Meet Carla C
Many of you will know her by her wonderful ebooks found at You Can Make This .com. She is a talented designer, so without further rambling from me, here is my interview with Carla C.
1- Introduce Yourself
Hi! I’m Carla Hegeman Crim, aka CarlaC the Scientific Seamstress .
2- How long have you been sewing? Why did you begin to sew?I’ve been sewing for over 30 years now – eeek! I started making clothes for my dolls as soon as I was old enough to be trusted with a needle. One of the best Christmas presents I ever received was a “Sew Perfect” sewing machine. When I was about nine, I graduated to a real Singer sewing machine I learned to sew by trial and error, and by the time I was in my teens I was designing and making my own clothing – some of it I even wore out of the house! I really got into sewing when I was in college. I majored in Biology at Virginia Commonwealth University, went on to do graduate work at Virginia Tech, and ultimately received a Ph.D. in Plant Physiology. After grad school, I headed north to the Ivy League for a postdoctoral fellowship at Cornell University. In the lab, I mixed chemicals and did lots of reactions in little tiny test tubes – typical science stuff. I also spent a lot of time in front of the computer analyzing DNA sequences, writing up new procedures, and compiling my findings for publication in scientific journals. The fast-paced academic environment was exciting, but also very intense and exhausting. I found crafts and sewing to be a wonderful means of relaxation, and embraced my precious “me time” as an opportunity to create, think, and expand my artistic abilities.
3 – When did sewing become more than a hobby for you?
A couple of years into my post-doc, I fell in love with the head chef at Cornell. When we married, I became a stepmom to his three kids. His youngest, Emily, was really into American Girl dolls at the time. We bonded over the sewing machine, making clothes for her dollies. I loved making the tiny outfits, and decided to try selling them in craft fairs. I did a few shows, but ended up finding my niche on eBay. When I had my little son Louie in 2004, I knew that I wouldn’t have the time to be a scientist, doll seamstress, and a mom. I made the decision to stay at home and raise my son, and also continue my doll clothing business.
4- What pushed you into designing patterns?
When Louie became a mobile, active toddler, my sewing life changed. That boy had an affinity for dangerous sewing implements, and I couldn’t take my eye off him for a second. He also loved to change the settings on my serger and dump juice on my fabric bins. I realized that I was getting LESS sewing done than when I was working a full time job! I had to rethink my work-at-home options. Making patterns was a natural choice for me. It was a great way for me to stay in the world of doll costuming, but with less time at the sewing machine. I was also pleased to be putting my writing and analytical skills back into good use. I came up with the idea of making patterns for American Girl Dolls, but with a “Boutique” twist that would set them apart from what was commercially available. Remembering how frustrating it was use patterns when I first started out, I decided to gear the patterns towards beginning seamstresses. I was planning to sell the patterns on eBay, but wasn’t sure how and where I was going to market them. As I was just about to finish up a series of three patterns, I saw an ad for YouCanMakeThis.com. I was so impressed by the site, which had just launched. I pondered the idea of contacting them for a few days, and finally decided just to tap out a little email to see if they would be at all interested in my patterns. I was thrilled to hear back from Kim, who not only welcomed me with open arms, but also encouraged me to branch out into children’s patterns.
6- What is your favorite pattern that you have designed?
Gosh, that is a hard one! For selfish reasons, I would have to say the Bowling Shirt. I love to make wild shirts for Louie using novelty prints. He just looks so cute and retro in them.
It isn’t a pattern, but I’m also quite fond of “The Ruffler…Unruffled” eBook, which is available for free on YCMT. I had an awful time with my first ruffler, and it makes me feel so good to be able to help others master that contraption.
7- What is your favorite pattern that you have not designed?
I’ve gotten tons of use out of PatchworKids Boy’s Ties pattern. They are so easy to make, and give such a nice handmade touch to a basic white shirt and khaki pants.
8- Where do you find your inspiration and what is your biggest inspiration?
When I used to sew for dolls, I would get inspiration from modern and vintage children’s clothing. Working in that medium, I discovered what styles I liked and easy ways to make them. My first few patterns for children were actually based on my boutique-inspired doll designs. These days, my biggest sources of inspiration are my customers. As their children grow and change, I try to keep up by offering patterns that will please a range of ages and tastes.
9- Do you do any other crafts, if so then what are they?
I really enjoy making mosaics. Smashing tiles is VERY therapeutic. I’ve been saving materials to make some eclectic garden art, I just need to make the time to do it.
10- Where can we find your designs?
You can find my eBooks on YouCanMakeThis.com.
11- Can you tell us about anything that is coming in the future for CarlaC?
I have a dress pattern in the works, and I have lots of ideas floating around in my head. I’m also working with Kim on some very fun collaborations for YCMT and SWAK. Beyond projects, I would love to get out and interact more with the crafting community. I’ve been a reclusive sewing nerd way too long, and am trying to find my way with blogging, forums, and social networking. This is my first interview, in fact, and it has been such an honor – thanks so much, Wondermommy!
Thanks Carla for doing this interview; it was great getting to know a little more about you! We love your patterns…keep them coming!