Born in California to missionary parents, Karen spent most of her childhood in Japan.
Both her mother and grandmother were capable seamstresses and helped create an environment of encouraging such skills.
During her elementary school years, Karen started her sewing career with making doll clothes and embroidering pillowcases,
showing not only an interest, but a degree of skill that was it's own encouragement. The sewing machine her parents gave her
for her high school graduation gift became her first professional tool, and over the next few years, she taught herself
to sew. To a person who literally "thinks in pictures", putting fabric pieces together to form a garment became second
nature, and it wasn't long before she was making her own clothes while pursuing a college degree in Education. Her first
paid project was a velvet and satin bride's maid's gown, for which she was thrilled to receive $20!
college, Karen moved with her husband and daughters where ever the Army sent
husband Burt for the next 22 years, and never let an opportunity go by to
enrich her skills. Added skills were crocheting, knitting, macramé knotting,
working with tissue paper and real fur, and advanced origami. Many of her
children's classes enjoyed presentations on Japan, followed with a
demonstration in paper-folding. On occasion, she has done some substitute
work for public schools, and has taught private classes in sewing and
crocheting. As was her custom each time the family moved, Karen would make
new business cards and visit the local fabric shops and women's stores, soon
finding sewing clients everywhere she lived. Two university level classes in
pattern theory and pattern drafting at Kansas State University proved useful
for knowing how to create clothing and have it fit correctly.
Retirement from the
military eventually took the family to Montana, where she lived from 1991 –
2004. While in Montana, the costume lab at MSU hired Karen for a couple
seasons to sew for their Shakespeare-in-the-Parks program. There she
learned techniques in making stage costumes, to include perfecting skills in
making lace-up backs and fitting actors of all sizes. The step up to bridal
work was an easy one, and she was recruited by a well known bridal gown
ordering service to be one of their dealers for 8 years. In 2004, she, her
husband Burt and her cat moved to Ohio to be near her two daughters and her
three wonderful grandchildren. In July of 2005, she became independent of
her previous bridal source and now uses multiple sources for gown orders. On
a typical day, Karen divides her time between bridal ordering, handling
email, and sewing at her home studio and can be found working at her
computer as much as at her sewing machines.