I run, I craft, I write, and I make your favorite clothes.

I have written books about sewing for children and adults and I'm the indie designer’s patternmaking secret weapon. I've taught video and in-person classes to anyone who would listen since 2008. I believe that sewing clothes is a radical act of self-love that increases your sense of self-worth. I'm basically your sewing fairy godmother.

Today was spent in the classroom teaching my students some hand sewing, so I didn’t get to complete anything new for KCWC.  I did spend time adapting a pattern for tomorrow; I’m still participating wholeheartedly!  One of the reasons meg’s event is so popular is because any of us handmaking moms can commit an hour a day for one week and see some pretty impressive results.  Since I have nothing new and shiny to show today, I thought I’d take a moment to appreciate one of my favorite parts of handmade clothing: if you take the time to make it right, it’s made to last.

It’s not easy to make every garment a kid ever wears by hand.  Even if I could do it, I couldn’t (in good consience) discourage my parents from purchasing things for Ella that they know she will love (sparkly, Hello Kitty, Fairies, did I mention sparkly?) but there’s a reason the things that last around here are the things I make myself.  It’s because I made them.

Making clothes brings me a deep sense of satisfaction.  Now that I have friends who have daughters, too, I know that I’m not only making a dress for Ella, but also for my neice Sophia, and our little friends Ramona, Madeleine, Clementine, and Zora.  After they wear what I’ve made, the garments come back to me; often with a story about where they were worn and which were favorites. Then,  I can share in turn with my smallest neice, Chelsea.  All of those girls get a big handmade hug from me, because whatever I’ve made has been made with a great deal of love and care.

Not to mention, if an outfit can make it through Ella, it’s solid for any kid.

Here’s a dress I made in 2009 and named after my mother: The Bonnie Dress.  You can see it’s been loved and worn over 3 years by 3 different girls (up ’til now).  Spending a couple days making a single dress seems like such  a tiny investment of time and effort when it’s worn for so long. (And look, the vintage buttons are still attached!)

Ella in the Bonnie Dress 2009

Ramona in The Bonnie Dress 2011

Zora in The Bonnie Dress 2012

How many more generations will wear what I’ve made for my kids?  I don’t know, but I hope there will be many.

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Leave a Comment

  • Melissa October 11, 2012, 1:12 am

    What a special post – I’ve never thought of it exactly that way, but you’re right. The things I make for my oldest son are the things my youngest son loves to wear. We don’t have any other littles to hand off to right now, but I’d say surviving wear by two boys is the same as 4 girls wearing something :-)

  • Ledys October 11, 2012, 12:36 pm

    Hello! I found your blog through KCWC and I have had the best time reading through all your beautiful posts. Thnk you for sharing today’s post. I often go back and forth on wether I should spend more time trying to be a better seamstress or a savvier shopper, but there is just that something that is deeply satisfying about making clothes that shopping does not provide. How cool it is to see the “Bonnie” being worn and loved like it has! :-) thanks for sharing!

  • melissa q. October 11, 2012, 1:11 pm

    this fabric is dreamy and so are your girls. score one for handmade!

  • Cate October 12, 2012, 3:12 am

    Such a wonderful post. It’s true — I’m never going to stop my runs to Target for quick & easy (& inexpensive!) kid’s clothes, but I love putting in the effort to make something beautiful for me children. And I admit I love hearing my son proudly tell people, “my mommy made this for me”. And what fun that I now have a daughter to make dresses and girly stuff for, too! Three cheers for homemade!!

  • justjayma October 12, 2012, 5:18 am

    I LOVE the Bonnie dress! Did you design it? there is something so sweet about having hand me down hand made clothing. My daughter has several her auntie made her, and I LOVE remembering when the older cousins wore them….sigh….they grow up so quickly.

    • Karen October 12, 2012, 5:26 pm

      Thanks, I did design it. There is a brown version here I think I might release it. It’s not a beginner pattern, though.

  • kristin October 14, 2012, 5:39 pm

    oh i love this post. SO much. thank you. :)

  • Andrea October 22, 2012, 9:31 am

    I love this. I get so excited when an outfit I made gets handed down. I love that Bonnie dress too. It’s gorgeous!

  • Lynz H November 4, 2012, 12:28 am

    Oh, I love this! The Bonnie Dress is one of my favourites of yours and how charming to see it passed on, worn by three little beauties!

    (on an unrelated note, I just now discovered you’d shared about the pop-up shop–thanks so much again for your support! you’re a dear!)

  • rae February 1, 2013, 2:25 am

    I’m not sure how i ever missed this post but that has got to be the most adorable picture of Ella I have ever seen (1st one). LOVE IT!!

    • Karen February 4, 2013, 2:51 pm

      She really was adorable. Do you like the artwork she drew on the wall? Yes, it’s still there.

  • RaeAnna November 12, 2013, 12:32 pm

    So sweet!!! I hope that as I pass Eva Mae’s clothes to my nieces that I’ll see some pictures!


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