Designer Profile, Karen from Nellie’s Needle

I have always loved fabric!!!!

When I was in high school, my mother and I would drive up to Philadelphia, PA’s fabric district. We would wander through all of the mills and buy fabric right off of the big bolts. Back then the dyes were not very good and our eyes would burn and run but we sure had fun. By the time we left, we looked like we had been crying for weeks. We made our clothes from that fabric.

I sewed ALL of my girls clothes for years. When my grandmother passed away I didn’t have time to sew something nice for our girls (2 at that time) so I took them to the store to buy them each a dress. We went to the dressing room to try dresses on. I told them to take their clothes off and my oldest daughter (then 12) was horrified. There was no taking her clothes off, especially in a store. That was when I realized I had never bought them anything they had to try on. WOW. That daughter (Monica) now designs and publishes with me for Nellie’s Needle.

The name of my pattern company is in honor of my mother-in-law, Nellie Bennett. She was a home ec teacher in a very small town in north eastern Utah for over 30 years. When her students were finished with their sewing projects she would gather up their thrown out scraps (generally not so small) and give them to me. I sewed my little girls clothes with those scraps. Nellie was also a quilter. She cut all of her pieces with scissors, sewed them together on a very old Featherweight, and then hand quilted her projects. Each of her 7 granddaughters has a quilt that she made for them when they turned 12.

Nellie used to encourage me to begin quilting. I kept telling her that my time was spent with 5 children but some day I would consider it. When clothing costs came down and fabric prices went up, I stopped sewing clothes. I felt so free. I didn’t have to fit or please anyone. I started quilting.

That was so much fun!

I noticed that I was beginning to tweak every pattern to my taste. I began doing “my own thing” and haven’t looked back. I especially like choosing the fabric for a project. I love working with color.

The other thing I enjoy is the math part of quilting. To me piecing is like a big puzzle and I like figuring it out. To date I have sewn all of my own quilts, but once the fabric is chosen and a few blocks made (so I know that the pattern is accurate), I would gladly hand the project over to some one else to finish. Well, that is not quite right…I like to bind my quilts. I check out a book on CD from the library and listen to it while I bind. What a wonderful way to read and sew both at the same time. I always tell the women in my classes to check out books on CD and listen while they sew. It doubles your pleasure.

Patterns pictured are Ink Pot (left) and Boho Bag (right). Click on those pictures to get more info on these awesome patterns!

Published Wed, Mar 17 2010 12:55 PM by Kaye Wood


# re: Designer Profile, Karen from Nellie’s Needle

Your work is lovely.  I really like the color choices.

Your history is also charming.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010 10:08 PM by Jackie Sorich