If I had an epic dinner for wonderful crafty folks, Karen Le Page would definitely be on the guest list. A talented seamstress and pattern maker here in Northville, Mich., Karen’s work can be seen on cool-looking kids and on local book store shelves all over town. Get to know a little bit more about her.
One Project You Are Particularly Proud Of
I don’t have to think twice about this one: Sewing for Boys, Wiley, 2011 – I still love making things from this book, looking through it (fixing typos for the next edition) and working on the book’s companion website, even though it’s all I’ve thought about for the past year.
Two Mistakes You’ve Made in the Past
1. NOT going to art school like I wanted to. There was an overwhelming amountof pressure in my family to be ready for a “real job” and all artistic pursuits were relegated to hobby status. I understand that my parents wanted me to be employed, but isn’t it ironic that I’m a crafty kid for a living these days?
2. Jumping in with both feet, when testing the waters may have been more prudent. (Just because it’s a mistake I’ve made in the past doesn’t mean I won’t continue to make it in the future, though, because I’m a whole-heart kind of person…)
Three Things That Make Your Work Unique
1. Construction/Materials: I make garments to last. Handmade is important to me, and handmade should be BETTER than mass-produced. Why spend the time and effort, otherwise? I love seeing my friends’ children pass on garments I’ve made for my daughter, Ella. Some clothes come back to me after four or five kids have worn them, with thank yous all around. That longevity and comfort is the purpose of making something, in my opinion.
I truly strive for consistently impeccable work. My finishes are as lovely on the inside as on the outside. I test new designs out on my very own One Girl Circus (Ella) who is the hardest kid on clothes, and make changes before putting anything into production if it’s not perfectly durable and comfortable. I use all natural fabrics for all-natural kids, and I purchase materials locally whenever possible.No matter how natural the fabric is, it must be soft on the skin of little ones to pass muster for the One Girl Circus and One Boy Circus shop.
2. Design: I want to make a kid’s very favorite clothes. I might think of something adorable that just doesn’t make it into my offerings because it must be what a kid wants, not only what mommy wants to put on a kid! Timeless designs which draw from the past are molded into my interpretation on kid style for something that lasts.
3. Love: I love making, and I love teaching how to make something wonderful. I put a healthy dose of loveingkindness into each step of construction and packaging.
Four Tools You Love To Use
1. My lovely Bernina. I don’t know what I’d do without her.
2. A Bodkin. I use a lot of elastic for waistbands and there’s nothing faster, smoother, or better for threading elastic through casings than a Bodkin. It’s really the best 1.79 you could ever spend.
3. The Internet. My go-to research source. After a single knitting lesson at Small Craft I was addicted, and spent the following four days watching every single video and reading ever instructional blog I could find. Now I feel like I know what I’m doing… in less than a month!
4. A steamy hot iron. There’s nothing more important to a beautiful finished product than pressing.
1. My Children: The ones I made, the ones who are my stepchildren, and all the beautiful children in my life.
2. My favorite magazines: The Handmade Companion, Mollie Makes, Anthology, Sew Beautiful, Making, Selvedge, Threads, and small.
3. My crafty community: What would I do without Handmade Detroit? Where would I play with other crafty grown-ups if not for the SEMi Crafty Meetups? …and who can underestimate the importance of Flickr for sharing, encouragement, and inspiration? Blue House Ann Arbor, Mich., Maker Works, Small Craft, local fabric stores, yarn stores… it’s a loosely woven fabric of a strong crafty community.
4. My students: Rae Hoekstra and I teach handmade wardrobe classes that delight and motivate aspiring handmakers. Our students learn mad skills from us, but we learn as much from them.
5. My world…and yours. It’s important to tread lightly, and try our best to leave this beautiful world better than we found it. This includes the natural environment, but also the optimism and creative effect we can have on others.
Follow Karen on Twitter @onegirlcircus. To sign up for Karen’s 2012 Handmade Wardrobe classes, register here.