Today’s featured crafter derives most of her inspiration from her daughters explaining:
“I love to see them wear new creations I come up with. Many of my fabric combinations come from things found in nature. I find myself drawn to pretty floral patterns in palettes that reflect gorgeous gardens and amazing flora.”
While attending Michigan State University I was chosen to participate in a study abroad program to Nepal. Much to my surprise I fell head over heels in love with another student in the program. We were married within a year of meeting and will celebrate our 12th wedding anniversary this year.
After graduating with my master's degree I worked as a Research Support Scientist for a local University, doing research in potato production; after my brain surgery I decided to follow my heart and open an Etsy shop making children's clothing. Quite a departure from my education!
When I sew, I love to have music playing. Not softly in the background as an accompaniment to the whir of the machines but instead as loud as my little iPod can handle to fuel my creativity. Since most of my sewing is done now when the kids are sleeping (and our house is not equipped with sound proof walls) I’ve had to turn the volume down a bit.
I was on the front page of our newspaper twice within a couple of weeks in January 2011 --first for the birth of my daughter (she was the New Year's baby for the local hospital) and then again in a piece done about people starting small businesses to combat economic struggles.
What got you started crafting?
I’m celebrating my new life as a sewist!
Growing up I was fascinated watching my Mom and Grandma turn fabric into beautiful handcrafted items. It took until I was in my early 20′s until I finally got brave enough to try my hand at it (with a little help from my husband when he surprised me with a sewing machine).
As much as I loved it, for many years I couldn’t sit and sew without it triggering horrible headaches. It made me hesitant to begin projects for fear of the impending pain and knowing I probably wouldn’t finish what I started. When my oldest daughter was born in 2006 it broke my heart to not sew blankets, bedding and clothing for her.
In 2009 my life was turned upside down when I got laid off from my job at the University, where I worked as a Research Scientist. At the same time my headaches worsened considerably; thankfully, my wonderful doctor figured out what was causing the pain. I have an abnormality called a Chiari malformation.
All it took was a little brain surgery to solve the problem — I can sew again (as well as be able to function as a person) and love it.
I jumped back into sewing as soon as my neck was strong enough. I rejoiced at being able to sit and sew without getting sick. It showed me how successful my surgery had been. Since I was still searching for a job I made the decision to try my hand at turning my sewing skills into a business venture.
This store is my way of celebrating having a second chance to do the things I love! Any time I finish a project I’m reminded of how fortunate I am.
What is your source of inspiration?
My daughters! I love to see them wear new creations I come up with. Many of my fabric combinations come from things found in nature. I find myself drawn to pretty floral patterns in palettes that reflect gorgeous gardens and amazing flora.
What have you made recently?
One of my favorite items to make is the Ivory Heirloom Gown available for sale in my shop. A friend approached me about making some custom dresses last summer and this item was born from our ideas. It's a beautiful blend of delicate ivory fabrics, fabulous lace and gorgeous ribbons -- crafted into a piece that will be handed down from one generation to the next.
With all of the detail that goes into making this dress, it's by far the most consuming item I make. Each dress is custom made to fit the recipient. Before any sewing work is done I draft the pattern pieces for the bodice and sleeves, working with the measurements given to me by the customer. I start by making the fully lined bodice and then gathering the fabric of the skirt layers to the same width. After they are sewn together I turn my attention towards the detail work -- adding buttons on the back, sewing the delicate lace trim on both skirt layers, attaching the trim around the sleeves and neckline and then finally, adorning the dress with the finishing ribbons. Much of the detail work is sewn by hand and as each step comes to fruition I love watching the heirloom gown take shape before me.
Where do you sell your crafts presently?
Most of my sales are through my Etsy shop. As word of mouth increases I'm selling more and more to friends, family, neighbors and the people they know.
Why are handmade crafts important to you?
Without a doubt, there is no comparison between handmade items and those mass produced. Handmade items far surpass the quality, incorporate much more inspiration behind the design and have a greater attention to detail. I make items that can be worn for special occasions but are crafted well enough to also withstand the playdates, recesses and fun children put their wardrobes through.