About Karen Stevens
Artist, sewist, quilter, and educator Karen Stevens built her career from what she loves — collecting fabric on the small scale. As an avid denim wearer and terrible shopper, mending became a necessity and her first venture into hand stitching. Her hand-stitched items include a simple one-yard shirt and bags. Teaching has become a passion — empowering new and experienced sewists to play with intention.
For the last 25 years, Karen has been a freelance CAD instructor, training textile and fashion designers to create knits, prints, and wovens for the garment industry. But these days you are more likely to find her in her creatively cluttered studio than on her computer, adding one more vintage patch to a favorite pair of jeans or double gauze shirt. Her love of visible mending, natural fibers, hand-dyed fabrics and all kinds of slow-stitching has recently turned into a small side business, creating one of a kind stitched curiosities. Karen has recently relocated to the NC coast with her terrier sidekick and a perfect backyard for an indigo vat.
“I learned to knit at a young age, drawn to the feeling of fiber running through my fingers, and the slow meditative quality of one stitch at a time making up a larger garment. I have also always been a fabric collector, but always on the small scale, preferent a bag of scraps or vintage napkins to new yardage. Mending was my first venture into hand stitching. As an avid denim wearer and terrible shopper, it became a necessity, and a perfect way to use up favorite pieces of fabric. My jeans are now more patch than denim, each piece holding meaning and memory.
My hand stitched works became an extension of my mending, another way to move thread through fabric with intention, to create something not only beautiful but useful. Mindful of how much waste goes into fashion, a simple shirt pattern was born out of just one yard of a coveted piece of linen. A drawstring bag created from remnants of other projects. A story told in stitches and small cast off patches.
Teaching others these sewing skills has become a new passion, empowering new sewers to do something they might have thought they couldn’t do. I steer away from the idea of perfection or any “right” way to stitch or mend, opening the process to be more freeing and explorative, to remember to stay curious and play. There is no singular way to do anything, it is all personalized to the maker.”