Yo Momma Monday: Maiden Jane

yo momma monday

Meet Jane, 51, a quiltin’ mama of four from Cleveland, OH. She sells her quilts, pillows, totes and repurposed items in her Etsy shop and posts tutorials on her blog – Maiden Jane. I found her blog while searching for upcycled apron ideas, and I instantly fell in love with her story.

Before she was gifted one by her husband before the birth of their first one, Jane had never used a sewing machine. She did, however, love to create things and sewed by hand when she was a little girl. Although her mom never sewed “not even a button,” she supported Jane’s hobby buy purchasing her craft kits.

“So I am largely self-taught. My mother-in-law helped me in the early days and I also attended classes at the Sewing Expos that came through town.”

For Jane, most her inspiration comes from her daily life. If she has a need that she feels is not being met by the products on the market, she will try to create a solution.

Photo from Maiden Jane

Photo from Maiden Jane

“That’s how my Oversized Tote came about. My husband and I tried all different ways of carrying all our supplies to the beach – plus the kids! We decided big bags would be the answer.”

She is also inspired by stuff that other people might be considered junk.

“I am a little sad when I go to a garage sale or the thrift shop to see all the stuff that we – first, buy, then, pitch. I hope that I don’t accumulate so much in my own life that will later be sitting on shelves.”

Her customers are also a source of inspiration, as they will ask her to make certain items that may end up spawning an entire line!

Photo from Maiden Jane

Photo from Maiden Jane

As a small business owner and mom working from home, Jane does not have a set schedule. She does, however, set goals for how much time she wants to spend on certain tasks. She will take breaks for housework and when her kids come home, and she sets aside specific days for her errands.

“…This year I am trying to be working by 7:30. So that means checking email early and then getting started working on sewing. I rarely work for more than two hours straight without doing something else…

I can fritter away a lot of time on social media, so I am trying to confine that to morning,
lunch, and evening. But it’s an important part of my business. So much of my work is custom and then the product ships out right away, so that means I have to photograph it within a day or two of being done.

When Jane and her husband built an addition to their home, they added a master bedroom. The designer wanted to add a glamorous bathroom or a walk-in closet, but it was Jane’s husband who offered up the idea of a craft room/office. And Jane couldn’t be happier with the decision.

Photo from Maiden Jane

Photo from Maiden Jane

“One of the best things I have is a mobile table. It is on wheels so I can move it around the room or out of the way. The height of the table can also be changed. Side flaps on the table change the table size
to make it narrow. So the entire table can slide under the counters. We also have several mobile file
cabinets – which gives us storage and extra seating for when the kids are working in here.

Jane bought an entire Singer sewing book set at a closeout sale years ago, and she still refers to them often. She also likes Simplicity’s Simply the Best Sewing Book, The Reader’s Digest Guide to Sewing and the Vogue Sewing Reference Book. For newer books, she likes A Bag for All Reasons by Lisa Lam and In Stitches by Amy Butler.

Jane says she has made and enjoyed a few patterns by Burda, and after she made some totes from Jennifer Paganelli’s fabrics – they all sold out!

“I get a little frustrated with the traditional pattern makers. It seems they have forgotten how to write a pattern for beginners.”

Photo from Maiden Jane

Photo from Maiden Jane

Not only does Jane share her love of sewing and quilting on her blog, she also shares tips on practical living. Since she and her husband are both engineers, they thrive on order and solving problems that arise in their growing family. They are constantly changing and organizing things to adapt to their evolving lifestyle – like simply storing plastic grocery bags in an old milk jug with holes cut on the top and sides.

“Do you know, we still use that jug after 20+ years? My husband jokes that it saved our marriage! Since I am practical in nature and some of my products were borne of the idea of being practical, yet pretty, I used it as a basis for developing my brand.”

Jane gets tremendous satisfaction from working with her hands and making as much as she can. She started sewing for herself and her kids and would make gifts for people when she could. She created t-shirt blankets for her nieces and nephews as High School graduation gifts, and after encouragement from a friend, she opened an Etsy shop. Soon after that, she started a website and her business has continued to grow in the last five years.

“I almost feel selfish because I enjoy it so much…I love doing it for the creativity but I am motivated by the financial gain.”

Photo from Maiden Jane

Photo from Maiden Jane

Even though her kids and husband help out when it’s needed – doing chores, make pickups and drop-offs, help with laundry and set the table – she remains an one-woman operation. Her oldest daughter, who has modeled on her website before, is now off to College so her other daughter, Annie, has taken over modeling. She also has her own Etsy shop called Pink in Mind.

Jane’s work and has been featured in quite a few websites, such as Craft Gawker, Craft Gossip, Totally Tutorials and All Free Sewing. She says that it has been a mixture of her submitting her work to different sites, and getting sought out by different bloggers.

“I was thrilled to have a few projects featured on Craft Gawker because that forced me to improve my photography. But I’m clearly not “there” yet because I continue to get rejected! I haven’t made it into a magazine or book yet, but that might change soon!”

Jane is inspired and motivated by piano music, and since her oldest son is a jazz pianist, her house if full of music! She loves both classical jazz and New Age – like Jamie Cullum and George Winston. She will also listen to musicals and soundtracks while she sews.

Photo from Maiden Jane

Photo from Maiden Jane

Since Jane sells patterns for some of her quilts, she wanted her customers to be able to share their creations that they made with her pattern. So, she added a board on her Pinterest for all of her customer creations. If a customer puts their work on their own blog, she can also add that to her Pinterest board.

“If my customers send me a photo, I put it on my blog and then pin it. Then I have a reference board for other customers to see finished blankets.”

When I asked her what her advice was for new moms who are also starting their own businesses, she had this to say:

“First, enjoy your time with your babies. When they are young and on schedules, you can use nap time and evenings. That’s when I sewed a lot. Then again, I was only sewing for fun at that point. It was a wonderful outlet for me. I see so many amazing business women and bloggers and wonder how they do it all with young kids.

In my opinion, it gets harder when the kids get older. When my kids hit the teen years, my life turned into chaos. Suddenly, I was running kids to practices. No longer was the evening my own as the kids were staying up later. So my point is, life goes by so quickly.

Here I am, starting a business in my late forties. When I went to college for engineering, I realized that I didn’t really love it by my junior year. But I also decided that I would have many careers in my life. So I was open to whatever path my life would take. If you are starting a business at home, go for it. Dive in. You’ll learn as you go. It’s so easy to start an Etsy shop. But find what works best for your family.”

Customer Creation from Jane's pattern. Photo from Maiden Jane.

Customer Creation from Jane’s pattern. Photo from Maiden Jane.

Jane hopes to continue to grow her business and says that she always has new ideas for products if she has some time to design them, and she has also been percolating with products she could have made with a small manufacturing house or collective.

“I only have two hands and although I love to create with them – and I always will – I can’t see how to grow my business without additional help. I love collaborating with other makers and have some new bag fabrics in the works. Usually my mind is overflowing with ideas.”

If you would like to find out more about Maiden Jane, visit her here. If you or somebody you know would make a perfect feature for this series, share a link in the comments and on social media or e-mail me with the information!

The Liebster Award!

leibster-badgeTuesday was sort of unexpected. I mean, I knew the day was going to come – but the I didn’t know a thing about what we were going to do. Since my boyfriend works such crazy hours, we don’t get a whole lot of time to hang out. So, I was a little shocked and a lot of excited when he hurried me to get ready so we could go house hunting. We got Starbucks (which is quite the treat when you’re saving for a house), drove all around Sacramento, got lunch at Burgers and Brew – one of my favorite places – and just enjoyed hanging out.

While I answered some e-mails in the morning, I didn’t get much work done and my homework was forgotten for a day. And I suddenly remembered how wonderful it is to take a day off and just spend time with my family. It makes the crazy stressful days of going to school and trying to get your business going totally worth it.

I am taking some time off of worrying about the goals and deadlines I have – taking a day off Project 2014 – and just celebrating being celebrated. One of my online buddies, Bev Feldman – who I wrote about before – nominated me for a Liebster Award, which is award passed around by bloggers who have less than 200 followers. While I have more than that on social media, I think it’s referring to followers on my actual blog site, which for sure qualifies.

Here are the rules:

  1. List 11 random facts about yourself
  2. Answer 11 questions, that the blogger who nominated you, has asked
  3. Nominate 11 other bloggers with less that 200 followers
  4. Let those bloggers know you nominated them and pass on the love

11 random facts:

  1. I have a seriously heightened sense of smell, and can pinpoint a scent in a nanosecond. And I come up with weird smells all the time, which was super fun when I was pregnant.
  2. Like Bev, I, too, have a horrible short-term memory but can still remember my best friend’s phone number from grade school. And not all of my long-term memory is great, just random stuff like that.
  3. I plan my night accordingly so I can watch Chelsea Lately at 11:00.
  4. I once had a photo album dedicated to Drew Barrymore – total stalker.
  5. I use … when it’s unnecessary – I just love it.
  6. Which is ironic since I’m a total stickler for grammar.
  7. Even though I have had a stutter since I could talk, I was often in trouble at school for talking too much in class.
  8. I had a Filipino imaginary friend when I was little.
  9. I didn’t try seafood until I was 25, and then it was clam chowder.
  10. I taught myself to cook when I was pregnant.
  11. Even though my mom could knit and sew anything she wanted, I refused to learn, and now that I want to learn, I have no time. Poor, poor me.

11 answers:

1. What is your favorite color? Teal/turquoise. They’re so alike and I can’t decide on one.

2. Do you speak any other languages? If so, what are they? Only the language of love.

3. Coffee or tea? Coffee all the way. Unless I’m sick.

4. What is your favorite season? Fall

5. What does your perfect day look like? My perfect day would be adventuring over to Dillons Beach on Hwy 1 and hitting up all the little restaurants and shops on the way up and back. Then heading over to the mountains and camping out. And yesterday was pretty close to perfect – just hanging out with my dude and my baby.

6. If you could travel to anywhere in the world, where would you go? Jamaica

7. What is the meaning behind your blog’s name? Before I got pregnant, I enjoyed going out to bars, shows and parties. Then, I instantly turned into a housewife (instant is a little exaggeration – it took some time and still has its challenges) and became all domesticated. Don’t get me wrong though, I still enjoy a good beer. I just don’t drink the whole 12 pack anymore.

8. Do you have any pets? Nope. Not at the moment. My cat passed a couple years ago and I have him tattooed on my arm.

9. What do you enjoy most about blogging? At first, I just loved documenting all of my life changes and all the stuff I was learning to do. Now, I love all the connections I have made. I love all the people I have met, and finding new recipes and crafts. I just love the community.

10. If you could relive any day of your life, which one would it be and why? I don’t know if I would, because I don’t know if I would be where I am if I had done it differently. But, I would love to sit and enjoy the birth of my daughter again. So much was going on that I didn’t get a lot of time to really enjoy what just happened.

11. What is the most daring thing you have ever done? While I have done many stupid things that could probably classify as daring, I haven’t really done anything too daring. No backpacking across Europe, no skydiving. I moved to Stockton with someone I knew for a couple months and started a family, that’s pretty daring, yeah?

I would love to nominate: Pauselius, April Heather Art (a blog I JUST happened upon)

11 questions:

  1. If your life was a movie, what would the title be?
  2. First thing you do when you wake up?
  3. What’s in your picnic basket?
  4. If you were to scream something at the top of your lungs right now, what would it be?
  5. How do you like your coffee?
  6. How long have you gone without doing laundry?
  7. Where was your favorite adventure?
  8. What band do you listen to when nobody’s around?
  9. Would you be friends with your high school self?
  10. Why did you start blogging?
  11. What’s one thing you couldn’t go without – aside from your phone and computer?

This was a lot of fun and thank you again Bev for nominating me!

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!

Weekly Wishes: New Years Edition

IMG_1040 copy

I have given a lot of thought of what I want to accomplish next year. Goals I have made for myself, for my blog and for my two businesses. While I would love to blog and make stuff just for the pure fun of it, mama needs some money! And after applying to 20+ work-from-home jobs in the last couple weeks, I have determined that the only way I will make money is if I do it myself.

I figured this post would be the perfect way for me to share my goals and manifesto for 2014. I will be writing a health and business manifesto later this week, but this is my jump-start. This will cover all aspects of my life.

Goals for 2014:

  • Make at least $1,000/month
  • Make all of my food from scratch, eat clean. Get an awesome garden going
  • Learn to sew like a badass
  • Learn to knit on my own
  • Learn to screen print like a badass
  • Make a ton of candles
  • Start making my own graphics

How I will do it:

  • Start working on my projects and selling what I can. Work on getting sponsors on my blog and kick Baby Burrito Collective into high gear
  • Grocery shopping once a week and visiting farmers markets as often as I can. Make all the big stuff on Sundays and use it throughout the week. If I do eat out, choose food that is as clean as it gets. I have noticed how slumpy I get after eating poorly, and I don’t like it! I also need to work out and practice yoga at least one hour per day. Plant my garden before school starts so I can get all the hard work done before my life is dedicated to my homework.
  • Right now, I have so many sewing projects…that will the perfect way to start sewing! Then, I can do knitting, screen printing and candle making as the projects arise.
  • Work on one graphic/illustration per week. Tweak it until I love it. Then add it to my portfolio and start building on that.

So, my manifesto for this year is summed up in one word: DO. Stop thinking about everything I want and need to do, and just DO. Let go of anything that is holding me back from achieving my goals and just DO them. I will either succeed or fail, and that is all dependent on me.

What are your goals for 2014? Do you write them in a journal and keep them to yourself or do you share them? If you choose to post your goals online, please share the link in the comments and if you’re social, share with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google +. You can connect with the Weekly Wishes link-up on The Nectar Collective.

Thrifty Thursdays

thrifty thursdays

Wallets! I love wallets. They can literally hold your entire life in just one pouch, which might be why they can be so dang expensive when you need a new one! I’ve been using my grandma’s old wallet for a long time, but I think it’s more intended for people who have money, and cards to use. And frankly, I don’t have any of that!

So, I was looking into getting something a little smaller that doesn’t take a whole lot of space. And since my daughter’s diaper backpack is doing double-duty as my purse, I want to be able to hold all my stuff in one pocket if need be. So, I looked up how to make your own wallet, and there are some pretty cool ideas out there!

Image belongs to Imagine Fabric

Image belongs to Imagine Fabric

How to Sew a Wristlet, by Imagine Fabric: Appropriately named, Imagine Fabric is an online fabric store that also offers tutorials on how to make items by hand. This wristlet tutorial is very detailed, and has pictures for every step, which I love and need. And their fabric is super cute too! Both are worth checking out.

Image belongs to Noodlehead

Image belongs to Noodlehead

Zippy Wallet Tutorial from Noodlehead: I found this cool tutorial from another awesome site, How About Orange, which I found on Pinterest. Did I mention how much I love Pinterest? This is another detailed tutorial, with pictures for each step. You have no idea how many tutorials I come across with no pictures. I NEED PICTURES! She also has tutorials for diaper pouches and other fun stuff, it’s totally cute.

Patchwork-y Bifold Wallet Tutorial

Image belongs to All wrapped up

Patchwork-y Bifold Wallet Tutorial from All wrapped up: Mel, who runs this blog, lives in Melbourne, Australia and is a fourth year medical student! Maybe that’s why her tutorial was so detailed and awesome! She has a lot of different craft tutorials on her blog, and she also has an account at Cut Out & Keep, another awesome resource if you haven’t checked it out yet.

I hope you have enjoyed these wallet tutorials and that you check out all of the blogs I linked. They are definitely worth it. I can already see my mom cringing at the thought of having to do another project that I get frustrated at and give up. But  hopefully that won’t happen…again! I’m working at clearing out the craft side of the room so it can be more reserved for my daughter and less for crafts! So hopefully I’ll be posting some new projects soon. Hopefully.

Please feel free to share any DIY wallet ideas in the comments here or on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #diywallet. And check out my Pinterest for more DIY wallet tutorials!