We are happy to be offering Olabelhe downloadable patterns. These are BEAUTIFUL designs and Dawn Hansen, the designer, was kind enough to answer questions about herself and her patterns for me to share with you. This is Dawn in the photo at the right!
Me: Where did you grow-up, where did you go to school, where do you live now? Tell us about your family.
Dawn: I grew up in Upstate New York in a wonderful loving home with both of my parents and one younger sister. Until the age of six I was an only child and spent tons of quality time with my mother and grandmother. I can vividly remember them dressing me up and taking me into the “city” for luncheons and tea. Those trips always included visiting numerous fabric shop where my mother and grandmother would shop for fabrics to make me beautiful clothes. I was one of those little girls who never wore the same thing twice and always looked like a living doll. At, the age of 5 I started learning how to sew and would spend hours sitting beside my mother and grandmother sewing right along with them.
After graduating from high school I moved to Washington D.C. to take my first job as a nanny and then after that I moved to Boston to continue my career and go to college. I attended Wheelock College in Boston and received my degree in Elementary Ed. while continuing to work as a professional Nanny for a highly respected family. It was during my time in Boston where I met my husband. When we met he was finishing up his Ph.D at MIT and was getting ready to move back to Germany. Needless to say that never happened as we fell in love and he was offered a fantastic position at a National Lab here in Virginia.
My children are the light of my life and I am so fortunate to be blessed with them. We have so much fun together and our house is always filled with laughter. Each of them are so special in different ways and I love that they are all so full of life and genuinely nice people. My husband and I have been married for 13 years and look forward to many more years together.
Me: How did you learn how to sew, and what kinds of things do you like to sew now?
Dawn: As I mentioned above, I learned how to sew when I was a little girl and my mother and grandmother were my teachers. Currently my favorite thing to sew is little girls clothing. I used to be an avid quilter and I’m sure one day I will pick that up again but right now I am having too much fun dressing my little girl and designing patterns.
Me: What advice do you have for beginning sewers?
Dawn: I think the best advice I can give to new sewers is to be patient and practice a lot!!! Don’t be afraid to try new things or to think outside the box. Another great idea is to start a sewing journal, notebook or inspiration board to keep clippings of ideas that you love, make notes or to organize tour own ideas such as sketches or lists of things you would like to try. I know for myself I have at least 10 new ideas everyday and it’s nice to have a place to keep all those thoughts together.
Me: When did you start designing sewing patterns?
Dawn: Believe it or not, I didn’t start designing patterns until just this past summer. I had never really thought about having my own line of patterns but when I started getting tons of requests from people I thought that I should give it a try. It’s been so much fun and an amazing learning experience.
Dawn: How I came up with the name for my business is a really great story! 3 years ago when i started my blog i wanted to have a fun name that meant something to me and that was easy to remember. It also had to be unique! I messed around with lots of ideas but none of them were quite right. Then I came up with the idea of somehow using my kids names in my “name”. After all, they are the loves of my life and my greatest inspiration. Hence the birth of Olabelhe. This funny made-up word is the first two letters of each of my 4 children’s names. OLiver, ABigail, ELliott and HEnry! Pretty clever, I love it and it works!! Plus so many people have commented on it and are always curious about where the word comes from.
Me: What makes your patterns unique?
Dawn: I want my patterns to be fun and easy for people to make. I think the worst thing any new sewer can experience is not understanding “pattern speak” So many of the patterns available today use terms that most new sewers don’t understand. I explain things in everyday language and try to add humor here and there to ease people’s anxiety. There is nothing worse for a new sewer than becoming frustrated and feeling failure. Thats why I think you can find so many sewing machines in garage sales and in thrift shops. Too many people who had a bad experience with a complicated, poorly written pattern. I really wish I could be there with each and every person who sews-up my designs to help them and make them feel at ease. However, that’s a little impractical so in my patters I make the instructions as easy as possible with lots of colorful illustrations and diagrams to help you. No fancy words or confusing instructions rather, it’s just like having a friend there sewing with you.
Dawn: Honestly, it’s not easy. Being a wife, mom, clothing/pattern designer and teacher to my 4 children is exhausting. Sleep is optional a lot of the time, but I think one of the things that saves me a lot of the time is the fact that I am very organized. I make lots of lists and I budget my time so that I can squeeze it all in somehow. Plus, I truly love what I am doing so it makes it a easier! However, I am thinking I may hire a cleaning service to help out around the house with a few things I wouldn’t mind giving up, but knowing me I would be the crazy lady who cleaned before the cleaning people came!
What are your other interests?
Dawn: Along with everything I do I also love to cook. I am a trained chef so preparing wonderful meals for my family is also important and relaxing for me. I also enjoy reading, photography and anything crafty.