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!

Fridays are for Favorites

fridays are for favorites

Yesterday, I shared some DIY/printable calendars that you could either add photos to in order to make your own, or even break out your needlework skills. Today, I’m going to switch it up a little and share some calendars from artists and small businesses that will not only help you organize your life, but also add some art to your home!

Photo from Carol Farrell

Photo from Carol Farrell

Eeek! I love this artistic calendar from Carol Farrell! Her illustrations are so beautiful and simple, and I also really love font she chose for the type. It’s $22 and holds 12 of her original watercolor illustrations. So you are not only getting a calendar, you are also getting 12 works of art. Pretty neat! And if you want some more of her work…check out her Etsy. It’s all wonderful!

Photo from Hello Small World

Photo from Hello Small World

Ok, this Jaunty Animals 2014 Calendar from Hello Small World is adorable and awesome! And check out that packaging! After taking my design class, I am really drawn to people and companies who put some effort into their packaging. The $16 calendar features 12 prints of animals partaking in seasonal activities (I love that description!) and it’s perfect for you and/or the fellow animal lover in your life. (gift giving does not need to stop after Christmas!) Their Etsy shop also offers a variety of prints, stationary and and totes.

Photo from Handmade by Kristina

Photo from Handmade by Kristina

This screen printed 2014 calendar from Handmade by Kristina is unique because she prints with acrylic ink on cotton rag paper. The calendar is $20 and comes with a green clip for hanging purposes. This is a technique that I haven’t really seen for calendars, and no two calendars will truly be the same. She also sells handmade jewelry and journals at her Etsy shop, and they are definitely worth checking out!

Photo from Two Hand Design

Photo from Two Hand Design

After receiving my beautiful cards and writing about Emmaline Lamond, I have quite the crush on Letterpress. To be honest, it’s slowly turning into an obsession. So, naturally, I was drawn toward this beautiful letterpress calendar from Two Hand Design. This $24 calendar is part of an edition limited to only sixty. It measures at 5 x 5.5 and comes with a repurposed cd case holder. Check out more letterpress goodies, like totes, greeting cards and journals at her Etsy shop!

Photo from Red Cruiser

Photo from Red Cruiser

Now, this 2014 Calendar from Red Cruiser has been on my radar since before Christmas. I am a huge fan of beer…and food…so this was a natural choice for me. But aside from that, I love the illustrations and learning a little more about food pairings. I’ve never really considered the science behind beer/food pairings, I typically just have an IPA with whatever I’m eating, when it’s available. But this is nice! All the info about food pairings, without the snobbery. This beer enthusiast is also offering a 15% off coupon on all purchases before Jan 7 so hurry into her Etsy shop and grab this! Now! Do it now!

Did you just get an awesome new calendar…and is it possibly one of these? Share with us! Also, if you offer beautiful handmade calendars in your shop, share the link with us in the comments and on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Google + with the hashtag #handmadecalendar. Find more calendars on my Pinterest and follow #fridayfavorite for more Fridays are for Favorites inspiration!

Thrifty Thursdays

thrifty thursdays

I love thrifting. I love the feeling I get when I find something amazing that you just don’t really see anymore. I love getting old clothes and thinking about all of the ways I can transform them into something new (actually doing it is another story) and I love finding out stories behind antiquated items. And I love the word antiquated. But what always creeps me out is old silverware.

I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about eating off something that has been around the block that I don’t like. Sure, I go to restaurants and eat off that silverware, but for some reason…I just can’t bring myself to buy old, beautiful silverware.

Luckily, there is something I can do with all that wonderful silverware. Turn it into jewelry, yo!

Untitled-6

Image belongs to Kristen Danielle Design

Spoon Ring Tutorial by Through the Front Door: I found this image while perusing the Pinterest. It took a little tracking down, but I was finally able to find the source of this tutorial, Through the Front Door/ Kristen Danielle Design! Hooray! She has a bunch of DIY and craft stuff on her blog, and it’s truly inspiring to look at. This tutorial was found through More Design Please, one of my favorites.

6371102775_93c5c804a3

Image belongs to Stars for Streetlights

How to Make a Fork Bracelet by Stars for Streetlights – When I started blogging, and following blogs, this was one of the very first blogs that I followed. I fell in love with it, and then almost completely forgot about it until I saw this tutorial on Pinterest. Thank you, Pinterest, for bringing the love back to me! This post also offers a video tutorial on how to do them, and you can check out her super cute style, to boot.

And as an added little bonus for you, remember those super sweet free e-books I posted about a while back? Well, Tiffany Warble from Cloth Paper Scissors contacted me and wanted me to share two free e-books with y’all!

block-and-lino-printing-2

Image belongs to Cloth Paper Scissors

Relief and Block Printing Techniques from Cloth Paper Scissors – I never got into relief and block printing, but this looks awesome! I absolutely cannot wait to try it and see what I cool little blocks I can make with these! They would be a perfect addition to Cecilia’s room, and if I get really good at it, I could make some little building blocks for her. Cool!

sewing-for-kids

Image belongs to Sew Daily

Children’s Sewing Patterns from Sew Daily – This free e-book includes four free sewing patterns for kids, and they’re all so very cute! Looks like I have some sewing to practice….

This is totally getting me all jazzed up for crafty day on Saturday! If you have some silverware jewelry to share, please post in the comments or share your photo or link on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and use the hashtag #silverwarejewelry. Find more thrifty inspiration on Pinterest page. And happy thrifting!