confidence.  I love that it’s a skill they can use forever. I love holding their hands through the tough part and saying “Look how awesome you are!” when they make it through and realize they can make something they didn’t think they could make.”

When Karen is not teaching classes and making clothes –  or thinking about new classes and new projects – she loves reading, hiking with her daughter, yoga and cooking.

Photo from Karen LePage

Photo from Karen LePage

“Actually, strike that, I like reading cookbooks.”

And of course, she loves all forms of crafting. There isn’t a craft she hasn’t stopped, and thanks to Creative Bug and the craft section in her local bookstore, that won’t be ending anytime soon. She loves making anything from  baby clothes to formal gowns – all of it.

“If it goes on a body, someone will wear it and love it, and that’s something that makes me happy and keeps me going.  There’s always something new I want to try, whether it’s a technique or material I haven’t yet attempted; I incorporate my latest learning into each new project.”

She gets the majority of her fabric from local fabric stores and loves visiting new stores in any town she visits. When she cannot find a fabric she wants locally, she will shop online.

Photo from Karen LePage

Photo from Karen LePage

“I spend my dollars locally whenever possible.”

Karen loves being a part of the handmade community because she has always been just one of a handful of people she knows that love sewing. Of the four high schools she attended, she only found one friend who could sew. ONE! Now that she has a whole community of friends who also love the same kind of things, she counts it as a blessing.

“I feel so energized and inspired when working collaboratively; even when working on my own thing amongst fellow makers.  The handmade community is what has made my 30s and 40s the best years of my life.”

She currently has two patterns in the Stitch Magazine Spring issue and there will be another one in the Summer issue. She is also working on a handmade garment line and is hoping to hire some local people to help with the sewing and sales of her products.

“I’m really excited about it, but I’m also thrilled to have a steady stream of consultancy projects.”

Photo from Karen LePage

Photo from Karen LePage

Karen hopes to inspire people by being an advocate of all things handmade – whether its making, buying, spreading the word, or all of the above.

“I also hope I can inspire people to try something new every once in a while, and to really enjoy the process of making.”

Thank you to the lovely and wonderful Karen for participating in this series! You can find her blog here, buy her stuff here and read the book she co-wrote here.

If you enjoy this series and would like to be a part of it, or know someone who should, please leave a note in the comments or connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Pinterest and Instagram. Next month, I will be talking with Jane Skoch from Maiden Jane!

Giving Tuesday: My favorite nonprofits

Today marks the second annual Giving Tuesday – a national day of giving. Since I have worked with nonprofits before, and I know how hard it can be to raise money, I thought I would share some of my favorite nonprofits and different ways you can support them. All of these organizations are run by volunteers who are doing this because they truly believe in the cause and helping other people. That’s kind of an amazing thing, when you think about it.

Photo from Krochet Kids

Photo from Krochet Kids

Krochet KidsI wrote about this awesome nonprofit before, and I am doing it again just because I love them so much. Kohl Crecelius learned to crochet from his older brother, and soon taught his two friends, Travis and Stewart. Though they all went to different Colleges, they would volunteer together in developing countries. After one of the founders, Stewart, returned home from a Summer in Uganda, they were motivated to teach Ugandan women to crochet so they could rise out of poverty. The clothing and accessories are signed by the makers and all of the donations fund their efforts. They recently You can read more about their story here and you can donate here. They recently worked with twin sisters Jennifer and Amy Hood – who founded Hoodzpah – to sell limited edition screen printed posters, one of which is shown above.

Photo from Out of the Dark

Photo from Out of the Dark

Out of the DarkThe moment I read about this nonprofit, I immediately felt inspired. This organization was founded by two brothers who work with disadvantaged kids to restore old furniture. They also founded Street Dreams, which they have run for 13 years now, and started this charity as an outreach of that organization. Since I recently fell in love with the art of restoration, I instantly felt a connection with Out of the Dark. Their work is beautiful, and looks super professional. I could definitely see myself buying some pieces – once I have a place to put them. You can learn more about getting involved here and can donate here.

Photo from Musana

Photo from Musana

MusanaMuch like Krochet Kids teaches Ugandan women to crochet beans in order to make a living, Musana works with Ugandan artisans to sell their beautiful beaded jewelry. All of the sales, donations and grants they receive go back into their foundation and helping the Ugandan artisans grow through educational and vocational training. They source their material locally in Uganda, and work with local artisans, academics and professionals. You can find read more about their story and artisans here and you can get involved here. I’m thinking of holding a Musana Market, myself.

And for some local nonprofits…

Photo from Sol Collective

Photo from Sol Collective

Sol CollectiveFounded in 2003, Sol Collective is a center dedicated to art, culture and activism. I have been to several art shows there and I’ve seen all the work they do inside that building, and I’m always amazed by their passion and determination for their cause. They provide community programs like the Free-Sol Arts Academy – which provides in and out of school art workshops for kids – and the Sacramento Activist School – a gathering of all generations who are focused on social justice issues. You can sign up for a membership here.

Photo from Vox Sacramento

Photo from Vox Sacramento

Vox SacramentoEven though I only lived a few minutes from Vox when I lived in my dear Midtown, I actually found them through Twitter and decided I wanted to volunteer. When I went to meet with Eric (co-founder), he was in the midst of an art class for kids and was so excited to share his goals with me. I later co-hosted a fundraiser called Art Speaks with my good friend Candice and I have worked on and off with them since then. They are still very dear to my heart, and I hope to work with them more. You can find out more about them here and you can donate here.

We all know how tight money is, so even if you can’t donate, nonprofits love them some volunteers. And if you don’t live close to them, ask if you can help with social media and/or sending out newsletters. Trust me, they would love the help! Feel free to share your favorite nonprofits in the comments and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #givingtuesday. Check out more awesome people behind awesome causes on my Pinterest.

Fridays are for Favorites

fridays are for favorites

I just got into baking last year when I was entering my “nesting” phase (which hasn’t left yet, so I think it’s more than a phase now, it’s an eternal state of being). It quickly became an addiction for me, and I find myself at more baking and cooking stores than clothing stores, now. Sometimes, I don’t even go in there to buy anything, I just love to look. I especially love going to the Baker’s Boutique in Stockton, they serve you cupcakes that are made in the back!

Since I love baking so much now, I also happen to love anything that goes with baking. I’ve seen some cute baking inspired clothing and prints all over Pinterest and Etsy, and I wanted to share some of my favorites with you.

Image belongs to KatchACanvas

Image belongs to KatchACanvas

Culinary Inspired Canvas Tote from KatchACanvas – When we first had Cecilia, we had what I’m pretty sure was the world’s largest diaper bag. Then we downsized to a large backpack (not much of a downsize, to be honest). Now, I normally just carry a couple diapers, some wipes and her formula in my purse. Since she is getting more into her toys and loves having them with her, I’m thinking this tote would be perfect. And the best part – the shop is run by preschool teachers from the Philippines. France, one of the owners, lives in San Diego now and continues teaching in America. They donate one book to a needy child in Philippines for every tote that is purchased. This one goes for $12, which is not bad at all.

Image belongs to Caustic Threads

Image belongs to Caustic Threads

Ladies Kitchen Mixer T-Shirt from Caustic Threads – Erica Voges, the wonderful lady behind this shop, drew up the design herself and then screen printed it on the shirt. She makes every item as the order comes in, so it’s made fresh, just for you. Voges is a mama in New Mexico, who wanted to screen print for a long time, and finally got started in 2010. The shirts are all dyed by her and she screen prints everything by hand.

Image belongs to Eat Say Love

Image belongs to Eat Say Love

Pyrex art print from eat.say.love. – Ashley, who is the owner and designer at eat.say.love, is a graphic designer in Boston, MA. She individually prints each print on archival paper and ships them off herself. There are a lot of other cute prints like this in her shop, such as “Fork It, Let’s Get Takeout,” a conversation that has been shared many times in this house. And if you follow her on Instagram under @eatsaylove, you can get exclusive deals and giveaways!

Image belongs to Pretty Things For You

Image belongs to Pretty Things For You

Baking is Happiness Large Digital Vintage Image from Pretty Things For You – This Etsy shop is full of digital vintage images that can be purchased for a really good price. This print is only $2 and is available for immediate download. You can use the images on all of your crafting projects. The image can be sold as a finished project, or if it was digitally layered and flattened. It cannot, however, be sold as is. That’s just not cool.

Image belongs to Little Ink

Image belongs to Little Ink

Made with Love Wooden Stamp from Little Ink – Suzie, who runs this online store, mixes her love of natural fibers and material with her love of bold colors to come up with her designs. This stamp is $30 and measures 32mm x 25 mm. It’s mounted with a beautiful black wooden handle and also comes in a cloth pouch. You can use this design for all of your homemade goodies, and any clothing you make by hand. That would be so cute!

One of my favorite things about blogging is finding hidden treasures like these. I want each and every one of these items, and will work on purchasing all of them when I can. Like I’ve said before, I promise to never share anything with you that I wouldn’t get for myself. Do you know of any cute baking-related items? Share them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #favoritefridays. Follow me on Pinterest for more of my favorites!