Thursday, July 22, 2010

OTTOBRE Sewing Stories: Katja M

OTTOBRE Sewing Stories is a new series introducing our readers from around the world to each other.  We aim to give you interesting ideas and insights about sewing, fashion and everyday life. Be inspired by others and inspire your fellow readers.


Our second storyteller is Katja M, who is 30 years old, was born in Minnesota and lives in Washington state. She is a stay-at-home mother of three boys, aged 7, 4 and 2. She sews for her whole family: herself, her sons and occasionally for her husband.

 Bat T-shirt, Summer short sweatpants and Turtle romper from OTTOBRE design 3/2008

"Also, we make most of our birthday and Christmas gifts and items for around the house. I love to make something special for a child that they may not have otherwise, a wool coat in their favorite color with a dragon lining or a Luke Skywalker costume in black linen for a boy who wanted a very 'authentic' costume."

Early projects

Katja started her career in sewing by cross-stitching when she was just 4 years old. As many of our readers she was taught by her mother, who first of all let her take pins out while sewing. She also has scars from her first sewing projects.

"I remember ironing doll clothes on a chair because I couldn't reach the ironing board, and I still have a burn across my fingers from spreading out dolly dress pleats to iron them flat!"

Also Katja's mother remembers well their moments together, while her little girl was sitting on her lap testing a sewing machine for the first time.

"My mother said I made a little soft heart pillow for my new baby brother when I was five that said 'I love you' in embroidery stitches. She thinks that was my first finished project."

Her mother used to be also a very keen sewer, who even entered competitions with self-made garments.

"My favorite was the 'Little House on the Prairie' set my mother made for me at nine with calico dress, white pantaloons and apron. I wore it constantly and by the time she entered it in the county fair, I had almost worn out the seams. She won the Grand Prize purple ribbon that year! Later as a teenager I also entered a dress I had made for myself at the county fair and won a red ribbon for finishing the seams using French seams."

Casual coat from OTTOBRE woman 2/2007 – now a raincoat, made with cotton laminate and lined with green stretch poplin!

Time to sew!

Katja is kept very busy by her three sons. In her everyday life there are special things she wants to share with other sewers.

"Today my oldest son received a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. He is very high functioning and I think knowing what's behind the behavior will help us get the help he needs both in school and the world. But it is tough to hear it, instead of just wondering. On the other hand summer break just started for my first born and I am looking forward to a summer of laidback days and no hustle and bustle! Plenty of time for all of us to craft and play and read!"

Like other busy mothers, she tries to find at least a little time for sewing almost every day.

"It gives me something to look forward to each day in the small snippets of time that I carve out for sewing. I like waking up each morning, thinking: What will I sew today?"

What will she sew?

Katja often user our more basic patterns as she is a relatively new OTTOBRE reader.

"I found OTTOBRE a year ago and I especially like patterns which use the same basic pattern pieces to make different styles. You could make a little boy a whole set of school pants with just one pattern set. Even though I love tracing patterns, I only choose ones which I can use at least twice. This saves me time and money."

 Ottobre tank top (free pattern, pdf), 
shorts and hat from OTTOBRE design 3/2009 

These days Katja sews almost all of the garments in her household.

"I love that I haven't had to go to the shopping mall for over 1 year. 'We only go for shoes' my husband says!"


Katja's favorite blogs and sites:

Katja's favorite fabric shops:

All photos used in this article are ©violetvata (aka Katja M), all rights reserved. Used with permission. You can view more of Katja's OTTOBRE projects on her Flickr set:


This series is written by our long-term editorial assistant, Anni Kokko. If you feel like you or someone you know could inspire fellow readers, please send an e-mail to and include links to your recent work. Our storytellers will be rewarded!


Millie said...

Thanks for the insight into why and how other people sew Ottobre...great post...Katja makes wonderful things...They've always caught my eye on the Flickr group too.

Jne4sl said...

Thanks for sharing. I always notice your work, too and I had no idea you'd only started using Ottobre a year ago. You're amazingly prolific and yet everything seems so well conceived. Can't wait to see what you do next!

Naptime Seamstress said...

Beautiful work! And I really enjoy this series - it's great to see what others are sewing!

OTTOBRE staff said...

Katja is so AMAZING mom and a talented sewer. And, believe or not, she is sewing something every day!

Here in Ottobre office we specially admired her retro print rainy day jacket with lime green lining! What a cutie she made.

It would be nice to have a few more hours in our days, too. Thank you Katja for your encouraging example.



PS. We have just been finishing some new coats for OTTOBRE woman fall/winter issue: a double breasted pea coat in sizes 34-46 and a lovely shaped wool jacket with large collars for plus sizes.

We nearly can't wait to see your versions of these patterns.