Karen's Profile

About

Zelma—seamstress, recycler, and matriarch—was my grandmother. During World War 2, my grandmother fled her home in Latvia in the middle of the night with my grandfather, their 5 children, and few belongings. The family spent the next several years living in refugee camps throughout Germany. My mother was born in one of those camps, and my grandmother made her pretty dresses from other people’s clothing. When my grandparents finally immigrated to Pennsylvania, Zelma found a job in a men’s clothing factory. She sewed men’s trousers for 25 years.

When I was little, my grandmother would send me boxes of dresses that she had sewn for me. They were quintessential 1970’s creations with puffy sleeves and long lengths made with polyester plaid remnants from the factory where she worked. I loved those dresses and wore them with pride.

As a tribute to my…

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  • Female
  • Born on July 12
  • Joined November 5, 2007

Favorite materials

Reclaimed clothing, felted wool, vintage sewing notions

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About

Zelma—seamstress, recycler, and matriarch—was my grandmother. During World War 2, my grandmother fled her home in Latvia in the middle of the night with my grandfather, their 5 children, and few belongings. The family spent the next several years living in refugee camps throughout Germany. My mother was born in one of those camps, and my grandmother made her pretty dresses from other people’s clothing. When my grandparents finally immigrated to Pennsylvania, Zelma found a job in a men’s clothing factory. She sewed men’s trousers for 25 years.

When I was little, my grandmother would send me boxes of dresses that she had sewn for me. They were quintessential 1970’s creations with puffy sleeves and long lengths made with polyester plaid remnants from the factory where she worked. I loved those dresses and wore them with pride.

As a tribute to my grandmother, I design my creations with her resourceful spirit in mind. Reclaimed skirts become scarves. Felted wool sweaters become handbags. Bits of scrap fabric wait patiently for an epiphany.

Please enjoy!

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